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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Mar;1833(3):520-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2012.11.017. Epub 2012 Dec 4.

Protons stabilize the closed conformation of gain-of-function mutants of the TRPV1 channel.

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Institute of Physiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Videnska 1083, 142 20 Prague 4, Czech Republic.


The vanilloid transient receptor potential channel TRPV1 is a molecular integrator of noxious stimuli, including capsaicin, heat and protons. Despite clear similarities between the overall architecture of TRPV1 and voltage-dependent potassium (Kv) channels, the extent of conservation in the molecular logic for gating is unknown. In Kv channels, a small contact surface between S1 and the pore-helix is required for channel functioning. To explore the function of S1 in TRPV1, we used tryptophan-scanning mutagenesis and characterized the responses to capsaicin and protons. Wild-type-like currents were generated in 9 out of 17 mutants; three mutants (M445W, A452W, R455W) were non-functional. The conservative mutation R455K in the extracellular extent of S1 slowed down capsaicin-induced activation and prevented normal channel closure. This mutant was neither activated nor potentiated by protons, on the contrary, protons promoted a rapid deactivation of its currents. Similar phenotypes were found in two other gain-of-function mutants and also in the pore-helix mutant T633A, known to uncouple proton activation. We propose that the S1 domain contains a functionally important region that may be specifically involved in TRPV1 channel gating, and thus be important for the energetic coupling between S1-S4 sensor activation and gate opening. Analogous to Kv channels, the S1-pore interface might serve to stabilize conformations associated with TRPV1 channel gating.

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