Exploring conformational states and helical packings in the P2X receptor transmembrane domain by molecular dynamics simulation
The P2X receptor is a trimeric transmembrane protein that acts as an ATP-gated ion channel. Its transmembrane domain (TMD) contains only six helices and three of them, the M2 helices, line the ion conduction pathway. Here, using molecular dynamics simulation, I identify four conformational states of the TMD that are associated with four types of packing between M2 helices. Packing in the extracellular half of the M2 helix produces closed conformations, while packing in the intracellular half produces both open and closed conformations. State transition is observed and supports a mechanism where iris-like twisting of the M2 helices switches the location of helical packing between the extracellular and the intracellular halves of the helices. In addition, this twisting motion alters the position and orientation of residue side-chains relative to the pore and therefore influences the pore geometry and possibly ion permeation. Helical packing, on the other hand, may restrict the twisting motion and generate discrete conformational states.
KeywordsHelical packing P2X Ion channel Molecular dynamics Transmembrane helix
This work was supported by a grant to G.H.L. from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 30972861).
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Conflict of interest
The author declares no conflict of interest.
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