Proline scan of the HERG channel S6 helix reveals the location of the intracellular pore gate.
ABSTRACT: In Shaker-like channels, the activation gate is formed at the bundle crossing by the convergence of the inner S6 helices near a conserved proline-valine-proline motif, which introduces a kink that allows for electromechanical coupling with voltage sensor motions via the S4-S5 linker. Human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) channels lack the proline-valine-proline motif and the location of the intracellular pore gate and how it is coupled to S4 movement is less clear. Here, we show that proline substitutions within the S6 of hERG perturbed pore gate closure, trapping channels in the open state. Performing a proline scan of the inner S6 helix, from Ile(655) to Tyr(667) revealed that gate perturbation occurred with proximal (I655P-Q664P), but not distal (R665P-Y667P) substitutions, suggesting that Gln(664) marks the position of the intracellular gate in hERG channels. Using voltage-clamp fluorimetry and gating current analysis, we demonstrate that proline substitutions trap the activation gate open by disrupting the coupling between the voltage-sensing unit and the pore of the channel. We characterize voltage sensor movement in one such trapped-open mutant channel and demonstrate the kinetics of what we interpret to be intrinsic hERG voltage sensor movement.
Project description:Delayed-rectifier potassium channels (hERG and KCNQ1) play a major role in cardiac repolarization. These channels are formed by a tetrameric pore (S5-S6) surrounded by four voltage sensor domains (S1-S4). Coupling between voltage sensor domains and the pore activation gate is critical for channel voltage-dependence. However, molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Herein, we demonstrate that covalently binding, through a disulfide bridge, a peptide mimicking the S4-S5 linker (S4-S5L) to the channel S6 C-terminus (S6T) completely inhibits hERG. This shows that channel S4-S5L is sufficient to stabilize the pore activation gate in its closed state. Conversely, covalently binding a peptide mimicking S6T to the channel S4-S5L prevents its inhibiting effect and renders the channel almost completely voltage-independent. This shows that the channel S4-S5L is necessary to stabilize the activation gate in its closed state. Altogether, our results provide chemical evidence that S4-S5L acts as a voltage-controlled ligand that binds S6T to lock the channel in a closed state, elucidating the coupling between voltage sensors and the gate in delayed rectifier potassium channels and potentially other voltage-gated channels.
Project description:Slow deactivation of hERG channels is critical for preventing cardiac arrhythmia yet the mechanistic basis for the slow gating transition is unclear. Here, we characterized the temporal sequence of events leading to voltage sensor stabilization upon membrane depolarization. Progressive increase in step depolarization duration slowed voltage-sensor return in a biphasic manner (?fast = 34 ms, ?slow = 2.5 s). The faster phase of voltage-sensor return slowing correlated with the kinetics of pore opening. The slower component occurred over durations that exceeded channel activation and was consistent with voltage sensor relaxation. The S4-S5 linker mutation, G546L, impeded the faster phase of voltage sensor stabilization without attenuating the slower phase, suggesting that the S4-S5 linker is important for communications between the pore gate and the voltage sensor during deactivation. These data also demonstrate that the mechanisms of pore gate-opening-induced and relaxation-induced voltage-sensor stabilization are separable. Deletion of the distal N-terminus (?2-135) accelerated off-gating current, but did not influence the relative contribution of either mechanism of stabilization of the voltage sensor. Lastly, we characterized mode-shift behavior in hERG channels, which results from stabilization of activated channel states. The apparent mode-shift depended greatly on recording conditions. By measuring slow activation and deactivation at steady state we found the "true" mode-shift to be ?15 mV. Interestingly, the "true" mode-shift of gating currents was ?40 mV, much greater than that of the pore gate. This demonstrates that voltage sensor return is less energetically favorable upon repolarization than pore gate closure. We interpret this to indicate that stabilization of the activated voltage sensor limits the return of hERG channels to rest. The data suggest that this stabilization occurs as a result of reconfiguration of the pore gate upon opening by a mechanism that is influenced by the S4-S5 linker, and by a separable voltage-sensor intrinsic relaxation mechanism.
Project description:Voltage-dependent K(+) (Kv) channels gate open in response to the membrane voltage. To further our understanding of how cell membrane voltage regulates the opening of a Kv channel, we have studied the protein interfaces that attach the voltage-sensor domains to the pore. In the crystal structure, three physical interfaces exist. Only two of these consist of amino acids that are co-evolved across the interface between voltage sensor and pore according to statistical coupling analysis of 360 Kv channel sequences. A first co-evolved interface is formed by the S4-S5 linkers (one from each of four voltage sensors), which form a cuff surrounding the S6-lined pore opening at the intracellular surface. The crystal structure and published mutational studies support the hypothesis that the S4-S5 linkers convert voltage-sensor motions directly into gate opening and closing. A second co-evolved interface forms a small contact surface between S1 of the voltage sensor and the pore helix near the extracellular surface. We demonstrate through mutagenesis that this interface is necessary for the function and/or structure of two different Kv channels. This second interface is well positioned to act as a second anchor point between the voltage sensor and the pore, thus allowing efficient transmission of conformational changes to the pore's gate.
Project description:Human ether-à-go-go-related gene (hERG) K(+) channels have unusual gating kinetics. Characterised by slow activation/deactivation but rapid inactivation/recovery from inactivation, the unique gating kinetics underlie the central role hERG channels play in cardiac repolarisation. The slow activation and deactivation kinetics are regulated in part by the S4-S5 linker, which couples movement of the voltage sensor domain to opening of the activation gate at the distal end of the inner helix of the pore domain. It has also been suggested that cytosolic domains may interact with the S4-S5 linker to regulate activation and deactivation kinetics. Here, we show that the solution structure of a peptide corresponding to the S4-S5 linker of hERG contains an amphipathic helix. The effects of mutations at the majority of residues in the S4-S5 linker of hERG were consistent with the previously identified role in coupling voltage sensor movement to the activation gate. However, mutations to Ser543, Tyr545, Gly546 and Ala548 had more complex phenotypes indicating that these residues are involved in additional interactions. We propose a model in which the S4-S5 linker, in addition to coupling VSD movement to the activation gate, also contributes to interactions that stabilise the closed state and a separate set of interactions that stabilise the open state. The S4-S5 linker therefore acts as a signal integrator and plays a crucial role in the slow deactivation kinetics of the channel.
Project description:Large conductance, Ca(2+)-activated potassium (BK) channels are widely expressed throughout the animal kingdom and play important roles in many physiological processes, such as muscle contraction, neural transmission and hearing. These physiological roles derive from the ability of BK channels to be synergistically activated by membrane voltage, intracellular Ca(2+) and other ligands. Similar to voltage-gated K(+) channels, BK channels possess a pore-gate domain (S5-S6 transmembrane segments) and a voltage-sensor domain (S1-S4). In addition, BK channels contain a large cytoplasmic C-terminal domain that serves as the primary ligand sensor. The voltage sensor and the ligand sensor allosterically control K(+) flux through the pore-gate domain in response to various stimuli, thereby linking cellular metabolism and membrane excitability. This review summarizes the current understanding of these structural domains and their mutual interactions in voltage-, Ca(2+)- and Mg(2+)-dependent activation of the channel.
Project description:Prokaryotic NaV channels are tetramers and eukaryotic NaV channels consist of a single subunit containing four domains. Each monomer/domain contains six transmembrane segments (S1-S6), S1-S4 being the voltage-sensor domain and S5-S6 the pore domain. A crystal structure of NaVMs, a prokaryotic NaV channel, suggests that the S4-S5 linker (S4-S5L) interacts with the C-terminus of S6 (S6T) to stabilize the gate in the open state. However, in several voltage-gated potassium channels, using specific S4-S5L-mimicking peptides, we previously demonstrated that S4-S5L/S6T interaction stabilizes the gate in the closed state. Here, we used the same strategy on another prokaryotic NaV channel, NaVSp1, to test whether equivalent peptides stabilize the channel in the open or closed state. A NaVSp1-specific S4-S5L peptide, containing the residues supposed to interact with S6T according to the NaVMs structure, induced both an increase in NaVSp1 current density and a negative shift in the activation curve, consistent with S4-S5L stabilizing the open state. Using this approach on a human NaV channel, hNaV1.4, and testing 12 hNaV1.4 S4-S5L peptides, we identified four activating S4-S5L peptides. These results suggest that, in eukaryotic NaV channels, the S4-S5L of DI, DII and DIII domains allosterically modulate the activation gate and stabilize its open state.
Project description:Despite sharing a common architecture with archetypal voltage-gated ion channels (VGICs), hyperpolarization- and cAMP-activated ion (HCN) channels open upon hyperpolarization rather than depolarization. The basic motions of the voltage sensor and pore gates are conserved, implying that these domains are inversely coupled in HCN channels. Using structure-guided protein engineering, we systematically assembled an array of mosaic channels that display the full complement of voltage-activation phenotypes observed in the VGIC superfamily. Our studies reveal that the voltage sensor of the HCN channel has an intrinsic ability to drive pore opening in either direction and that the extra length of the HCN S4 is not the primary determinant for hyperpolarization activation. Tight interactions at the HCN voltage sensor-pore interface drive the channel into an hERG-like inactivated state, thereby obscuring its opening upon depolarization. This structural element in synergy with the HCN cyclic nucleotide-binding domain and specific interactions near the pore gate biases the channel toward hyperpolarization-dependent opening. Our findings reveal an unexpected common principle underpinning voltage gating in the VGIC superfamily and identify the essential determinants of gating polarity.
Project description:Kv11.1 (hERG, KCNH2) is a voltage-gated potassium channel crucial in setting the cardiac rhythm and the electrical behaviour of several non-cardiac cell types. Voltage-dependent gating of Kv11.1 can be reconstructed from non-covalently linked voltage sensing and pore modules (split channels), challenging classical views of voltage-dependent channel activation based on a S4-S5 linker acting as a rigid mechanical lever to open the gate. Progressive displacement of the split position from the end to the beginning of the S4-S5 linker induces an increasing negative shift in activation voltage dependence, a reduced z g value and a more negative ?G 0 for current activation, an almost complete abolition of the activation time course sigmoid shape and a slowing of the voltage-dependent deactivation. Channels disconnected at the S4-S5 linker near the S4 helix show a destabilization of the closed state(s). Furthermore, the isochronal ion current mode shift magnitude is clearly reduced in the different splits. Interestingly, the progressive modifications of voltage dependence activation gating by changing the split position are accompanied by a shift in the voltage-dependent availability to a methanethiosulfonate reagent of a Cys introduced at the upper S4 helix. Our data demonstrate for the first time that alterations in the covalent connection between the voltage sensor and the pore domains impact on the structural reorganizations of the voltage sensor domain. Also, they support the hypothesis that the S4-S5 linker integrates signals coming from other cytoplasmic domains that constitute either an important component or a crucial regulator of the gating machinery in Kv11.1 and other KCNH channels.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels initiate action potentials in nerve, muscle, and other electrically excitable cells. The structural basis of voltage gating is uncertain because the resting state exists only at deeply negative membrane potentials. To stabilize the resting conformation, we inserted voltage-shifting mutations and introduced a disulfide crosslink in the VS of the ancestral bacterial sodium channel NaVAb. Here, we present a cryo-EM structure of the resting state and a complete voltage-dependent gating mechanism. The S4 segment of the VS is drawn intracellularly, with three gating charges passing through the transmembrane electric field. This movement forms an elbow connecting S4 to the S4-S5 linker, tightens the collar around the S6 activation gate, and prevents its opening. Our structure supports the classical "sliding helix" mechanism of voltage sensing and provides a complete gating mechanism for voltage sensor function, pore opening, and activation-gate closure based on high-resolution structures of a single sodium channel protein.
Project description:Kv channels form voltage-dependent potassium selective pores in the outer cell membrane and are composed out of four ?-subunits, each having six membrane-spanning ?-helices (S1-S6). The ?-subunits tetramerize such that the S5-S6 pore domains co-assemble into a centrally located K(+) pore which is surrounded by four operational voltage-sensing domains (VSD) that are each formed by the S1-S4 segments. Consequently, each subunit is capable of responding to changes in membrane potential and dictates whether the pore should be conductive or not. K(+) permeation through the pore can be sealed off by two separate gates in series: (a) at the inner S6 bundle crossing (BC gate) and (b) at the level of the selectivity filter (SF gate) located at the extracellular entrance of the pore. Within the last years a general consensus emerged that a direct communication between the S4S5-linker and the bottom part of S6 (S6(c)) constitutes the coupling with the VSD thus making the BC gate the main voltage-controllable activation gate. While the BC gate listens to the VSD, the SF changes its conformation depending on the status of the BC gate. Through the eyes of an entering K(+) ion, the operation of the BC gate apparatus can be compared with the iris-like motion of the diaphragm from a camera whereby its diameter widens. Two main gating motions have been proposed to create this BC gate widening: (1) tilting of the helix whereby the S6 converts from a straight ?-helix to a tilted one or (2) swiveling of the S6(c) whereby the S6 remains bent. Such motions require a flexible hinge that decouples the pre- and post-hinge segment. Roughly at the middle of the S6 there exists a highly conserved glycine residue and a tandem proline motif that seem to fulfill the role of a gating hinge which allows for tilting/swiveling/rotations of the post-hinge S6 segment. In this review we delineate our current view on the operation of the BC gate for controlling K(+) permeation in Kv channels.