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Biochim Biophys Acta. February 1, 2017; 1859 (2): 218-227.

Functional characterization of two prokaryotic pentameric ligand-gated ion channel chimeras - role of the GLIC transmembrane domain in proton sensing.

Hénault CM , Baenziger JE .

With the long-term goal of using a chimeric approach to dissect the distinct lipid sensitivities and thermal stabilities of the pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGIC), GLIC and ELIC, we constructed chimeras by cross-combining their extracellular (ECD) and transmembrane (TMD) domains. As expected, the chimera formed between GLIC-ECD and ELIC-TMD (GE) responded to protons, the agonist for GLIC, but not cysteamine, the agonist for ELIC, although GE exhibited a 25-fold decrease in proton-sensitivity relative to wild type. The chimera formed between ELIC-ECD and the GLIC-TMD (EG) was usually toxic, unless it contained a pore-lining Ile9''Ala gain-of-function mutation. No significant improvements in expression/toxicity were observed with extensive loop substitutions at the ECD/TMD interface. Surprisingly, oocytes expressing EG-I9''A responded to both the ELIC agonist, cysteamine and the GLIC agonist, protons - the latter at pH values ≤4.0. The cysteamine- and proton-induced currents in EG-I9''A were inhibited by the GLIC TMD pore blocker, amantadine. The cysteamine-induced response of EG-I9''A was also inhibited by protons at pH values down to 4.5, but potentiated at lower pH values. Proton-induced gating at low pH was not abolished by mutation of an intramembrane histidine residue previously implicated in GLIC TMD function. We show that the TMD plays a major role governing the thermal stability of a pLGIC, and identify three distinct mechanisms by which agonists and protons influence the gating of the EG chimera. A structural basis for the impaired function of GE is suggested.

PubMed ID: 27845033
Article link: Biochim Biophys Acta.

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