Locating the Route of Entry and Binding Sites of Benzocaine and Phenytoin in a Bacterial Voltage Gated Sodium Channel

Lewis J. Martin, Ben Corry*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)


    Sodium channel blockers are used to control electrical excitability in cells as a treatment for epileptic seizures and cardiac arrhythmia, and to provide short term control of pain. Development of the next generation of drugs that can selectively target one of the nine types of voltage-gated sodium channel expressed in the body requires a much better understanding of how current channel blockers work. Here we make use of the recently determined crystal structure of the bacterial voltage gated sodium channel NavAb in molecular dynamics simulations to elucidate the position at which the sodium channel blocking drugs benzocaine and phenytoin bind to the protein as well as to understand how these drugs find their way into resting channels. We show that both drugs have two likely binding sites in the pore characterised by nonspecific, hydrophobic interactions: one just above the activation gate, and one at the entrance to the the lateral lipid filled fenestrations. Three independent methods find the same sites and all suggest that binding to the activation gate is slightly more favourable than at the fenestration. Both drugs are found to be able to pass through the fenestrations into the lipid with only small energy barriers, suggesting that this can represent the long posited hydrophobic entrance route for neutral drugs. Our simulations highlight the importance of a number of residues in directing drugs into and through the fenestration, and in forming the drug binding sites.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere1003688
    JournalPLoS Computational Biology
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


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