Lateral fenestrations in K+-channels explored using MD simulations

Christian Jorgensen, Leonardo Darre Castell, Victoria Oakes, Rubben Torella, David Pryde, Carmen Domene

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Potassium channels are of paramount physiological and pathological importance and therefore, constitute significant drug targets. One of the keys to rationalize the way drugs modulate ion channels is to understand the ability of such small molecules to access their respective binding sites, from which they can exert an activating or inhibitory effect. Many computational studies have probed the energetics of ion permeation, and the mechanisms of voltage gating, but little is known about the role of fenestrations as possible mediators of drug entry in potassium channels. To explore the existence, structure and conformational dynamics of transmembrane fenestrations accessible by drugs in potassium channels, molecular dynamics simulation trajectories were analysed from three potassium channels: the open state voltage-gated channel Kv1.2, the G protein-gated inward rectifying channel GIRK2 (Kir3.2), and the human two-pore domain TWIK-1 (K2P1.1). The main results of this work were the identification of the sequence identity of four main lateral fenestrations of similar length and with bottleneck radius in the range of 0.9 to 2.4 Å for this set of potassium channels. It was found that the fenestrations in Kv1.2 and Kir3.2 remain closed to the passage of molecules larger than water. In contrast, in the TWIK-1 channel, both open and closed fenestrations are sampled throughout the simulation, with bottleneck radius shown to correlate with the random entry of lipid membrane molecules into the aperture of the fenestrations. Druggability scoring function analysis of the fenestration regions suggest that Kv and Kir channels studied are not druggable in practice due to steric constraining of the fenestration bottleneck. A high (>50%) fenestration sequence identity was found in each potassium channel subfamily studied, Kv1, Kir3 and K2P. Finally, the reported fenestration sequence of TWIK-1 compared favourably with another channel K2P channel TREK-2 reported to possess open fenestrations, suggesting that K2P channels could be druggable via fenestrations, for which we reported atomistic detail of the fenestration region, including the flexible residues M260 and L264 that interact with POPC membrane in concerted fashion with the aperture and closure of the fenestrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2263-2273
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number7
Early online date12 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2016


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