The Journal of general physiology

A single P-loop glutamate point mutation to either lysine or arginine switches the cation-anion selectivity of the CNGA2 channel.

PMID 16533895


Cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels play a critical role in olfactory and visual transduction. Site-directed mutagenesis and inside-out patch-clamp recordings were used to investigate ion permeation and selectivity in two mutant homomeric rat olfactory CNGA2 channels expressed in HEK293 cells. A single point mutation of the negatively charged pore loop (P-loop) glutamate (E342) to either a positively charged lysine or arginine resulted in functional channels, which consistently responded to cGMP, although the currents were generally extremely small. The concentration-response curve of the lysine mutant channel was very similar to that of wild-type (WT) channels, suggesting no major structural alteration to the mutant channels. Reversal potential measurements, during cytoplasmic NaCl dilutions, showed that the lysine and the arginine mutations switched the selectivity of the channel from cations (P(Cl)/P(Na) = 0.07 [WT]) to anions (P(Cl)/P(Na) = 14 [Lys] or 10 [Arg]). Relative anion permeability sequences for the two mutant channels, measured with bi-ionic substitutions, were NO(3)(-) > I(-) > Br(-) > Cl(-) > F(-) > acetate(-), the same as those obtained for anion-selective GABA and glycine channels. The mutant channels also seem to have an extremely small single-channel conductance, measured using noise analysis of about 1-2 pS, compared to a WT value of about 29 pS. The results showed that it is predominantly the charge of the E342 residue in the P-loop, rather than the pore helix dipoles, which controls the cation-anion selectivity of this channel. However, the outward rectification displayed by both mutant channels in symmetrical NaCl solutions suggests that the negative ends of the pore helix dipoles may play a role in reducing the outward movement of Cl(-) ions through these anion-selective channels. These results have potential implications for the determinants of anion-cation selectivity in the large family of P-loop-containing channels.