Gain-of-function mutations in the MEC-4 DEG/ENaC sensory mechanotransduction channel alter gating and drug blockade

The Journal of General Physiology
Austin L BrownMiriam B Goodman


MEC-4 and MEC-10 are the pore-forming subunits of the sensory mechanotransduction complex that mediates touch sensation in Caenorhabditis elegans (O'Hagan, R., M. Chalfie, and M.B. Goodman. 2005. Nat. Neurosci. 8:43-50). They are members of a large family of ion channel proteins, collectively termed DEG/ENaCs, which are expressed in epithelial cells and neurons. In Xenopus oocytes, MEC-4 can assemble into homomeric channels and coassemble with MEC-10 into heteromeric channels (Goodman, M.B., G.G. Ernstrom, D.S. Chelur, R. O'Hagan, C.A. Yao, and M. Chalfie. 2002. Nature. 415:1039-1042). To gain insight into the structure-function principles that govern gating and drug block, we analyzed the effect of gain-of-function mutations using a combination of two-electrode voltage clamp, single-channel recording, and outside-out macropatches. We found that mutation of A713, the d or degeneration position, to residues larger than cysteine increased macroscopic current, open probability, and open times in homomeric channels, suggesting that bulky residues at this position stabilize open states. Wild-type MEC-10 partially suppressed the effect of such mutations on macroscopic current, suggesting that subunit-subunit interactions regulate ope...Continue Reading


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