Allosteric conformational change of a cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channel revealed by DEER spectroscopy.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 05 19; 117(20):10839-10847.PN
Cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) ion channels are essential components of mammalian visual and olfactory signal transduction. CNG channels open upon direct binding of cyclic nucleotides (cAMP and/or cGMP), but the allosteric mechanism by which this occurs is incompletely understood. Here, we employed double electron-electron resonance (DEER) spectroscopy to measure intersubunit distance distributions in SthK, a bacterial CNG channel from Spirochaeta thermophila Spin labels were introduced into the SthK C-linker, a domain that is essential for coupling cyclic nucleotide binding to channel opening. DEER revealed an agonist-dependent conformational change in which residues of the B'-helix displayed outward movement with respect to the symmetry axis of the channel in the presence of the full agonist cAMP, but not with the partial agonist cGMP. This conformational rearrangement was observed both in detergent-solubilized SthK and in channels reconstituted into lipid nanodiscs. In addition to outward movement of the B'-helix, DEER-constrained Rosetta structural models suggest that channel activation involves upward translation of the cytoplasmic domain and formation of state-dependent interactions between the C-linker and the transmembrane domain. Our results demonstrate a previously unrecognized structural transition in a CNG channel and suggest key interactions that may be responsible for allosteric gating in these channels.