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Small-molecule modulators of diverse voltage-gated K+ (Kv) channels may help treat a wide range of neurological disorders. However, developing effective modulators requires understanding of their mechanism of action. We apply an orthogonal approach to elucidate the mechanism of action of an imidazolidinedione derivative (AUT5), a highly selective positive allosteric modulator of Kv3.1 and Kv3.2 channels. AUT5 modulation involves positive cooperativity and preferential stabilization of the open state. The cryo-EM structure of the Kv3.1/AUT5 complex at a resolution of 2.5 Å reveals four equivalent AUT5 binding sites at the extracellular inter-subunit interface between the voltage-sensing and pore domains of the channel's tetrameric assembly. Furthermore, we show that the unique extracellular turret regions of Kv3.1 and Kv3.2 essentially govern the selective positive modulation by AUT5. High-resolution apo and bound structures of Kv3.1 demonstrate how AUT5 binding promotes turret rearrangements and interactions with the voltage-sensing domain to favor the open conformation.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Binding Sites, Shaw Potassium Channels