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Kcnkø: single, cloned potassium leak channels are multi-ion pores.


KCNKØ was the first clone to show attributes of a leak conductance: voltage-independent potassium currents that develop without delay. Its novel product is predicted to have two nonidentical P domains and four transmembrane segments and to assemble in pairs. Here, the mechanistic basis for leak is examined at the single-channel level. KCNKØ channels open at all voltages in bursts that last for minutes with open probability close to 1. The channels also enter a minutes-long closed state in a tightly regulated fashion. KCNKØ has a common relative permeability series (Eisenman type IV) but conducts only thallium and potassium readily. KCNKØ exhibits concentration-dependent unitary conductance, anomalous mole fraction behavior, and pore occlusion by barium. These observations argue for ion-channel and ion-ion interactions in a multi-ion pore and deny the operation of independence or constant-field current formulations. Despite their unique function and structure, leakage channels are observed to operate like classical potassium channels formed with one-P-domain subunits.

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