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Prog Biophys Mol Biol 2021 Nov 01;166:156-172. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2021.07.005.
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Biophysical analysis of an HCN1 epilepsy variant suggests a critical role for S5 helix Met-305 in voltage sensor to pore domain coupling.

Hung A , Forster IC , Mckenzie CE , Berecki G , Petrou S , Kathirvel A , Soh MS , Reid CA .

Hyperpolarization-gated, cyclic nucleotide-activated (HCN1-4) channels are inwardly rectifying cation channels that display voltage dependent activation and de-activation. Pathogenic variants in HCN1 are associated with severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathies including the de novo HCN1 M305L variant. M305 is located in the S5 domain that is implicated in coupling voltage sensor domain movement to pore opening. This variant lacks voltage-dependent activation and de-activation and displays normal cation selectivity. To elucidate the impact of the mutation on the channel structure-function relations, molecular dynamics simulations of the wild type and mutant homotetramers were compared and identified a sulphur-aromatic interaction between M305 and F389 that contributes to the coupling of the voltage-sensing domain to the pore domain. To mimic the heterozygous condition as a heterotetrameric channel assembly, Xenopus oocytes were co-injected with various ratios of wild-type and mutant subunit cRNAs and the biophysical properties of channels with different subunit stoichiometries were determined. The results showed that a single mutated subunit was sufficient to significantly disrupt the voltage dependence of activation. The functional data were qualitatively consistent with predictions of a model that assumes independent activation of the voltage sensing domains allosterically controlling the closed to open transition of the pore. Overall, the M305L mutation results in an HCN1 channel that lacks voltage dependence and facilitates excitatory cation flow at membrane potentials that would normally close the channel. Our findings provide molecular insights into HCN1 channels and reveal the structural and biophysical basis of the severe epilepsy phenotype associated with the M305L mutation.

PubMed ID: 34298002
Article link: Prog Biophys Mol Biol

Genes referenced: hcn1