Homology Model of Dihydropyridine Receptor: Implications for L-type Ca2+ Channel Modulation by Agonists and Antagonists
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L-type calcium channels (LCCs) are transmembrane (TM) proteins that respond to membrane depolarization by selectively permeating Ca(2+) ions. Dihydropyridine (DHP) agonists and antagonist modulate Ca(2+) permeation by stabilizing, respectively, the open and closed states of the channel. The mechanism of action of these drugs remains unclear. Using, as a template, the crystal structure of the KcsA K(+) channel (Doyle et al. (1998) Science 280, 69-77), we have built several homology models of LCC with alternative alignments of TM segments between the proteins. In each model, nifedipine was docked in the pore region and in the interface between repeats III and IV. Several starting structures were generated by constraining the ligand to residues whose mutations reportedly affect DHP binding (DHP-sensing residues). These structures were Monte Carlo-minimized with and without constraints. In the complex with the maximum number of contacts between the ligand and DHP-sensing residues and the lowest ligand-receptor energy, the drug fits snugly in the "water-lake" cavity between segments S6s, which were aligned with M2 segment of KcsA as proposed for Na(+) channel (Lipkind and Fozzard (2000) Biochemistry 39, 8161-8170). In the flattened-boat conformation of DHP ring, the NH group at the stern approaches the DHP-sensing tyrosines in segments IIIS6 and IVS6. Stacking interactions of IVS6 Tyr with the bowsprit aromatic ring stabilize the ligand's orientation in which the starboard COOMe group coordinates Ca(2+) ion chelated by two conserved glutamates in the selectivity filter. In the inverted teepee structure of LCC, the portside COOMe group approaches a bracelet of conserved hydrophobic residues at the helical-bundle crossing, which may function as the activation gate. The dimensions of the gate may readily change upon small rotation of the pore-forming TM segments. The end of the portside group is hydrophobic in nifedipine, (R)-Bay K 8644, and other antagonists. Favorable interactions of this group with the hydrophobic bracelet would stabilize its closed conformation. In contrast, (S)-Bay K 8644 and several other agonists have hydrophilic groups at the portside. Unfavorable interactions of the hydrophilic group with the hydrophobic bracelet would destabilize its closed conformation thereby stabilizing the open conformation. In the agonist-bound channel, Ca(2+) ions would permeate between the hydrophilic face of the ligand and conserved hydrophilic residues in segments IS6 and IIS6. Our model suggests mutational experiments that could further our understanding of the pharmacological modulation of voltage-gated ion channels.