An arginine residue in the pore region is a key determinant of chloride dependence in cardiac pacemaker channels.J Biol Chem. 2005 Apr 08; 280(14):13694-700.JB
The modulation of ion channel activity by extracellular ions plays a central role in the control of heart function. Here, we show that the sinoatrial pacemaker current I(f) is strongly affected by the extracellular Cl- concentration. We investigated the molecular basis of the Cl- dependence in heterologously expressed hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels that represent the molecular correlate of I(f). Currents carried by the two cardiac HCN channel isoforms (HCN2 and HCN4) showed the same strong Cl- dependence as the sinoatrial I(f) and decreased to about 10% in the absence of external Cl-. In contrast, the neuronal HCN1 current was reduced to only 50% under the same conditions. Depletion of Cl- did not affect the voltage dependence of activation or the ion selectivity of the channels, indicating that the reduction of I(f) was caused by a decrease of channel conductance. A series of chimeras between HCN1 and HCN2 was constructed to identify the structural determinants underlying the different Cl- dependence of HCN1 and HCN2. Exchange of the ion-conducting pore region was sufficient to switch the Cl- dependence from HCN1- to HCN2-type and vice versa. Replacement of a single alanine residue in the pore of HCN1 (Ala-352) by an arginine residue present in HCN2 at equivalent position (Arg-405) induced HCN2-type chloride sensitivity in HCN1. Our data indicate that Arg-405 is a key component of a domain that allosterically couples Cl- binding with channel activation.