The capsaicin receptor TRPV1 is an outstanding representative of ligand-gated ion channels in ligand selectivity and sensitivity. However, molecular interactions that stabilize the ligand-binding pocket in its permissive conformation, and how many permissive conformations the ligand-binding pocket may adopt, remain unclear. To answer these questions, we designed a pair of novel capsaicin analogs to increase or decrease the ligand size by about 1.5 Å without altering ligand chemistry. Together with capsaicin, these ligands form a set of molecular rulers for investigating ligand-induced conformational changes. Computational modeling and functional tests revealed that structurally these ligands alternate between drastically different binding poses but stabilize the ligand-binding pocket in nearly identical permissive conformations; functionally, they all yielded a stable open state despite varying potencies. Our study suggests the existence of an optimal ligand-binding pocket conformation for capsaicin-mediated TRPV1 activation gating, and reveals multiple ligand-channel interactions that stabilize this permissive conformation.
- allosteric gating
- molecular biophysics
- structural biology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)