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In the brain, AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) form complexes with their auxiliary subunits and mediate the majority of fast excitatory neurotransmission. Signals transduced by these complexes are critical for synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory. The two major categories of AMPAR auxiliary subunits are transmembrane AMPAR regulatory proteins (TARPs) and cornichon homologs (CNIHs); these subunits share little homology and play distinct roles in controlling ion channel gating and trafficking of AMPAR. Here, I report high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy structures of AMPAR in complex with CNIH3. Contrary to its predicted membrane topology, CNIH3 lacks an extracellular domain and instead contains four membrane-spanning helices. The protein-protein interaction interface that dictates channel modulation and the lipids surrounding the complex are revealed. These structures provide insights into the molecular mechanism for ion channel modulation and assembly of AMPAR/CNIH3 complexes.
Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
The transient receptor potential ion channels support Ca permeation in many organs, including the heart, brain, and kidney. Genetic mutations in transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily C member 3 (TRPC3) are associated with neurodegenerative diseases, memory loss, and hypertension. To better understand the conformational changes that regulate TRPC3 function, we solved the cryo-EM structures for the full-length human TRPC3 and its cytoplasmic domain (CPD) in the apo state at 5.8- and 4.0-Å resolution, respectively. These structures revealed that the TRPC3 transmembrane domain resembles those of other TRP channels and that the CPD is a stable module involved in channel assembly and gating. We observed the presence of a C-terminal domain swap at the center of the CPD where horizontal helices (HHs) transition into a coiled-coil bundle. Comparison of TRPC3 structures revealed that the HHs can reside in two distinct positions. Electrophysiological analyses disclosed that shortening the length of the C-terminal loop connecting the HH with the TRP helices increases TRPC3 activity and that elongating the length of the loop has the opposite effect. Our findings indicate that the C-terminal loop affects channel gating by altering the allosteric coupling between the cytoplasmic and transmembrane domains. We propose that molecules that target the HH may represent a promising strategy for controlling TRPC3-associated neurological disorders and hypertension.
© 2018 Sierra-Valdez et al.
G protein-gated, inwardly rectifying, potassium (GIRK) channels are important regulators of cellular excitability throughout the body. GIRK channels are heterotetrameric and homotetrameric combinations of the K3.1-4 (GIRK1-4) subunits. Different subunit combinations are expressed throughout the central nervous system (CNS) and the periphery, and most of these combinations contain a GIRK1 subunit. For example, the predominance of GIRK channels in the CNS are composed of GIRK1 and GIRK2 subunits, while the GIRK channels in cardiac atrial myocytes are made up mostly of GIRK1 and GIRK4 subunits. Although the vast majority of GIRK channels contain a GIRK1 subunit, discrete populations of cells that express non-GIRK1-containing GIRK (non-GIRK1/X) channels do exist. For instance, dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the brain, associated with addiction and reward, do not express the GIRK1 subunit. Targeting these non-GIRK1/X channels with subunit-selective pharmacological probes could lead to important insights into how GIRK channels are involved in reward and addiction. Such insights may, in turn, reveal therapeutic opportunities for the treatment or prevention of addiction. Previously, our laboratory discovered small molecules that can specifically modulate the activity of GIRK1-containing GIRK channels. However, efforts to generate compounds active on non-GIRK1/X channels from these scaffolds have been unsuccessful. Recently, ivermectin was shown to modulate non-GIRK1/X channels, and historically, ivermectin is known to modulate a wide variety of neuronal channels and receptors. Further, ivermectin is a complex natural product, which makes it a challenging starting point for development of more selective, effective, and potent compounds. Thus, while ivermectin provides proof-of-concept as a non-GIRK1/X channel activator, it is of limited utility. Therefore, we sought to discover a synthetic small molecule that would serve as a starting point for the development of non-GIRK1/X channel modulators. To accomplish this, we used a high-throughput thallium flux assay to screen a 100 000-compound library in search of activators of homomeric GIRK2 channels. Using this approach, we discovered VU0529331, the first synthetic small molecule reported to activate non-GIRK1/X channels, to our knowledge. This discovery represents the first step toward developing potent and selective non-GIRK1/X channel probes. Such molecules will help elucidate the role of GIRK channels in addiction, potentially establishing a foundation for future development of therapies utilizing targeted GIRK channel modulation.
KEY POINTS - The ClC-3 2Cl /1H exchanger modulates endosome pH and Cl concentration. We investigated the relationships between ClC-3-mediated ion transport (steady-state transport current, I ), gating charge (Q) and cytoplasmic alkalization. ClC-3 transport is functionally unidirectional. ClC-5 and ClC-3 display indistinguishable exchange ratios, but ClC-3 cycling is less "efficient", as reflected by a large Q/I . An M531A mutation predicted to increase water-wire stability and cytoplasmic proton supply improves efficiency. Protonation (pH 5.0) of the outer glutamate gate (Glu ; E224) reduces Q, inhibits transport, and weakens coupling. Removal of the central tyrosine anion gate (Y572S) greatly increases uncoupled anion current. Tyrosine -OH removal (Y572F) alters anion selectivity and impairs coupling. E224 and Y572 act as anion barriers, and contribute to gating. The Y572 side chain and -OH regulate Q movement kinetics and voltage dependence. E224 and Y572 interact to create a "closed" inner gate conformation that maintains coupling during cycling.
ABSTRACT - We utilized plasma membrane-localized ClC-3 to investigate relationships between steady-state transport current (I ), gating charge (Q) movement, and cytoplasmic alkalization rate. ClC-3 exhibited lower transport efficiency than ClC-5, as reflected by a larger Q/I ratio, but an indistinguishable Cl /H coupling ratio. External SCN reduced H transport rate and uncoupled anion/H exchange by 80-90%. Removal of the external gating glutamate ("Glu ") (E224A mutation) reduced Q and abolished H transport. We hypothesized that Methionine 531 (M531) impedes "water wire" H transfer from the cytoplasm to E224. Accordingly, an M531A mutation decreased the Q/I ratio by 50% and enhanced H transport. External protons (pH 5.0) inhibited I and markedly reduced Q while shifting the Q-voltage (V) relationship positively. The Cl /H coupling ratio at pH 5.0 was significantly increased, consistent with externally protonated Glu adopting an outward/open position. Internal "anion gate" removal (Y572S) dramatically increased I and impaired coupling, without slowing H transport rate. Loss of both gates (Y572S/E224A) resulted in a large "open pore" conductance. Y572F (removing only the phenolic hydroxide) and Y572S shortened Q duration similarly, resulting in faster Q kinetics at all voltages. These data reveal a complex relationship between Q and ion transport. Q/I must be assessed together with coupling ratio to properly interpret efficiency. Coupling and transport rate are influenced by the anion, internal proton supply and external protons. Y572 regulates H coupling as well as anion selectivity, and interacts directly with E224. Disruption of this "closed gate" conformation by internal protons may represent a critical step in the ClC-3 transport cycle.
© 2018 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2018 The Physiological Society.
KEY POINTS - The AMPA-type ionotropic glutamate receptors (AMPARs) mediate the majority of excitatory synaptic transmission and their function impacts learning, cognition and behaviour. The gating of AMPARs occurs in milliseconds, precisely controlled by a variety of auxiliary subunits that are expressed differentially in the brain, but the difference in mechanisms underlying AMPAR gating modulation by auxiliary subunits remains elusive and is investigated. The elements of the AMPAR that are functionally recruited by auxiliary subunits, stargazin and cornichon 3, are located not only in the extracellular domains but also in the lipid-accessible surface of the AMPAR. We reveal that the two auxiliary subunits require a shared surface on the transmembrane domain of the AMPAR for their function, but the gating is influenced by this surface in opposing directions for each auxiliary subunit. Our results provide new insights into the mechanistic difference of AMPAR modulation by auxiliary subunits and a conceptual framework for functional engineering of the complex.
ABSTRACT - During excitatory synaptic transmission, various structurally unrelated transmembrane auxiliary subunits control the function of AMPA receptors (AMPARs), but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. We identified lipid-exposed residues in the transmembrane domain (TMD) of the GluA2 subunit of AMPARs that are critical for the function of AMPAR auxiliary subunits, stargazin (Stg) and cornichon 3 (CNIH3). These residues are essential for stabilizing the AMPAR-CNIH3 complex in detergents and overlap with the contacts made between GluA2 TMD and Stg in the cryoEM structures. Mutating these residues had opposite effects on gating modulation and complex stability when Stg- and CNIH3-bound AMPARs were compared. Specifically, in detergent the GluA2-A793F formed an unstable complex with CNIIH3 but in the membrane the GluA2-A793F-CNIH3 complex expressed a gain of function. In contrast, the GluA2-A793F-Stg complex was stable, but had diminished gating modulation. GluA2-C528L destabilized the AMPAR-CNIH3 complex but stabilized the AMPAR-Stg complex, with overall loss of function in gating modulation. Furthermore, loss-of-function mutations in this TMD region cancelled the effects of a gain-of-function Stg carrying mutation in its extracellular loop, demonstrating that both the extracellular and the TMD elements contribute independently to gating modulation. The elements of AMPAR functionally recruited by auxiliary subunits are, therefore, located not only in the extracellular domains but also in the lipid accessible surface of the AMPAR. The TMD surface we defined is a potential target for auxiliary subunit-specific compounds, because engineering of this hotspot induces opposing functional outcomes by Stg and CNIH3. The collection of mutant-phenotype mapping provides a framework for engineering AMPAR gating using auxiliary subunits.
© 2017 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2017 The Physiological Society.
Dravet syndrome, an epileptic encephalopathy affecting children, largely results from heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the brain voltage-gated sodium channel gene SCN1A. Heterozygous Scn1a knockout (Scn1a ) mice recapitulate the severe epilepsy phenotype of Dravet syndrome and are an accepted animal model. Because clinical observations suggest conventional sodium channel blocking antiepileptic drugs may worsen the disease, we predicted the phenotype of Scn1a mice would be exacerbated by GS967, a potent, unconventional sodium channel blocker. Unexpectedly, GS967 significantly improved survival of Scn1a mice and suppressed spontaneous seizures. By contrast, lamotrigine exacerbated the seizure phenotype. Electrophysiological recordings of acutely dissociated neurons revealed that chronic GS967-treatment had no impact on evoked action potential firing frequency of interneurons, but did suppress aberrant spontaneous firing of pyramidal neurons and was associated with significantly lower sodium current density. Lamotrigine had no effects on neuronal excitability of either neuron subtype. Additionally, chronically GS967-treated Scn1a mice exhibited normalized pyramidal neuron sodium current density and reduced hippocampal Na1.6 protein levels, whereas lamotrigine treatment had no effect on either pyramidal neuron sodium current or hippocampal Na1.6 levels. Our findings demonstrate unexpected efficacy of a novel sodium channel blocker in Dravet syndrome and suggest a potential mechanism involving a secondary change in Na1.6.
Voltage-gated Ca1.2 and Ca1.3 (L-type) Ca channels regulate neuronal excitability, synaptic plasticity, and learning and memory. Densin-180 (densin) is an excitatory synaptic protein that promotes Ca-dependent facilitation of voltage-gated Ca1.3 Ca channels in transfected cells. Mice lacking densin (densin KO) exhibit defects in synaptic plasticity, spatial memory, and increased anxiety-related behaviors-phenotypes that more closely match those in mice lacking Ca1.2 than Ca1.3. Therefore, we investigated the functional impact of densin on Ca1.2. We report that densin is an essential regulator of Ca1.2 in neurons, but has distinct modulatory effects compared with its regulation of Ca1.3. Densin binds to the N-terminal domain of Ca1.2, but not that of Ca1.3, and increases Ca1.2 currents in transfected cells and in neurons. In transfected cells, densin accelerates the forward trafficking of Ca1.2 channels without affecting their endocytosis. Consistent with a role for densin in increasing the number of postsynaptic Ca1.2 channels, overexpression of densin increases the clustering of Ca1.2 in dendrites of hippocampal neurons in culture. Compared with wild-type mice, the cell surface levels of Ca1.2 in the brain, as well as Ca1.2 current density and signaling to the nucleus, are reduced in neurons from densin KO mice. We conclude that densin is an essential regulator of neuronal Ca1 channels and ensures efficient Ca1.2 Ca signaling at excitatory synapses. The number and localization of voltage-gated Ca Ca channels are crucial determinants of neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission. We report that the protein densin-180 is highly enriched at excitatory synapses in the brain and enhances the cell surface trafficking and postsynaptic localization of Ca1.2 L-type Ca channels in neurons. This interaction promotes coupling of Ca1.2 channels to activity-dependent gene transcription. Our results reveal a mechanism that may contribute to the roles of Ca1.2 in regulating cognition and mood.
Copyright © 2017 the authors 0270-6474/17/374679-13$15.00/0.
Most small-molecule inhibitors of voltage-gated ion channels display poor subtype specificity because they bind to highly conserved residues located in the channel's central cavity. Using a combined approach of scanning mutagenesis, electrophysiology, chemical ligand modification, chemical cross-linking, MS/MS-analyses and molecular modelling, we provide evidence for the binding site for adamantane derivatives and their putative access pathway in Kv7.1/KCNE1 channels. The adamantane compounds, exemplified by JNJ303, are highly potent gating modifiers that bind to fenestrations that become available when KCNE1 accessory subunits are bound to Kv7.1 channels. This mode of regulation by auxiliary subunits may facilitate the future development of potent and highly subtype-specific Kv channel inhibitors.
The physiology of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors is fundamental to brain development and function. NMDA receptors are ionotropic glutamate receptors that function as heterotetramers composed mainly of GluN1 and GluN2 subunits. Activation of NMDA receptors requires binding of neurotransmitter agonists to a ligand-binding domain (LBD) and structural rearrangement of an amino-terminal domain (ATD). Recent crystal structures of GluN1-GluN2B NMDA receptors bound to agonists and an allosteric inhibitor, ifenprodil, represent the allosterically inhibited state. However, how the ATD and LBD move to activate the NMDA receptor ion channel remains unclear. Here we applied X-ray crystallography, single-particle electron cryomicroscopy and electrophysiology to rat NMDA receptors to show that, in the absence of ifenprodil, the bi-lobed structure of GluN2 ATD adopts an open conformation accompanied by rearrangement of the GluN1-GluN2 ATD heterodimeric interface, altering subunit orientation in the ATD and LBD and forming an active receptor conformation that gates the ion channel.
The principal Afrotropical malaria vector mosquito, Anopheles gambiae remains a significant threat to human health. In this anthropophagic species, females detect and respond to a range of human-derived volatile kairomones such as ammonia, lactic acid, and other carboxylic acids in their quest for blood meals. While the molecular underpinnings of mosquito olfaction and host seeking are becoming better understood, many questions remain unanswered. In this study, we have identified and characterized two candidate ammonium transporter genes, AgAmt and AgRh50 that are expressed in the mosquito antenna and may contribute to physiological and behavioral responses to ammonia, which is an important host kairomone for vector mosquitoes. AgAmt transcripts are highly enhanced in female antennae while a splice variant of AgRh50 appears to be antennal-specific. Functional expression of AgAmt in Xenopus laevis oocytes facilitates inward currents in response to both ammonium and methylammonium, while AgRh50 is able to partially complement a yeast ammonium transporter mutant strain, validating their conserved roles as ammonium transporters. We present evidence to suggest that both AgAmt and AgRh50 are in vivo ammonium transporters that are important for ammonia sensitivity in An. gambiae antennae, either by clearing ammonia from the sensillar lymph or by facilitating sensory neuron responses to environmental exposure. Accordingly, AgAmt and AgRh50 represent new and potentially important targets for the development of novel vector control strategies.