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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A single histidine residue determines the pH sensitivity of the pacemaker channel HCN2.

Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) cation channels control the rhythmic activity of heart and neuronal networks. The activation of these channels is regulated in a complex manner by hormones and neurotransmitters. In addition it was suggested that the channels may be controlled by the pH of the cytosol. Here we demonstrate that HCN2, a member of the HCN channel family, is directly modulated by the intracellular pH in the physiological range. Protons inhibit HCN2 channels by shifting the voltage dependence of channel activation to more negative voltages. By using site-directed mutagenesis, we have identified a single histidine residue (His-321) localized at the boundary between the voltage-sensing S4 helix and the cytoplasmic S4-S5 linker of the channel that is a major determinant of pH sensitivity. Replacement of His-321 by either arginine, glutamine, or glutamate results in channels that are no longer sensitive to shifts in intracellular pH. In contrast, cAMP-mediated modulation is completely intact in mutant channels indicating that His-321 is not involved in the molecular mechanism that controls modulation of HCN channel activity by cyclic nucleotides. Because His-321 is conserved in all four HCN channels known so far, regulation by intracellular pH is likely to constitute a general feature of both cardiac and neuronal pacemaker channels.[1]


  1. A single histidine residue determines the pH sensitivity of the pacemaker channel HCN2. Zong, X., Stieber, J., Ludwig, A., Hofmann, F., Biel, M. J. Biol. Chem. (2001) [Pubmed]
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