The hitchhiker's guide to the voltage-gated sodium channel galaxy.
ABSTRACT: Eukaryotic voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels contribute to the rising phase of action potentials and served as an early muse for biophysicists laying the foundation for our current understanding of electrical signaling. Given their central role in electrical excitability, it is not surprising that (a) inherited mutations in genes encoding for Nav channels and their accessory subunits have been linked to excitability disorders in brain, muscle, and heart; and (b) Nav channels are targeted by various drugs and naturally occurring toxins. Although the overall architecture and behavior of these channels are likely to be similar to the more well-studied voltage-gated potassium channels, eukaryotic Nav channels lack structural and functional symmetry, a notable difference that has implications for gating and selectivity. Activation of voltage-sensing modules of the first three domains in Nav channels is sufficient to open the channel pore, whereas movement of the domain IV voltage sensor is correlated with inactivation. Also, structure-function studies of eukaryotic Nav channels show that a set of amino acids in the selectivity filter, referred to as DEKA locus, is essential for Na(+) selectivity. Structures of prokaryotic Nav channels have also shed new light on mechanisms of drug block. These structures exhibit lateral fenestrations that are large enough to allow drugs or lipophilic molecules to gain access into the inner vestibule, suggesting that this might be the passage for drug entry into a closed channel. In this Review, we will synthesize our current understanding of Nav channel gating mechanisms, ion selectivity and permeation, and modulation by therapeutics and toxins in light of the new structures of the prokaryotic Nav channels that, for the time being, serve as structural models of their eukaryotic counterparts.
Project description:Batrachotoxin (BTX), an alkaloid from skin secretions of dendrobatid frogs, causes paralysis and death by facilitating activation and inhibiting deactivation of eukaryotic voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels, which underlie action potentials in nerve, muscle, and heart. A full understanding of the mechanism by which BTX modifies eukaryotic Nav gating awaits determination of high-resolution structures of functional toxin-channel complexes. Here, we investigate the action of BTX on the homotetrameric prokaryotic Nav channels NaChBac and NavSp1. By combining mutational analysis and whole-cell patch clamp with molecular and kinetic modeling, we show that BTX hinders deactivation and facilitates activation in a use-dependent fashion. Our molecular model shows the horseshoe-shaped BTX molecule bound within the open pore, forming hydrophobic H-bonds and cation-? contacts with the pore-lining helices, leaving space for partially dehydrated sodium ions to permeate through the hydrophilic inner surface of the horseshoe. We infer that bulky BTX, bound at the level of the gating-hinge residues, prevents the S6 rearrangements that are necessary for closure of the activation gate. Our results reveal general similarities to, and differences from, BTX actions on eukaryotic Nav channels, whose major subunit is a single polypeptide formed by four concatenated, homologous, nonidentical domains that form a pseudosymmetric pore. Our determination of the mechanism by which BTX activates homotetrameric voltage-gated channels reveals further similarities between eukaryotic and prokaryotic Nav channels and emphasizes the tractability of bacterial Nav channels as models of voltage-dependent ion channel gating. The results contribute toward a deeper, atomic-level understanding of use-dependent natural and synthetic Nav channel agonists and antagonists, despite their overlapping binding motifs on the channel proteins.
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 (?) 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 NaV?1-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 ?-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 ?-subunit. Our electrophysiological, biochemical, structural, and bioinformatics results suggests that the prerequisites for ?-subunit regulation are an evolutionarily stable and intrinsic property of some voltage-gated channels.
Project description:Voltage-gated Na+ (NaV) channels regulate homeostasis in bacteria and control membrane electrical excitability in mammals. Compared to their mammalian counterparts, bacterial NaV channels possess a simpler, fourfold symmetric structure and have facilitated studies of the structural basis of channel gating. However, the pharmacology of bacterial NaV remains largely unexplored. Here we systematically screened 39 NaV modulators on a bacterial channel (NaChBac) and characterized a selection of compounds on NaChBac and a mammalian channel (human NaV1.7). We found that while many compounds interact with both channels, they exhibit distinct functional effects. For example, the local anesthetics ambroxol and lidocaine block both NaV1.7 and NaChBac but affect activation and inactivation of the two channels to different extents. The voltage-sensing domain targeting toxin BDS-I increases NaV1.7 but decreases NaChBac peak currents. The pore binding toxins aconitine and veratridine block peak currents of NaV1.7 and shift activation (aconitine) and inactivation (veratridine) respectively. In NaChBac, they block the peak current by binding to the pore residue F224. Nonetheless, aconitine has no effect on activation or inactivation, while veratridine only modulates activation of NaChBac. The conservation and divergence in the pharmacology of bacterial and mammalian NaV channels provide insights into the molecular basis of channel gating and will facilitate organism-specific drug discovery.
Project description:Voltage-activated sodium (Nav) channels are essential in generating and propagating nerve impulses, placing them amongst the most widely targeted ion channels by toxins from venomous organisms. An increasing number of spider toxins have been shown to interfere with the voltage-driven activation process of mammalian Nav channels, possibly by interacting with one or more of their voltage sensors. This review focuses on our existing knowledge of the mechanism by which spider toxins affect Nav channel gating and the possible applications of these toxins in the drug discovery process.
Project description:Slow inactivation in voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) directly regulates the excitability of neurons, cardiac myocytes, and skeletal muscles. Although NaV slow inactivation appears to be conserved across phylogenies-from bacteria to humans-the structural basis for this mechanism remains unclear. Here, using site-directed labeling and EPR spectroscopic measurements of membrane-reconstituted prokaryotic NaV homologues, we characterize the conformational dynamics of the selectivity filter region in the conductive and slow-inactivated states to determine the molecular events underlying NaV gating. Our findings reveal profound conformational flexibility of the pore in the slow-inactivated state. We find that the P1 and P2 pore helices undergo opposing movements with respect to the pore axis. These movements result in changes in volume of both the central and intersubunit cavities, which form pathways for lipophilic drugs that modulate slow inactivation. Our findings therefore provide novel insight into the molecular basis for state-dependent effects of lipophilic drugs on channel function.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels and their Na?/K? selectivity are of great importance in the mammalian neuronal signaling. According to mutational analysis, the Na?/K? selectivity in mammalian Nav channels is mainly determined by the Lys and Asp/Glu residues located at the constriction site within the selectivity filter. Despite successful molecular dynamics simulations conducted on the prokaryotic Nav channels, the lack of Lys at the constriction site of prokaryotic Nav channels limits how much can be learned about the Na?/K? selectivity in mammalian Nav channels. In this work, we modeled the mammalian Nav channel by mutating the key residues at the constriction site in a prokaryotic Nav channel (NavRh) to its mammalian counterpart. By simulating the mutant structure, we found that the Na? preference in mammalian Nav channels is collaboratively achieved by the deselection from Lys and the selection from Asp/Glu within the constriction site.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) play crucial roles in excitable cells. Although vertebrate Nav function has been extensively studied, the detailed structural basis for voltage-dependent gating mechanisms remain obscure. We have assessed the structural changes of the Nav voltage sensor domain using lanthanide-based resonance energy transfer (LRET) between the rat skeletal muscle voltage-gated sodium channel (Nav1.4) and fluorescently labeled Nav1.4-targeting toxins. We generated donor constructs with genetically encoded lanthanide-binding tags (LBTs) inserted at the extracellular end of the S4 segment of each domain (with a single LBT per construct). Three different Bodipy-labeled, Nav1.4-targeting toxins were synthesized as acceptors: ?-scorpion toxin (Ts1)-Bodipy, KIIIA-Bodipy, and GIIIA-Bodipy analogs. Functional Nav-LBT channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes were voltage-clamped, and distinct LRET signals were obtained in the resting and slow inactivated states. Intramolecular distances computed from the LRET signals define a geometrical map of Nav1.4 with the bound toxins, and reveal voltage-dependent structural changes related to channel gating.
Project description:Eukaryotic, voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels are large membrane proteins which underlie generation and propagation of rapid electrical signals in nerve, muscle and heart. Nine different NaV receptor sites, for natural ligands and/or drugs, have been identified, based on functional analyses and site-directed mutagenesis. In the marine ecosystem, numerous toxins have evolved to disrupt NaV channel function, either by inhibition of current flow through the channels, or by modifying the activation and inactivation gating processes by which the channels open and close. These toxins function in their native environment as offensive or defensive weapons in prey capture or deterrence of predators. In composition, they range from organic molecules of varying size and complexity to peptides consisting of ~10–70 amino acids. We review the variety of known NaV-targeted marine toxins, outlining, where known, their sites of interaction with the channel protein and their functional effects. In a number of cases, these natural ligands have the potential applications as drugs in clinical settings, or as models for drug development.
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.
Project description:Voltage-gated potassium (Kv) and sodium (Nav) channels are key determinants of cellular excitability and serve as targets of neurotoxins. Most marine ciguatoxins potentiate Nav channels and cause ciguatera seafood poisoning. Several ciguatoxins have also been shown to affect Kv channels, and we showed previously that the ladder-shaped polyether toxin gambierol is a potent Kv channel inhibitor. Most likely, gambierol acts via a lipid-exposed binding site, located outside the K(+) permeation pathway. However, the mechanism by which gambierol inhibits Kv channels remained unknown. Using gating and ionic current analysis to investigate how gambierol affected S6 gate opening and voltage-sensing domain (VSD) movements, we show that the resting (closed) channel conformation forms the high-affinity state for gambierol. The voltage dependence of activation was shifted by >120 mV in the depolarizing direction, precluding channel opening in the physiological voltage range. The (early) transitions between the resting and the open state were monitored with gating currents, and provided evidence that strong depolarizations allowed VSD movement up to the activated-not-open state. However, for transition to the fully open (ion-conducting) state, the toxin first needed to dissociate. These dissociation kinetics were markedly accelerated in the activated-not-open state, presumably because this state displayed a much lower affinity for gambierol. A tetrameric concatemer with only one high-affinity binding site still displayed high toxin sensitivity, suggesting that interaction with a single binding site prevented the concerted step required for channel opening. We propose a mechanism whereby gambierol anchors the channel's gating machinery in the resting state, requiring more work from the VSD to open the channel. This mechanism is quite different from the action of classical gating modifier peptides (e.g., hanatoxin). Therefore, polyether toxins open new opportunities in structure-function relationship studies in Kv channels and in drug design to modulate channel function.