Access of quaternary ammonium blockers to the internal pore of cyclic nucleotide-gated channels: implications for the location of the gate. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels play important roles in the transduction of visual and olfactory information by sensing changes in the intracellular concentration of cyclic nucleotides. We have investigated the interactions between intracellularly applied quaternary ammonium (QA) ions and the alpha subunit of rod cyclic nucleotide-gated channels. We have used a family of alkyl-triethylammonium derivatives in which the length of one chain is altered. These QA derivatives blocked the permeation pathway of CNG channels in a concentration- and voltage-dependent manner. For QA compounds with tails longer than six methylene groups, increasing the length of the chain resulted in higher apparent affinities of approximately 1.2 RT per methylene group added, which is consistent with the presence of a hydrophobic pocket within the intracellular mouth of the channel that serves as part of the receptor binding site. At the single channel level, decyltriethyl ammonium (C10-TEA) ions did not change the unitary conductance but they did reduce the apparent mean open time, suggesting that the blocker binds to open channels. We provide four lines of evidence suggesting that QA ions can also bind to closed channels: (1) the extent of C10-TEA blockade at subsaturating [cGMP] was larger than at saturating agonist concentration, (2) under saturating concentrations of cGMP, cIMP, or cAMP, blockade levels were inversely correlated with the maximal probability of opening achieved by each agonist, (3) in the closed state, MTS reagents of comparable sizes to QA ions were able to modify V391C in the inner vestibule of the channel, and (4) in the closed state, C10-TEA was able to slow the Cd2+ inhibition observed in V391C channels. These results are in stark contrast to the well-established QA blockade mechanism in Kv channels, where these compounds can only access the inner vestibule in the open state because the gate that opens and closes the channel is located cytoplasmically with respect to the binding site of QA ions. Therefore, in the context of Kv channels, our observations suggest that the regions involved in opening and closing the permeation pathways in these two types of channels are different.

publication date

  • May 2006