Using the substituted-cysteine-accessibility method, we previously showed that a cysteine residue introduced to the Y512 position of CLC-0 was more rapidly modified by a negatively charged methanethiosulfonate (MTS) reagent, 2-sulfonatoethyl MTS (MTSES), than by the positively charged 2-(trimethylammonium)ethyl MTS (MTSET). This result suggests that a positive intrinsic pore potential attracts the negatively charged MTS molecule. In this study, we further test this hypothesis of a positive pore potential in CLC-0 and find that the preference for the negatively charged MTS is diminished significantly in modifying the substituted cysteine at a deeper pore position, E166. To examine this conundrum, we study the rates of MTS inhibitions of the E166C current and those of the control mutant current from E166A. The results suggest that the inhibition of E166C by intracellularly applied MTS reagents is tainted by the modification of an endogenous cysteine, C229, located at the channel's dimer interface. After this endogenous cysteine is mutated, CLC-0 resumes its preference for selecting MTSES In modifying E166C, reconfirming the idea that the pore of CLC-0 is indeed built with a positive intrinsic potential. These experiments also reveal that MTS modification of C229 can inhibit the current of CLC-0 depending on the amino acid placed at position 166.
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