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Potassium channels selectively conduct K+, primarily to the exclusion of Na+, despite the fact that both ions can bind within the selectivity filter. Here we perform crystallographic titration and single-channel electrophysiology to examine the competition of Na+ and K+ binding within the filter of two NaK channel mutants; one is the potassium-selective NaK2K mutant and the other is the non-selective NaK2CNG, a CNG channel pore mimic. With high-resolution structures of these engineered NaK channel constructs, we explicitly describe the changes in K+ occupancy within the filter upon Na+ competition by anomalous diffraction. Our results demonstrate that the non-selective NaK2CNG still retains a K+-selective site at equilibrium, whereas the NaK2K channel filter maintains two high-affinity K+ sites. A double-barrier mechanism is proposed to explain K+ channel selectivity at low K+ concentrations.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/ncomms3721

Type

Journal article

Journal

Nature Communications

Publication Date

2013

Volume

4