Molecular dynamics simulations of KirBac1.1 mutants reveal global gating changes of Kir channels

Tobias Linder, Shizhen Wang, Eva Maria Zangerl-Plessl, Colin G. Nichols, Anna Stary-Weinzinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Prokaryotic inwardly rectifying (KirBac) potassium channels are homologous to mammalian Kir channels. Their activity is controlled by dynamical conformational changes that regulate ion flow through a central pore. Understanding the dynamical rearrangements of Kir channels during gating requires high-resolution structure information from channels crystallized in different conformations and insight into the transition steps, which are difficult to access experimentally. In this study, we use MD simulations on wild type KirBac1.1 and an activatory mutant to investigate activation gating of KirBac channels. Full atomistic MD simulations revealed that introducing glutamate in position 143 causes significant widening at the helix bundle crossing gate, enabling water flux into the cavity. Further, global rearrangements including a twisting motion as well as local rearrangements at the subunit interface in the cytoplasmic domain were observed. These structural rearrangements are similar to recently reported KirBac3.1 crystal structures in closed and open conformation, suggesting that our simulations capture major conformational changes during KirBac1.1 opening. In addition, an important role of protein-lipid interactions during gating was observed. Slide-helix and C-linker interactions with lipids were strengthened during activation gating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)814-822
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Information and Modeling
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 27 2015


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