Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Aug 25;117(34):20898-20907. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2010032117. Epub 2020 Aug 11.
The voltage-gated proton channel Hv1 is a member of the voltage-gated ion channel superfamily, which stands out in design: It is a dimer of two voltage-sensing domains (VSDs), each containing a pore pathway, a voltage sensor (S4), and a gate (S1) and forming its own ion channel. Opening of the two channels in the dimer is cooperative. Part of the cooperativity is due to association between coiled-coil domains that extend intracellularly from the S4s. Interactions between the transmembrane portions of the subunits may also contribute, but the nature of transmembrane packing is unclear. Using functional analysis of a mutagenesis scan, biochemistry, and modeling, we find that the subunits form a dimer interface along the entire length of S1, and also have intersubunit contacts between S1 and S4. These interactions exert a strong effect on gating, in particular on the stability of the open state. Our results suggest that gating in Hv1 is tuned by extensive VSD-VSD interactions between the gates and voltage sensors of the dimeric channel.