Structural and functional analysis of the putative pH sensor in the Kir1.1 (ROMK) potassium channel.
ABSTRACT: The pH-sensitive renal potassium channel Kir1.1 is important for K+ homeostasis. Disruption of the pH-sensing mechanism causes type II Bartter syndrome. The pH sensor is thought to be an anomalously titrated lysine residue (K80) that interacts with two arginine residues as part of an 'RKR triad'. We show that a Kir1.1 orthologue from Fugu rubripes lacks this lysine and yet is still highly pH sensitive, indicating that K80 is not the H+ sensor. Instead, K80 functionally interacts with A177 on transmembrane domain 2 at the 'helix-bundle crossing' and controls the ability of pH-dependent conformational changes to induce pore closure. Although not required for pH inhibition, K80 is indispensable for the coupling of pH gating to the extracellular K+ concentration, explaining its conservation in most Kir1.1 orthologues. Furthermore, we demonstrate that instead of interacting with K80, the RKR arginine residues form highly conserved inter- and intra-subunit interactions that are important for Kir channel gating and influence pH sensitivity indirectly.
Project description:Gating of inward rectifier Kir1.1 potassium channels by internal pH is believed to occur when large hydrophobic leucines, on each of the four subunits, obstruct the permeation path at the cytoplasmic end of the inner transmembrane helices (TM2). In this study, we examined whether closure of the channel at this point involves bending of the inner helix at one or both of two highly conserved glycine residues (corresponding to G134 and G143 in KirBac1.1) that have been proposed as putative "gating hinges" for potassium channels. Replacement of these conserved inner helical glycines by less flexible alanines did not abolish gating but shifted the apparent pKa from 6.6 +/- 0.01 (wild-type) to 7.1 +/- 0.01 for G157A-Kir1.1b, and to 7.3 +/- 0.01 for G148A-Kir1.1b. When both glycines were mutated the effect was additive, shifting the pKa by 1.2 pH units to 7.8 +/- 0.04 for the double mutant: G157A+G148A. At this pKa, the double mutant would remain completely closed under physiological conditions. In contrast, when the glycine at G148 was replaced by a proline, the pKa was shifted in the opposite direction from 6.6 +/- 0.01 (wild-type) to 5.7 +/- 0.01 for G148P. Although conserved glycines at G148 and G157 made it significantly easier to open the channel, they were not an absolute requirement for pH gating in Kir1.1. In addition, none of the glycine mutants produced more than small changes in either the cell-attached or excised single-channel kinetics which, in this channel, argues against changes in the selectivity filter. The putative pH sensor at K61-Kir1.1b, (equivalent to K80-Kir1.1a) was also examined. Mutation of this lysine to an untitratable methionine did not abolish pH gating, but shifted the pKa into an acid range from 6.6 +/- 0.01 to 5.4 +/- 0.04, similar to pH gating in Kir2.1. Hence K61-Kir1.1b cannot function as the exclusive pH sensor for the channel, although it may act as one of multiple pH sensors, or as a link between a cytoplasmic sensor and the channel gate. K61-Kir1.1b also interacted differently with the two glycine mutations. Gating of the double mutant: K61M+G148A was indistinguishable from K61M alone, whereas gating of K61M+G157A was midway between the alkaline pKa of G157A and the acid pKa of K61M. Finally, closure of ROMK, G148A, G157A, and K61M all required the same L160-Kir1.1b residue at the cytoplasmic end of the inner transmembrane helix. Hence in wild-type and mutant channels, closure occurs by steric occlusion of the permeation path by four leucine side chains (L160-Kir1.1b) at the helix bundle crossing. This is facilitated by the conserved glycines on TM2, but pH gating in Kir1.1 does not absolutely require glycine hinges in this region.
Project description:The closed-state crystal structure of prokaryotic inward rectifier, KirBac1.1, has implicated four inner helical phenylalanines near the cytoplasmic side as a possible locus of the channel gate. In the present study, we investigate whether this structural feature corresponds to the physiological pH gate of the renal inward rectifier, Kir1.1 (ROMK, KCNJ1). Kir1.1 is endogenous to the mammalian renal collecting duct and the thick ascending limb of Henle and is strongly gated by internal pH in the physiological range. It has four leucines (L160-Kir1.1b), homologous to the phenylalanines of KirBac1.1, which could function as steric gates near the convergence of the inner (M2) helices. Replacing these Leu-160 residues of Kir1.1b by smaller glycines abolished pH gating; however, replacement with alanines, whose side chains are intermediate in size between leucine and glycine, did not eliminate normal pH gating. Furthermore, a double mutant, constructed by adding the I163M-Kir1.1b mutation to the L160G mutation, also lacked normal pH gating, although the I163M mutation by itself enhanced the pH sensitivity of the channel. In addition to size, side-chain hydrophobicity at 160-Kir1.1b was also important for normal pH gating. Mutants with polar side chains (L160S, L160T) did not gate normally and were as insensitive to internal pH as the L160G mutant. Hence, either small or highly polar side chains at 160-Kir1.1b stabilize the open state of the channel. A homology model of the Kir1.1 closed state, based on the crystal structure of KirBac1.1, was consistent with our electrophysiological data and implies that closure of the Kir1.1 pH gate results from steric occlusion of the permeation path by the convergence of four leucines at the cytoplasmic apex of the inner transmembrane helices. In the open state, K crosses the pH gate together with its hydration shell.
Project description:Kir1.1 inactivation, associated with transient internal acidification, is strongly dependent on external K, Ca, and Mg. Here, we show that in 1 mM K, a 15 min internal acidification (pH 6.3) followed by a 30 min recovery (pH 8.0) produced 84 ± 3% inactivation in 2 mM Ca but only 18 ± 4% inactivation in the absence of external Ca and Mg. In 100 mM external K, the same acidification protocol produced 29 ± 4% inactivation in 10 mM external Ca but no inactivation when extracellular Ca was reduced below 2 mM (with 0 Mg). However, chelation of external K with 15 mM of 18-Crown-6 (a crown ether) restored inactivation even in the absence of external divalents. External Ca was more effective than external Mg at producing inactivation, but Mg caused a greater degree of open channel block than Ca, making it unlikely that Kir1.1 inactivation arises from divalent block per se. Because the Ca sensitivity of inactivation persisted in 100 mM external K, it is also unlikely that Ca enhanced Kir1.1 inactivation by reducing the local K concentration at the outer mouth of the channel. The removal of four surface, negative side chains at E92, D97, E104, and E132 (Kir1.1b) increased the sensitivity of inactivation to external Ca (and Mg), whereas addition of a negative surface charge (N105E-Kir1.1b) decreased the sensitivity of inactivation to Ca and Mg. This result is consistent with the notion that negative surface charges stabilize external K in the selectivity filter or at the S(0)-K binding site just outside the filter. Extracellular Ca and Mg probably potentiate the slow, K-dependent inactivation of Kir1.1 by decreasing the affinity of the channel for external K independently of divalent block. The removal of external Ca and Mg largely eliminated both Kir1.1 inactivation and the K-dependence of pH gating, thereby uncoupling the selectivity filter gate from the cytoplasmic-side bundle-crossing gate.
Project description:The tetrameric K channel ROMK provides an important pathway for K secretion by the mammalian kidney, and the gating of this channel is highly sensitive to changes in cytosolic pH. Although charge-charge interactions have been implicated in pH sensing by this K channel tetramer, the molecular mechanism linking pH sensing and the gating of ion channels is poorly understood. The x-ray crystal structure KirBac1.1, a prokaryotic ortholog of ROMK, has suggested that channel gating involves intermolecular interactions of the N- and C-terminal domains of adjacent subunits. Here we studied channel gating behavior to changes in pH using giant patch clamping of Xenopus laevis oocytes expressing WT or mutant ROMK, and we present evidence that no single charged residue provides the pH sensor. Instead, we show that N-C- and C-C-terminal subunit-subunit interactions form salt bridges, which function to stabilize ROMK in the open state and which are modified by protons. We identify a highly conserved C-C-terminal arginine-glutamate (R-E) ion pair that forms an intermolecular salt bridge and responds to changes in proton concentration. Our results support the intermolecular model for pH gating of inward rectifier K channels.
Project description:ROMK (Kir1.1) channels are important for K secretion and recycling in the collecting duct, connecting tubule and thick ascending limb of the mammalian nephron. We have identified a highly conserved Arg in the P loop of the channel near the selectivity filter that controls Rb/K selectivity. Mutation of this Arg to a Tyr (R128Y-Kir1.1b, R147Y-Kir1.1a) increased the macroscopic conductance ratio, G(Rb)/G(K) by 17 ± 3 fold and altered the selectivity sequence from NH(4) > K > Tl > Rb >> Cs in wt-Kir1.1 to: Rb > Cs > Tl > NH(4) >> K in R128Y, without significant change in the high K/Na permeability ratio of Kir1.1. R128M produced similar, but smaller, increases in Rb, Tl, NH(4) and Cs conductance relative to K. R128Y remained susceptible to block by both external Ba and the honeybee toxin, TPNQ, although R128Y had a reduced affinity for TPNQ, relative to wild-type. The effect of R128Y-Kir1.1b on the G(Rb)/G(K) ratio can be partly explained by a larger single-channel Rb conductance (12.4 ± 0.5 pS) than K conductance (<1.5 pS) in this mutant. The kinetics of R128Y gating at -120 mV with Rb as the permeant ion were similar to those of wt-Kir1.1 conducting Rb, but with a longer open time (129 ms vs. 6 ms for wt) and two closed states (13 ms, 905 ms), resulting in an open probability (Po) of 0.5, compared to a Po of 0.9 for wt-Kir1.1, which had a single closed state of 1 ms at -120 mV. Single-channel R128Y rectification was eliminated in excised, insideout patches with symmetrical Rb solutions. The large increase in the Rb/K conductance ratio, with no change in K/Na permeability or rectification, is consistent with R128Y-Kir1.1b causing a subtle change in the selectivity filter, perhaps by disruption of an intra-subunit salt bridge (R128-E118) near the filter.
Project description:ROMK (Kir1.1) potassium channels are closed by internal acidification with a pKa of 6.7 +/- 0.01 in 100 mM external K and a pKa of 7.0 +/- 0.01 in 1 mM external K. Internal acidification in 1 mM K (but not 100 mM K) not only closed the pH gate but also inactivated Kir1.1, such that realkalization did not restore channel activity until high K was returned to the bath. We identified a new putative intersubunit salt bridge (R128-E132-Kir1.1b) in the P-loop of the channel near the selectivity filter that affected the K sensitivity of the inactivation process. Mutation of either R128-Kir1.1b or E132-Kir1.1b caused inactivation in both 1 mM and 100 mM external K during oocyte acidification. However, 300 mM external K (but not 200 mM Na + 100 mM K) protected both E132Q and R128Y from inactivation. External application of a modified honey-bee toxin, tertiapin Q (TPNQ), also protected Kir1.1 from inactivation in 1 mM K and protected E132Q and R128Y from inactivation in 100 mM K, which suggests that TPNQ binding to the outer mouth of the channel stabilizes the active state. Pretreatment of Kir1.1 with external Ba prevented Kir1.1 inactivation, similar to pretreatment with TPNQ. In addition, mutations that disrupted transmembrane helix H-bonding (K61M-Kir1.1b) or stabilized a selectivity filter to helix-pore linkage (V121T-Kir1.1b) also protected both E132Q and R128Y from inactivation in 1 mM K and 100 mM K. Our results are consistent with Kir inactivation arising from conformational changes near the selectivity filter, analogous to C-type inactivation.
Project description:Three residues (E132, F127, and R128) at the outer mouth of Kir1.1b directly affected inward rectifier gating by external K, independent of pH gating. Each of the individual mutations E132Q, F127V, F127D, and R128Y changed the normal K dependence of macroscopic conductance from hyperbolic (Km = 6 ± 2 mM) to linear, up to 500 mM, without changing the hyperbolic K dependence of single-channel conductance. This suggests that E132, F127, and R128 are responsible for maximal Kir1.1b activation by external K. In addition, these same residues were also essential for recovery of Kir1.1b activity after complete removal of external K by 18-Crown-6 polyether. In contrast, charge-altering mutations at neighboring residues (E92A, E104A, D97V, or Q133E) near the outer mouth of the channel did not affect Kir1.1b recovery after chelation of external K. The collective role of E132, R128, and F127 in preventing Kir1.1b inactivation by either cytoplasmic acidification or external K removal implies that pH inactivation and the external K sensor share a common mechanism, whereby E132, R128, and F127 stabilize the Kir1.1b selectivity filter gate in an open conformation, allowing rapid recovery of channel activity after a period of external K depletion.
Project description:K(+) channels share common selectivity characteristics but exhibit a wide diversity in how they are gated open. Leak K(2P) K(+) channels TASK-2, TALK-1 and TALK-2 are gated open by extracellular alkalinization. The mechanism for this alkalinization-dependent gating has been proposed to be the neutralization of the side chain of a single arginine (lysine in TALK-2) residue near the pore of TASK-2, which occurs with the unusual pK(a) of 8.0. We now corroborate this hypothesis by transplanting the TASK-2 extracellular pH (pH(o)) sensor in the background of a pH(o)-insensitive TASK-3 channel, which leads to the restitution of pH(o)-gating. Using a concatenated channel approach, we also demonstrate that for TASK-2 to open, pH(o) sensors must be neutralized in each of the two subunits forming these dimeric channels with no apparent cross-talk between the sensors. These results are consistent with adaptive biasing force analysis of K(+) permeation using a model selectivity filter in wild-type and mutated channels. The underlying free-energy profiles confirm that either a doubly or a singly charged pH(o) sensor is sufficient to abolish ion flow. Atomic detail of the associated mechanism reveals that, rather than a collapse of the pore, as proposed for other K(2P) channels gated at the selectivity filter, an increased height of the energetic barriers for ion translocation accounts for channel blockade at acid pH(o). Our data, therefore, strongly suggest that a cycle of protonation/deprotonation of pH(o)-sensing arginine 224 side chain gates the TASK-2 channel by electrostatically tuning the conformational stability of its selectivity filter.
Project description:The renal outer-medullary K+ channel (ROMK; Kir1.1) mediates K+ secretion in the renal mammalian nephron that is critical to both sodium and potassium homeostasis. The posttranscriptional expression of ROMK in the plasma membrane of cells is regulated by delivery of protein from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the cell surface and by retrieval by dynamin-dependent endocytic mechanisms in clathrin-coated pits. The S44 in the NH(2) terminus of ROMK1 can be phosphorylated by PKA and serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase-1, and this process increases surface expression of functional channels. We present evidence that phosphorylation of S44 modulates channel expression by increasing its cell surface delivery consequent to suppression of a COOH-terminal ER retention signal. This phosphorylation switch of the ER retention signal could provide a pool of mature and properly folded channels for rapid delivery to the plasma membrane. The x-ray crystal structures of inward rectifier K+ channels have shown a close apposition of the NH(2) terminus with the distal COOH terminus of the adjacent subunit in the channel homotetramer, which is important to channel gating. Thus, NH(2)-terminal phosphorylation modifying a COOH-terminal ER retention signal in ROMK1 could serve as a checkpoint for proper subunit folding critical to channel gating.
Project description:TASK-2 (KCNK5 or K(2P)5.1) is a background K(+) channel that is opened by extracellular alkalinization and plays a role in renal bicarbonate reabsorption and central chemoreception. Here, we demonstrate that in addition to its regulation by extracellular protons (pH(o)) TASK-2 is gated open by intracellular alkalinization. The following pieces of evidence suggest that the gating process controlled by intracellular pH (pH(i)) is independent from that under the command of pH(o). It was not possible to overcome closure by extracellular acidification by means of intracellular alkalinization. The mutant TASK-2-R224A that lacks sensitivity to pH(o) had normal pH(i)-dependent gating. Increasing extracellular K(+) concentration acid shifts pH(o) activity curve of TASK-2 yet did not affect pH(i) gating of TASK-2. pH(o) modulation of TASK-2 is voltage-dependent, whereas pH(i) gating was not altered by membrane potential. These results suggest that pH(o), which controls a selectivity filter external gate, and pH(i) act at different gating processes to open and close TASK-2 channels. We speculate that pH(i) regulates an inner gate. We demonstrate that neutralization of a lysine residue (Lys(245)) located at the C-terminal end of transmembrane domain 4 by mutation to alanine abolishes gating by pH(i). We postulate that this lysine acts as an intracellular pH sensor as its mutation to histidine acid-shifts the pH(i)-dependence curve of TASK-2 as expected from its lower pK(a). We conclude that intracellular pH, together with pH(o), is a critical determinant of TASK-2 activity and therefore of its physiological function.