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Recombinant Production, Reconstruction in Lipid–Protein Nanodiscs, and Electron Microscopy of Full-Length α-Subunit of Human Potassium Channel Kv7.1

Z. O. Shenkarev1,a*, M. G. Karlova1,2, D. S. Kulbatskii1,2, M. P. Kirpichnikov1,2, E. N. Lyukmanova1,2, and O. S. Sokolova2,b*

1Shemyakin–Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, 117997 Moscow, Russia

2Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Biology, 119991 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received September 7, 2017; Revision received November 28, 2017
Voltage-gated potassium channel Kv7.1 plays an important role in the excitability of cardiac muscle. The α-subunit of Kv7.1 (KCNQ1) is the main structural element of this channel. Tetramerization of KCNQ1 in the membrane results in formation of an ion channel, which comprises a pore and four voltage-sensing domains. Mutations in the human KCNQ1 gene are one of the major causes of inherited arrhythmias, long QT syndrome in particular. The construct encoding full-length human KCNQ1 protein was synthesized in this work, and an expression system in the Pichia pastoris yeast cells was developed. The membrane fraction of the yeast cells containing the recombinant protein (rKCNQ1) was solubilized with CHAPS detergent. To better mimic the lipid environment of the channel, lipid–protein nanodiscs were formed using solubilized membrane fraction and MSP2N2 protein. The rKCNQ1/nanodisc and rKCNQ1/CHAPS samples were purified using the Rho1D4 tag introduced at the C-terminus of the protein. Protein samples were examined using transmission electron microscopy with negative staining. In both cases, homogeneous rKCNQ1 samples were observed based on image analysis. Statistical analysis of the images of individual protein particles solubilized in the detergent revealed the presence of a tetrameric structure confirming intact subunit assembly. A three-dimensional channel structure reconstructed at 2.5-nm resolution represents a compact density with diameter of the membrane part of ~9 nm and height ~11 nm. Analysis of the images of rKCNQ1 in nanodiscs revealed additional electron density corresponding to the lipid bilayer fragment and the MSP2N2 protein. These results indicate that the nanodiscs facilitate protein isolation, purification, and stabilization in solution and can be used for further structural studies of human Kv7.1.
KEY WORDS: ion channel Kv7.1, Pichia pastoris, lipid–protein nanodiscs, electron microscopy of macromolecules

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297918050097