Transient receptor potential melastatin 2 (TRPM2) is a homotetrameric Ca2+-permeable cation channel important for the immune response, body temperature regulation, and insulin secretion, and is activated by cytosolic Ca2+ and ADP ribose (ADPR). ADPR binds to two distinct locations, formed by large N- and C-terminal cytosolic domains, respectively, of the channel protein. In invertebrate TRPM2 channels, the C-terminal site is not required for channel activity but acts as an active ADPR phosphohydrolase that cleaves the activating ligand. In vertebrate TRPM2 channels, the C-terminal site is catalytically inactive but cooperates with the N-terminal site in channel activation. The precise functional contributions to channel gating and the nucleotide selectivities of the two sites in various species have not yet been deciphered. For TRPM2 of the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis (nvTRPM2), catalytic activity is solely attributable to the C-terminal site. Here, we show that nvTRPM2 channel gating properties remain unaltered upon deletion of the C-terminal domain, indicating that the N-terminal site is single-handedly responsible for channel gating. Exploiting such functional independence of the N- and C-terminal sites, we selectively measure their affinity profiles for a series of ADPR analogues, as reflected by apparent affinities for channel activation and catalysis, respectively. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we confirm that the same N-terminal site observed in vertebrate TRPM2 channels was already present in ancient cnidarians. Finally, by characterizing the functional effects of six amino acid side chain truncations in the N-terminal site, we provide first insights into the mechanistic contributions of those side chains to TRPM2 channel gating.

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