PubMed 24606930

Title: Proline scan of the HERG channel s6 helix reveals the location of the intracellular pore gate.

Authors: Samrat Thouta, Stanislav Sokolov, Yuki Abe, Sheldon J Clark, Yen M Cheng, Tom W Claydon

Journal, date & volume: Biophys. J., 2014 Mar 4 , 106, 1057-69

PubMed link:

In Shaker-like channels, the activation gate is formed at the bundle crossing by the convergence of the inner S6 helices near a conserved proline-valine-proline motif, which introduces a kink that allows for electromechanical coupling with voltage sensor motions via the S4-S5 linker. Human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) channels lack the proline-valine-proline motif and the location of the intracellular pore gate and how it is coupled to S4 movement is less clear. Here, we show that proline substitutions within the S6 of hERG perturbed pore gate closure, trapping channels in the open state. Performing a proline scan of the inner S6 helix, from Ile(655) to Tyr(667) revealed that gate perturbation occurred with proximal (I655P-Q664P), but not distal (R665P-Y667P) substitutions, suggesting that Gln(664) marks the position of the intracellular gate in hERG channels. Using voltage-clamp fluorimetry and gating current analysis, we demonstrate that proline substitutions trap the activation gate open by disrupting the coupling between the voltage-sensing unit and the pore of the channel. We characterize voltage sensor movement in one such trapped-open mutant channel and demonstrate the kinetics of what we interpret to be intrinsic hERG voltage sensor movement.