Rikard Blunck

Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Are you Rikard Blunck?

Claim your profile

Publications (32)183.46 Total impact

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: As all integral membrane proteins, voltage-gated ion channels are embedded in a lipid matrix that regulates their channel behavior either by physicochemical properties or by direct binding. Since manipulation of the lipid composition in cells is difficult, we investigated the influence of different lipids on purified KvAP channels reconstituted in planar lipid bilayers of known composition. Lipids developed two distinct and independent effects on the KvAP channels; lipids interacting with the pore lowered the energy barriers for the final transitions whereas voltage sensor-bound lipids shifted the midpoint of activation dependent on their electrostatic charge. Above all, the midpoint of activation was determined only by those lipids, the channels came in contact with first after purification and can seemingly only be exchanged if the channel resides in the open state. The high affinity of the bound lipids to the binding site has implications not only on our understanding of the gating mechanism but also on the general experimental design of any lipid dependence study.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 04/2014; · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Tanja Kalstrup, Rikard Blunck
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Atomic-scale models on the gating mechanism of voltage-gated potassium channels (Kv) are based on linear interpolations between static structures of their initial and final state derived from crystallography and molecular dynamics simulations, and, thus, lack dynamic structural information. The lack of information on dynamics and intermediate states makes it difficult to associate the structural with the dynamic functional data obtained with electrophysiology. Although voltage-clamp fluorometry fills this gap, it is limited to sites extracellularly accessible, when the key region for gating is located at the cytosolic side of the channels. Here, we solved this problem by performing voltage-clamp fluorometry with a fluorescent unnatural amino acid. By using an orthogonal tRNA-synthetase pair, the fluorescent unnatural amino acid was incorporated in the Shaker voltage-gated potassium channel at key regions that were previously inaccessible. Thus, we defined which parts act independently and which parts act cooperatively and found pore opening to occur in two sequential transitions.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2013; 104(2):124-. · 3.67 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated ion channels are responsible for the generation of action potentials in our nervous system. Conformational rearrangements in their voltage sensor domains in response to changes of the membrane potential controls pore opening and thus ion conduction. Crystal structures of the open channel in combination with a wealth of biophysical data and molecular dynamics simulations led to a consensus on the voltage sensor movement. However, the coupling between voltage sensor movement and pore opening, the electromechanical coupling, occurs at the cytosolic face of the channel, from where no structural information is available yet. In particular the question how far the cytosolic pore gate has to close to prevent ion conduction remains controversial. In cells, spectroscopic methods are hindered because labeling of internal sites remains difficult, whereas liposomes or detergent solutions containing purified ion channels lack voltage control. To overcome these problems, here, we controlled the state of the channel by varying the lipid environment. This way, we directly measured the position of the S4-S5 linker in both the open and closed state of a prokaryotic Kv channel (KvAP) in a lipid environment using Lanthanide-based resonance energy transfer (LRET). We were able to reconstruct the movement of the covalent link between the voltage sensor and the pore domain and used this information as restraints for molecular dynamics simulations of the closed state structure. We found that a small decrease of the pore radius of about 3-4 Angstroem is sufficient to prevent ion permeation through the pore.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2012; · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Elucidating subunit stoichiometry of neurotransmitter receptors is preferably carried out in a mammalian expression system where the rules of native protein assembly are strictly obeyed. Although successful in Xenopus oocytes, single subunit counting, manually counting photobleaching steps of GFP-tagged subunits, has been hindered in mammalian cells by high background fluorescence, poor control of expression, and low GFP maturation efficiency. Here, we present a fully automated single-molecule fluorescence counting method that separates tagged proteins on the plasma membrane from background fluorescence and contaminant proteins in the cytosol or the endoplasmic reticulum and determines the protein stoichiometry. Lower GFP maturation rates observed in cells cultured at 37 °C were partly offset using a monomeric version of superfolder GFP. We were able to correctly identify the stoichiometry of GluK2 and α1 glycine receptors. Our approach permits the elucidation of stoichiometry for a wide variety of plasma membrane proteins in mammalian cells with any commercially available TIRF microscope.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2012; 287(43):35912-21. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Society, San Diego; 02/2012
  • Source
    Rikard Blunck, Zarah Batulan
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated ion channels play a central role in the generation of action potentials in the nervous system. They are selective for one type of ion - sodium, calcium, or potassium. Voltage-gated ion channels are composed of a central pore that allows ions to pass through the membrane and four peripheral voltage sensing domains that respond to changes in the membrane potential. Upon depolarization, voltage sensors in voltage-gated potassium channels (Kv) undergo conformational changes driven by positive charges in the S4 segment and aided by pairwise electrostatic interactions with the surrounding voltage sensor. Structure-function relations of Kv channels have been investigated in detail, and the resulting models on the movement of the voltage sensors now converge to a consensus; the S4 segment undergoes a combined movement of rotation, tilt, and vertical displacement in order to bring 3-4e(+) each through the electric field focused in this region. Nevertheless, the mechanism by which the voltage sensor movement leads to pore opening, the electromechanical coupling, is still not fully understood. Thus, recently, electromechanical coupling in different Kv channels has been investigated with a multitude of techniques including electrophysiology, 3D crystal structures, fluorescence spectroscopy, and molecular dynamics simulations. Evidently, the S4-S5 linker, the covalent link between the voltage sensor and pore, plays a crucial role. The linker transfers the energy from the voltage sensor movement to the pore domain via an interaction with the S6 C-termini, which are pulled open during gating. In addition, other contact regions have been proposed. This review aims to provide (i) an in-depth comparison of the molecular mechanisms of electromechanical coupling in different Kv channels; (ii) insight as to how the voltage sensor and pore domain influence one another; and (iii) theoretical predictions on the movement of the cytosolic face of the Kv channels during gating.
    Frontiers in Pharmacology 01/2012; 3:166.
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2012; 102(3):114-. · 3.67 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2012; 102(3):13-. · 3.67 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Pore-forming toxins constitute a class of potent virulence factors that attack their host membrane in a two- or three-step mechanism. After binding to the membrane, often aided by specific receptors, they form pores in the membrane. Pore formation either unfolds a cytolytic activity in itself or provides a pathway to introduce enzymes into the cells that act upon intracellular proteins. The elucidation of the pore-forming mechanism of many of these toxins represents a major research challenge. As the toxins often refold after entering the membrane, their structure in the membrane is unknown, and key questions such as the stoichiometry of individual pores and their mechanism of oligomerization remain unanswered. In this study, we used single subunit counting based on fluorescence spectroscopy to explore the oligomerization process of the Cry1Aa toxin of Bacillus thuringiensis. Purified Cry1Aa toxin molecules labeled at different positions in the pore-forming domain were inserted into supported lipid bilayers, and the photobleaching steps of single fluorophores in the fluorescence time traces were counted to determine the number of subunits of each oligomer. We found that toxin oligomerization is a highly dynamic process that occurs in the membrane and that tetramers represent the final form of the toxins in a lipid bilayer environment.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 12/2011; 286(49):42274-82. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mutations in distal S6 were shown to significantly alter the stability of the open state of Ca(V)2.3 (Raybaud, A., Baspinar, E. E., Dionne, F., Dodier, Y., Sauvé, R., and Parent, L. (2007) J. Biol. Chem. 282, 27944-27952). By analogy with K(V) channels, we tested the hypothesis that channel activation involves electromechanical coupling between S6 and the S4S5 linker in Ca(V)2.3. Among the 11 positions tested in the S4S5 linker of domain II, mutations of the leucine residue at position 596 were found to destabilize significantly the closed state with a -50 mV shift in the activation potential and a -20 mV shift in its charge-voltage relationship as compared with Ca(V)2.3 wt. A double mutant cycle analysis was performed by introducing pairs of glycine residues between S4S5 and S6 of Domain II. Strong coupling energies (ΔΔG(interact) > 2 kcal mol(-1)) were measured for the activation gating of 12 of 39 pairs of mutants. Leu-596 (IIS4S5) was strongly coupled with distal residues in IIS6 from Leu-699 to Asp-704. In particular, the double mutant L596G/I701G showed strong cooperativity with a ΔΔG(interact) ≈6 kcal mol(-1) suggesting that both positions contribute to the activation gating of the channel. Altogether, our results highlight the role of a leucine residue in S4S5 and provide the first series of evidence that the IIS4S5 and IIS6 regions are energetically coupled during the activation of a voltage-gated Ca(V) channel.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2011; 286(31):27197-205. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mutations in distal S6 were shown to significantly alter the stability of the open state of CaV2.3 (Raybaud et al., 2007). By analogy with KV channels, we tested the hypothesis that channel activation involves electromechanical coupling between S6 and the S4-S5 linker in CaV2.3. Among the 11 positions tested in the S4-S5 linker of Domain II, mutations of the leucine residue at position 596 were found to destabilize significantly the closed state with a -50 mV shift in the activation potential and a -20 mV shift in its charge-voltage relationship as compared with CaV2.3 wt. A double mutant cycle analysis was performed by introducing pairs of glycine residues between S4-S5 and S6 of Domain II. Strong coupling energies (ΔΔGinteract > 2 kcal mol-1) were measured for the activation gating of 12 out of 39 pairs of mutants. L596 (IIS4S5) was strongly coupled with distal residues in IIS6 from L699 to D704. In particular, the double mutant L596G/I701G showed strong cooperativity with a ΔΔGinteract ≈ 6 kcal mol-1 suggesting that both positions contribute to the activation gating of the channel. Altogether, our results highlight the role of a leucine residue in S4-S5 and provide the first series of evidence that the IIS4-S5 and IIS6 regions are energetically coupled during the activation of a voltage-gated CaV channel.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2011; · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Georges A Haddad, Rikard Blunck
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The voltage sensors of voltage-gated ion channels undergo a conformational change upon depolarization of the membrane that leads to pore opening. This conformational change can be measured as gating currents and is thought to be transferred to the pore domain via an annealing of the covalent link between voltage sensor and pore (S4-S5 linker) and the C terminus of the pore domain (S6). Upon prolonged depolarizations, the voltage dependence of the charge movement shifts to more hyperpolarized potentials. This mode shift had been linked to C-type inactivation but has recently been suggested to be caused by a relaxation of the voltage sensor itself. In this study, we identified two ShakerIR mutations in the S4-S5 linker (I384N) and S6 (F484G) that, when mutated, completely uncouple voltage sensor movement from pore opening. Using these mutants, we show that the pore transfers energy onto the voltage sensor and that uncoupling the pore from the voltage sensor leads the voltage sensors to be activated at more negative potentials. This uncoupling also eliminates the mode shift occurring during prolonged depolarizations, indicating that the pore influences entry into the mode shift. Using voltage-clamp fluorometry, we identified that the slow conformational change of the S4 previously correlated with the mode shift disappears when uncoupling the pore. The effects can be explained by a mechanical load that is imposed upon the voltage sensors by the pore domain and allosterically modulates its conformation. Mode shift is caused by the stabilization of the open state but leads to a conformational change in the voltage sensor.
    The Journal of General Physiology 05/2011; 137(5):455-72. · 4.73 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Nicolas Groulx, Marc Juteau, Rikard Blunck
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Pore-forming toxins, many of which are pathogenic to humans, are highly dynamic proteins that adopt a different conformation in aqueous solution than in the lipid environment of the host membrane. Consequently, their crystal structures obtained in aqueous environment do not reflect the active conformation in the membrane, making it difficult to deduce the molecular determinants responsible for pore formation. To obtain structural information directly in the membrane, we introduce a fluorescence technique to probe the native topology of pore-forming toxins in planar lipid bilayers and follow their movement during pore formation. Using a Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) approach between site-directedly labeled proteins and an absorbing compound (dipicrylamine) in the membrane, we simultaneously recorded the electrical current and fluorescence emission in horizontal planar lipid bilayers formed in plastic chips. With this system, we mapped the topology of the pore-forming domain of Cry1Aa, a biological pesticide from Bacillus thuringiensis, by determining the location of the loops between its seven α helices. We found that the majority of the toxins initially traverse from the cis to the trans leaflet of the membrane. Comparing the topologies of Cry1Aa in the active and inactive state in order to identify the pore-forming mechanism, we established that only the α3-α4 hairpin translocates through the membrane from the trans to the cis leaflet, whereas all other positions remained constant. As toxins are highly dynamic proteins, populations that differ in conformation might be present simultaneously. To test the presence of different populations, we designed double-FRET experiments, where a single donor interacts with two acceptors with very different kinetics (dipicrylamine and oxonol). Due to the nonlinear response of FRET and the dynamic change of the acceptor distribution, we can deduce the distribution of the acceptors in the membrane from the time course of the donor fluorescence. We found that Cry1Aa is present on both membrane leaflets.
    The Journal of General Physiology 11/2010; 136(5):497-513. · 4.73 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated ion channels are controlled by the membrane potential, which is sensed by peripheral, positively charged voltage sensors. The movement of the charged residues in the voltage sensor may be detected as gating currents. In Shaker K(+) channels, the gating currents are asymmetric; although the on-gating currents are fast, the off-gating currents contain a slow component. This slow component is caused by a stabilization of the activated state of the voltage sensor and has been suggested to be linked to ion permeation or C-type inactivation. The molecular determinants responsible for the stabilization, however, remain unknown. Here, we identified an interaction between Arg-394, Glu-395, and Leu-398 on the C termini of the S4-S5 linker and Tyr-485 on the S6 of the neighboring subunit, which is responsible for the development of the slow off-gating component. Mutation of residues involved in this intersubunit interaction modulated the strength of the associated interaction. Impairment of the interaction still led to pore opening but did not exhibit slow gating kinetics. Development of this interaction occurs under physiological ion conduction and is correlated with pore opening. We, thus, suggest that the above residues stabilize the channel in the open state.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2010; 285(18):14005-19. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2010; 98(3). · 3.67 Impact Factor
  • Hugo McGuire, Rikard Blunck
    Biophysical Journal 01/2010; 98(3). · 3.67 Impact Factor
  • Hugo McGuire, Rikard Blunck
    Medecine sciences: M/S 11/2009; 25(11):951-4. · 0.56 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2009; 96(3). · 3.67 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The prokaryotic KcsA channel is gated at the helical bundle crossing by intracellular protons and inactivates at the extracellular selectivity filter. The C-terminal transmembrane helix has to undergo a conformational change for potassium ions to access the central cavity. Whereas a partial opening of the tetrameric channel is suggested to be responsible for subconductance levels of ion channels, including KcsA, a cooperative opening of the 4 subunits is postulated as the final opening step. In this study, we used single-channel fluorescence spectroscopy of KcsA to directly observe the movement of each subunit and the temporal correlation between subunits. Purified KcsA channels labeled at the C terminus near the bundle crossing have been inserted into supported lipid bilayer, and the fluorescence traces analyzed by means of a cooperative or independent Markov model. The analysis revealed that the 4 subunits do not move fully independently but instead showed a certain degree of cooperativity. However, the 4 subunits do not simply open in 1 concerted step.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2009; 105(51):20263-8. · 9.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

675 Citations
183.46 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2009–2013
    • Université de Montréal
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 2006–2011
    • Université du Québec à Montréal
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 2004–2005
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • Department of Physiology
      Los Angeles, California, United States