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Elife. 2019 Nov 26;8. pii: e49672. doi: 10.7554/eLife.49672.

The HCN domain couples voltage gating and cAMP response in hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channels.

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Department of Biosciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.
Department of Biology, TU-Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany.
Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, United States.


Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels control spontaneous electrical activity in heart and brain. Binding of cAMP to the cyclic nucleotide-binding domain (CNBD) facilitates channel opening by relieving a tonic inhibition exerted by the CNBD. Despite high resolution structures of the HCN1 channel in the cAMP bound and unbound states, the structural mechanism coupling ligand binding to channel gating is unknown. Here we show that the recently identified helical HCN-domain (HCND) mechanically couples the CNBD and channel voltage sensing domain (VSD), possibly acting as a sliding crank that converts the planar rotational movement of the CNBD into a rotational upward displacement of the VSD. This mode of operation and its impact on channel gating are confirmed by computational and experimental data showing that disruption of critical contacts between the three domains affects cAMP- and voltage-dependent gating in three HCN isoforms.


HCN; HCN domain; N terminus; cAMP; gating; molecular biophysics; none; structural biology

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