Single-channel studies on linear gramicidins with altered amino acid side chains. Effects of altering the polarity of the side chain at position 1 in gramicidin A
The modulation of gramicidin A single-channel characteristics by the amino acid side chains was investigated using gramicidin A analogues in which the NH2 terminal valine was chemically replaced by other amino acids. The replacements were chosen such that pairs of analogues would have essentially isosteric side chains of different polarities at position 1 (valine vs. trifluorovaline or hexafluorovaline; norvaline vs. S-methyl-cysteine; and norleucine vs. methionine). Even though the side chains are not in direct contact with the permeating ions, the single-channel conductances for Na+ and Cs+ are markedly affected by the changes in the physico-chemical characteristics of the side chains. The maximum single-channel conductance for Na+ is decreased by as much as 10-fold in channels formed by analogues with polar side chains at position 1 compared with their counterparts with nonpolar side chains, while the Na+ affinity is fairly insensitive to these changes. The relative conductance changes seen with Cs+ were less than those seen with Na+; the ion selectivity of the channels with polar side chains at position 1 was increased. Hybrid channels could form between compounds with a polar side chain at position 1 and either valine gramicidin A or their counterparts with a nonpolar side chain at position 1. The structure of channels formed by the modified gramicidins is thus essentially identical to the structure of channels formed by valine gramicidin A. The polarity of the side chain at position 1 is an important determinant of the permeability characteristics of the gramicidin A channel. We discuss the importance of having structural information when interpreting the functional consequences of site-directed amino acid modifications.