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State-Dependent Accessibility of the P-S6 Linker of Pacemaker (HCN) Channels Supports a Dynamic Pore-to-Gate Coupling Model

  • Siu, Chung Wah
  • Azene, Ezana M.
  • Au, Ka Wing
  • Lau, Chu Pak
  • Tse, Hung Fat
  • Li, Ronald A.
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2009
eScholarship - University of California
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The hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-modulated channel gene family (HCN1-4) encodes the membrane depolarizing current that underlies pacemaking. Although the topology of HCN resembles Kv channels, much less is known about their structure-function correlation. Previously, we identified several pore residues in the S5-P linker and P-loop that are externally accessible and/or influence HCN gating, and proposed an evolutionarily conserved pore-to-gate mechanism. Here we sought dynamic evidence by assessing the functional consequences of Cys-scanning substitutions in the unexplored P-S6 linker (residues 352–359), the HCN1-R background (that is, resistant to sulfhydryl-reactive agents). None of A352C, Q353C, A354C, P355C, V356C, S357C, M358C, or S359C produced functional currents; the loss-of-function of Q353C, A354C, S357C, and M358C could be rescued by the reducing agent dithiothreitol. Q353C, A354C, and S357C, but not M358C and HCN1-R, were sensitive to Cd2+ blockade (IC50 = 3–12 μM vs. >1 mM). External application of the positively charged covalent sulfhydryl modifier MTSET irreversibly reduced I −140mV of Q353C and A354C to 27.9 ± 3.4% and 58.2 ± 13.1% of the control, respectively, and caused significant steady-state activation shifts (∆V 1/2 = –21.1 ± 1.6 for Q353C and −10.0 ± 2.9 mV for A354C). Interestingly, MTSET reactivity was also state dependent. MTSET, however, affected neither S357C nor M358C, indicating site specificity. Collectively, we have identified novel P-S6 residues whose extracellular accessibility was sterically and state dependent and have provided the first functional evidence consistent with a dynamic HCN pore-to-gate model.

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