The actions of alcohols and anesthetics on ion channels are poorly understood. Controversy continues about whether bilayer restructuring is relevant to the modulatory effects of these surface active agents (SAAs). Some voltage-gated K channels (Kv), but not KvAP, have putative low affinity alcohol-binding sites, and because KvAP structures have been determined in bilayers, KvAP could offer insights into the contribution of bilayer mechanics to SAA actions. We monitored KvAP unitary conductance and macroscopic activation and inactivation kinetics in PE:PG/decane bilayers with and without exposure to classic SAAs (short-chain 1-alkanols, cholesterol, and selected anesthetics: halothane, isoflurane, chloroform). At levels that did not measurably alter membrane specific capacitance, alkanols caused functional changes in KvAP behavior including lowered unitary conductance, modified kinetics, and shifted voltage dependence for activation. A simple explanation is that the site of SAA action on KvAP is its entire lateral interface with the PE:PG/decane bilayer, with SAA-induced changes in surface tension and bilayer packing order combining to modulate the shape and stability of various conformations. The KvAP structural adjustment to diverse bilayer pressure profiles has implications for understanding desirable and undesirable actions of SAA-like drugs and, broadly, predicts that channel gating, conductance and pharmacology may differ when membrane packing order differs, as in raft versus nonraft domains. © 2010 by the Biophysical Society.
Finol-Urdaneta, R. K., McArthur, J. R., Juranka, P. F., French, R. J., & Morris, C. E. (2010). Modulation of KvAP unitary conductance and gating by 1-alkanols and other surface active agents. Biophysical Journal, 98(5), 762–772. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2009.10.053