[Report] Instantaneous ion configurations in the K ion channel selectivity filter revealed by 2D IR spectroscopy

Science

Potassium channels are responsible for the selective permeation of K ions across cell membranes. K ions permeate in single file through the selectivity filter, a narrow pore lined by backbone carbonyls that compose four K binding sites. Here, we report on the two-dimensional infrared (2D IR) spectra of a semisynthetic KcsA channel with site-specific heavy (13C18O) isotope labels in the selectivity filter. The ultrafast time resolution of 2D IR spectroscopy provides an instantaneous snapshot of the multi-ion configurations and structural distributions that occur spontaneously in the filter. Two elongated features are resolved, revealing the statistical weighting of two structural conformations.


A pharmacological master key mechanism that unlocks the selectivity filter gate in K channels

Science

Potassium (K) channels have been evolutionarily tuned for activation by diverse biological stimuli, and pharmacological activation is thought to target these specific gating mechanisms. Here we report a class of negatively charged activators (NCAs) that bypass the specific mechanisms but act as master keys to open K channels gated at their selectivity filter (SF), including many two-pore domain K (K2P) channels, voltage-gated hERG (human ether-à-go-go–related gene) channels and calcium (Ca2)–activated big-conductance potassium (BK)–type channels. Functional analysis, x-ray crystallography, and molecular dynamics simulations revealed that the NCAs bind to similar sites below the SF, increase pore and SF K occupancy, and open the filter gate. These results uncover an unrecognized polypharmacology among K channel activators and highlight a filter gating machinery that is conserved across different families of K channels with implications for rational drug design.



Activation of methane to CH3 : A selective industrial route to methanesulfonic acid

Science

Direct methane functionalization to value-added products remains a challenge because of the propensity for overoxidation in many reaction environments. Sulfonation has emerged as an attractive approach for achieving the necessary selectivity. Here, we report a practical process for the production of methanesulfonic acid (MSA) from only two reactants: methane and sulfur trioxide. We have achieved 99% selectivity and yield of MSA. The electrophilic initiator based on a sulfonyl peroxide derivative is protonated under superacidic conditions, producing a highly electrophilic oxygen atom capable of activating a C–H bond of methane.