Combinatorial augmentation of voltage-gated KCNQ potassium channels by chemical openers.
ABSTRACT: Noninactivating potassium current formed by KCNQ2 (Kv7.2) and KCNQ3 (Kv7.3) subunits resembles neuronal M-currents which are activated by voltage and play a critical role in controlling membrane excitability. Activation of voltage-gated potassium channels by a chemical opener is uncommon. Therefore, the mechanisms of action are worthy further investigation. Retigabine and zinc pyrithione are two activators for KCNQ channels but their molecular interactions with KCNQ channel remain largely elusive. Here we report that retigabine and zinc pyrithione recognize two different sites of KCNQ2 channels. Their agonistic actions are noncompetitive and allow for simultaneous binding of two different activators on the same channel complex, hence giving rise to combinatorial potentiation with characteristic properties of both openers. Examining their effects on mutant channels, we showed zinc pyrithione is capable of opening nonconductive channels and coapplication of zinc pyrithione and retigabine could restore a disease mutant channel similar to wild type. Our results indicate two independent activator binding sites present in KCNQ channels. The resultant combinatorial potentiation by multiple synthetic chemical openers indicates that KCNQ channels are accessible to various types and combinations of pharmacological regulation.
Project description:KCNQ2-5 (Kv7.2-Kv7.5) channels are strongly influenced by an emerging class of small-molecule channel activators. Retigabine is the prototypical KCNQ activator that is thought to bind within the pore. It requires the presence of a Trp side chain that is conserved among retigabine-sensitive channels but absent in the retigabine-insensitive KCNQ1 subtype. Recent work has demonstrated that certain KCNQ openers are insensitive to mutations of this conserved Trp, and that their effects are instead abolished or attenuated by mutations in the voltage-sensing domain (VSD). In this study, we investigate the stoichiometry of a VSD-targeted KCNQ2 channel activator, ICA-069673, by forming concatenated channel constructs with varying numbers of drug-insensitive subunits. In homomeric WT KCNQ2 channels, ICA-069673 strongly stabilizes an activated channel conformation, which is reflected in the pronounced deceleration of deactivation and leftward shift of the conductance-voltage relationship. A full complement of four drug-sensitive subunits is required for maximal sensitivity to ICA-069673-even a single drug-insensitive subunit leads to significantly weakened effects. In a companion article (see Yau et al. in this issue), we demonstrate very different stoichiometry for the action of retigabine on KCNQ3, for which a single retigabine-sensitive subunit enables near-maximal effect. Together, these studies highlight fundamental differences in the site and mechanism of activation between retigabine and voltage sensor-targeted KCNQ openers.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: DFNA2 is a frequent hereditary hearing disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations in the voltage-gated potassium channel KCNQ4 (Kv7.4). KCNQ4 mediates the predominant K(+) conductance, I(K,n) , of auditory outer hair cells (OHCs), and loss of KCNQ4 function leads to degeneration of OHCs resulting in progressive hearing loss. Here we explore the possible recovery of channel activity of mutant KCNQ4 induced by synthetic KCNQ channel openers. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Whole cell patch clamp recordings were performed on CHO cells transiently expressing KCNQ4 wild-type (wt) and DFNA2-relevant mutants, and from acutely isolated OHCs. KEY RESULTS: Various known KCNQ channel openers robustly enhanced KCNQ4 currents. The strongest potentiation was observed with a combination of zinc pyrithione plus retigabine. A similar albeit less pronounced current enhancement was observed with native I(K,n) currents in rat OHCs. DFNA2 mutations located in the channel's pore region abolished channel function and these mutant channels were completely unresponsive to channel openers. However, the function of a DFNA2 mutation located in the proximal C-terminus was restored by the combined application of both openers. Co-expression of wt and KCNQ4 pore mutants suppressed currents to barely detectable levels. In this dominant-negative situation, channel openers essentially restored currents back to wt levels, most probably through strong activation of only the small fraction of homomeric wt channels. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Our data suggest that by stabilizing the KCNQ4-mediated conductance in OHCs, chemical channel openers can protect against OHC degeneration and progression of hearing loss in DFNA2.
Project description:Chemical openers for KCNQ potassium channels are useful probes both for understanding channel gating and for developing therapeutics. The five KCNQ isoforms (KCNQ1 to KCNQ5, or Kv7.1 to Kv7.5) are differentially localized. Therefore, the molecular specificity of chemical openers is an important subject of investigation. Native KCNQ1 normally exists in complex with auxiliary subunits known as KCNE. In cardiac myocytes, the KCNQ1-KCNE1 (IsK or minK) channel is thought to underlie the I(Ks) current, a component critical for membrane repolarization during cardiac action potential. Hence, the molecular and pharmacological differences between KCNQ1 and KCNQ1-KCNE1 channels have been important topics. Zinc pyrithione (ZnPy) is a newly identified KCNQ channel opener, which potently activates KCNQ2, KCNQ4, and KCNQ5. However, the ZnPy effects on cardiac KCNQ1 potassium channels remain largely unknown. Here we show that ZnPy effectively augments the KCNQ1 current, exhibiting an increase in current amplitude, reduction of inactivation, and slowing of both activation and deactivation. Some of these are reminiscent of effects by KCNE1. In addition, neither the heteromultimeric KCNQ1-KCNE1 channels nor native I(Ks) current displayed any sensitivity to ZnPy, indicating that the static occupancy by a KCNE subunit desensitizes the reversible effects by a chemical opener. Site-directed mutagenesis of KCNQ1 reveals that residues critical for the potentiation effects by either ZnPy or KCNE are clustered together in the S6 region overlapping with the critical gating determinants. Thus, the convergence of potentiation effects and molecular determinants critical for both an auxiliary subunit and a chemical opener argue for a mechanistic overlap in causing potentiation.
Project description:Retigabine is a recently approved anticonvulsant that acts by potentiating neuronal M-current generated by KCNQ2-5 channels, interacting with a conserved Trp residue in the channel pore domain. Using unnatural amino-acid mutagenesis, we subtly altered the properties of this Trp to reveal specific chemical interactions required for retigabine action. Introduction of a non-natural isosteric H-bond-deficient Trp analogue abolishes channel potentiation, indicating that retigabine effects rely strongly on formation of a H-bond with the conserved pore Trp. Supporting this model, substitution with fluorinated Trp analogues, with increased H-bonding propensity, strengthens retigabine potency. In addition, potency of numerous retigabine analogues correlates with the negative electrostatic surface potential of a carbonyl/carbamate oxygen atom present in most KCNQ activators. These findings functionally pinpoint an atomic-scale interaction essential for effects of retigabine and provide stringent constraints that may guide rational improvement of the emerging drug class of KCNQ channel activators.
Project description:Epilepsy is caused by an electrical hyperexcitability in the CNS. Because K+ channels are critical for establishing and stabilizing the resting potential of neurons, a loss of K+ channels could support neuronal hyperexcitability. Indeed, benign familial neonatal convulsions, an autosomal dominant epilepsy of infancy, is caused by mutations in KCNQ2 or KCNQ3 K+ channel genes. Because these channels contribute to the native muscarinic-sensitive K+ current (M current) that regulates excitability of numerous types of neurons, KCNQ (Kv7) channel activators would be effective in epilepsy treatment. A compound exhibiting anticonvulsant activity in animal seizure models is retigabine. It specifically acts on the neuronally expressed KCNQ2-KCNQ5 (Kv7.2-Kv7.5) channels, whereas KCNQ1 (Kv7.1) is not affected. Using the differential sensitivity of KCNQ3 and KCNQ1 to retigabine, we constructed chimeras to identify minimal segments required for sensitivity to the drug. We identified a single tryptophan residue within the S5 segment of KCNQ3 and also KCNQ2, KCNQ4, and KCNQ5 as crucial for the effect of retigabine. Furthermore, heteromeric KCNQ channels comprising KCNQ2 and KCNQ1 transmembrane domains (attributable to transfer of assembly properties from KCNQ3 to KCNQ1) are retigabine insensitive. Transfer of the tryptophan into the KCNQ1 scaffold resulted in retigabine-sensitive heteromers, suggesting that the tryptophan is necessary in all KCNQ subunits forming a functional tetramer to confer drug sensitivity.
Project description:Pharmacological augmentation of neuronal KCNQ muscarinic (M) currents by drugs such as retigabine (RTG) represents a first-in-class therapeutic to treat certain hyperexcitatory diseases by dampening neuronal firing. Whereas all five potassium channel subtypes (KCNQ1-KCNQ5) are found in the nervous system, KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 are the primary players that mediate M currents. We investigated the plasticity of subtype selectivity by two M current effective drugs, retigabine and zinc pyrithione (ZnPy). Retigabine is more effective on KCNQ3 than KCNQ2, whereas ZnPy is more effective on KCNQ2 with no detectable effect on KCNQ3. In neurons, activation of muscarinic receptor signaling desensitizes effects by retigabine but not ZnPy. Importantly, reduction of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) causes KCNQ3 to become sensitive to ZnPy but lose sensitivity to retigabine. The dynamic shift of pharmacological selectivity caused by PIP2 may be induced orthogonally by voltage-sensitive phosphatase, or conversely, abolished by mutating a PIP2 site within the S4-S5 linker of KCNQ3. Therefore, whereas drug-channel binding is a prerequisite, the drug selectivity on M current is dynamic and may be regulated by receptor signaling pathways via PIP2.
Project description:AIM: Retigabine, an activator of KCNQ2-5 channels, is currently used to treat partial-onset seizures. The aim of this study was to explore the possibility that structure modification of retigabine could lead to novel inhibitors of KCNQ2 channels, which were valuable tools for KCNQ channel studies. METHODS: A series of retigabine derivatives was designed and synthesized. KCNQ2 channels were expressed in CHO cells. KCNQ2 currents were recorded using whole-cell voltage clamp technique. Test compound in extracellular solution was delivered to the recorded cell using an ALA 8 Channel Solution Exchange System. RESULTS: A total of 23 retigabine derivatives (HN31-HN410) were synthesized and tested electrophysiologically. Among the compounds, HN38 was the most potent inhibitor of KCNQ2 channels (its IC50 value=0.10 ± 0.05 μmol/L), and was 7-fold more potent than the classical KCNQ inhibitor XE991. Further analysis revealed that HN38 (3 μmol/L) had no detectable effect on channel activation, but accelerated deactivation at hyperpolarizing voltages. In contrast, XE991 (3 μmol/L) did not affect the kinetics of channel activation and deactivation. CONCLUSION: The retigabine derivative HN38 is a potent KCNQ2 inhibitor, which differs from XE991 in its influence on the channel kinetics. Our study provides a new strategy for the design and development of potent KCNQ2 channel inhibitors.
Project description:Of the five human KCNQ (Kv7) channels, KCNQ1 with auxiliary subunit KCNE1 mediates the native cardiac I(Ks) current with mutations causing short and long QT cardiac arrhythmias. KCNQ4 mutations cause deafness. KCNQ2/3 channels form the native M-current controlling excitability of most neurons, with mutations causing benign neonatal febrile convulsions. Drosophila contains a single KCNQ (dKCNQ) that appears to serve alone the functions of all the duplicated mammalian neuronal and cardiac KCNQ channels sharing roughly 50-60% amino acid identity therefore offering a route to investigate these channels. Current information about the functional properties of dKCNQ is lacking therefore we have investigated these properties here. Using whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology we compare the biophysical and pharmacological properties of dKCNQ with the mammalian neuronal and cardiac KCNQ channels expressed in HEK cells. We show that Drosophila KCNQ (dKCNQ) is a slowly activating and slowly-deactivating K(+) current open at sub-threshold potentials that has similar properties to neuronal KCNQ2/3 with some features of the cardiac KCNQ1/KCNE1 accompanied by conserved sensitivity to a number of clinically relevant KCNQ blockers (chromanol 293B, XE991, linopirdine) and opener (zinc pyrithione). We also investigate the molecular basis of the differential selectivity of KCNQ channels to the opener retigabine and show a single amino acid substitution (M217W) can confer sensitivity to dKCNQ. We show dKCNQ has similar electrophysiological and pharmacological properties as the mammalian KCNQ channels, allowing future study of physiological and pathological roles of KCNQ in Drosophila and whole organism screening for new modulators of KCNQ channelopathies.
Project description:Mutations in potassium voltage-gated channel subfamily Q member 4 (KCNQ4) are etiologically linked to a type of nonsyndromic hearing loss, deafness nonsyndromic autosomal dominant 2 (DFNA2). We performed whole-exome sequencing for 98 families with hearing loss and found mutations in KCNQ4 in five families. In this study, we characterized two novel mutations in KCNQ4: a missense mutation (c.796G>T; p.Asp266Tyr) and an in-frame deletion mutation (c.259_267del; p.Val87_Asn89del). p.Asp266Tyr located in the channel pore region resulted in early onset and moderate hearing loss, whereas p.Val87_Asn89del located in the N-terminal cytoplasmic region resulted in late onset and high frequency-specific hearing loss. When heterologously expressed in HEK 293?T cells, both mutant proteins did not show defects in protein trafficking to the plasma membrane or in interactions with wild-type (WT) KCNQ4 channels. Patch-clamp analysis demonstrated that both p.Asp266Tyr and p.Val87_Asn89del mutant channels lost conductance and were completely unresponsive to KCNQ activators, such as retigabine, zinc pyrithione, and ML213. Channels assembled from WT-p.Asp266Tyr concatemers, like those from WT-WT concatemers, exhibited conductance and responsiveness to KCNQ activators. However, channels assembled from WT-p.Val87_Asn89del concatemers showed impaired conductance, suggesting that p.Val87_Asn89del caused complete loss-of-function with a strong dominant-negative effect on functional WT channels. Therefore, the main pathological mechanism may be related to loss of K+ channel activity, not defects in trafficking.
Project description:Less than half of patients suffering from major depressive disorder, a leading cause of disability worldwide, achieve remission with current antidepressants, making it imperative to develop more effective treatment. A new therapeutic direction is emerging from the increased understanding of natural resilience as an active stress-coping process. It is known that potassium (K(+)) channels in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) are an active mediator of resilience. However, no druggable targets have been identified to potentiate active resilience mechanisms. In the chronic social defeat stress model of depression, we report that KCNQ-type K(+) channel openers, including FDA-approved drug retigabine (ezogabine), show antidepressant efficacy. We demonstrate that overexpression of KCNQ channels in the VTA dopaminergic neurons and either local infusion or systemic administration of retigabine normalized neuronal hyperactivity and depressive behaviours. These findings identify KCNQ as a target for conceptually novel antidepressants that function through the potentiation of active resilience mechanisms.