Structural interactions between lipids, water and S1-S4 voltage-sensing domains.
ABSTRACT: Membrane proteins serve crucial signaling and transport functions, yet relatively little is known about their structures in membrane environments or how lipids interact with these proteins. For voltage-activated ion channels, X-ray structures suggest that the mobile voltage-sensing S4 helix would be exposed to the membrane, and functional studies reveal that lipid modification can profoundly alter channel activity. Here, we use solid-state NMR to investigate structural interactions of lipids and water with S1-S4 voltage-sensing domains and to explore whether lipids influence the structure of the protein. Our results demonstrate that S1-S4 domains exhibit extensive interactions with lipids and that these domains are heavily hydrated when embedded in a membrane. We also find evidence for preferential interactions of anionic lipids with S1-S4 domains and that these interactions have lifetimes on the timescale of ? 10(-3)s. Arg residues within S1-S4 domains are well hydrated and are positioned in close proximity to lipids, exhibiting local interactions with both lipid headgroups and acyl chains. Comparative studies with a positively charged lipid lacking a phosphodiester group reveal that this lipid modification has only modest effects on the structure and hydration of S1-S4 domains. Taken together, our results demonstrate that Arg residues in S1-S4 voltage-sensing domains reside in close proximity to the hydrophobic interior of the membrane yet are well hydrated, a requirement for carrying charge and driving protein motions in response to changes in membrane voltage.
Project description:Voltage-activated ion channels open and close in response to changes in voltage, a property that is essential for generating nerve impulses. Studies on voltage-activated potassium (Kv) channels show that voltage-sensor activation is sensitive to the composition of lipids in the surrounding membrane. Here we explore the interaction of lipids with S1-S4 voltage-sensing domains and find that the conversion of the membrane lipid sphingomyelin to ceramide-1-phosphate alters voltage-sensor activation in an S1-S4 voltage-sensing protein lacking an associated pore domain, and that the S3b-S4 paddle motif determines the effects of lipid modification on Kv channels. Using tarantula toxins that bind to paddle motifs within the membrane, we identify mutations in the paddle motif that weaken toxin binding by disrupting lipid-paddle interactions. Our results suggest that lipids bind to voltage-sensing domains and demonstrate that the pharmacological sensitivities of voltage-activated ion channels are influenced by the surrounding lipid membrane.
Project description:Despite the growing number of atomic-resolution membrane protein structures, direct structural information about proteins in their native membrane environment is scarce. This problem is particularly relevant in the case of the highly charged S1-S4 voltage-sensing domains responsible for nerve impulses, where interactions with the lipid bilayer are critical for the function of voltage-activated ion channels. Here we use neutron diffraction, solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the structure and hydration of bilayer membranes containing S1-S4 voltage-sensing domains. Our results show that voltage sensors adopt transmembrane orientations and cause a modest reshaping of the surrounding lipid bilayer, and that water molecules intimately interact with the protein within the membrane. These structural findings indicate that voltage sensors have evolved to interact with the lipid membrane while keeping energetic and structural perturbations to a minimum, and that water penetrates the membrane, to hydrate charged residues and shape the transmembrane electric field.
Project description:The detection of electrical potentials across lipid bilayers by specialized membrane proteins is required for many fundamental cellular processes such as the generation and propagation of nerve impulses. These membrane proteins possess modular voltage-sensing domains, a notable example being the S1-S4 domains of voltage-activated ion channels. Ground-breaking structural studies on these domains explain how voltage sensors are designed and reveal important interactions with the surrounding lipid membrane. Although further structures are needed to understand the conformational changes that occur during voltage sensing, the available data help to frame several key concepts that are fundamental to the mechanism of voltage sensing.
Project description:Voltage-sensing domains enable membrane proteins to sense and react to changes in membrane voltage. Although identifiable S1-S4 voltage-sensing domains are found in an array of conventional ion channels and in other membrane proteins that lack pore domains, the extent to which their voltage-sensing mechanisms are conserved is unknown. Here we show that the voltage-sensor paddle, a motif composed of S3b and S4 helices, can drive channel opening with membrane depolarization when transplanted from an archaebacterial voltage-activated potassium channel (KvAP) or voltage-sensing domain proteins (Hv1 and Ci-VSP) into eukaryotic voltage-activated potassium channels. Tarantula toxins that partition into membranes can interact with these paddle motifs at the protein-lipid interface and similarly perturb voltage-sensor activation in both ion channels and proteins with a voltage-sensing domain. Our results show that paddle motifs are modular, that their functions are conserved in voltage sensors, and that they move in the relatively unconstrained environment of the lipid membrane. The widespread targeting of voltage-sensor paddles by toxins demonstrates that this modular structural motif is an important pharmacological target.
Project description:Voltage-dependent ion channels open and close in response to changes in membrane electrical potential due to the motion of their voltage-sensing domains (VSDs). VSD charge displacements within the membrane electric field are observed in electrophysiology experiments as gating currents preceding ionic conduction. The elementary charge motions that give rise to the gating current cannot be observed directly, but appear as discrete current pulses that generate fluctuations in gating current measurements. Here we report direct observation of gating-charge displacements in an atomistic molecular dynamics simulation of the isolated VSD from the KvAP channel in a hydrated lipid bilayer on the timescale (10-?s) expected for elementary gating charge transitions. The results reveal that gating-charge displacements are associated with the water-catalyzed rearrangement of salt bridges between the S4 arginines and a set of conserved acidic side chains on the S1-S3 transmembrane segments in the hydrated interior of the VSD.
Project description:All-atom molecular dynamics simulations are used to better understand the dynamic environment experienced by the Kv1.2 channel in a lipid membrane. The structure of the channel is stable during the trajectories. The pore domain keeps a well-defined conformation, whereas the voltage-sensing domains undergo important lateral fluctuations, consistent with their modular nature. A channel-like region at the center of the S1-S4 helical bundle fills rapidly with water, reminiscent of the concept of high-dielectric aqueous crevices. The first two arginines along S4 (R294 and R297) adopt an interfacial position where they interact favorably with water and the lipid headgroups. The following two arginines (R300 and R303) interact predominantly with water and E226 in S2. Despite the absence of a structurally permanent gating pore formed by protein residues and surrounding the S4 helix, as traditionally pictured, the charged residues are located in a favorable environment and are not extensively exposed to the membrane nonpolar region. Continuum electrostatic computations indicate that the transmembrane potential sensed by the charged residues in the voltage sensor varies abruptly over the outer half of the membrane in the arginine-rich region of S4; thus, the voltage gradient or membrane electric field is "focused". Interactions of basic residues with the lipid headgroups at the intracellular membrane-solution interface reduce the membrane thickness near the channel, resulting in an increased transmembrane field.
Project description:Voltage-gated K(+) channels comprise a central pore enclosed by four voltage-sensing domains (VSDs). While movement of the S4 helix is known to couple to channel gate opening and closing, the nature of S4 motion is unclear. Here, we substituted S4 residues of Kv7.1 channels by cysteine and recorded whole-cell mutant channel currents in Xenopus oocytes using the two-electrode voltage-clamp technique. In the closed state, disulfide and metal bridges constrain residue S225 (S4) nearby C136 (S1) within the same VSD. In the open state, two neighboring I227 (S4) are constrained at proximity while residue R228 (S4) is confined close to C136 (S1) of an adjacent VSD. Structural modeling predicts that in the closed to open transition, an axial rotation (approximately 190 degrees) and outward translation of S4 (approximately 12 A) is accompanied by VSD rocking. This large sensor motion changes the intra-VSD S1-S4 interaction to an inter-VSD S1-S4 interaction. These constraints provide a ground for cooperative subunit interactions and suggest a key role of the S1 segment in steering S4 motion during Kv7.1 gating.
Project description:Voltage sensors (VS) domains couple the activation of ion channels/enzymes to changes in membrane voltage. We used molecular dynamics simulations to examine interactions with lipids of several VS homologs. VSs in intact channels in the activated state are exposed to phospholipids, leading to a characteristic local distortion of the lipid bilayer which decreases its thickness by ?10 Å. This effect is mediated by a conserved hydrophilic stretch in the S4-S5 segment linking the VS and the pore domains, and may favor gating charges crossing the membrane. In cationic lipid bilayers lacking phosphate groups, VSs form fewer contacts with lipid headgroups. The S3-S4 paddle motifs show persistent interactions of individual lipid molecules, influenced by the hairpin loop. In conclusion, our results suggest common interactions with phospholipids for various VS homologs, providing insights into the molecular basis of their stabilization in the membrane and how they are altered by lipid modification.
Project description:Voltage-sensor domains (VSDs) are modular transmembrane domains of voltage-gated ion channels that respond to changes in membrane potential by undergoing conformational changes that are coupled to gating of the ion-conducting pore. Most spider-venom peptides function as gating modifiers by binding to the VSDs of voltage-gated channels and trapping them in a closed or open state. To understand the molecular basis underlying this mode of action, we used nuclear magnetic resonance to delineate the atomic details of the interaction between the VSD of the voltage-gated potassium channel KvAP and the spider-venom peptide VSTx1. Our data reveal that the toxin interacts with residues in an aqueous cleft formed between the extracellular S1-S2 and S3-S4 loops of the VSD whilst maintaining lipid interactions in the gaps formed between the S1-S4 and S2-S3 helices. The resulting network of interactions increases the energetic barrier to the conformational changes required for channel gating, and we propose that this is the mechanism by which gating modifier toxins inhibit voltage-gated ion channels.
Project description:The voltage-gated proton channel Hv1 is a member of the voltage-gated ion channel superfamily, which stands out in design: It is a dimer of two voltage-sensing domains (VSDs), each containing a pore pathway, a voltage sensor (S4), and a gate (S1) and forming its own ion channel. Opening of the two channels in the dimer is cooperative. Part of the cooperativity is due to association between coiled-coil domains that extend intracellularly from the S4s. Interactions between the transmembrane portions of the subunits may also contribute, but the nature of transmembrane packing is unclear. Using functional analysis of a mutagenesis scan, biochemistry, and modeling, we find that the subunits form a dimer interface along the entire length of S1, and also have intersubunit contacts between S1 and S4. These interactions exert a strong effect on gating, in particular on the stability of the open state. Our results suggest that gating in Hv1 is tuned by extensive VSD-VSD interactions between the gates and voltage sensors of the dimeric channel.