Conformation-specific Synthetic Antibodies Discriminate Multiple Functional States of the Ion Channel CorA

Satchal K. Erramilli, Pawel K. Dominik, Dawid Deneka , Piotr Tokarz , Sangwoo S. Kim, Bharat G. Reddy, Blazej M. Skrobek , Olivier Dalmas , Eduardo Perozo, Anthony A. Kossiakoff 

J Mol Biol. 2023

PMD: 37394032 PMID: 37394032 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2023.168192

CorA, the primary magnesium ion channel in prokaryotes and archaea, is a prototypical homopentameric ion channel that undergoes ion-dependent conformational transitions. CorA adopts five-fold symmetric non-conductive states in the presence of high concentrations of Mg2+, and highly asymmetric flexible states in its complete absence. However, the latter were of insufficient resolution to be thoroughly characterized. In order to gain additional insights into the relationship between asymmetry and channel activation, we exploited phage display selection strategies to generate conformation-specific synthetic antibodies (sABs) against CorA in the absence of Mg2+. Two sABs from these selections, C12 and C18, showed different degrees of Mg2+-sensitivity. Through structural, biochemical, and biophysical characterization, we found the sABs are both conformation-specific but probe different features of the channel under open-like conditions. C18 is highly specific to the Mg2+-depleted state of CorA and through negative-stain electron microscopy (ns-EM), we show sAB binding reflects the asymmetric arrangement of CorA protomers in Mg2+-depleted conditions. We used X-ray crystallography to determine a structure at 2.0 Å resolution of sAB C12 bound to the soluble N-terminal regulatory domain of CorA. The structure shows C12 is a competitive inhibitor of regulatory magnesium binding through its interaction with the divalent cation sensing site. We subsequently exploited this relationship to capture and visualize asymmetric CorA states in different [Mg2+] using ns-EM. We additionally utilized these sABs to provide insights into the energy landscape that governs the ion-dependent conformational transitions of CorA.