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Inactivation and secondary structure in the D4/S4-5 region of the SkM1 sodium channel.


The D4/S4-5 interhelical region plays a role in sodium channel fast inactivation. Examination of S4-5 primary structure in all domains suggests a possible amphipathic helical conformation in which a conserved group of small hydrophobic residues occupies one contiguous surface with a more variable complement of nonpolar and polar residues on the opposite face. We evaluated this potential structure by replacing each residue in D4/S4-5 of the rat SkM1 skeletal muscle sodium channel with substitutions having different side chain properties. Of the 63 mutations analyzed, 44 produced functional channels. P1473 was intolerant of substitutions. Nonpolar substitutions in the conserved hydrophobic region were functionally similar to wild type, while charged mutations in this region before P1473 were nonfunctional. Charged mutations at F1466, M1469, M1470, and A1474, located on the opposite surface of the predicted helix, produced functional channels with pronounced slowing of inactivation, shifted voltage dependence of steady-state inactivation, and increased rate of recovery from inactivation. The substituted-cysteine-accessibility method was used to probe accessibility at each position. Residues L1465, F1466, A1467, M1469, M1470, L1472, A1474, and F1476C were easily accessible for modification by sulfhydryl reagents; L1464, L1468, S1471, and L1475 were not accessible within the time frame of our measurements. Molecular dynamics simulations of residues A1458 to N1477 were then used to explore energetically favorable local structures. Based on mutagenesis, substituted-cysteine-accessibility method, and modeling results, we suggest a secondary structure for the D4/S4-5 region in which the peptide chain is alpha-helical proximal to P1473, bends at this residue, and may continue beyond this point as a random coil. In this configuration, the entire resultant loop is amphipathic; four residues on one surface could form part of the binding site for the inactivation particle.

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