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Ether-a-go-go (EAG) potassium selective channels are major regulators of neuronal excitability and cancer progression. EAG channels contain a Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) domain in their intracellular N-terminal region. The PAS domain is structurally similar to the PAS domains in non-ion channel proteins, where these domains frequently function as ligand-binding domains. Despite the structural similarity, it is not known whether the PAS domain can regulate EAG channel function via ligand binding. Here, using surface plasmon resonance, tryptophan fluorescence, and analysis of EAG currents recorded in Xenopus laevis oocytes, we show that a small molecule chlorpromazine (CH), widely used as an antipsychotic medication, binds to the isolated PAS domain of EAG channels and inhibits currents from these channels. Mutant EAG channels that lack the PAS domain show significantly lower inhibition by CH, suggesting that CH affects currents from EAG channels directly through the binding to the PAS domain. Our study lends support to the hypothesis that there are previously unaccounted steps in EAG channel gating that could be activated by ligand binding to the PAS domain. This has broad implications for understanding gating mechanisms of EAG and related ERG and ELK K+ channels and places the PAS domain as a new target for drug discovery in EAG and related channels. Up-regulation of EAG channel activity is linked to cancer and neurological disorders. Our study raises the possibility of repurposing the antipsychotic drug chlorpromazine for treatment of neurological disorders and cancer.


Ze-Jun Wang, Stephanie M Soohoo, Purushottam B Tiwari, Grzegorz Piszczek, Tinatin I Brelidze. Chlorpromazine binding to the PAS domains uncovers the effect of ligand modulation on EAG channel activity. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2020 Mar 27;295(13):4114-4123

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PMID: 32047112

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