Dissection of the structure-function relationship of Nav channels

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2024 Feb 27;121(9):e2322899121. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2322899121. Epub 2024 Feb 21.


Voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav) undergo conformational shifts in response to membrane potential changes, a mechanism known as the electromechanical coupling. To delineate the structure-function relationship of human Nav channels, we have performed systematic structural analysis using human Nav1.7 as a prototype. Guided by the structural differences between wild-type (WT) Nav1.7 and an eleven mutation-containing variant, designated Nav1.7-M11, we generated three additional intermediate mutants and solved their structures at overall resolutions of 2.9-3.4 Å. The mutant with nine-point mutations in the pore domain (PD), named Nav1.7-M9, has a reduced cavity volume and a sealed gate, with all voltage-sensing domains (VSDs) remaining up. Structural comparison of WT and Nav1.7-M9 pinpoints two residues that may be critical to the tightening of the PD. However, the variant containing these two mutations, Nav1.7-M2, or even in combination with two additional mutations in the VSDs, named Nav1.7-M4, failed to tighten the PD. Our structural analysis reveals a tendency of PD contraction correlated with the right shift of the static inactivation I-V curves. We predict that the channel in the resting state should have a "tight" PD with down VSDs.

Keywords: closed-state inactivation; cryo-EM; electromechanical coupling; structure–function relationship; voltage-gated sodium channel.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Mutation
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels* / genetics


  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels