Substituted cysteine accessibility mutagenesis (SCAM) has been used widely to identify pore-lining amino acid side chains in ion channel proteins. However, functional effects on permeation and gating can be difficult to separate, leading to uncertainty concerning the location of reactive cysteine side chains. We have combined SCAM with investigation of the charge-dependent effects of methanethiosulfonate (MTS) reagents on the functional permeation properties of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) Cl– channels. We find that cysteines substituted for seven out of 21 continuous amino acids in the eleventh and twelfth transmembrane (TM) regions can be modified by external application of positively charged [2-(trimethylammonium)ethyl] MTS bromide (MTSET) and negatively charged sodium [2-sulfonatoethyl] MTS (MTSES). Modification of these cysteines leads to changes in the open channel current–voltage relationship at both the macroscopic and single-channel current levels that reflect specific, charge-dependent effects on the rate of Cl− permeation through the channel from the external solution. This approach therefore identifies amino acid side chains that lie within the permeation pathway. Cysteine mutagenesis of pore-lining residues also affects intrapore anion binding and anion selectivity, giving more information regarding the roles of these residues. Our results demonstrate a straightforward method of screening for pore-lining amino acids in ion channels. We suggest that TM11 contributes to the CFTR pore and that the extracellular loop between TMs 11 and 12 lies close to the outer mouth of the pore.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 19, 2009
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