The structure of the apo
‐binding domain of
4 – a stepping stone toward understanding the
‐dependent modulation of the hyperpolarization‐activated cyclic‐nucleotide‐gated ion channels
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The hyperpolarization-activated cyclic-nucleotide-gated (HCN) ion channels control nerve impulse transmission and cardiac pacemaker activity. The modulation by cAMP is critical for the regulatory function of HCN in both neurons and cardiomyocytes, but the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. Here, we show how the structure of the apo cAMP-binding domain of the HCN4 isoform has contributed to a model for the cAMP-dependent modulation of the HCN ion-channel. This model recapitulates the structural and dynamical changes that occur along the thermodynamic cycle arising from the coupling of cAMP-binding and HCN self-association equilibria. The proposed model addresses some of the questions previously open about the auto-inhibition of HCN and its cAMP-induced activation, while opening new opportunities for selectively targeting HCN through allosteric ligands. A remaining challenge is the investigation of HCN dimers and their regulatory role. Overcoming this challenge will require the integration of crystallography, cryo electron microscopy, NMR, electrophysiology and simulations.
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