Theses Doctoral

Structural Analyses of the Transient Receptor Potential Channels TRPV3 and TRPV6

McGoldrick, Luke Lawrence Reedy

Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels comprise a superfamily of cation-selective ion channels that are largely calcium (Ca2+) permeable and that play diverse physiological roles ranging from nociception in primary afferent neurons to the absorption of dietary Ca2+. The 28 mammalian TRP channels are categorized into 6 subfamilies. The vanilloid subfamily is named for its founding member, TRPV1, the capsaicin receptor, and has 6 members. TRPV1-4 are all heat sensitive ion channels whereas TRPV5 and TRPV6 are involved in renal Ca2+ reabsorption and Ca2+ absorption in the intestine, respectively. In our structural studies, we have focused on TRPV3 and TRPV6.

TRPV6 is a highly Ca2+ selective TRP channel (PCa/PNa ~ 130) that functions in active Ca2+ absorption in the intestine. Its expression is upregulated by vitamin D and is, on the molecular level, regulated by PIP2 and calmodulin (CaM). Previously, the structure of TRPV6 was solved using X-ray crystallography. Using the crystal structure, a negatively charged extracellular vestibule was identified and anomalous diffraction was used to identify ion binding sites in the pore. Also, at the top of the selectivity filter, four aspartates were identified that coordinate Ca2+ entering the pore and confer to TRPV6 its selectivity for Ca2+. However, only the structure of the rat orthologue was solved and only in the closed, apo state. We used cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to solve structures of the human orthologue of TRPV6 in the open and closed (we used the mutation R470E to close the channel) states. The closed-to-open TRPV6 transition is accompanied by the formation of short π-helices in the middle of the pore-lining S6 helices, which in turn results in their turning and a different set of residues facing the pore. Additionally, the formation of the π-helices results in kinking of the S6 helices, which further widens the pore.

TRPV6 is constitutively active when expressed heterologously. In other words, the addition of external stimuli is not necessary for the activation of the channel. Therefore, its activity needs to be regulated to prevent toxic Ca2+ overload. One mechanism by which this occurs is through its regulation by CaM. CaM has been shown to bind TRPV6 and regulate its function, however, the way it binds to and regulates TRPV6 remained unknown. To uncover this mechanism, we solved the structure of TRPV6 bound to CaM. We found that CaM binds TRPV6 in a 1:1 stoichiometric ratio and that CaM directly blocks the TRPV6 pore by inserting a positively charged lysine into a tera-tryptophan cage at the bottom of the pore. As a result, the channel adopts an inactivated conformation; although the pore-lining S6 helices still contain local π-helices, they are pulled closer together, narrowing the pore and further blocking it with hydrophobic side chains.

We have also conducted studies of TRPV3. Unlike TRPV6, TRPV3 is a heat-activated vanilloid TRP channel. TRPV3 is expressed highly in keratinocytes where it has been implicated in wound healing and maintenance of the skin barrier, and in the regulation of hair growth. We solved the structure of apo TRPV3 in a closed state, and the structure of a TRPV3 mutant bound to 2-APB in an open state. Like TRPV6, the opening of TRPV3 is accompanied by the formation of local π-helices in the middle of the pore-lining S6 helices. The formation of the π-helices results in the lining of the ion permeation pathway with a different set of residues, resulting in a largely negatively charged pathway. Unlike TRPV6, TRPV3 is only slightly selective for Ca2+ and correspondingly, during gating state transitions, rearrangements were not only observed only in its pore-lining helices, but also in the cytosolic domain and the selectivity filter. Based on a comparison of our structures, we proposed a model of TRPV3 regulation by 2-APB.

Together, our studies provide insight into the regulatory and gating mechanisms of the vanilloid subtype TRP channels and can provide the foundation for future studies.


  • thumnail for McGoldrick_columbia_0054D_15510.pdf McGoldrick_columbia_0054D_15510.pdf application/pdf 28.9 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Studies
Thesis Advisors
Sobolevsky, Alexander I.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 8, 2019