Steeply voltage-dependent block by intracellular polyamines underlies the strong inward rectification properties of Kir2.1 and other Kir channels. Mutagenesis studies have identified several negatively charged pore-lining residues (D172, E224, and E299, in Kir2.1) in the inner cavity and cytoplasmic domain as determinants of the properties of spermine block. Recent crystallographic determination of the structure of the cytoplasmic domains of Kir2.1 identified additional negatively charged residues (D255 and D259) that influence inward rectification. In this study, we have characterized the kinetic and steady-state properties of spermine block in WT Kir2.1 and in mutations of the D255 residue (D255E, A, K, R). Despite minimal effects on steady-state blockade by spermine, D255 mutations have profound effects on the blocking kinetics, with D255A marginally, and D255R dramatically, slowing the rate of block. In addition, these mutations result in the appearance of a sustained current (in the presence of spermine) at depolarized voltages. These features are reproduced with a kinetic model consisting of a single open state, two sequentially linked blocked states, and a slow spermine permeation step, with residue D255 influencing the spermine affinity and rate of entry into the shallow blocked state. The data highlight a "long-pore" effect in Kir channels, and emphasize the importance of considering blocker permeation when assessing the effects of mutations on apparent blocker affinity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007


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