14.01.2021: Publication Alert - Mechanism of non-blocking inhibition of sodium channels revealed by conformation-selective photolabeling
Mechanism of non-blocking inhibition of sodium channels revealed by conformation-selective photolabeling
Sodium channel inhibitor drugs can exert their effect by either blocking, or modulating the channel. The extent of modulation versus channel block is crucial regarding the therapeutic potential of drug candidates. Modulation can be selective for pathological hyperactivity, while channel block affects vital physiological function as much as pathological activity. Previous results indicated that riluzole, a drug with neuroprotective and antiepileptic effects, may have a unique mechanism of action, where modulation is predominant, and channel block is negligible. We studied the effects of riluzole on rNaV1.4 channels expressed in HEK cells. We observed that inhibition by riluzole disappeared and reappeared at a rate that could not be explained by association/dissociation dynamics. In order to verify the mechanism of non-blocking modulation, we synchronized photolabeling with the voltage clamp protocol of patch-clamp experiments. Using this method, we could bind a photoreactive riluzole analog covalently to specific conformations of the channel. Photolabeling was ineffective at resting conformation, but effective at inactivated conformation, as judged from persisting modulated gating after removal of unbound photoactive drug from the solution. Mutation of the key residue of the local anesthetic binding site (F1579A) did not fully prevent ligand binding and inhibition, however, it eliminated most of the modulation caused by ligand binding. Our results indicate that riluzole binds with highest affinity to the local anesthetic binding site, which transmits inhibition by the unique non-blocking modulation mechanism. Our results also suggest the existence of one or more additional binding sites, with lower affinity, and different inhibition mechanism.