Journal of Molecular Biology

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  • Cooperative Substrate Binding by a Diguanylate Cyclase
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Maycon C. Oliveira , Raphael D. Teixeira , Maxuel O. Andrade , Glaucia M.S. Pinheiro , Carlos H.I. Ramos , Chuck S. Farah

    XAC0610, from Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri, is a large multi-domain protein containing one GAF (cGMP-specific phosphodiesterases, adenylyl cyclases and FhlA) domain, four PAS (Per-Arnt-Sim) domains and one GGDEF domain. This protein has a demonstrable in vivo and in vitro diguanylate cyclase (DGC) activity that leads to the production of cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP), a ubiquitous bacterial signaling molecule. Analysis of a XacΔ0610 knockout strain revealed that XAC0610 plays a role in the regulation of Xac motility and resistance to H2O2. Site-directed mutagenesis of a conserved DGC lysine residue (Lys759 in XAC0610) resulted in a severe reduction in XAC0610 DGC activity. Furthermore, experimental and in silico analyses suggest that XAC0610 is not subject to allosteric product inhibition, a common regulatory mechanism for DGC activity control. Instead, steady-state kinetics of XAC0610 DGC activity revealed a positive cooperative effect of the GTP substrate with a dissociation constant for the binding of the first GTP molecule (K 1) approximately 5× greater than the dissociation constant for the binding of the second GTP molecule (K 2). We present a general kinetics scheme that should be used when analyzing DGC kinetics data and propose that cooperative GTP binding could be a common, though up to now overlooked, feature of these enzymes that may in some cases offer a physiologically relevant mechanism for regulation of DGC activity in vivo.
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  • The Amyloid Precursor Protein Shows a pH-Dependent Conformational Switch in Its E1 Domain
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Sandra Hoefgen , Sven O. Dahms , Kathrin Oertwig , Manuel E. Than

    The amyloid precursor protein (APP) and its proteolytic cleavage product Aβ are widely believed to be central to the etiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). APP and its family members are also essential for proper neuronal development and homeostasis. APP is located at the cell surface and within intracellular compartments, cellular regions that exhibit different pH values. The AD-associated amyloidogenic processing of APP is initiated predominantly in intracellular acidic compartments, whereas its non-amyloidogenic cleavage is initiated at the cell surface at slightly basic pH. We analyzed the influence of pH on the APP-E1 domain and found that its two constituting subdomains, GFLD and CuBD, interact with each other in a pH-dependent manner. Dynamic light scattering showed that APP-E1 represents a more open conformation at neutral pH and a more closed conformation at acidic pH. Analyzing a 1.4 Å, high-resolution X-ray structure of E1 derived from merohedrally twinned crystals resulted in the identification of individual residues that are responsible for these pH-dependent interactions. Mutational studies and dynamic light scattering measurements further proved that specific hydrogen bonds between the two carboxylates of D177 and E87, as well as between N89 and H147, are major determinants of this pH-driven conformational switch in APP-E1. These findings show how APP can adopt different conformations depending on pH and suggest that the protein fulfils different functions at distinct localizations within the cell. Additionally, our data suggest a novel strategy for treating AD based on regulating the amyloidogenic processing of APP by the specific interruption of the interaction between the APP-E1 subdomains.
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  • Non-Native Structure Appears in Microseconds during the Folding of E. coli RNase H
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Laura E. Rosen , Sagar V. Kathuria , C. Robert Matthews , Osman Bilsel , Susan Marqusee

    The folding pathway of Escherichia coli RNase H is one of the best experimentally characterized for any protein. In spite of this, spectroscopic studies have never captured the earliest events. Using continuous-flow microfluidic mixing, we have now observed the first several milliseconds of folding by monitoring the tryptophan fluorescence lifetime (60μs dead time). Two folding intermediates are observed, the second of which is the previously characterized Icore millisecond intermediate. The new earlier intermediate is likely on-pathway and appears to have long-range non-native structure, providing a rare example of such non-native structure formation in a folding pathway. The tryptophan fluorescence lifetimes also suggest a deviation from native packing in the second intermediate, Icore. Similar results from a fragment of RNase H demonstrate that only half of the protein is significantly involved in this early structure formation. These studies give us a view of the formation of tertiary structure on the folding pathway, which complements previous hydrogen-exchange studies that monitored only secondary structure and observed sequential native structure formation. Our results provide detailed folding information on both a timescale and a size-scale accessible to all-atom molecular dynamics simulations of protein folding.
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  • Movement of Elongation Factor G between Compact and Extended Conformations
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Enea Salsi , Elie Farah , Zoe Netter , Jillian Dann , Dmitri N. Ermolenko

    Previous structural studies suggested that ribosomal translocation is accompanied by large interdomain rearrangements of elongation factor G (EF-G). Here, we follow the movement of domain IV of EF-G relative to domain II of EF-G using ensemble and single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer. Our results indicate that ribosome-free EF-G predominantly adopts a compact conformation that can also, albeit infrequently, transition into a more extended conformation in which domain IV moves away from domain II. By contrast, ribosome-bound EF-G predominantly adopts an extended conformation regardless of whether it is interacting with pretranslocation ribosomes or with posttranslocation ribosomes. Our data suggest that ribosome-bound EF-G may also occasionally sample at least one more compact conformation. GTP hydrolysis catalyzed by EF-G does not affect the relative stability of the observed conformations in ribosome-free and ribosome-bound EF-G. Our data support a model suggesting that, upon binding to a pretranslocation ribosome, EF-G moves from a compact to a more extended conformation. This transition is not coupled to but likely precedes both GTP hydrolysis and mRNA/tRNA translocation.
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  • Specificity Determinants in Small Multidrug Transporters
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Shlomo Brill , Ofir Sade-Falk , Yael Elbaz-Alon , Shimon Schuldiner

    Multiple-antibiotic resistance has become a major global public health concern, and to overcome this problem, it is necessary to understand the resistance mechanisms that allow survival of the microorganisms at the molecular level. One mechanism responsible for such resistance involves active removal of the antibiotic from the pathogen cell by MDTs (multidrug transporters). A prominent MDT feature is their high polyspecificity allowing for a single transporter to confer resistance against a range of drugs. Here we present the molecular mechanism underlying substrate recognition in EmrE, a small MDT from Escherichia coli. EmrE is known to have a substrate preference for aromatic, cationic compounds, such as methyl viologen (MV2+). In this work, we use a combined bioinformatic and biochemical approach to identify one of the major molecular determinants involved in MV2+ transport and resistance. Replacement of an Ala residue with Ser in weakly resistant SMRs from Bacillus pertussis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis enables them to provide robust resistance to MV2+ and to transport MV2+ and has negligible effects on the interaction with other substrates. This shows that the residue identified herein is uniquely positioned in the binding site so as to be exclusively involved in the mediating of MV2+ transport and resistance, both in EmrE and in other homologues. This work provides clues toward uncovering how specificity is achieved within the binding pocket of a polyspecific transporter that may open new possibilities as to how these transporters can be manipulated to bind a designed set of drugs.
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  • The CamSol Method of Rational Design of Protein Mutants with Enhanced Solubility
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Pietro Sormanni , Francesco A. Aprile , Michele Vendruscolo

    Protein solubility is often an essential requirement in biotechnological and biomedical applications. Great advances in understanding the principles that determine this specific property of proteins have been made during the past decade, in particular concerning the physicochemical characteristics of their constituent amino acids. By exploiting these advances, we present the CamSol method for the rational design of protein variants with enhanced solubility. The method works by performing a rapid computational screening of tens of thousand of mutations to identify those with the greatest impact on the solubility of the target protein while maintaining its native state and biological activity. The application to a single-domain antibody that targets the Alzheimer's Aβpeptide demonstrates that the method predicts with great accuracy solubility changes upon mutation, thus offering a cost-effective strategy to help the production of soluble proteins for academic and industrial purposes.
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  • Computational Design of Selective Peptides to Discriminate between Similar PDZ Domains in an Oncogenic Pathway
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Fan Zheng , Heather Jewell , Jeremy Fitzpatrick , Jian Zhang , Dale F. Mierke , Gevorg Grigoryan

    Reagents that target protein–protein interactions to rewire signaling are of great relevance in biological research. Computational protein design may offer a means of creating such reagents on demand, but methods for encoding targeting selectivity are sorely needed. This is especially challenging when targeting interactions with ubiquitous recognition modules—for example, PDZ domains, which bind C-terminal sequences of partner proteins. Here we consider the problem of designing selective PDZ inhibitor peptides in the context of an oncogenic signaling pathway, in which two PDZ domains (NHERF-2 PDZ2—N2P2 and MAGI-3 PDZ6—M3P6) compete for a receptor C-terminus to differentially modulate oncogenic activities. Because N2P2 has been shown to increase tumorigenicity and M3P6 to decreases it, we sought to design peptides that inhibit N2P2 without affecting M3P6. We developed a structure-based computational design framework that models peptide flexibility in binding yet is efficient enough to rapidly analyze tradeoffs between affinity and selectivity. Designed peptides showed low-micromolar inhibition constants for N2P2 and no detectable M3P6 binding. Peptides designed for reverse discrimination bound M3P6 tighter than N2P2, further testing our technology. Experimental and computational analysis of selectivity determinants revealed significant indirect energetic coupling in the binding site. Successful discrimination between N2P2 and M3P6, despite their overlapping binding preferences, is highly encouraging for computational approaches to selective PDZ targeting, especially because design relied on a homology model of M3P6. Still, we demonstrate specific deficiencies of structural modeling that must be addressed to enable truly robust design. The presented framework is general and can be applied in many scenarios to engineer selective targeting.
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  • Crosstalk between Signaling Pathways Provided by Single and Multiple Protein Phosphorylation Sites
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Hafumi Nishi , Emek Demir , Anna R. Panchenko

    Cellular fate depends on the spatiotemporal separation and integration of signaling processes that can be provided by phosphorylation events. In this study, we identify the crucial points in signaling crosstalk that can be triggered by discrete phosphorylation events on a single target protein. We integrated the data on individual human phosphosites with the evidence on their corresponding kinases, the functional consequences of phosphorylation on activity of the target protein and corresponding pathways. Our results show that there is a substantial fraction of phosphosites that can play critical roles in crosstalk between alternative and redundant pathways and regulatory outcome of phosphorylation can be linked to a type of phosphorylated residue. These regulatory phosphosites can serve as hubs in the signal flow and their functional roles are directly connected to their specific properties. Namely, phosphosites with similar regulatory functions are phosphorylated by the same kinases and participate in regulation of similar biochemical pathways. Such sites are more likely to cluster in sequence and space unlike sites with antagonistic outcomes of their phosphorylation on a target protein. In addition, we found that in silico phosphorylation of sites with similar functional consequences has comparable outcomes on a target protein stability. An important role of phosphorylation sites in biological crosstalk is evident from the analysis of their evolutionary conservation.
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  • Bidirectional Promoters of Insects: Genome-Wide Comparison, Evolutionary Implication and Influence on Gene Expression
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Susanta K. Behura , David W. Severson

    Bidirectional promoters are widespread in insect genomes. By analyzing 23 insect genomes we show that the frequency of bidirectional gene pairs varies according to genome compactness and density of genes among the species. The density of bidirectional genes expected based on number of genes per megabase of genome explains the observed density suggesting that bidirectional pairing of genes may be due to random event. We identified specific transcription factor binding motifs that are enriched in bidirectional promoters across insect species. Furthermore, we observed that bidirectional promoters may act as transcriptional hotspots in insect genomes where protein coding genes tend to aggregate in significantly biased (p <0.001) manner compared to unidirectional promoters. Natural selection seems to have an association with the extent of bidirectionality of genes among the species. The rate of non-synonymous-to-synonymous changes (dN/dS) shows a second-order polynomial distribution with bidirectionality between species indicating that bidirectionality is dependent upon evolutionary pressure acting on the genomes. Analysis of genome-wide microarray expression data of multiple insect species suggested that bidirectionality has a similar association with transcriptome variation across species. Furthermore, bidirectional promoters show significant association with correlated expression of the divergent gene pairs depending upon their motif composition. Analysis of gene ontology showed that bidirectional genes tend to have a common association with functions related to “binding” (including ion binding, nucleotide binding and protein binding) across genomes. Such functional constraint of bidirectional genes may explain their widespread persistence in genome of diverse insect species.
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  • Permeation and Dynamics of an Open-Activated TRPV1 Channel
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Leonardo Darré , Simone Furini , Carmen Domene

    Transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels constitute a large and diverse protein family, found in yeast and widespread in the animal kingdom. TRP channels work as sensors for a wide range of cellular and environmental signals. Understanding how these channels respond to physical and chemical stimuli has been hindered by the limited structural information available until now. The three-dimensional structure of the vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) was recently determined by single particle electron cryo-microscopy, offering for the first time the opportunity to explore ionic conduction in TRP channels at atomic detail. In this study, we present molecular dynamics simulations of the open-activated pore domain of TRPV1 in the presence of three cationic species: Na+, Ca2+ and K+. The dynamics of these ions while interacting with the channel pore allowed us to rationalize their permeation mechanism in terms of a pathway involving three binding sites at the intracellular cavity, as well as the extracellular and intracellular entrance of the selectivity filter. Furthermore, conformational analysis of the pore in the presence of these ions reveals specific ion-mediated structural changes in the selectivity filter, which influences the permeability properties of the TRPV1 channel.
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  • Computational De Novo Design of a Self-Assembling Peptide with Predefined Structure
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Sabine Kaltofen , Chenge Li , Po-Ssu Huang , Louise C. Serpell , Andreas Barth , Ingemar André

    Protein and peptide self-assembly is a powerful design principle for engineering of new biomolecules. More sophisticated biomaterials could be built if both the structure of the overall assembly and that of the self-assembling building block could be controlled. To approach this problem, we developed a computational design protocol to enable de novo design of self-assembling peptides with predefined structure. The protocol was used to design a peptide building block with a βαβ fold that self-assembles into fibrillar structures. The peptide associates into a double β-sheet structure with tightly packed α-helices decorating the exterior of the fibrils. Using circular dichroism, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, electron microscopy and X-ray fiber diffraction, we demonstrate that the peptide adopts the designed conformation. The results demonstrate that computational protein design can be used to engineer protein and peptide assemblies with predefined three-dimensional structures, which can serve as scaffolds for the development of functional biomaterials. Rationally designed proteins and peptides could also be used to investigate the subtle energetic and entropic tradeoffs in natural self-assembly processes and the relation between assembly structure and assembly mechanism. We demonstrate that the de novo designed peptide self-assembles with a mechanism that is more complicated than expected, in a process where small changes in solution conditions can lead to significant differences in assembly properties and conformation. These results highlight that formation of structured protein/peptide assemblies is often dependent on the formation of weak but highly precise intermolecular interactions.
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  • A General Computational Approach for Repeat Protein Design
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): Fabio Parmeggiani , Po-Ssu Huang , Sergey Vorobiev , Rong Xiao , Keunwan Park , Silvia Caprari , Min Su , Jayaraman Seetharaman , Lei Mao , Haleema Janjua , Gaetano T. Montelione , John Hunt , David Baker

    Repeat proteins have considerable potential for use as modular binding reagents or biomaterials in biomedical and nanotechnology applications. Here we describe a general computational method for building idealized repeats that integrates available family sequences and structural information with Rosetta de novo protein design calculations. Idealized designs from six different repeat families were generated and experimentally characterized; 80% of the proteins were expressed and soluble and more than 40% were folded and monomeric with high thermal stability. Crystal structures determined for members of three families are within 1Å root-mean-square deviation to the design models. The method provides a general approach for fast and reliable generation of stable modular repeat protein scaffolds.
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  • An Improved Single-Chain Fab Platform for Efficient Display and Recombinant Expression
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 2

    Author(s): James T. Koerber , Michael J. Hornsby , James A. Wells

    Antibody phage display libraries combined with high-throughput selections have recently demonstrated tremendous promise to create the next generation of renewable, recombinant antibodies to study proteins and their many post-translational modification states; however, many challenges still remain, such as optimized antibody scaffolds. Recently, a single-chain fragment antigen binding (Fab) (scFab) format, in which the carboxy-terminus of the light chain is linked to the amino-terminus of the heavy chain, was described to potentially combine the high display levels of a single-chain fragment variable with the high stability of purified Fabs. However, this format required removal of the interchain disulfide bond to achieve modest display levels and subsequent bacterial expression resulted in high levels of aggregated scFab, hindering further use of scFabs. Here, we developed an improved scFab format that retains the interchain disulfide bond by increasing the linker length between the light and heavy chains to improve display and bacterial expression levels to 1–3mg/L. Furthermore, rerouting of the scFab to the co-translational signal recognition particle pathway combined with reengineering of the signal peptide sequence results in display levels 24-fold above the original scFab format and 3-fold above parent Fab levels. This optimized scFab scaffold can be easily reformatted in a single step for expression in a bacterial or mammalian host to produce stable (T m of 81°C), predominantly monomeric (>90%) antibodies at a high yield. Ultimately, this new scFab format will advance high-throughput antibody generation platforms to discover the next generation of research and therapeutic antibodies.
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    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Editorial Board
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 16 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 1









    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Contents List
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 16 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 1









    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Insights into the molecular foundations of electrical excitation
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 16 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 1

    Author(s): Rachelle Gaudet , Benoit Roux , Daniel L. MinorJr







    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Bacterial Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels (BacNaVs) from the Soil, Sea, and Salt Lakes Enlighten Molecular Mechanisms of Electrical Signaling and Pharmacology in the Brain and Heart
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 16 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 1

    Author(s): Jian Payandeh , Daniel L. Minor Jr.

    Voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) provide the initial electrical signal that drives action potential generation in many excitable cells of the brain, heart, and nervous system. For more than 60years, functional studies of NaVs have occupied a central place in physiological and biophysical investigation of the molecular basis of excitability. Recently, structural studies of members of a large family of bacterial voltage-gated sodium channels (BacNaVs) prevalent in soil, marine, and salt lake environments that bear many of the core features of eukaryotic NaVs have reframed ideas for voltage-gated channel function, ion selectivity, and pharmacology. Here, we analyze the recent advances, unanswered questions, and potential of BacNaVs as templates for drug development efforts.
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  • Ryanodine Receptors: Allosteric Ion Channel Giants
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 16 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 1

    Author(s): Filip Van Petegem

    The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) form major intracellular Ca2+ stores. Ryanodine receptors (RyRs) are large tetrameric ion channels in the SR and ER membranes that can release Ca2+ upon triggering. With molecular masses exceeding 2.2MDa, they represent the pinnacle of ion channel complexity. RyRs have adopted long-range allosteric mechanisms, with pore opening resulting in conformational changes over 200Å away. Together with tens of protein and small molecule modulators, RyRs have adopted rich and complex regulatory mechanisms. Structurally related to inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs), RyRs have been studied extensively using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). Along with more recent X-ray crystallographic analyses of individual domains, these have resulted in pseudo-atomic models. Over 500 mutations in RyRs have been linked to severe genetic disorders, which underscore their role in the contraction of cardiac and skeletal muscles. Most of these have been linked to gain-of-function phenotypes, resulting in premature or prolonged leak of Ca2+ in the cytosol. This review outlines our current knowledge on the structure of RyRs at high and low resolutions, their relationship to IP3Rs, an overview of the most commonly studied regulatory mechanisms, and models that relate disease-causing mutations to altered channel function.
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  • Architectural and Functional Similarities between Trimeric ATP-Gated P2X Receptors and Acid-Sensing Ion Channels
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 16 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 1

    Author(s): Stephan Kellenberger , Thomas Grutter

    ATP-gated P2X receptors and acid-sensing ion channels are two distinct ligand-gated ion channels that assemble into trimers. They are involved in many important physiological functions such as pain sensation and are recognized as important therapeutic targets. They have unrelated primary structures and respond to different ligands (ATP and protons) and are thus considered as two different ion channels. As a consequence, comparisons of the biophysical properties and underlying mechanisms have only been rarely made between these two channels. However, the recent determination of their molecular structures by X-ray crystallography has revealed unexpected parallels in the architecture of the two pores, providing a basis for possible functional analogies. In this review, we analyze the structural and functional similarities that are shared by these trimeric ion channels, and we outline key unanswered questions that, if addressed experimentally, may help us to elucidate how two unrelated ion channels have adopted a similar fold of the pore.
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  • The Enigmatic Cytoplasmic Regions of KCNH Channels
    [Jan 2015]

    Publication date: 16 January 2015
    Source:Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 427, Issue 1

    Author(s): João H. Morais-Cabral , Gail A. Robertson

    KCNH channels are expressed across a vast phylogenetic and evolutionary spectrum. In humans, they function in a wide range of tissues and serve as biomarkers and targets for diseases such as cancer and cardiac arrhythmias. These channels share a general architecture with other voltage-gated ion channels but are distinguished by the presence of an N-terminal PAS (Per-Arnt-Sim) domain and a C-terminal domain with homology to cyclic nucleotide binding domains (referred to as the CNBh domain). Cytosolic regions outside these domains show little conservation between KCNH families but are strongly conserved across species within a family, likely reflecting variability that confers specificity to individual channel types. PAS and CNBh domains participate in channel gating, but at least twice in evolutionary history, the PAS domain has been lost and it is omitted by alternate transcription to create a distinct channel subunit in one family. In this focused review, we present current knowledge of the structure and function of these cytosolic regions, discuss their evolution as modular domains and provide our perspective on the important questions moving forward.
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    Categories: Journal Articles