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J Gen Physiol. 2011 Mar;137(3):289-97. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201010576.

Asp433 in the closing gate of ASIC1 determines stability of the open state without changing properties of the selectivity filter or Ca2+ block.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


A constriction formed by the crossing of the second transmembrane domains of ASIC1, residues G432 to G436, forms the narrowest segment of the pore in the crystal structure of chicken ASIC1, presumably in the desensitized state, suggesting that it constitutes the "desensitization gate" and the "selectivity filter." Residues Gly-432 and Asp-433 occlude the pore, preventing the passage of ions from the extracellular side. Here, we examined the role of Asp-433 and Gly-432 in channel kinetics, ion selectivity, conductance, and Ca(2+) block in lamprey ASIC1 that is a channel with little intrinsic desensitization in the pH range of maximal activity, pH 7.0. The results show that the duration of open times depends on residue 433, with Asp supporting the longest openings followed by Glu, Gln, or Asn, whereas other residues keep the channel closed. This is consistent with residue Asp-433 forming the pore's closing gate and the properties of the side chain either stabilizing (hydrophobic amino acids) or destabilizing (Asp) the gate. The data also show residue 432 influencing the duration of openings, but here only Gly and Ala support long openings, whereas all other residues keep channels closed. The negative charge of Asp-433 was not required for block of the open pore by Ca(2+) or for determining ion selectivity and unitary conductance. We conclude that the conserved residue Asp-433 forms the closing gate of the pore and thereby determines the duration of individual openings while desensitization, defined as the permanent closure of all or a fraction of channels by the continual presence of H(+), modulates the on or off position of the closing gate. The latter effect depends on less conserved regions of the channel, such as TM1 and the extracellular domain. The constriction made by Asp-433 and Gly-432 does not select for ions in the open conformation, implying that the closing gate and selectivity filter are separate structural elements in the ion pathway of ASIC1. The results also predict a significantly different conformation of TM2 in the open state that relieves the constriction made by TM2, allowing the passage of ions unimpeded by the side chain of Asp-433.

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