Charged residues between the selectivity filter and S6 segments contribute to the permeation phenotype of the sodium channel

Ronald A. Li, Patricio Vélez, Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, Gordon F. Tomaselli, Eduardo Marbán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


The deep regions of the Na+ channel pore around tile selectivity filter have been studied extensively; however, little is known about the adjacent linkers between the P loops and S6. The presence of conserved charged residues, including five in a row in domain III (D-III), hints that these linkers may play a role in permeation. To characterize the structural topology and function of these linkers, we neutralized the charged residues (from position 411 in D-I and its homologues in D-II, -III, and -IV to the putative start sites of S6) individually by cysteine substitution. Several cysteine mutants displayed enhanced sensitivities to Cd2+ block relative to wild-type and/or were modifiable by external sulfhydryl-specific methanethiosulfonate reagents when expressed in TSA-201 cells, indicating that these amino acids reside in the permeation pathway. While neutralization of positive charges did not alter single-channel conductance, negative charge neutralizations generally reduced conductance, suggesting that such charges facilitate ion permeation. The electrical distances for Cd2+ binding to these residues reveal a secondary 'dip' into the membrane field of the linkers in domains II and IV. Our findings demonstrate significant functional roles and surprising structural features of these previously unexplored external charged residues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-92
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes



  • Cysteine mutagenesis
  • Outer pore
  • Single-channel recording
  • Sodium channel
  • Sulfhydryl modification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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