Two inward rectifier potassium channels, the G protein-dependent GIRK1 and the G protein-independent BIR10, display large differences in rectification and macroscopic kinetics. A chimeric channel was constructed in which the putative intracellular carboxy-terminal domain of the G protein-dependent channel replaced the corresponding domain of the G protein-independent channel. The chimeric channel conducted potassium ions without the requirement of activated G proteins, yet displayed activation and deactivation kinetics and rectification properties similar to those of the G protein-dependent channel. The results demonstrate that structural elements in the C-terminus can independently control gating but not G protein signal transduction. The voltage dependence, time course, and kinetics of gating suggest a mechanism in which the pore may be occluded by reversible interactions with charged residues in the C-terminus.
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