Activation of voltage-gated ion channels is regulated by conformational changes of the voltage sensor domains (VSDs), four water- and ion-impermeable modules peripheral to the central, permeable pore domain. Anomalous currents, defined as ω-currents, have been recorded in response to mutations of residues on the VSD S4 helix and associated with ion fluxes through the VSDs. In humans, gene defects in the potassium channel Kv7.2 result in a broad range of epileptic disorders, from benign neonatal seizures to severe epileptic encephalopathies. Experimental evidence suggests that the R207Q mutation in S4, associated with peripheral nerve hyperexcitability, induces ω-currents at depolarized potentials, but the fine structural details are still elusive. In this work, we use atom-detailed molecular dynamics simulations and a refined model structure of the Kv7.2 VSD in the active conformation in a membrane/water environment to study the effect of R207Q and four additional mutations of proven clinical importance. Our results demonstrate that the R207Q mutant shows the most pronounced increase of hydration in the internal VSD cavity, a feature favoring the occurrence of ω-currents. Free energy and kinetics calculations of sodium permeation through the native and mutated VSD indicate as more favorable the formation of a cationic current in the latter. Overall, our simulations establish a mechanistic linkage between genetic variations and their physiological outcome, by providing a computational description that includes both thermodynamic and kinetic features of ion permeation associated with ω-currents.
Structural Mechanism of ω-Currents in a Mutated Kv7.2 Voltage Sensor Domain from Molecular Dynamics Simulations / Alberini, Giulio; Benfenati, Fabio; Maragliano, Luca. - In: JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL INFORMATION AND MODELING. - ISSN 1549-960X. - (2021). [10.1021/acs.jcim.0c01407]