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Exploring the Nature of Cationic Blocker Recognition by the Anthrax Toxin Channel

Momben Abolfath, S;Kolberg, M;Karginov, VA;Leppla, SH;Nestorovich, EM;

Obstructing conductive pathways of the channel-forming toxins with targeted blockers is a promising drug design approach. Nearly all tested positively charged ligands have been shown to reversibly block the cation-selective channel-forming protective antigen (PA63) component of the binary anthrax toxin. The cationic ligands with more hydrophobic surfaces, particularly those carrying aromatic moieties, inhibited PA63 more effectively. To understand the physical basis of PA63 selectivity for a particular ligand, detailed information is required on how the blocker structural elements (e.g., positively charged and aromatic groups) influence the molecular kinetics of the blocker/channel binding reactions. In this study, we address this problem using the high-resolution single-channel planar lipid bilayer technique. Several structurally distinct cationic blockers, namely per-6-S-(3-amino) propyl–cyclodextrin, per-6-S-(3-aminomethyl) benzyl–cyclodextrin, per-6-S-(3-aminomethyl) benzyl–cyclodextrin, per-6-S-(3-aminomethyl) benzyl–cyclodextrin, methyltriphenylphosphonium ion, and G0 polyamidoamine dendrimer are tested for their ability to inhibit the heptameric and octameric PA63 variants and PA63F427A mutant. The F427 residues form a hydrophobic constriction region inside the channel, known as the “-clamp.” We show that the cationic blockers interact with PA63 through a combination of forces. Analysis of the binding reaction kinetics suggests the involvement of cation-, Coulomb, and salt-concentration-independent – or hydrophobic interactions in the cationic cyclodextrin binding. It is possible that these blockers bind to the -clamp and are also stabilized by the Coulomb interactions of their terminal amino groups with the water-exposed negatively charged channel residues. In PA63F427A, only the suggested Coulomb component of the cyclodextrin interaction remains. Methyltriphenylphosphonium ion and G0 polyamidoamine dendrimer, despite being positively charged, interact primarily with the -clamp. We also show that seven- and eightfold symmetric cyclodextrins effectively block the heptameric and octameric forms of PA63 interchangeably, adding flexibility to the earlier formulated blocker/target symmetry match requirement. Copyright 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.

  • PubMed ID: 31587826