Molecular mechanism for 3:1 subunit stoichiometry of rod cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channels

Noah G. Shuart, Yoni Haitin, Stacey S. Camp, Kevin D. Black, William N. Zagotta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Molecular determinants of ion channel tetramerization are well characterized, but those involved in heteromeric channel assembly are less clearly understood. The heteromeric composition of native channels is often precisely controlled. Cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels from rod photoreceptors exhibit a 3:1 stoichiometry of CNGA1 and CNGB1 subunits that tunes the channels for their specialized role in phototransduction. Here we show, using electrophysiology, fluorescence, biochemistry, and X-ray crystallography, that the mechanism for this controlled assembly is the formation of a parallel 3-helix coiled-coil domain of the carboxy-terminal leucine zipper region of CNGA1 subunits, constraining the channel to contain three CNGA1 subunits, followed by preferential incorporation of a single CNGB1 subunit. Deletion of the carboxy-terminal leucine zipper domain relaxed the constraint and permitted multiple CNGB1 subunits in the channel. The X-ray crystal structures of the parallel 3-helix coiled-coil domains of CNGA1 and CNGA3 subunits were similar, suggesting that a similar mechanism controls the stoichiometry of cone CNG channels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number457
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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