The permeability of gap junction channels to metabolites, and not simply to small inorganic ions, is likely to play an important role in development, physiology as well as in etiology of several diseases. Here, we combined dual patch clamp and fluorescence imaging techniques with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to investigate the permeation of calcein, a relatively large fluorescent tracer (MW 622 Da) through homomeric gap junction channels formed by wild type human connexin26 (hCx26wt) protomers. Our experimental data indicate that the unitary flux of calcein driven by a 125 mu M concentration difference is J(pore) = 226 molecule/s per channel. In the light of Eyring transition state theory adapted for the liquid phase, this value corresponds to an energy barrier of similar to 20 k(B)T (where k(B) is the Boltzmann constant and T is absolute temperature). The barrier predicted by our MD simulations, based on the 3.5 angstrom X-ray structural model of the hCx26wt gap junction channel, is similar to 45 k(B)T. The main contributions to the energetics of calcein permeation originated from the interaction between the permeating molecule and the charged aminoacids lining the channel pore. Assigning a fake zero total charge to the calcein molecule yielded a value for the barrier height compatible with the experimental data. These results can be accounted for by two different (although not mutually exclusive) hypotheses: (1) the X-ray model of the hCx26wt gap junction channel is not representative of a fully open state; (2) post translational modifications affecting the hCx26wt protein in our expression system differed from the modifications undergone by the proteins in the conditions used to obtain the crystal structure. Hypothesis (1) is compatible with data indicating that, only 10% or less of the channels forming a gap junction plaque are in the open state, and therefore the averaging procedure intrinsic in the generation of the crystal structure data more closely reflects that of a closed channel. Hypothesis (2) is compatible with recent mass spectrometry data and implies that the charge of several amino acid side chains may have been altered, thus modifying substantially the permeation properties of the channels in living cells.

The 3.5 ångström X−ray structure of the human connexin26 gap junction channel is unlikely that of a fully open channel

ZONTA, FRANCESCO;BORTOLOZZI, MARIO;MAMMANO, FABIO
2013

Abstract

The permeability of gap junction channels to metabolites, and not simply to small inorganic ions, is likely to play an important role in development, physiology as well as in etiology of several diseases. Here, we combined dual patch clamp and fluorescence imaging techniques with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to investigate the permeation of calcein, a relatively large fluorescent tracer (MW 622 Da) through homomeric gap junction channels formed by wild type human connexin26 (hCx26wt) protomers. Our experimental data indicate that the unitary flux of calcein driven by a 125 mu M concentration difference is J(pore) = 226 molecule/s per channel. In the light of Eyring transition state theory adapted for the liquid phase, this value corresponds to an energy barrier of similar to 20 k(B)T (where k(B) is the Boltzmann constant and T is absolute temperature). The barrier predicted by our MD simulations, based on the 3.5 angstrom X-ray structural model of the hCx26wt gap junction channel, is similar to 45 k(B)T. The main contributions to the energetics of calcein permeation originated from the interaction between the permeating molecule and the charged aminoacids lining the channel pore. Assigning a fake zero total charge to the calcein molecule yielded a value for the barrier height compatible with the experimental data. These results can be accounted for by two different (although not mutually exclusive) hypotheses: (1) the X-ray model of the hCx26wt gap junction channel is not representative of a fully open state; (2) post translational modifications affecting the hCx26wt protein in our expression system differed from the modifications undergone by the proteins in the conditions used to obtain the crystal structure. Hypothesis (1) is compatible with data indicating that, only 10% or less of the channels forming a gap junction plaque are in the open state, and therefore the averaging procedure intrinsic in the generation of the crystal structure data more closely reflects that of a closed channel. Hypothesis (2) is compatible with recent mass spectrometry data and implies that the charge of several amino acid side chains may have been altered, thus modifying substantially the permeation properties of the channels in living cells.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/2573872
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