Atypical mechanism of conduction in potassium channels

Simone Furini, Carmen Domene Nunez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (SciVal)


Potassium channels can conduct passively K+ ions with rates of up to ≈108 ions per second at physiological conditions, and they are selective to these species by a factor of 104 over Na+ ions. Ion conduction has been proposed to involve transitions between 2 main states, with 2 or 3 K+ ions occupying the selectivity filter separated by an intervening water molecule. The largest free energy barrier of such a process was reported to be of the order of 2–3 kcal mol−1. Here, we present an alternative mechanism for conduction of K+ in potassium channels where site vacancies are involved, and we propose that coexistence of several ion permeation mechanisms is energetically possible. Conduction can be described as a more anarchic phenomenon than previously characterized by the concerted translocations of K+–water–K+.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16074-16066
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009


  • Bacterial Proteins, Binding Sites, Computer Simulation, Crystallography, X-Ray, Ion Channel Gating, Models, Molecular, Potassium, Potassium Channels, Protein Conformation, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Thermodynamics, Water


Dive into the research topics of 'Atypical mechanism of conduction in potassium channels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this