Quaternary structure independent folding of voltage-gated ion channel pore domain subunits.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nat Struct Mol Biol, Volume 29, Issue 6, p.537-548 (2022)


<p>Every voltage-gated ion channel (VGIC) has a pore domain (PD) made from four subunits, each comprising an antiparallel transmembrane helix pair bridged by a loop. The extent to which PD subunit structure requires quaternary interactions is unclear. Here, we present crystal structures of a set of bacterial voltage-gated sodium channel (BacNa) &#39;pore only&#39; proteins that reveal a surprising collection of non-canonical quaternary arrangements in which the PD tertiary structure is maintained. This context-independent structural robustness, supported by molecular dynamics simulations, indicates that VGIC-PD tertiary structure is independent of quaternary interactions. This fold occurs throughout the VGIC superfamily and in diverse transmembrane and soluble proteins. Strikingly, characterization of PD subunit-binding Fabs indicates that non-canonical quaternary PD conformations can occur in full-length VGICs. Together, our data demonstrate that the VGIC-PD is an autonomously folded unit. This property has implications for VGIC biogenesis, understanding functional states, de novo channel design, and VGIC structural origins.</p>