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Evaluation of the Ion Channel Assembly in a Eukaryotic Cell-Free System Focusing on Two-Pore Domain Potassium Channels K2P

Ullrich, Jessica; Ohlhoff, Carsten; Dondapati, Srujan Kumar; Zemella, Anne; Kubick, Stefan

Oligomeric ion channels are abundant in nature. However, the recombinant expression in cell culture-based systems remains tedious and challenging due to negative side effects, limiting the understanding of their role in health and disease. Accordingly, in this work, we demonstrate the cell-free synthesis (CFS) as an alternative platform to study the assembly of two-pore domain potassium channels (K2P) within endogenous endoplasmic reticulum-derived microsomes. Exploiting the open nature of CFS, we investigate the cotranslational translocation of TREK-2 into the microsomes and suggest a cotranslational assembly with typical single-channel behavior in planar lipid-bilayer electrophysiology. The heteromeric assembly of K2P channels is a contentious matter, accordingly we prove the successful assembly of TREK-2 with TWIK-1 using a biomolecular fluorescence complementation assay, Western blot analysis and autoradiography. The results demonstrate that TREK-2 homodimer assembly is the initial step, followed by heterodimer formation with the nascent TWIK-1, providing evidence of the intergroup heterodimerization of TREK-2 and TWIK-1 in eukaryotic CFS. Since K2P channels are involved in various pathophysiological conditions, including pain and nociception, CFS paves the way for in-depth functional studies and related pharmacological interventions. This study highlights the versatility of the eukaryotic CFS platform for investigating ion channel assembly in a native-like environment.
Published in: International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 10.3390/ijms24076299, MDPI