Inward rectification induced by mono- and diaminoalkane application to inside-out membrane patches was studied in Kir2.1 (IRK1) channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Both monoamines and diamines block Kir2.1 channels, with potency increasing as the alkyl chain length increases (from 2 to 12 methylene groups), indicating a strong hydrophobic interaction with the blocking site. For diamines, but not monoamines, increasing the alkyl chain also increases the steepness of the voltage dependence, at any concentration, from a limiting minimal value of ~1.5 (n = 2 methylene groups) to ~4 (n = 10 methylene groups). These observations lead us to hypothesize that monoamines and diamines block inward rectifier K+ channels by entering deeply into a long, narrow pore, displacing K+ ions to the outside of the membrane, with this displacement of K+ ions contributing to 'extra' charge movement. All monoamines are proposed to lie with the 'head' amine at a fixed position in the pore, determined by electrostatic interaction, so that zδ is independent of monoamine alkyl chain length. The head amine of diamines is proposed to lie progressively further into the pore as alkyl chain length increases, thus displacing more K+ ions to the outside, resulting in charge movement (zδ) increasing with the increase in alkyl chain length.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-363
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1998


  • Diamine
  • Inward rectifier
  • Polyamine
  • Potassium channel
  • Voltage dependence


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