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J Chem Inf Model. 2012 Nov 26;52(11):2958-69. doi: 10.1021/ci300189a. Epub 2012 Nov 12.

Modeling the closed and open state conformations of the GABA(A) ion channel--plausible structural insights for channel gating.

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Structural Biology and Bioinformatics Division, CSIR - Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata -700 032, India.


Recent disclosure of high resolution crystal structures of Gloeobacter violaceus (GLIC) in open state and Erwinia chrysanthemii (ELIC) in closed state provides newer avenues to advance our knowledge and understanding of the physiologically and pharmacologically important ionotropic GABA(A) ion channel. The present modeling study envisions understanding the complex molecular transitions involved in ionic conductance, which were not evident in earlier disclosed homology models. In particular, emphasis was put on understanding the structural basis of gating, gating transition from the closed to the open state on an atomic scale. Homology modeling of two different physiological states of GABA(A) was carried out using their respective templates. The ability of induced fit docking in breaking the critical inter residue salt bridge (Glu155β(2) and Arg207β(2)) upon endogenous GABA docking reflects the perceived side chain rearrangements that occur at the orthosteric site and consolidate the quality of the model. Biophysical calculations like electrostatic mapping, pore radius calculation, ion solvation profile, and normal-mode analysis (NMA) were undertaken to address pertinent questions like the following: How the change in state of the ion channel alters the electrostatic environment across the lumen; How accessible is the Cl(-) ion in the open state and closed state; What structural changes regulate channel gating. A "Twist to Turn" global motion evinced at the quaternary level accompanied by tilting and rotation of the M2 helices along the membrane normal rationalizes the structural transition involved in gating. This perceived global motion hints toward a conserved gating mechanism among pLGIC. To paraphrase, this modeling study proves to be a reliable framework for understanding the structure function relationship of the hitherto unresolved GABA(A) ion channel. The modeled structures presented herein not only reveal the structurally distinct conformational states of the GABA(A) ion channel but also explain the biophysical difference between the respective states.

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