Determinants of Cx43 Channel Gating and Permeation: The Amino Terminus.
ABSTRACT: Separate connexin domains partake in proposed gating mechanisms of gap junction channels. The amino-terminus (NT) domains, which contribute to voltage sensing, may line the channel's cytoplasmic-facing funnel surface, stabilize the channel's overall structure through interactions with the transmembrane domains and each other, and integrate to form a compound particle to gate the channel closed. Interactions of the carboxyl-terminus (CT) and cytoplasmic loop (CL) domains underlie voltage- and low pH-triggered channel closure. To elucidate potential cooperation of these gating mechanisms, we replaced the Cx43NT with the Cx37NT (chimera Cx43(?)NT37), leaving the remainder of the Cx43 sequence, including the CT and CL, unchanged. Compared to wild-type Cx43 (Cx43WT), Cx43(?)NT37 junctions exhibited several functional alterations: extreme resistance to halothane- and acidification-induced uncoupling, absence of voltage-dependent fast inactivation, longer channel open times, larger unitary channel conductances, low junctional dye permeability/permselectivity, and an overall cation selectivity more typical of Cx37WT than Cx43WT junctions. Together, these results suggest a cohesive model of channel function wherein: 1) channel conductance and size selectivity are largely determined by pore diameter, whereas charge selectivity results from the NT domains, and 2) transition between fully open and (multiple) closed states involves global changes in structure of the pore-forming domains transduced by interactions of the pore-forming domains with either the NT, CT, or both, with the NT domains forming the gate of the completely closed channel.
Project description:Large conductance, Ca(2+)- and voltage-activated K(+) (BK) channels are exquisitely regulated to suit their diverse roles in a large variety of physiological processes. BK channels are composed of pore-forming alpha subunits and a family of tissue-specific accessory beta subunits. The smooth muscle-specific beta1 subunit has an essential role in regulating smooth muscle contraction and modulates BK channel steady-state open probability and gating kinetics. Effects of beta1 on channel's gating energetics are not completely understood. One of the difficulties is that it has not yet been possible to measure the effects of beta1 on channel's intrinsic closed-to-open transition (in the absence of voltage sensor activation and Ca(2+) binding) due to the very low open probability in the presence of beta1. In this study, we used a mutation of the alpha subunit (F315Y) that increases channel openings by greater than four orders of magnitude to directly compare channels' intrinsic open probabilities in the presence and absence of the beta1 subunit. Effects of beta1 on steady-state open probabilities of both wild-type alpha and the F315Y mutation were analyzed using the dual allosteric HA model. We found that mouse beta1 has two major effects on channel's gating energetics. beta1 reduces the intrinsic closed-to-open equilibrium that underlies the inhibition of BK channel opening seen in submicromolar Ca(2+). Further, P(O) measurements at limiting slope allow us to infer that beta1 shifts open channel voltage sensor activation to negative membrane potentials, which contributes to enhanced channel opening seen at micromolar Ca(2+) concentrations. Using the F315Y alpha subunit with deletion mutants of beta1, we also demonstrate that the small N- and C-terminal intracellular domains of beta1 play important roles in altering channel's intrinsic opening and voltage sensor activation. In summary, these results demonstrate that beta1 has distinct effects on BK channel intrinsic gating and voltage sensor activation that can be functionally uncoupled by mutations in the intracellular domains.
Project description:In classical tetrameric voltage-gated ion channels four voltage-sensing domains (VSDs), one from each subunit, control one ion permeation pathway formed by four pore domains. The human Hv1 proton channel has a different architecture, containing a VSD, but lacking a pore domain. Since its location is not known, we searched for the Hv permeation pathway. We find that mutation of the S4 segment's third arginine R211 (R3) compromises proton selectivity, enabling conduction of a metal cation and even of the large organic cation guanidinium, reminiscent of Shaker's omega pore. In the open state, R3 appears to interact with an aspartate (D112) that is situated in the middle of S1 and is unique to Hv channels. The double mutation of both residues further compromises cation selectivity. We propose that membrane depolarization reversibly positions R3 next to D112 in the transmembrane VSD to form the ion selectivity filter in the channel's open conformation.
Project description:Activity of cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) cation channels underlies signal transduction in vertebrate visual receptors. These highly specialized receptor channels open when they bind cyclic GMP (cGMP). Here, we find that certain mutations restricted to the region around the ion selectivity filter render the channels essentially fully voltage gated, in such a manner that the channels remain mostly closed at physiological voltages, even in the presence of saturating concentrations of cGMP. This voltage-dependent gating resembles the selectivity filter-based mechanism seen in KcsA K(+) channels, not the S4-based mechanism of voltage-gated K(+) channels. Mutations that render CNG channels gated by voltage loosen the attachment of the selectivity filter to its surrounding structure, thereby shifting the channel's gating equilibrium toward closed conformations. Significant pore opening in mutant channels occurs only when positive voltages drive the pore from a low-probability open conformation toward a second open conformation to increase the channels' open probability. Thus, the structure surrounding the selectivity filter has evolved to (nearly completely) suppress the expression of inherent voltage-dependent gating of CNGA1, ensuring that the binding of cGMP by itself suffices to open the channels at physiological voltages.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium (Na(V)) channels initiate electrical signalling in excitable cells and are the molecular targets for drugs and disease mutations, but the structural basis for their voltage-dependent activation, ion selectivity and drug block is unknown. Here we report the crystal structure of a voltage-gated Na(+) channel from Arcobacter butzleri (NavAb) captured in a closed-pore conformation with four activated voltage sensors at 2.7?Å resolution. The arginine gating charges make multiple hydrophilic interactions within the voltage sensor, including unanticipated hydrogen bonds to the protein backbone. Comparisons to previous open-pore potassium channel structures indicate that the voltage-sensor domains and the S4-S5 linkers dilate the central pore by pivoting together around a hinge at the base of the pore module. The NavAb selectivity filter is short, ?4.6?Å wide, and water filled, with four acidic side chains surrounding the narrowest part of the ion conduction pathway. This unique structure presents a high-field-strength anionic coordination site, which confers Na(+) selectivity through partial dehydration via direct interaction with glutamate side chains. Fenestrations in the sides of the pore module are unexpectedly penetrated by fatty acyl chains that extend into the central cavity, and these portals are large enough for the entry of small, hydrophobic pore-blocking drugs. This structure provides the template for understanding electrical signalling in excitable cells and the actions of drugs used for pain, epilepsy and cardiac arrhythmia at the atomic level.
Project description:The Hv1 proton channel is unique among voltage-gated channels for containing the pore and gate within its voltage-sensing domain. Pore opening has been proposed to include assembly of the selectivity filter between an arginine (R3) of segment S4 and an aspartate (D1) of segment S1. We determined whether gating involves motion of S1, using Ciona intestinalis Hv1. We found that channel opening is concomitant with solution access to the pore-lining face of S1, from the cytoplasm to deep inside the pore. Voltage- and patch-clamp fluorometry showed that this involves a motion of S1 relative to its surroundings. S1 motion and the S4 motion that precedes it are each influenced by residues on the other helix, thus suggesting a dynamic interaction between S1 and S4. Our findings suggest that the S1 of Hv1 has specialized to function as part of the channel's gate.
Project description:The hydrophobic gasket (HG), a ring of hydrophobic amino acids in the voltage-sensing domain of most voltage-gated ion channels, forms a constriction between internal and external aqueous vestibules. Cationic Arg or Lys side chains lining the S4 helix move through this "gating pore" when the channel opens. S4 movement may occur during gating of the human voltage-gated proton channel, hHV1, but proton current flows through the same pore in open channels. Here, we replaced putative HG residues with less hydrophobic residues or acidic Asp. Substitution of individuals, pairs, or all 3 HG positions did not impair proton selectivity. Evidently, the HG does not act as a secondary selectivity filter. However, 2 unexpected functions of the HG in HV1 were discovered. Mutating HG residues independently accelerated channel opening and compromised the closed state. Mutants exhibited open-closed gating, but strikingly, at negative voltages where "normal" gating produces a nonconducting closed state, the channel leaked protons. Closed-channel proton current was smaller than open-channel current and was inhibited by 10 μM Zn2+ Extreme hyperpolarization produced a deeper closed state through a weakly voltage-dependent transition. We functionally identify the HG as Val109, Phe150, Val177, and Val178, which play a critical and exclusive role in preventing H+ influx through closed channels. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed enhanced mobility of Arg208 in mutants exhibiting H+ leak. Mutation of HG residues produces gating pore currents reminiscent of several channelopathies.
Project description:Voltage-gated K(+) channels underlie the electrical excitability of cells. Each subunit of the functional tetramer consists of the tandem fusion of two modules, an N-terminal voltage-sensor and a C-terminal pore. To investigate how sensor coupling to the pore generates voltage-dependent channel opening, we solved the crystal structure and characterized the function of a voltage-gated K(+) channel pore in a lipid membrane. The structure of a functional channel in a membrane environment at 3.1 Å resolution establishes an unprecedented connection between channel structure and function. The structure is unique in delineating an ion-occupied ready to conduct selectivity filter, a confined aqueous cavity, and a closed activation gate, embodying a dynamic entity trapped in an unstable closed state.
Project description:The crystal structure of the open conformation of a bacterial voltage-gated sodium channel pore from Magnetococcus sp. (NaVMs) has provided the basis for a molecular dynamics study defining the channel's full ion translocation pathway and conductance process, selectivity, electrophysiological characteristics, and ion-binding sites. Microsecond molecular dynamics simulations permitted a complete time-course characterization of the protein in a membrane system, capturing the plethora of conductance events and revealing a complex mixture of single and multi-ion phenomena with decoupled rapid bidirectional water transport. The simulations suggest specific localization sites for the sodium ions, which correspond with experimentally determined electron density found in the selectivity filter of the crystal structure. These studies have also allowed us to identify the ion conductance mechanism and its relation to water movement for the NavMs channel pore and to make realistic predictions of its conductance properties. The calculated single-channel conductance and selectivity ratio correspond closely with the electrophysiology measurements of the NavMs channel expressed in HEK 293 cells. The ion translocation process seen in this voltage-gated sodium channel is clearly different from that exhibited by members of the closely related family of voltage-gated potassium channels and also differs considerably from existing proposals for the conductance process in sodium channels. These studies simulate sodium channel conductance based on an experimentally determined structure of a sodium channel pore that has a completely open transmembrane pathway and activation gate.
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:The Hv1 voltage-gated proton channel is a dimeric complex consisting of two voltage-sensing domains (VSDs), each containing a gated proton permeation pathway. Dimerization is controlled by a cytoplasmic coiled-coil domain. The transitions from the closed to the open state in the two VSDs are known to occur cooperatively; however, the underlying mechanism is poorly understood. Intersubunit interfaces play a critical role in allosteric processes; but, such interfaces have not been determined in the open Hv1 channel. Here we show that 2-guanidinothiazole derivatives block the two Hv1 VSDs in a cooperative way, and use one of the compounds as a probe of allosteric coupling between open subunits. We find that the extracellular ends of the first transmembrane segments of the VSDs form the intersubunit interface that mediates coupling between binding sites, while the coiled-coil domain does not directly participate in the process. We also find strong evidence that the channel's proton selectivity filter controls blocker binding cooperativity.