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The ladder-shaped polyether toxin gambierol anchors the gating machinery of Kv3.1 channels in the resting state.
Ivan Kopljar, Alain J Labro, Tessa de Block, Jon D Rainier, Jan Tytgat, Dirk J Snyders
J. Gen. Physiol.,
, 141, 359-69
Voltage-gated potassium (Kv) and sodium (Nav) channels are key determinants of cellular excitability and serve as targets of neurotoxins. Most marine ciguatoxins potentiate Nav channels and cause ciguatera seafood poisoning. Several ciguatoxins have also been shown to affect Kv channels, and we showed previously that the ladder-shaped polyether toxin gambierol is a potent Kv channel inhibitor. Most likely, gambierol acts via a lipid-exposed binding site, located outside the K(+) permeation pathway. However, the mechanism by which gambierol inhibits Kv channels remained unknown. Using gating and ionic current analysis to investigate how gambierol affected S6 gate opening and voltage-sensing domain (VSD) movements, we show that the resting (closed) channel conformation forms the high-affinity state for gambierol. The voltage dependence of activation was shifted by >120 mV in the depolarizing direction, precluding channel opening in the physiological voltage range. The (early) transitions between the resting and the open state were monitored with gating currents, and provided evidence that strong depolarizations allowed VSD movement up to the activated-not-open state. However, for transition to the fully open (ion-conducting) state, the toxin first needed to dissociate. These dissociation kinetics were markedly accelerated in the activated-not-open state, presumably because this state displayed a much lower affinity for gambierol. A tetrameric concatemer with only one high-affinity binding site still displayed high toxin sensitivity, suggesting that interaction with a single binding site prevented the concerted step required for channel opening. We propose a mechanism whereby gambierol anchors the channel's gating machinery in the resting state, requiring more work from the VSD to open the channel. This mechanism is quite different from the action of classical gating modifier peptides (e.g., hanatoxin). Therefore, polyether toxins open new opportunities in structure-function relationship studies in Kv channels and in drug design to modulate channel function.