Published 21 June 2023 in Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters (doi 10.1021/acs.jpclett.3c00803):
Modulation of pore opening of eukaryotic sodium channels by π-helices in S6
Voltage-gated sodium channels are heterotetrameric sodium selective ion channels that play a central role in electrical signaling in excitable cells. With recent advances in structural biology, structures of eukaryotic sodium channels have been captured in several distinct conformations corresponding to different functional states. The secondary structure of the pore lining S6 helices of subunits DI, DII, and DIV has been captured with both short π-helix stretches and in fully α-helical conformations. The relevance of these secondary structure elements for pore gating is not yet understood. Here, we propose that a π-helix in at least DI-S6, DIII-S6, and DIV-S6 results in a fully conductive state. On the other hand, the absence of π-helix in either DI-S6 or DIV-S6 yields a subconductance state, and its absence from both DI-S6 and DIV-S6 yields a nonconducting state. This work highlights the impact of the presence of a π-helix in the different S6 helices of an expanded pore on pore conductance, thus opening new doors toward reconstructing the entire conformational landscape along the functional cycle of Nav Channels and paving the way to the design of state-dependent modulators.
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