Deciphering voltage-gated Na(+) and Ca(2+) channels by studying prokaryotic ancestors.
ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) and calcium channels (CaVs) are involved in electrical signaling, contraction, secretion, synaptic transmission, and other physiological processes activated in response to depolarization. Despite their physiological importance, the structures of these closely related proteins have remained elusive because of their size and complexity. Bacterial NaVs have structures analogous to a single domain of eukaryotic NaVs and CaVs and are their likely evolutionary ancestor. Here we review recent work that has led to new understanding of NaVs and CaVs through high-resolution structural studies of their prokaryotic ancestors. New insights into their voltage-dependent activation and inactivation, ion conductance, and ion selectivity provide realistic structural models for the function of these complex membrane proteins at the atomic level.
Project description:Voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels (Cavs) are indispensable for coupling action potentials with Ca2+ signaling in living organisms. The structure of Cavs is similar to that of voltage-dependent Na+ channels (Navs). It is known that prokaryotic Navs can obtain Ca2+ selectivity by negative charge mutations of the selectivity filter, but native prokaryotic Cavs had not yet been identified. We report the first identification of a native prokaryotic Cav, CavMr, whose selectivity filter contains a smaller number of negatively charged residues than that of artificial prokaryotic Cavs. A relative mutant whose selectivity filter was replaced with that of CavMr exhibits high Ca2+ selectivity. Mutational analyses revealed that the glycine residue of the CavMr selectivity filter is a determinant for Ca2+ selectivity. This glycine residue is well conserved among subdomains I and III of eukaryotic Cavs. These findings provide new insight into the Ca2+ selectivity mechanism that is conserved from prokaryotes to eukaryotes.
Project description:Rapid Na+/Ca2+-based action potentials govern essential cellular functions in eukaryotes, from the motile responses of unicellular protists, such as Paramecium [1, 2], to complex animal neuromuscular activity . A key innovation underpinning this fundamental signaling process has been the evolution of four-domain voltage-gated Na+/Ca2+ channels (4D-Cavs/Navs). These channels are widely distributed across eukaryote diversity , albeit several eukaryotes, including land plants and fungi, have lost voltage-sensitive 4D-Cav/Navs [5-7]. Because these lineages appear to lack rapid Na+/Ca2+-based action potentials, 4D-Cav/Navs are generally considered necessary for fast Na+/Ca2+-based signaling . However, the cellular mechanisms underpinning the membrane physiology of many eukaryotes remain unexamined. Eukaryotic phytoplankton critically influence our climate as major primary producers. Several taxa, including the globally abundant diatoms, exhibit membrane excitability [8-10]. We previously demonstrated that certain diatom genomes encode 4D-Cav/Navs  but also proteins of unknown function, resembling prokaryote single-domain, voltage-gated Na+ channels (BacNavs) . Here, we show that single-domain channels are actually broadly distributed across major eukaryote phytoplankton lineages and represent three novel classes of single-domain channels, which we refer collectively to as EukCats. Functional characterization of diatom EukCatAs indicates that they are voltage-gated Na+- and Ca2+-permeable channels, with rapid kinetics resembling metazoan 4D-Cavs/Navs. In Phaeodactylum tricornutum, which lacks 4D-Cav/Navs, EukCatAs underpin voltage-activated Ca2+ signaling important for membrane excitability, and mutants exhibit impaired motility. EukCatAs therefore provide alternative mechanisms for rapid Na+/Ca2+ signaling in eukaryotes and may functionally replace 4D-Cavs/Navs in pennate diatoms. Marine phytoplankton thus possess unique signaling mechanisms that may be key to environmental sensing in the oceans.
Project description:Voltage-gated, sodium ion-selective channels (NaV) generate electrical signals contributing to the upstroke of the action potential in animals. NaVs are also found in bacteria and are members of a larger family of tetrameric voltage-gated channels that includes CaVs, KVs, and NaVs. Prokaryotic NaVs likely emerged from a homotetrameric Ca2+-selective voltage-gated progenerator, and later developed Na+ selectivity independently. The NaV signaling complex in eukaryotes contains auxiliary proteins, termed beta (β) subunits, which are potent modulators of the expression profiles and voltage-gated properties of the NaV pore, but it is unknown whether they can functionally interact with prokaryotic NaV channels. Herein, we report that the eukaryotic NaVβ1-subunit isoform interacts with and enhances the surface expression as well as the voltage-dependent gating properties of the bacterial NaV, NaChBac in Xenopus oocytes. A phylogenetic analysis of the β-subunit gene family proteins confirms that these proteins appeared roughly 420 million years ago and that they have no clear homologues in bacterial phyla. However, a comparison between eukaryotic and bacterial NaV structures highlighted the presence of a conserved fold, which could support interactions with the β-subunit. Our electrophysiological, biochemical, structural, and bioinformatics results suggests that the prerequisites for β-subunit regulation are an evolutionarily stable and intrinsic property of some voltage-gated channels.
Project description:The venom of the spider Heteropoda venatoria produced lethal effect to cockroaches as reported in our previous study, and could be a resource for naturally-occurring insecticides. The present study characterized a novel cockroach voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) antagonist, μ-sparatoxin-Hv2 (μ-SPRTX-Hv2 for short), from this venom. μ-SPRTX-Hv2 is composed of 37 amino acids and contains six conserved cysteines. We synthesized the toxin by using the chemical synthesis method. The toxin was lethal to cockroaches when intraperitoneally injected, with a LD50 value of 2.8 nmol/g of body weight. Electrophysiological data showed that the toxin potently blocked NaVs in cockroach dorsal unpaired median (DUM) neurons, with an IC50 of 833.7 ± 132.2 nM, but it hardly affected the DUM voltage-gated potassium channels (KVs) and the DUM high-voltage-activated calcium channels (HVA CaVs). The toxin also did not affect NaVs, HVA CaVs, and Kvs in rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, as well as NaV subtypes NaV1.3⁻1.5, NaV1.7, and NaV1.8. No envenomation symptoms were observed when μ-SPRTX-Hv2 was intraperitoneally injected into mouse at the dose of 7.0 μg/g. In summary, μ-SPRTX-Hv2 is a novel insecticidal toxin from H. venatoria venom. It might exhibit its effect by blocking the insect NaVs and is a candidate for developing bioinsecticide.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) are central elements of cellular excitation. Notwithstanding advances from recent bacterial NaV (BacNaV) structures, key questions about gating and ion selectivity remain. Here, we present a closed conformation of NaVAe1p, a pore-only BacNaV derived from NaVAe1, a BacNaV from the arsenite oxidizer Alkalilimnicola ehrlichei found in Mono Lake, California, that provides insight into both fundamental properties. The structure reveals a pore domain in which the pore-lining S6 helix connects to a helical cytoplasmic tail. Electrophysiological studies of full-length BacNaVs show that two elements defined by the NaVAe1p structure, an S6 activation gate position and the cytoplasmic tail "neck", are central to BacNaV gating. The structure also reveals the selectivity filter ion entry site, termed the "outer ion" site. Comparison with mammalian voltage-gated calcium channel (CaV) selectivity filters, together with functional studies, shows that this site forms a previously unknown determinant of CaV high-affinity calcium binding. Our findings underscore commonalities between BacNaVs and eukaryotic voltage-gated channels and provide a framework for understanding gating and ion permeation in this superfamily.
Project description:Exploring the interaction of ligands with voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) has advanced our understanding of their pharmacology. Herein, we report the purification and characterization of a novel non-selective mammalian and bacterial NaVs toxin, JZTx-14, from the venom of the spider Chilobrachys jingzhao. This toxin potently inhibited the peak currents of mammalian NaV1.2?1.8 channels and the bacterial NaChBac channel with low IC50 values (<1 µM), and it mainly inhibited the fast inactivation of the NaV1.9 channel. Analysis of NaV1.5/NaV1.9 chimeric channel showed that the NaV1.5 domain II S3?4 loop is involved in toxin association. Kinetics data obtained from studying toxin?NaV1.2 channel interaction showed that JZTx-14 was a gating modifier that possibly trapped the channel in resting state; however, it differed from site 4 toxin HNTx-III by irreversibly blocking NaV currents and showing state-independent binding with the channel. JZTx-14 might stably bind to a conserved toxin pocket deep within the NaV1.2?1.8 domain II voltage sensor regardless of channel conformation change, and its effect on NaVs requires the toxin to trap the S3?4 loop in its resting state. For the NaChBac channel, JZTx-14 positively shifted its conductance-voltage (G?V) and steady-state inactivation relationships. An alanine scan analysis of the NaChBac S3?4 loop revealed that the 108th phenylalanine (F108) was the key residue determining the JZTx-14?NaChBac interaction. In summary, this study provided JZTx-14 with potent but promiscuous inhibitory activity on both the ancestor bacterial NaVs and the highly evolved descendant mammalian NaVs, and it is a useful probe to understand the pharmacology of NaVs.
Project description:Propofol is widely used in the clinic for the induction and maintenance of general anesthesia. As with most general anesthetics, however, our understanding of its mechanism of action remains incomplete. Local and general anesthetics largely inhibit voltage-gated Na+ channels (Navs) by inducing an apparent stabilization of the inactivated state, associated in some instances with pore block. To determine the biophysical and molecular basis of propofol action in Navs, we investigated NaChBac and NavMs, two prokaryotic Navs with distinct voltage dependencies and gating kinetics, by whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology in the absence and presence of propofol at clinically relevant concentrations (2-10 µM). In both Navs, propofol induced a hyperpolarizing shift of the pre-pulse inactivation curve without any significant effects on recovery from inactivation at strongly hyperpolarized voltages, demonstrating that propofol does not stabilize the inactivated state. Moreover, there was no evidence of fast or slow pore block by propofol in a non-inactivating NaChBac mutant (T220A). Propofol also induced hyperpolarizing shifts of the conductance-voltage relationships with negligible effects on the time constants of deactivation at hyperpolarized voltages, indicating that propofol does not stabilize the open state. Instead, propofol decreases the time constants of macroscopic activation and inactivation. Adopting a kinetic scheme of Nav gating that assumes preferential closed-state recovery from inactivation, a 1.7-fold acceleration of the rate constant of activation and a 1.4-fold acceleration of the rate constant of inactivation were sufficient to reproduce experimental observations with computer simulations. In addition, molecular dynamics simulations and molecular docking suggest that propofol binding involves interactions with gating machinery in the S4-S5 linker and external pore regions. Our findings show that propofol is primarily a positive gating modulator of prokaryotic Navs, which ultimately inhibits the channels by promoting activation-coupled inactivation.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) play essential roles in excitable tissues, with their activation and opening resulting in the initial phase of the action potential. The cycling of Navs through open, closed and inactivated states, and their closely choreographed relationships with the activities of other ion channels lead to exquisite control of intracellular ion concentrations in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Here we present the 2.45?Å resolution crystal structure of the complete NavMs prokaryotic sodium channel in a fully open conformation. A canonical activated conformation of the voltage sensor S4 helix, an open selectivity filter leading to an open activation gate at the intracellular membrane surface and the intracellular C-terminal domain are visible in the structure. It includes a heretofore unseen interaction motif between W77 of S3, the S4-S5 interdomain linker, and the C-terminus, which is associated with regulation of opening and closing of the intracellular gate.
Project description:A novel family of small molecule inhibitors of voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) based on the structure of batrachotoxin (BTX), a well-known channel agonist, is described. Protein mutagenesis and electrophysiology experiments reveal the binding site as the inner pore region of the channel, analogous to BTX, alkaloid toxins, and local anesthetics. Homology modeling of the eukaryotic channel based on recent crystallographic analyses of bacterial NaVs suggests a mechanism of action for ion conduction block.
Project description:Gating modifier toxins (GMTs) are venom-derived peptides isolated from spiders and other venomous creatures and modulate activity of disease-relevant voltage-gated ion channels and are therefore being pursued as therapeutic leads. The amphipathic surface profile of GMTs has prompted the proposal that some GMTs simultaneously bind to the cell membrane and voltage-gated ion channels in a trimolecular complex. Here, we examined whether there is a relationship among spider GMT amphipathicity, membrane binding, and potency or selectivity for voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels. We used NMR spectroscopy and in silico calculations to examine the structures and physicochemical properties of a panel of nine GMTs and deployed surface plasmon resonance to measure GMT affinity for lipids putatively found in proximity to NaV channels. Electrophysiology was used to quantify GMT activity on NaV1.7, an ion channel linked to chronic pain. Selectivity of the peptides was further examined against a panel of NaV channel subtypes. We show that GMTs adsorb to the outer leaflet of anionic lipid bilayers through electrostatic interactions. We did not observe a direct correlation between GMT amphipathicity and affinity for lipid bilayers. Furthermore, GMT-lipid bilayer interactions did not correlate with potency or selectivity for NaVs. We therefore propose that increased membrane binding is unlikely to improve subtype selectivity and that the conserved amphipathic GMT surface profile is an adaptation that facilitates simultaneous modulation of multiple NaVs.