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Nature. 2015 Nov 19;527(7578):336-41. doi: 10.1038/nature15249. Epub 2015 Oct 12.

Gating machinery of InsP3R channels revealed by electron cryomicroscopy.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Structural Biology Imaging Center, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, 6431 Fannin Street, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
National Center for Macromolecular Imaging, Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (InsP3Rs) are ubiquitous ion channels responsible for cytosolic Ca(2+) signalling and essential for a broad array of cellular processes ranging from contraction to secretion, and from proliferation to cell death. Despite decades of research on InsP3Rs, a mechanistic understanding of their structure-function relationship is lacking. Here we present the first, to our knowledge, near-atomic (4.7 Å) resolution electron cryomicroscopy structure of the tetrameric mammalian type 1 InsP3R channel in its apo-state. At this resolution, we are able to trace unambiguously ∼85% of the protein backbone, allowing us to identify the structural elements involved in gating and modulation of this 1.3-megadalton channel. Although the central Ca(2+)-conduction pathway is similar to other ion channels, including the closely related ryanodine receptor, the cytosolic carboxy termini are uniquely arranged in a left-handed α-helical bundle, directly interacting with the amino-terminal domains of adjacent subunits. This configuration suggests a molecular mechanism for allosteric regulation of channel gating by intracellular signals.

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