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2018 - Role of the Fourth Transmembrane Segment in TRAAK Channel Mechanosensitivity

icon pap   Port-a-Patch Suction Control Pro pre-publication in BioRxiv (2018)

Zhang M., Yao F., Pan C., Yan Z.

BioRxiv (2018) doi: doi.org/10.1101/463034


Mechanosensitive ion channels such as Piezo, TRAAK, TRPs and OSCA are important transmembrane proteins that are involved in many physiological processes such as touch, hearing and blood pressure regulation. Unlike ligand-gated channels or voltage-gated ion channels, which have a canonical ligand-binding domain or voltage-sensing domain, the mechanosensitive domain and related gating mechanism remain elusive. TRAAK channels are mechanosensitive channels that convert a physical mechanical force into a flow of potassium ions. The structures of TRAAK channels have been solved, however, the functional roles of the structural domains associated with channel mechanosensitivity remains unclear. Here, we generated a series of chimeric mutations between TRAAK and a non-mechanosensitive silent TWIK-1 K2P channel. We found that the selectivity filter region functions as the major gate of outward rectification and found that lower part of fourth transmembrane domain (M4) is necessary for TRAAK channel mechanosensitivity. We further demonstrated that upper part of M4 can modulate the mechanosensitivity of TRAAK channel. Furthermore, we found that hydrophilic substitutions of W262 and F121 facing each other, and hydrophobic substitutions of Q258 and G124, which are above and below W262 and F121, respectively, greatly increase mechanosensitivity, which suggests that dynamic interactions in the upper part of M4 and PH1 domain are involved in TRAAK channel mechanosensitivity. Interestingly, these gain-of-function mutations are sensitive to cell-poking stimuli, indicating that cell-poking stimuli generate a low membrane mechanical force that opens TRAAK channels. Our results thus showed that fourth transmembrane domain of TRAAK is critical for the gating of TRAAK by mechanical force and suggested that multiple dynamic interactions in the upper part of M4 and PH1 domain are involved in this process.

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