Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Modifying Ion Channel Voltage Gating
Sammanfattning: Voltage-gated ion channels play fundamental roles in neuronal excitability and therefore dysfunctional channels can cause disease. Epilepsy is such a disease, affecting about 1% of the population and being characterized by synchronous electric activity of large groups of neurons leading to various types of seizures. In this thesis, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) were used as key substances to study a new pharmacological mechanism for how to induce opening of voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels, and how this possibly can protect against epileptic activity. All experiments were performed on cloned Shaker Kv channels expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Channel activity was recorded with the electrophysiological two-electrode voltage clamp technique.First we showed that both PUFAs and cerebrospinal fluid from children on the ketogenic diet open the Shaker Kv channel by shifting the channel voltage dependence towards more negative voltages, as we would expect for an antiepileptic effect. By testing fatty acids and related compounds with different properties and under different conditions we identified the critical structural components needed for the beneficial effect: a flexible cis-polyunsaturated lipid tail in combination with a negatively charged carboxyl head group. If substituting the negative charge for a positive amine group, channel opening was instead impeded. By mutating and modifying the channel at strategic positions the PUFA-action site was localized to a lipid-exposed surface close to the channel’s voltage sensor. We also showed that PUFAs induce channel opening by electrostatically facilitating a final voltage-sensor movement. The PUFA efficiency is dependent on the channel’s profile of charged residues in the outer end of the voltage sensor. This implies channel-specific effects. Finally, computer simulations demonstrated that small changes in channel voltage dependence can have dramatic effects on cellular excitability.Both the identified PUFA-action site and the mechanism by which PUFAs induce channel opening are novel and could potentially be very useful in future drug design of compounds targeting neuronal and cardiac excitability. Our work also suggests that PUFA-induced Kv channel opening could be one important component in the ketogenic diet used as alternative epilepsy treatment.
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