1. Biochemistry and Chemical Biology
  2. Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics
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Molecular mechanisms of gating in the calcium-activated chloride channel bestrophin

  1. Alexandria N Miller
  2. George Vaisey
  3. Stephen Barstow Long  Is a corresponding author
  1. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 15
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e43231 doi: 10.7554/eLife.43231


Bestrophin (BEST1-4) ligand-gated chloride (Cl-) channels are activated by calcium (Ca2+). Mutation of BEST1 causes retinal disease. Partly because bestrophin channels have no sequence or structural similarity to other ion channels, the molecular mechanisms underlying gating are unknown. Here, we present a series of cryo-electron microscopy structures of chicken BEST1, determined at 3.1 Å resolution or better, that represent the channel's principal gating states. Unlike other channels, opening of the pore is due to the repositioning of tethered pore-lining helices within a surrounding protein shell that dramatically widens a neck of the pore through a concertina of amino acid rearrangements. The neck serves as both the activation and the inactivation gate. Ca2+ binding instigates opening of the neck through allosteric means whereas inactivation peptide binding induces closing. An aperture within the otherwise wide pore controls anion permeability. The studies define a new molecular paradigm for gating among ligand-gated ion channels.

Data availability

Atomic coordinates and cryo-EM density maps of have been deposited with the PDB and Electron Microscopy Data Bank with the accession numbers: 6N23 (BEST1405, inactivated; EMD-9321), 6N24 (BEST1345 W287F mutant, Ca2+-free; EMD-9322), 6N25 (BEST1345 W287F mutant, Ca2+-bound; EMD-9323), 6N26 ( BEST1345 Ca2+-free closed state; EMD-9324), 6N27 (BEST1345 Ca2+-bound closed state; EMD-9325), and 6N28 ( BEST1345 Ca2+-bound open state; EMD-9326).

The following data sets were generated

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Author details

  1. Alexandria N Miller

    Structural Biology Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. George Vaisey

    Structural Biology Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Stephen Barstow Long

    Structural Biology Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8144-1398


National Institutes of Health (R01-GM110396)

  • Stephen Barstow Long

National Cancer Institute (P30 CA008748)

  • Stephen Barstow Long

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Kenton Jon Swartz, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: October 30, 2018
  2. Accepted: January 2, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: January 10, 2019 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: January 22, 2019 (version 2)
  5. Version of Record updated: January 23, 2019 (version 3)


© 2019, Miller et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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