Cholesterol regulates prokaryotic Kir channel by direct binding to channel protein

Department of Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (Impact Factor: 4.66). 10/2011; 1808(10):2527-33. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2011.07.006
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Cholesterol is a major regulator of a variety of ion channels but the mechanisms underlying cholesterol sensitivity of ion channels are still poorly understood. The key question is whether cholesterol regulates ion channels by direct binding to the channel protein or by altering the physical environment of lipid bilayer. In this study, we provide the first direct evidence that cholesterol binds to prokaryotic Kir channels, KirBac1.1, and that cholesterol binding is essential for its regulatory effect. Specifically, we show that cholesterol is eluted together with the KirBac1.1 protein when separated on an affinity column and that the amount of bound cholesterol is proportional to the amount of the protein. We also show that cholesterol binding to KirBac1.1 is saturable with a K(D) of 390μM. Moreover, there is clear competition between radioactive and non-radioactive cholesterol for the binding site. There is no competition, however, between cholesterol and 5-Androsten 3β-17 β-diol, a sterol that we showed previously to have no effect on KirBac1.1 function. Finally, we show that cholesterol-KirBac1.1 binding is significantly inhibited by trifluoperazine, known to inhibit cholesterol binding to other proteins, and that inhibition of cholesterol-KirBac1.1 binding results in full recovery of the channel activity. Collectively, results from this study indicate that cholesterol-induced suppression of KirBac1.1 activity is mediated by direct interaction between cholesterol and the channel protein.

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    ABSTRACT: Prokaryotic inwardly rectifying (KirBac) potassium channels are homologous to mammalian Kir channels. Their activity is controlled by dynamical conformational changes that regulate ion flow through a central pore. Understanding the dynamical rearrangements of Kir channels during gating requires high-resolution structure information from channels crystallized in different conformations and insight into the transition steps, which are difficult to access experimentally. In this study, we use MD simulations on wild type KirBac1.1 and an activatory mutant to investigate activation gating of KirBac channels. Full atomistic MD simulations revealed that introducing glutamate in position 143 causes significant widening at the helix bundle crossing gate, enabling water flux into the cavity. Further, global rearrangements including a twisting motion as well as local rearrangements at the subunit interface in the cytoplasmic domain were observed. These structural rearrangements are similar to recently reported KirBac3.1 crystal structures in closed and open conformation, suggesting that our simulations capture major conformational changes during KirBac1.1 opening. In addition, an important role of protein-lipid interactions during gating was observed. Slide-helix and C-linker interactions with lipids were strengthened during activation gating.
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