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2019 - Modulation of the potassium channel KcsA by anionic phospholipids: Role of arginines at the non-annular lipid binding sites

icon pap   Port-a Patch Publication in BBA - Biomembranes (2019)

Poveda J.A., Giudici A.M., Renart M.L., Millet O., Morales A., González-Ros J.M., Oakes V., Furini S., Domene C

BBA - Biomembranes (2019) Volume 1861 (10): 183029


  • Phosphatidic acid (PA) binds R64 and R89 at KcsA non-annular lipid binding sites.
  • Bound PA or mutations to alanine of R64 or R89 greatly diminishes inactivation.
  • R89 interaction with D80 at the inactivation triad increases KcsA inactivation.
  • PA prevents interaction between non-annular arginines and the inactivation triad.
  • PA and the triad compete for binding the arginines to modulate inactivation.


The role of arginines R64 and R89 at non-annular lipid binding sites of KcsA, on the modulation of channel activity by anionic lipids has been investigated. In wild-type (WT) KcsA reconstituted into asolectin lipid membranes, addition of phosphatidic acid (PA) drastically reduces inactivation in macroscopic current recordings. Consistent to this, PA increases current amplitude, mean open time and open probability at the single channel level. Moreover, kinetic analysis reveals that addition of PA causes longer open channel lifetimes and decreased closing rate constants. Effects akin to those of PA on WT-KcsA are observed when R64 and/or R89 are mutated to alanine, regardless of the added anionic lipids. We interpret these results as a consequence of interactions between the arginines and the anionic PA bound to the non-annular sites. NMR data shows indeed that at least R64 is involved in binding PA. Moreover, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations predict that R64, R89 and surrounding residues such as T61, mediate persistent binding of PA to the non-annular sites.

Channel inactivation depends on interactions within the inactivation triad (E71-D80-W67) behind the selectivity filter. Therefore, it is expected that such interactions are affected when PA binds the arginines at the non-annular sites. In support of this, MD simulations reveal that PA binding prevents interaction between R89 and D80, which seems critical to the effectiveness of the inactivation triad. This mechanism depends on the stability of the bound lipid, favoring anionic headgroups such as that of PA, which thrive on the positive charge of the arginines.

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