A conserved tryptophan at the membrane-water interface acts as a gatekeeper for Kir6.2/SUR1 channels and causes neonatal diabetes when mutated.
Männikkö R., Stansfeld PJ., Ashcroft AS., Hattersley AT., Sansom MSP., Ellard S., Ashcroft FM.
We identified a novel heterozygous mutation, W68R, in the Kir6.2 subunit of the ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channel, in a patient with transient neonatal diabetes. This tryptophan is absolutely conserved in mammalian Kir channels. The functional effects of mutations at residue 68 of Kir6.2 were studied by heterologous expression in Xenopus oocytes, and by homology modelling. We found the Kir6.2-W68R mutation causes a small reduction in ATP inhibition in the heterozygous state and an increase in the whole-cell KATP current. This can explain the clinical phenotype of the patient. The effect of the mutation was not charge or size dependent, the order of potency for ATP inhibition being W