The effects of strontium (Sr2+; 7-50 mM) on five different cloned rat K channels (Kv1.1, Kv1.5, Kv1.6, Kv2.1, and Kv3.4), expressed in oocytes of Xenopus laevis, were investigated with a two-electrode voltage clamp technique. The main effect was a shift of the Gk(V) curve along the potential axis, different in size for the different channels. Kv1.1 was shifted most and Kv3.4 least, 21 and 8 mV, respectively, at 50 mM. The effect was interpreted in terms of screening of fixed surface charges. The estimated charge densities ranged from -0.37 (Kv1.1) to -0.11 (Kv3.4) e nm-2 and showed good correlation with the total net charge of the extracellularly located amino acid residues of the channel as well as with the charge of a specific region (the loop between the S5 segment and the pore forming segment). The estimated surface potentials were found to be linearly related to the activation midpoint potential, suggesting a functional role for the surface charges.

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