Atomistic basis of opening and conduction in mammalian inward rectifier potassium (Kir2.2) channels.
ABSTRACT: Potassium ion conduction through open potassium channels is essential to control of membrane potentials in all cells. To elucidate the open conformation and hence the mechanism of K+ ion conduction in the classic inward rectifier Kir2.2, we introduced a negative charge (G178D) at the crossing point of the inner helix bundle, the location of ligand-dependent gating. This "forced open" mutation generated channels that were active even in the complete absence of phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2), an otherwise essential ligand for Kir channel opening. Crystal structures were obtained at a resolution of 3.6 Å without PIP2 bound, or 2.8 Å in complex with PIP2. The latter revealed a slight widening at the helix bundle crossing (HBC) through backbone movement. MD simulations showed that subsequent spontaneous wetting of the pore through the HBC gate region allowed K+ ion movement across the HBC and conduction through the channel. Further simulations reveal atomistic details of the opening process and highlight the role of pore-lining acidic residues in K+ conduction through Kir2 channels.
Project description:Inwardly rectifying K(+) (Kir) channels, serving as natural molecular nanomachines, transport potassium ions across the plasma membrane of the cell. Along the ion permeation pathway, three relatively narrow regions (the selectivity filter (SF), the inner helix bundle crossing (HBC), and the cytosolic G loop) may serve as gates to control ion permeation. Our previous molecular dynamics simulations based on the crystal structure of a Kir3.1 chimera revealed the possible gating mechanism of the G loop gate. Here, we introduced a proline mutation in the inner helix and obtained a channel model of the open HBC gate. The open HBC gate reaches 0.6?nm in diameter, which allows partial hydrated K(+) ions to pass through. During the gating process, both the transmembrane helices TM1 and TM2 cooperatively rotate in a counterclockwise direction (viewed from the extracellular side) with the aid of the phospholipid PIP2. Only when all the transmembrane helices adopt a counterclockwise rotation, the HBC gate can be stabilized in the open state. We estimate that introduction of the proline mutation decreases the energy required to open the HBC gate by about 1.4?kcal/mol (??G).
Project description:The closed KcsA channel structure revealed a crossing of the cytosolic ends of the transmembrane helices blocking the permeation pathway. It is generally agreed that during channel opening this helical bundle crossing has to widen in order to enable access to the inner cavity. Here, we address the question of whether the opening of the inner gate is sufficient for ion conduction, or if a second gate, located elsewhere, may interrupt the ion flow. We used fluorescence lifetime measurements on KcsA channels labeled with tetramethylrhodamine at residues in the C-terminal end of TM2 to report on the opening of the lower pore region. We found two populations of channels with different fluorescence lifetimes, whose relative distribution agrees with the open probability of the channel. The absolute fraction of channels found with an open bundle crossing is too high to explain the low open probability of the KcsA-WT channel. We found the same distribution as in the WT channel between open and closed bundle crossing for two KcsA mutants, A73E and E71A, which significantly increase open probability at low pH. These two results strongly suggest that a second gate in the ion permeation pathway exists. The location of the mutations A73E and E71A suggests that the second gate may be the selectivity filter, which resides in an inactivated state under steady-state conditions. Since the long closed times observed in KcsA-WT are not present in KcsA-A73E or -E71A, we propose that KcsA-WT remains predominantly in a state with an open bundle crossing but closed (inactivated) second gate, while the mutations A73E and E71A sharply decrease the tendency to enter in the inactivated state, and as a consequence, the second gate is predominantly open at steady state. The ability to monitor the opening of the bundle crossing optically enables the direct recording of the movement of the pore helices while the channel is functioning.
Project description:Gating of the mammalian inward rectifier Kir1.1 at the helix bundle crossing (HBC) by intracellular pH is believed to be mediated by conformational changes in the C-terminal domain (CTD). However, the exact motion of the CTD during Kir gating remains controversial. Crystal structures and single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer of KirBac channels have implied a rigid body rotation and/or a contraction of the CTD as possible triggers for opening of the HBC gate. In our study, we used lanthanide-based resonance energy transfer on single-Cys dimeric constructs of the mammalian renal inward rectifier, Kir1.1b, incorporated into anionic liposomes plus PIP<sub>2</sub>, to determine unambiguous, state-dependent distances between paired Cys residues on diagonally opposite subunits. Functionality and pH dependence of our proteoliposome channels were verified in separate electrophysiological experiments. The lanthanide-based resonance energy transfer distances measured in closed (pH 6) and open (pH 8) conditions indicated neither expansion nor contraction of the CTD during gating, whereas the HBC gate widened by 8.8 ± 4 Å, from 6.3 ± 2 to 15.1 ± 6 Å, during opening. These results are consistent with a Kir gating model in which rigid body rotation of the large CTD around the permeation axis is correlated with opening of the HBC hydrophobic gate, allowing permeation of a 7 Å hydrated K ion.
Project description:Recent X-ray crystal structures of the two-pore domain (K2P) family of potassium channels have revealed a unique structural architecture at the point where the cytoplasmic bundle-crossing gate is found in most other tetrameric K(+) channels. However, despite the apparently open nature of the inner pore in the TWIK-1 (K2P1/KCNK1) crystal structure, the reasons underlying its low levels of functional activity remain unclear. In this study, we use a combination of molecular dynamics simulations and functional validation to demonstrate that TWIK-1 possesses a hydrophobic barrier deep within the inner pore, and that stochastic dewetting of this hydrophobic constriction acts as a major barrier to ion conduction. These results not only provide an important insight into the mechanisms which control TWIK-1 channel activity, but also have important implications for our understanding of how ion permeation may be controlled in similar ion channels and pores.
Project description:Membrane proteins, such as ion channels, interact dynamically with their lipid environment. Phosphoinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) can directly or indirectly modify ion-channel properties. In auditory sensory hair cells of rats (Sprague Dawley) of either sex, PIP2 localizes within stereocilia, near stereocilia tips. Modulating the amount of free PIP2 in inner hair-cell stereocilia resulted in the following: (1) the loss of a fast component of mechanoelectric-transduction current adaptation, (2) an increase in the number of channels open at the hair bundle's resting position, (3) a reduction of single-channel conductance, (4) a change in ion selectivity, and (5) a reduction in calcium pore blocking effects. These changes occur without altering hair-bundle compliance or the number of functional stereocilia within a given hair bundle. Although the specific molecular mechanism for PIP2 action remains to be uncovered, data support a hypothesis for PIP2 directly regulating channel conformation to alter calcium permeation and single-channel conductance.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT How forces are relayed to the auditory mechanoelectrical transduction (MET) channel remains unknown. However, researchers have surmised that lipids might be involved. Previous work on bullfrog hair cells showed an effect of phosphoinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) depletion on MET current amplitude and adaptation, leading to the postulation of the existence of an underlying myosin-based adaptation mechanism. We find similar results in rat cochlea hair cells but extend these data to include single-channel analysis, hair-bundle mechanics, and channel-permeation properties. These additional data attribute PIP2 effects to actions on MET-channel properties and not motor interactions. Further findings support PIP2's role in modulating a fast, myosin-independent, and Ca2+-independent adaptation process, validating fast adaptation's biological origin. Together this shows PIP2's pivotal role in auditory MET, likely as a direct channel modulator.
Project description:The activation gate of ion channels controls the transmembrane flux of permeant ions. In voltage-gated K(+) channels, the aperture formed by the S6 bundle crossing can widen to open or narrow to close the ion permeation pathway, whereas the selectivity filter gates ion flux in cyclic-nucleotide gated (CNG) and Slo1 channels. Here we explore the structural basis of the activation gate for Slo2.1, a weakly voltage-dependent K(+) channel that is activated by intracellular Na(+) and Cl(-). Slo2.1 channels were heterologously expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes and activated by elevated [NaCl]i or extracellular application of niflumic acid. In contrast to other voltage-gated channels, Slo2.1 was blocked by verapamil in an activation-independent manner, implying that the S6 bundle crossing does not gate the access of verapamil to its central cavity binding site. The structural basis of Slo2.1 activation was probed by Ala scanning mutagenesis of the S6 segment and by mutation of selected residues in the pore helix and S5 segment. Mutation to Ala of three S6 residues caused reduced trafficking of channels to the cell surface and partial (K256A, I263A, Q273A) or complete loss (E275A) of channel function. P271A Slo2.1 channels trafficked normally, but were nonfunctional. Further mutagenesis and intragenic rescue by second site mutations suggest that Pro271 and Glu275 maintain the inner pore in an open configuration by preventing formation of a tight S6 bundle crossing. Mutation of several residues in S6 and S5 predicted by homology modeling to contact residues in the pore helix induced a gain of channel function. Substitution of the pore helix residue Phe240 with polar residues induced constitutive channel activation. Together these findings suggest that (1) the selectivity filter and not the bundle crossing gates ion permeation and (2) dynamic coupling between the pore helix and the S5 and S6 segments mediates Slo2.1 channel activation.
Project description:Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) plays a critical role in modulating the function of numerous ion channels, including large-conductance Ca(2+)- and voltage-dependent K(+) (BK, Slo1) channels. Slo1 BK channel complexes include four pore-forming Slo1 (?) subunits as well as various regulatory auxiliary subunits (? and ?) that are expressed in different tissues. We examined the molecular and biophysical mechanisms underlying the effects of brain-derived PIP2 on human Slo1 BK channel complexes with different subunit compositions that were heterologously expressed in human embryonic kidney cells. PIP2 inhibited macroscopic currents through Slo1 channels without auxiliary subunits and through Slo1 + ?1 complexes. In contrast, PIP2 markedly increased macroscopic currents through Slo1 + ?1 and Slo1 + ?4 channel complexes and failed to alter macroscopic currents through Slo1 + ?2 and Slo1 + ?2 ?2-19 channel complexes. Results obtained at various membrane potentials and divalent cation concentrations suggest that PIP2 promotes opening of the ion conduction gate in all channel types, regardless of the specific subunit composition. However, in the absence of ? subunits positioned near the voltage-sensor domains (VSDs), as in Slo1 and probably Slo1 + ?1, PIP2 augments the negative surface charge on the cytoplasmic side of the membrane, thereby shifting the voltage dependence of VSD-mediated activation in the positive direction. When ?1 or ?4 subunits occupy the space surrounding the VSDs, only the stimulatory effect of PIP2 is evident. The subunit compositions of native Slo1 BK channels differ in various cell types; thus, PIP2 may exert distinct tissue- and divalent cation-dependent modulatory influences.
Project description:Specific stimuli such as intracellular H+ and phosphoinositides (e.g., PIP2) gate inwardly rectifying potassium (Kir) channels by controlling the reversible transition between the closed and open states. This gating mechanism underlies many aspects of Kir channel physiology and pathophysiology; however, its structural basis is not well understood. Here, we demonstrate that H+ and PIP2 use a conserved gating mechanism defined by similar structural changes in the transmembrane (TM) helices and the selectivity filter. Our data support a model in which the gating motion of the TM helices is controlled by an intrasubunit hydrogen bond between TM1 and TM2 at the helix-bundle crossing, and we show that this defines a common gating motif in the Kir channel superfamily. Furthermore, we show that this proposed H-bonding interaction determines Kir channel pH sensitivity, pH and PIP2 gating kinetics, as well as a K+-dependent inactivation process at the selectivity filter and therefore many of the key regulatory mechanisms of Kir channel physiology.
Project description:Two-pore domain (K2P) potassium channels are important regulators of cellular electrical excitability. However, the structure of these channels and their gating mechanism, in particular the role of the bundle-crossing gate, are not well understood. Here, we report that quaternary ammonium (QA) ions bind with high-affinity deep within the pore of TREK-1 and have free access to their binding site before channel activation by intracellular pH or pressure. This demonstrates that, unlike most other K(+) channels, the bundle-crossing gate in this K2P channel is constitutively open. Furthermore, we used QA ions to probe the pore structure of TREK-1 by systematic scanning mutagenesis and comparison of these results with different possible structural models. This revealed that the TREK-1 pore most closely resembles the open-state structure of KvAP. We also found that mutations close to the selectivity filter and the nature of the permeant ion profoundly influence TREK-1 channel gating. These results demonstrate that the primary activation mechanisms in TREK-1 reside close to, or within the selectivity filter and do not involve gating at the cytoplasmic bundle crossing.
Project description:Ion selectivity-filter structures are strikingly similar throughout the large family of K(++) channels and other p-loop-like receptors (i.e., glutamate receptors). At the same time, the triggers for opening these channels, or gating, are diverse. Two questions that remain unanswered regarding these channels are: (1) what force(s) stabilize the closed non-conducting channel-pore conformation? And (2) what is the free energy associated with transitioning from a closed (non-conducting) to an open (conducting) channel-pore conformation? The effects of charge and hydrophobicity on the conformational states of a model tetrameric biological ion channel are shown utilizing the amino acid sequence from the K(+) channel KcsA as the model "channel". Its widely conserved hydrophobic bundle crossing located adjacent to the lipid head-groups at the intracellular side of the membrane was calculated to have a 5 kcal/mol free energy difference between modeled open and closed conformations. Simulated mutants of amino acids within the hydrophobic region significantly contribute to the size of this difference. Specifically for KcsA, these residues are part of the pH sensor important for channel gating and our results are in agreement with published electrophysiology data. Our simulations support the idea that the hydrophobic effect contributes significantly to the stability of the closed conformation in tetrameric ion channels with a hydrophobic bundle crossing positioned in proximity to the lipid head groups of the biological membrane.