High-throughput characterization of 309 photocrosslinker-bearing ASIC1a variants maps residues critical for channel function and pharmacology
Incorporation of non-canonical amino acids (ncAAs) can endow proteins with novel functionalities, such as crosslinking or fluorescence. In ion channels, the function of these variants can be studied with great precision using standard electrophysiology, but this approach is typically labor intensive and low throughput. Here, we establish a high-throughput protocol to conduct functional and pharmacological investigations of ncAA-containing hASIC1a (human acid-sensing ion channel 1a) variants in transiently transfected mammalian cells. We introduce three different photocrosslinking ncAAs into 103 positions and assess the function of the resulting 309 variants with automated patch-clamp (APC). We demonstrate that the approach is efficient and versatile, as it is amenable to assessing even complex pharmacological modulation by peptides. The data show that the acidic pocket is a major determinant for fast desensitization and live-cell crosslinking provides insight into the hASIC1a-psalmotoxin-1 interaction. Overall, this protocol will enable future APC-based studies of ncAA-containing ion channels in mammalian cells.
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