PubMed 25950979

Referenced in Channelpedia wiki pages of: none

Automatically associated channels: Kir2.3

Title: Major intrinsic protein superfamily: channels with unique structural features and diverse selectivity filters.

Authors: Ravi Kumar Verma, Anjali Bansal Gupta, Ramasubbu Sankararamakrishnan

Journal, date & volume: Meth. Enzymol., 2015 , 557, 485-520

PubMed link:

Members of the superfamily of major intrinsic proteins (MIPs) facilitate water and solute permeability across cell membranes and are found in sources ranging from bacteria to humans. Aquaporin and aquaglyceroporin channels are the prominent members of the MIP superfamily. Experimental studies show that MIPs are involved in important physiological processes in mammals and plants. They are implicated in several human diseases and are considered to be attractive drug targets for a wide range of diseases such as cancer, brain edema, epilepsy, glaucoma, and congestive heart failure. Three-dimensional structures of MIP channels from diverse sources reveal that MIPs adopt a unique conserved hourglass helical fold consisting of six transmembrane helices (TM1-TM6) and two half-helices (LB and LE). Conserved NPA motifs near the center and the aromatic/arginine selectivity filter (Ar/R SF) toward the extracellular side constitute two narrow constriction regions within the channel. Structural knowledge combined with simulation studies have helped to investigate the role of these two constriction regions in the transport and selectivity of the solutes. With the availability of many genome sequences from diverse species, a large number of MIP genes have been identified. Homology models of 1500 MIP channels have been used to derive structure-based sequence alignment of TM1-TM6 helices and the two half-helices LB and LE. Thirteen residues are highly conserved in different transmembrane helices and half-helices. High group conservation of small and weakly polar residues is observed in 27 positions at the interface of two interacting helices. Thus, although the MIP sequences are diverse, the hourglass helical fold is maintained during evolution with the conservation of these 40 positions within the transmembrane region. We have proposed a generic structure-based numbering scheme for the MIP channels that will facilitate easier comparison of the MIP sequences. Analysis of Ar/R SF in all 1500 MIPs indicates the extent of diversity in the four residues that form this narrow region. Certain residues are completely avoided in the SF, even if they have the same chemical nature as that of the most frequently observed residues. For example, arginine is the most preferred residue in a specific position of Ar/R SF, whereas lysine is almost always avoided in any of the four positions. MIP channels with highly hydrophobic or hydrophilic Ar/R SF have been identified. Similarly, there are examples of MIP channels in which all four residues of Ar/R SF are bulky, thus almost occluding the pore. Many plant MIPs possess small residues at all SF positions, resulting in a larger pore diameter. A majority of MIP channels are yet to be functionally characterized, and their in vivo substrates are not yet identified. A complete understanding of the relationship between the nature of Ar/R SF and the solutes that are transported is required to exploit MIP channels as potential drug targets.