Abstract Single point mutations in pore-forming S6 seg-ments of calcium channels may transform a high-voltage-activated into a low-voltage-activated channel, and resulting disturbances in calcium entry may cause channelopathies (Hemara-Wahanui et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 102 (21):7553–7558, 16). Here we ask the question how physicochemical properties of amino acid residues in gating-sensitive positions on S6 segments determine the threshold of channel activation of CaV1.2. Leucine in segment IS6 (L434) and a newly identified activation determinant in segment IIIS6 (G1193) were mutated to a variety of amino acids. The induced leftward shifts of the activation curves and decelerated current activation and deactivation suggest a destabilization of the closed and a stabilisation of the open channel state by most mutations. A selection of 17 physicochemical parameters (descriptors) was calculated for these residues and examined for correlation with the shifts of the midpoints of the activation curve (ΔVact). ΔVact correlated with local side-chain flexibility in position L434 (IS6), with the polar accessible surface area of the side chain in position G1193 (IIIS6) and with hydropho-bicity in position I781 (IIS6). Combined descriptor analysis for positions I781 and G1193 revealed that additional amino acid properties may contribute to conformational changes during the gating process. The identified physicochemical properties in the analysed gating-sensitive positions (acces-sible surface area, side-chain flexibility, and hydrophobicity) predict the shifts of the activation curves of CaV1.2
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