Hydration properties of mechanosensitive channel pores define the energetics of gating.
ABSTRACT Opening of ion channels directly by tension in the surrounding membrane appears to be the most ancient and simple mechanism of gating. Bacterial mechanosensitive channels MscL and MscS are the best-studied tension-gated nanopores, yet the key physical factors that define their gating are still hotly debated. Here we present estimations, simulations and experimental results showing that hydration of the pore might be one of the major parameters defining the thermodynamics and kinetics of mechanosensitive channel gating. We associate closing of channel pores with complete dehydration of the hydrophobic gate (occlusion by 'vapor lock') and formation of two water-vapor interfaces above and below the constriction. The opening path is the expansion of these interfaces, ultimately leading to wetting of the hydrophobic pore, which does not appear to be the exact reverse of the closing path, thus producing hysteresis. We discuss specifically the role of polar groups (glycines) buried in narrow closed conformations but exposed in the open states that change the wetting characteristics of the pore lining and stabilize conductive states of the channels.
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Article: Hydrophobic Gating in Ion Channels.[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Biological ion channels are nanoscale transmembrane pores. When water and ions are enclosed within the narrow confines of a sub-nanometer hydrophobic pore, they exhibit behavior not evident from macroscopic descriptions. At this nanoscopic level, the unfavorable interaction between the lining of a hydrophobic pore and water may lead to stochastic liquid-vapor transitions. These transient vapor states are 'dewetted' i.e. effectively devoid of water molecules within all, or part of the pore, thus leading to an energetic barrier to ion conduction. This process, termed 'hydrophobic gating', was first observed in molecular dynamics simulations of model nanopores, where the principles underlying hydrophobic gating (i.e. changes in diameter, polarity, or transmembrane voltage) have now been extensively validated. Computational, structural and functional studies now indicate that biological ion channels may also exploit hydrophobic gating to regulate ion flow within their pores. Here we review the evidence for this process, and propose that this unusual behavior of water represents an increasingly important element in understanding the relationship between ion channel structure and function.Journal of Molecular Biology 08/2014; · 3.96 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The bacterial mechanosensitive channel MscL, a small protein mainly activated by membrane tension, is a central model system to study the transduction of mechanical stimuli into chemical signals. Mutagenic studies suggest that MscL gating strongly depends on both intra-protein and interfacial lipid-protein interactions. However, there is a gap between this detailed chemical information and current mechanical models of MscL gating. Here, we investigate the MscL bilayer-protein interface through molecular dynamics simulations, and take a combined continuum-molecular approach to connect chemistry and mechanics. We quantify the effect of membrane tension on the forces acting on the surface of the channel, and identify interactions that may be critical in the force transduction between the membrane and MscL. We find that the local stress distribution on the protein surface is largely asymmetric, particularly under tension, with the cytoplasmic side showing significantly larger and more localized forces, which pull the protein radially outward. The molecular interactions that mediate this behavior arise from hydrogen bonds between the electronegative oxygens in the lipid headgroup and a cluster of positively charged lysine residues on the amphipathic S1 domain and the C-terminal end of the second trans-membrane helix. We take advantage of this strong interaction (estimated to be 10–13 kT per lipid) to actuate the channel (by applying forces on protein-bound lipids) and explore its sensitivity to the pulling magnitude and direction. We conclude by highlighting the simple motif that confers MscL with strong anchoring to the bilayer, and its presence in various integral membrane proteins including the human mechanosensitive channel K2P1 and bovine rhodopsin. OPEN ACCESSPLoS ONE 12/2014; 9(12):e113947. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Recent X-ray crystal structures of the two-pore domain (K2P) family of potassium channels have revealed a unique structural architecture at the point where the cytoplasmic bundle-crossing gate is found in most other tetrameric K(+) channels. However, despite the apparently open nature of the inner pore in the TWIK-1 (K2P1/KCNK1) crystal structure, the reasons underlying its low levels of functional activity remain unclear. In this study, we use a combination of molecular dynamics simulations and functional validation to demonstrate that TWIK-1 possesses a hydrophobic barrier deep within the inner pore, and that stochastic dewetting of this hydrophobic constriction acts as a major barrier to ion conduction. These results not only provide an important insight into the mechanisms which control TWIK-1 channel activity, but also have important implications for our understanding of how ion permeation may be controlled in similar ion channels and pores.Nature Communications 07/2014; 5:4377. · 10.74 Impact Factor