The opening of voltage-gated ion channels is initiated by transfer of gating charges that sense the electric field across the membrane. Although transient receptor potential ion channels (TRP) are members of this family, their opening is not intrinsically linked to membrane potential, and they are generally not considered voltage gated. Here we demonstrate that TRPP2, a member of the polycystin subfamily of TRP channels encoded by the PKD2L1 gene, is an exception to this rule. TRPP2 borrows a biophysical riff from canonical voltage-gated ion channels, using 2 gating charges found in its fourth transmembrane segment (S4) to control its conductive state. Rosetta structural prediction demonstrates that the S4 undergoes ∼3- to 5-Å transitional and lateral movements during depolarization, which are coupled to opening of the channel pore. Here both gating charges form state-dependent cation-π interactions within the voltage sensor domain (VSD) during membrane depolarization. Our data demonstrate that the transfer of a single gating charge per channel subunit is requisite for voltage, temperature, and osmotic swell polymodal gating of TRPP2. Taken together, we find that irrespective of stimuli, TRPP2 channel opening is dependent on activation of its VSDs.
Keywords: TRP channels; biophysics; gating mechanisms; ion channels; polycystins.