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Nature. 2006 Apr 27;440(7088):1213-6. Epub 2006 Mar 22.

A voltage-gated proton-selective channel lacking the pore domain.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Cardiology, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Enders 1309, 320 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Voltage changes across the cell membrane control the gating of many cation-selective ion channels. Conserved from bacteria to humans, the voltage-gated-ligand superfamily of ion channels are encoded as polypeptide chains of six transmembrane-spanning segments (S1-S6). S1-S4 functions as a self-contained voltage-sensing domain (VSD), in essence a positively charged lever that moves in response to voltage changes. The VSD 'ligand' transmits force via a linker to the S5-S6 pore domain 'receptor', thereby opening or closing the channel. The ascidian VSD protein Ci-VSP gates a phosphatase activity rather than a channel pore, indicating that VSDs function independently of ion channels. Here we describe a mammalian VSD protein (H(V)1) that lacks a discernible pore domain but is sufficient for expression of a voltage-sensitive proton-selective ion channel activity. H(v)1 currents are activated at depolarizing voltages, sensitive to the transmembrane pH gradient, H+-selective, and Zn2+-sensitive. Mutagenesis of H(v)1 identified three arginine residues in S4 that regulate channel gating and two histidine residues that are required for extracellular inhibition of H(v)1 by Zn2+. H(v)1 is expressed in immune tissues and manifests the characteristic properties of native proton conductances (G(vH+)). In phagocytic leukocytes, G(vH+) are required to support the oxidative burst that underlies microbial killing by the innate immune system. The data presented here identify H(v)1 as a long-sought voltage-gated H+ channel and establish H(v)1 as the founding member of a family of mammalian VSD proteins.

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