Heme, an iron-protoporphyrin IX complex, is a cofactor bound to various hemoproteins and supports a broad range of functions, such as electron transfer, oxygen transport, signal transduction, and drug metabolism. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of heme as a non-genomic modulator of ion channel functions. Here, we show that intracellular free heme and hemin modulate human ether à go-go (hEAG1, Kv10.1) voltage-gated potassium channels. Application of hemin to the intracellular side potently inhibits Kv10.1 channels with an IC50 of about 4 nM under ambient and 63 nM under reducing conditions in a weakly voltage-dependent manner, favoring inhibition at resting potential. Functional studies on channel mutants and biochemical analysis of synthetic and recombinant channel fragments identified a heme-binding motif CxHx8H in the C-linker region of the Kv10.1 C terminus, with cysteine 541 and histidines 543 and 552 being important for hemin binding. Binding of hemin to the C linker may induce a conformational constraint that interferes with channel gating. Our results demonstrate that heme and hemin are endogenous modulators of Kv10.1 channels and could be exploited to modulate Kv10.1-mediated cellular functions.
Sahoo, N., Yang, K., Coburger, I. et al. Intracellular hemin is a potent inhibitor of the voltage-gated potassium channel Kv10.1. Sci Rep 12, 14645 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-18975-2
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