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Shake, rattle or roll?


, : Shake, rattle or roll?. Nature 427: 9-500

In this issue, Starace and Bezanilla describe a remarkable property of the voltage sensor, the membrane domain that controls voltage-gated ion-channel proteins. They reveal that mutation of the outermost S4 arginine to histidine produces a steady transmembrane leak of protons that behaves as though it is specifically mediated by the introduced histidine side chain and, crucially, is only present for the voltage sensor's "in" state. They argue that the paddle model of voltage-sensor behavior is inconsistent with this scenario, asserting that voltage-sensor movement is transporter-like, with the outermost S4 position acting as a narrow gate to separate internal and external solutions in the "in" state. This translation of proton conductance into a unique structural image of the voltage sensor may be too great a step, as a paddle in contact with the pore domain could be consistent with the observations.

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DOI: 10.2307/3472053


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