Polyunsaturated fatty acids such as arachidonic acid (AA) exhibit inhibitory modulation of Kv4 potassium channels. Molecular docking approaches using a Kv4.2 homology model predicted a membrane-embedded binding pocket for AA comprised of the S4-S5 linker on one subunit and several hydrophobic residues within S3, S5 and S6 from an adjacent subunit. The pocket is conserved among Kv4 channels. We tested the hypothesis that modulatory effects of AA on Kv4.2/KChIP channels require access to this site. Targeted mutation of a polar residue (K318) and a nonpolar residue (G314) within the S4-S5 linker as well as a nonpolar residue in S3 (V261) significantly impaired the effects of AA on K (+) currents in Xenopus oocytes. These residues may be important in stabilizing (K318) or regulating access to (V261, G314) the negatively charged carboxylate moiety on the fatty acid. Structural specificity was supported by the lack of disruption of AA effects observed with mutations at residues located near, but not within the predicted binding pocket. Furthermore, we found that the crystal structure of the related Kv1.2/2.1 chimera lacks the structural features present in the proposed AA docking site of Kv4.2 and the Kv1.2/2.1 K (+) currents were unaffected by AA. We simulated the mutagenic substitutions in our Kv4.2 model to demonstrate how specific mutations may disrupt the putative AA binding pocket. We conclude that AA inhibits Kv4 channel currents and facilitates current decay by binding within a hydrophobic pocket in the channel in which K318 within the S4-S5 linker is a critical residue for AA interaction.
Keywords: arachidonic acid; homology model; mutagenesis; polyunsaturated fatty acid; voltage-gated K+ channel.