Multiple cholesterol recognition/interaction amino acid consensus (CRAC) motifs in cytosolic C tail of Slo1 subunit determine cholesterol sensitivity of Ca2+- and voltage-gated K+ (BK) channels


Large conductance, Ca2+- and voltage-gated K+ (BK) channel proteins are ubiquitously expressed in cell membranes and control a wide variety of biological processes. Membrane cholesterol regulates the activity of membrane-associated proteins, including BK channels. Cholesterol modulation of BK channels alters action potential firing, colonic ion transport, smooth muscle contractility, endothelial function, and the channel alcohol response. The structural bases underlying cholesterol-BK channel interaction are unknown. Such interaction is determined by strict chemical requirements for the sterol molecule, suggesting cholesterol recognition by a protein surface. Here, we demonstrate that cholesterol action on BK channel-forming Cbv1 proteins is mediated by their cytosolic C tail domain, where we identified seven cholesterol recognition/interaction amino acid consensus motifs (CRAC4 to 10), a distinct feature of BK proteins. Cholesterol sensitivity is provided by the membrane-adjacent CRAC4, where Val-444, Tyr-450, and Lys-453 are required for cholesterol sensing, with hydrogen bonding and hydrophobic interactions participating in cholesterol location and recognition. However, cumulative truncations or Tyr-to-Phe substitutions in CRAC5 to 10 progressively blunt cholesterol sensitivity, documenting involvement of multiple CRACs in cholesterol-BK channel interaction. In conclusion, our study provides for the first time the structural bases of BK channel cholesterol sensitivity; the presence of membrane-adjacent CRAC4 and the long cytosolic C tail domain with several other CRAC motifs, which are not found in other members of the TM6 superfamily of ion channels, very likely explains the unique cholesterol sensitivity of BK channels. © 2012 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

Publication Title

Journal of Biological Chemistry