The degenerin region of the human bile acid-sensitive ion channel (BASIC) is involved in channel inhibition by calcium and activation by bile acids

  • Alexandr V. Ilyaskin
  • Sonja A. Kirsch
  • Rainer A. Böckmann
  • Heinrich Sticht
  • Christoph Korbmacher
  • Silke HaerteisEmail author
  • Alexei Diakov
Ion channels, receptors and transporters
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Ion channels, receptors and transporters


The bile acid-sensitive ion channel (BASIC) is a member of the ENaC/degenerin family of ion channels. It is activated by bile acids and inhibited by extracellular Ca2+. The aim of this study was to explore the molecular mechanisms mediating these effects. The modulation of BASIC function by extracellular Ca2+ and tauro-deoxycholic acid (t-DCA) was studied in Xenopus laevis oocytes heterologously expressing human BASIC using the two-electrode voltage-clamp and outside-out patch-clamp techniques. Substitution of aspartate D444 to alanine or cysteine in the degenerin region of BASIC, a region known to be critically involved in channel gating, resulted in a substantial reduction of BASIC Ca2+ sensitivity. Moreover, mutating D444 or the neighboring alanine (A443) to cysteine significantly reduced the t-DCA-mediated BASIC stimulation. A combined molecular docking/simulation approach demonstrated that t-DCA may temporarily form hydrogen bonds with several amino acid residues including D444 in the outer vestibule of the BASIC pore or in the inter-subunit space. By these interactions, t-DCA may stabilize the open state of the channel. Indeed, single-channel recordings provided evidence that t-DCA activates BASIC by stabilizing the open state of the channel, whereas extracellular Ca2+ inhibits BASIC by stabilizing its closed state. In conclusion, our results highlight the potential role of the degenerin region as a critical regulatory site involved in the functional interaction of Ca2+ and t-DCA with BASIC.


Degenerin site Bile acids BASIC Tauro-deoxycholic acid Ca2+ Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations 



The expert technical assistance of Ralf Rinke is gratefully acknowledged. This work was supported by grants of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (HA 6655/1-1 to S.H.), the DFG Research Training Group 1962/1, Dynamic Interactions at Biological Membranes—From Single Molecules to Tissue (S.A.K. and R.A.B.), and the Johannes and Frieda Marohn Stiftung (C.K.). Part of this work has been published in abstract form [20]. We thank Kristyna Pluhackova for support in the parameterization procedure.


BASIC Bile acid-sensitive ion channel

ENaC Epithelial sodium channel

ASIC1 Acid-sensing ion channel 1

P o Open probability

t-DCA Tauro-deoxycholic acid

TMD, transmembrane domain

Author contributions

Alexandr V. Ilyaskin, Alexei Diakov, and Sonja A. Kirsch performed the experiments, analyzed the data, and prepared the figures (Alexandr V. Ilyaskin, Alexei Diakov: electrophysiological experiments; Alexandr V. Ilyaskin: molecular docking simulations; Sonja A. Kirsch: molecular dynamics simulations). Alexandr V. Ilyaskin, Sonja A. Kirsch, Rainer A. Böckmann, Heinrich Sticht, Christoph Korbmacher, Silke Haerteis, and Alexei Diakov designed the study, interpreted the data, and wrote the paper. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

424_2018_2142_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.6 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1688 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Zelluläre und Molekulare PhysiologieFriedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)ErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Computational Biology, Department BiologieFriedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)ErlangenGermany
  3. 3.Abteilung für Bioinformatik, Institut für BiochemieFriedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)ErlangenGermany

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