Mertins, Barbara, Psakis, Georgios, Grosse, Wolfgang, Back, Katrin Christiane, Salisowski, Anastasia, Reiss, Philipp, Koert, Ulrich and Essen, Lars-Oliver (2012) Flexibility of the N-Terminal mVDAC1 Segment Controls the Channel’s Gating Behavior. PLoS ONE, 7 (10). e47938. ISSN 1932-6203
Abstract

Since the solution of the molecular structures of members of the voltage dependent anion channels (VDACs), the N-terminal α-helix has been the main focus of attention, since its strategic location, in combination with its putative conformational flexibility, could define or control the channel’s gating characteristics. Through engineering of two double-cysteine mVDAC1 variants we achieved fixing of the N-terminal segment at the bottom and midpoint of the pore. Whilst cross-linking at the midpoint resulted in the channel remaining constitutively open, cross-linking at the base resulted in an “asymmetric” gating behavior, with closure only at one electric field´s orientation depending on the channel’s orientation in the lipid bilayer. Additionally, and while the native channel adopts several well-defined closed states (S1 and S2), the cross-linked variants showed upon closure a clear preference for the S2 state. With native-channel characteristics restored following reduction of the cysteines, it is evident that the conformational flexibility of the N-terminal segment plays indeed a major part in the control of the channel’s gating behavior.

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