KATP channels link cell metabolism to excitability in many cells. They are formed as tetramers of Kir6.2 subunits, each associated with a SURI subunit. We used mutant GFP-based FRET to assess domain organization in channel complexes. Full-length Kir6.2 subunits were linked to YFP or cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) at N or C termini, and all such constructs, including double-tagged YFP-Kir6.2-CFP (Y6.2C), formed functional KATP channels. In intact COSm6 cells, background emission of YFP excited by 430-nm light was ∼6%, but the Y6.2C construct expressed alone exhibited an apparent FRET efficiency of ∼25%, confirmed by trypsin digestion, with or without SURI co-expression. Similar FRET efficiency was detected in mixtures of CFP- and YFP-tagged full-length Kir6.2 subunits and transmembrane domain only constructs, when tagged at the C termini but not at the N termini. The FRET-reported Kir6.2 tetramer domain organization was qualitatively consistent with Kir channel crystal structures: C termini and M2 domains are centrally located relative to N termini and Ml domains, respectively. Additional FRET analyses were performed on cells in which tagged full-length Kir6.2 and tagged SURI constructs were co-expressed. These analyses further revealed that 1) NBD1 of SURI is closer to the C terminus of Kir6.2 than to the N terminus; 2) the Kir6.2 cytoplasmic domain is not essential for complexation with SURI; and 3) the N-terminal half of SURI can complex with itself in the absence of either the C-terminal half or Kir6.2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4378-4388
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 8 2013


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