Probing Binding Sites and Mechanisms of Action of an I-Ks Activator by Computations and Experiments
MetadataShow full item record
The slow delayed rectifier (IKs) channel is composed of the KCNQ1 channel and KCNE1 auxiliary subunit, and functions to repolarize action potentials in the human heart. IKs activators may provide therapeutic efficacy for treating long QT syndromes. Here, we show that a new KCNQ1 activator, ML277, can enhance IKs amplitude in adult guinea pig and canine ventricular myocytes. We probe its binding site and mechanism of action by computational analysis based on our recently reported KCNQ1 and KCNQ1/KCNE1 3D models, followed by experimental validation. Results from a pocket analysis and docking exercise suggest that ML277 binds to a side pocket in KCNQ1 and the KCNE1-free side pocket of KCNQ1/KCNE1. Moleculardynamics (MD) simulations based on the most favorable channel/ML277 docking configurations reveal a well-defined ML277 binding space surrounded by the S2-S3 loop and S4-S5 helix on the intracellular side, and by S4–S6 transmembrane helices on the lateral sides. A detailed analysis of MD trajectories suggests two mechanisms of ML277 action. First, ML277 restricts the conformational dynamics of the KCNQ1 pore, optimizing Kþ ion coordination in the selectivity filter and increasing current amplitudes. Second, ML277 binding induces global motions in the channel, including regions critical for KCNQ1 gating transitions. We conclude that ML277 activates IKs by binding to an intersubunit space and allosterically influencing pore conductance and gating transitions. KCNE1 association protects KCNQ1 from an arrhythmogenic (constitutive current-inducing) effect of ML277, but does not preclude its current-enhancing effect.