S4 voltage-sensor mutations in CaV1.1 and NaV1.4 channels cause the human muscle disorder hypokalemic periodic paralysis (HypoPP). The mechanism whereby these mutations predispose affected sarcolemma to attacks of sustained depolarization and loss of excitability is poorly understood. Recently, three HypoPP mutations in the domain II S4 segment of NaV1.4 were shown to create accessory ionic permeation pathways, presumably extending through the aqueous gating pore in which the S4 segment resides. However, there are several disparities between reported gating pore currents from different investigators, including differences in ionic selectivity and estimates of current amplitude, which in turn have important implications for the pathological relevance of these aberrant currents. To clarify the features of gating pore currents arising from different DIIS4 mutants, we recorded gating pore currents created by HypoPP missense mutations at position R666 in the rat isoform of Nav1.4 (the second arginine from the outside, at R672 in human NaV1.4). Extensive measurements were made for the index mutation, R666G, which created a gating pore that was permeable to K+ and Na+. This current had a markedly shallow slope conductance at hyperpolarized voltages and robust inward rectification, even when the ionic gradient strongly favored outward ionic flow. These characteristics were accounted for by a barrier model incorporating a voltage-gated permeation pathway with a single cation binding site oriented near the external surface of the electrical field. The amplitude of the R666G gating pore current was similar to the amplitude of a previously described proton-selective current flowing through the gating pore in rNaV1.4-R663H mutant channels. Currents with similar amplitude and cation selectivity were also observed in R666S and R666C mutant channels, while a proton-selective current was observed in R666H mutant channels. These results add support to the notion that HypoPP mutations share a common biophysical profile comprised of a low-amplitude inward current at the resting potential that may contribute to the pathological depolarization during attacks of weakness.
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