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Dissecting a regulatory calcium-binding site of CLC-K kidney chloride channels


Fenollar-Ferrer,  Cristina
Max Planck Research Group of Theoretical Molecular Biophysics, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Max Planck Society;


Forrest,  Lucy R.
Max Planck Research Group of Computational Structural Biology, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Gradogna, A., Fenollar-Ferrer, C., Forrest, L. R., & Pusch, M. (2012). Dissecting a regulatory calcium-binding site of CLC-K kidney chloride channels. The Journal of General Physiology, 140(6), 681-696.

The kidney and inner ear CLC-K chloride channels, which are involved in salt absorption and endolymph production, are regulated by extracellular Ca2+ in the millimolar concentration range. Recently, Gradogna et al. (2010. J. Gen. Physiol. identified a pair of acidic residues (E261 and D278) located in the loop between helices I and J as forming a putative intersubunit Ca2+-binding site in hClC-Ka. In this study, we sought to explore the properties of the binding site in more detail. First, we verified that the site is conserved in hClC-Kb and rClC-K1. In addition, we could confer Ca2+ sensitivity to the Torpedo marmorata ClC-0 channel by exchanging its I–J loop with that from ClC-Ka, demonstrating a direct role of the loop in Ca2+ binding. Based on a structure of a bacterial CLC and a new sequence alignment, we built homology models of ClC-Ka. The models suggested additional amino acids involved in Ca2+ binding. Testing mutants of these residues, we could restrict the range of plausible models and positively identify two more residues (E259 and E281) involved in Ca2+ coordination. To investigate cation specificity, we applied extracellular Zn2+, Mg2+, Ba2+, Sr2+, and Mn2+. Zn2+ blocks ClC-Ka as well as its Ca2+-insensitive mutant, suggesting that Zn2+ binds to a different site. Mg2+ does not activate CLC-Ks, but the channels are activated by Ba2+, Sr2+, and Mn2+ with a rank order of potency of Ca2+ > Ba2+ > Sr2+ = Mn2+ for the human CLC-Ks. Dose–response analysis indicates that the less potent Ba2+ has a lower affinity rather than a lower efficacy. Interestingly, rClC-K1 shows an altered rank order (Ca2+ > Sr2+ >> Ba2+), but homology models suggest that residues outside the I–J loop are responsible for this difference. Our detailed characterization of the regulatory Ca2+-binding site provides a solid basis for the understanding of the physiological modulation of CLC-K channel function in the kidney and inner ear.