Structural properties of PAS domains from the KCNH potassium channels

PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59265. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059265. Epub 2013 Mar 15.


KCNH channels form an important family of voltage gated potassium channels. These channels include a N-terminal Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) domain with unknown function. In other proteins PAS domains are implicated in cellular responses to environmental queues through small molecule binding or involvement in signaling cascades. To better understand their role we characterized the structural properties of several channel PAS domains. We determined high resolution structures of PAS domains from the mouse EAG (mEAG), drosophila ELK (dELK) and human ERG (hERG) channels and also of the hERG domain without the first nine amino acids. We analyzed these structures for features connected to ligand binding and signaling in other PAS domains. In particular, we have found cavities in the hERG and mEAG structures that share similarities with the ligand binding sites from other PAS domains. These cavities are lined by polar and apolar chemical groups and display potential flexibility in their volume. We have also found that the hydrophobic patch on the domain β-sheet is a conserved feature and appears to drive the formation of protein-protein contacts. In addition, the structures of the dELK domain and of the truncated hERG domain revealed the presence of N-terminal helices. These helices are equivalent to the helix described in the hERG NMR structures and are known to be important for channel function. Overall, these channel domains retain many of the PAS domain characteristics known to be important for cell signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / chemistry
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels / chemistry*
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Mutation
  • Potassium Channels / chemistry*
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Static Electricity
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Elk protein, Drosophila
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels
  • Recombinant Proteins