The heartbeat is initiated by voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.5, which opens rapidly and triggers the cardiac action potential; however, the structural basis for pore opening remains unknown. Here, we blocked fast inactivation with a mutation and captured the elusive open-state structure. The fast inactivation gate moves away from its receptor, allowing asymmetric opening of pore-lining S6 segments, which bend and rotate at their intracellular ends to dilate the activation gate to ∼10 Å diameter. Molecular dynamics analyses predict physiological rates of Na+ conductance. The open-state pore blocker propafenone binds in a high-affinity pose, and drug-access pathways are revealed through the open activation gate and fenestrations. Comparison with mutagenesis results provides a structural map of arrhythmia mutations that target the activation and fast inactivation gates. These results give atomic-level insights into molecular events that underlie generation of the action potential, open-state drug block, and fast inactivation of cardiac sodium channels, which initiate the heartbeat.
Keywords: antiarrhythmic drug; arrhythmia mutation; cardiac sodium channel; cryo-EM structure; fast inactivation; open state.
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