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ORK1, a potassium-selective leak channel with two pore domains cloned from Drosophila melanogaster by expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae


A K+ channel gene has been cloned from Drosophila melanogaster by complementation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells defective for K+ uptake. Naturally expressed in the neuromuscular tissues of adult flies, this gene confers K+ transport capacity on yeast cells when heterologously expressed. In Xenopus laevis oocytes, expression yields an ungated K(+)-selective current whose attributes resemble the "leak" conductance thought to mediate the resting potential of vertebrate myelinated neurons but whose molecular nature has long remained elusive. The predicted protein has two pore (P) domains and four membrane-spanning helices and is a member of a newly recognized K+ channel family. Expression of the channel in flies and yeast cells makes feasible studies of structure and in vivo function using genetic approaches that are not possible in higher animals.

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