November 17, 2009

New Study Ushers In Spring-Time For Slow Inactivation

The December 2009 issue of the Journal of General Physiology (JGP) contains a paper by Christopher Ahern (The University of British Columbia, Vancouver) and colleagues that explores pore mutation effects in Shaker and other K+ channels using in vivo nonsense suppression technology. The study will be published online November 16 (

According to Riccardo Olcese (UCLA) in a commentary accompanying the manuscript, the new research elegantly addresses the relation between pore structure and slow inactivation in a non-invasive way, and the results are fascinating. Ahern and colleagues find that tetraethylammonium (TEA) accelerates slow inactivation in the Shaker mutant T449F, as if the inactivation gate were pulled closed by the presence of the TEA, a process the authors describe as "spring-in-the-door." The study sheds light on intriguing aspects of potassium pore dynamics and serves as an important foundation for subsequent research.


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