Carswell, Casey L.; Henault, Camille M.; Murlidaran, Sruthi; Therien, J. P. Daniel; Juranka, Peter F.; Surujballi, Julian A.; Brannigan, Grace; Baenziger, John E.
Role of the Fourth Transmembrane alpha Helix in the Allosteric Modulation of Pentameric Ligand-Gated Ion Channels
STRUCTURE, 23:1655-1664, SEP 1 2015

The gating of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels is sensitive to a variety of allosteric modulators that act on structures peripheral to those involved in the allosteric pathway leading from the agonist site to the channel gate. One such structure, the lipidexposed transmembrane alpha helix, M4, is the target of lipids, neurosteroids, and disease-causing mutations. Here we show that M4 interactions with the adjacent transmembrane alpha helices, M1 and M3, modulate pLGIC function. Enhanced M4 interactions promote channel function while ineffective interactions reduce channel function. The interface chemistry governs the intrinsic strength of M4-M1/M3 inter-helical interactions, both influencing channel gating and imparting distinct susceptibilities to the potentiating effects of a lipid-facing M4 congenital myasthenic syndrome mutation. Through aromatic substitutions, functional studies, and molecular dynamics simulations, we elucidate a mechanism by which M4 modulates channel function.


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