A Mechanistic Reinterpretation of Fast Inactivation in Voltage-Gated Na + Channels

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Fast Inactivation in voltage-gated Na + channels plays essential roles in numerous physiological functions. The canonical hinged-lid model has long predicted that a hydrophobic motif in the DIII-DIV linker (IFM) acts as the gating particle that occludes the permeation pathway during fast inactivation. However, the fact that the IFM motif is located far from the pore in recent high-resolution structures of Nav + channels contradicts this status quo model. The precise molecular determinants of fast inactivation gate once again, become an open question. Here, we provide a mechanistic reinterpretation of fast inactivation based on ionic and gating current data. In Nav1.4 the actual inactivation gate is comprised of two hydrophobic rings at the bottom of S6. These function in series and closing once the IFM motif binds. Reducing the volume of the sidechain in both rings led to a partially conductive inactivated state. Our experiments also point to a previously overlooked coupling pathway between the bottom of S6 and the selectivity filter.

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