Zheng, Wenjun; Qin, Feng
A combined coarse-grained and all-atom simulation of TRPV1 channel gating and heat activation

The transient receptor potential (TRP) channels act as key sensors of various chemical and physical stimuli in eukaryotic cells. Despite years of study, the molecular mechanisms of TRP channel activation remain unclear. To elucidate the structural, dynamic, and energetic basis of gating in TRPV1 (a founding member of the TRPV subfamily), we performed coarse-grained modeling and all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulation based on the recently solved high resolution structures of the open and closed form of TRPV1. Our coarse-grained normal mode analysis captures two key modes of collective motions involved in the TRPV1 gating transition, featuring a quaternary twist motion of the transmembrane domains (TMDs) relative to the intracellular domains (ICDs). Our transition pathway modeling predicts a sequence of structural movements that propagate from the ICDs to the TMDs via key interface domains (including the membrane proximal domain and the C-terminal domain), leading to sequential opening of the selectivity filter followed by the lower gate in the channel pore (confirmed by modeling conformational changes induced by the activation of ICDs). The above findings of coarse-grained modeling are robust to perturbation by lipids. Finally, our MD simulation of the ICD identifies key residues that contribute differently to the nonpolar energy of the open and closed state, and these residues are predicted to control the temperature sensitivity of TRPV1 gating. These computational predictions offer new insights to the mechanism for heat activation of TRPV1 gating, and will guide our future electrophysiology and mutagenesis studies.


Find full text with Google Scholar.