Biophysical journal

Regulatory phosphorylation induces extracellular conformational changes in a CLC anion channel.

PMID 23663832


CLH-3b is a CLC-1/2/Ka/Kb channel homolog activated by meiotic cell cycle progression and cell swelling. Channel inhibition occurs by GCK-3 kinase-mediated phosphorylation of serine residues on the cytoplasmic C-terminus linker connecting CBS1 and CBS2. Two conserved aromatic amino acid residues located on the intracellular loop connecting membrane helices H and I and α1 of CBS2 are required for transducing phosphorylation changes into changes in channel activity. Helices H and I form part of the interface between the two subunits that comprise functional CLC channels. Using a cysteine-less CLH-3b mutant, we demonstrate that the sulfhydryl reagent reactivity of substituted cysteines at the subunit interface changes dramatically during GCK-3-mediated channel inhibition and that these changes are prevented by mutation of the H-I loop/CBS2 α1 signal transduction domain. We also show that GCK-3 modifies Zn(2+) inhibition, which is thought to be mediated by the common gating process. These and other results suggest that phosphorylation of the cytoplasmic C-terminus inhibits CLH-3b by inducing subunit interface conformation changes that activate the common gate. Our findings have important implications for understanding CLC regulation by diverse signaling mechanisms and for understanding the structure/function relationships that mediate intraprotein communication in this important family of Cl(-) transport proteins.