Using two fluorescent probes to dissect the binding, insertion, and dimerization kinetics of a model membrane peptide.
ABSTRACT: Helix-helix association within a membrane environment represents one of the fundamental processes in membrane protein folding. However, studying the kinetics of such processes has been difficult because most membrane proteins are insoluble in aqueous solution. Here we present a stopped-flow fluorescence study of the membrane-interaction kinetics of a designed, water-soluble transmembrane (TM) peptide, anti-alpha(IIb), which is known to dimerize in phospholipid bilayers. We show that by using two fluorescent amino acids, tryptophan and p-cyanophenylalanine, we are able to kinetically dissect distinct phases in the peptide-membrane interaction, representing membrane binding, membrane insertion, and TM helix-helix association. Our results further show that the last process occurs on a time scale of seconds, indicating that the association of two TM helices is an intrinsically slow event.
Project description:An efficient computational approach is developed to quantify the free energy of a spontaneous association of the ?-helices of proteins in the membrane environment. The approach is based on the numerical decomposition of the free energy profiles of the transmembrane (TM) helices into components corresponding to protein-protein, protein-lipid, and protein-water interactions. The method was tested for the TM segments of human glycophorin A (GpA) and two mutant forms, Gly83Ala and Thr87Val. It was shown that lipids make a significant negative contribution to the free energy of dimerization, while amino acid residues forming the interface of the helix-helix contact may be unfavorable in terms of free energy. The detailed balance between different energy contributions is highly dependent on the amino acid sequence of the TM protein segment. The results show the dominant role of the environment in the interaction of membrane proteins that is changing our notion of the driving force behind the spontaneous association of TM ?-helices. Adequate estimation of the contribution of the water-lipid environment thus becomes an extremely urgent task for a rational design of new molecules targeting bitopic membrane proteins, including receptor tyrosine kinases.
Project description:Dimerization of single-pass membrane receptors is essential for activation. In the human thrombopoietin receptor (TpoR), a unique amphipathic RWQFP motif separates the transmembrane (TM) and intracellular domains. Using a combination of mutagenesis, spectroscopy, and biochemical assays, we show that W515 of this motif impairs dimerization of the upstream TpoR TM helix. TpoR is unusual in that a specific residue is required for this inhibitory function, which prevents receptor self-activation. Mutations as diverse as W515K and W515L cause oncogenic activation of TpoR and lead to human myeloproliferative neoplasms. Two lines of evidence support a general mechanism in which W515 at the intracellular juxtamembrane boundary inhibits dimerization of the TpoR TM helix by increasing the helix tilt angle relative to the membrane bilayer normal, which prevents the formation of stabilizing TM dimer contacts. First, measurements using polarized infrared spectroscopy show that the isolated TM domain of the active W515K mutant has a helix tilt angle closer to the bilayer normal than that of the wild-type receptor. Second, we identify second-site R514W and Q516W mutations that reverse dimerization and tilt angle changes induced by the W515K and W515L mutations. The second-site mutations prevent constitutive activation of TpoR W515K/L, while preserving ligand-induced signaling. The ability of tryptophan to influence the angle and dimerization of the TM helix in wild-type TpoR and in the second-site revertants is likely associated with its strong preference to be buried in the headgroup region of membrane bilayers.
Project description:p-Cyanophenylalanine is an extremely useful fluorescence probe of protein structure that can be recombinantly and chemically incorporated into proteins. The probe has been used to study protein folding, protein-membrane interactions, protein-peptide interactions, and amyloid formation; however, the factors that control its fluorescence are not fully understood. Hydrogen bonding to the cyano group is known to play a major role in modulating the fluorescence quantum yield, but the role of potential side-chain quenchers has not yet been elucidated. A systematic study of the effects of different side chains on p-cyanophenylalanine fluorescence is reported. Tyr is found to have the largest effect followed by deprotonated His, Met, Cys, protonated His, Asn, Arg, and protonated Lys. Deprotonated amino groups are much more effective fluorescence quenchers than protonated amino groups. Free neutral imidazole and hydroxide ion are also effective quenchers of p-cyanophenylalanine fluorescence with Stern-Volmer constants of 39.8 and 22.1 M(-1), respectively. The quenching of p-cyanophenylalanine fluorescence by specific side chains is exploited in developing specific, high-sensitivity, fluorescence probes of helix formation. The approach is demonstrated with Ala-based peptides that contain a p-cyanophenylalanine-His or a p-cyanophenylalanine-Tyr pair located at positions i and i + 4. The p-cyanophenylalanine-His pair is most useful when the His side chain is deprotonated and is, thus, complementary to the Trp-His pair which is most sensitive when the His side chain is protonated.
Project description:The monomer-dimer equilibrium of the glycophorin A (GpA) transmembrane (TM) fragment has been used as a model system to investigate the amino acid sequence requirements that permit an appropriate helix-helix packing in a membrane-mimetic environment. In particular, we have focused on a region of the helix where no crucial residues for packing have been yet reported. Various deletion and replacement mutants in the C-terminal region of the TM fragment showed that the distance between the dimerization motif and the flanking charged residues from the cytoplasmic side of the protein is important for helix packing. Furthermore, selected GpA mutants have been used to illustrate the rearrangement of TM fragments that takes place when leucine repeats are introduced in such protein segments. We also show that secondary structure of GpA derivatives was independent from dimerization, in agreement with the two-stage model for membrane protein folding and oligomerization.
Project description:The interactions between the TM (transmembrane) domains of many membrane proteins are important for their proper functioning. Mutations of residues into positively charged ones within TM domains were reported to be involved in many genetic diseases, possibly because these mutations affect the self- and/or hetero-assembly of the corresponding proteins. To our knowledge, despite significant progress in understanding the role of various amino acids in TM-TM interactions in vivo, the direct effect of positively charged residues on these interactions has not been studied. To address this issue, we employed the N-terminal TM domain of the aspartate receptor (Tar-1) as a dimerization model system. We expressed within the ToxR TM assembly system several Tar-1 constructs that dimerize via polar- or non-polar amino acid motifs, and mutated these by replacement with a single arginine residue. Our results have revealed that a mutation in each of the motifs significantly reduced the ability of the TMs to dimerize. Furthermore, a Tar-1 construct that contained two arginine residues was unable to correctly integrate itself into the membrane. Nevertheless, an exogenous synthetic Tar-1 peptide containing these two arginine residues was able to inhibit in vivo the marked dimerization of a mutant Tar-1 construct that contained two glutamate residues at similar positions. This indicates that hetero-assembly of TM domains can be mediated by the interaction of two oppositely charged residues, probably by formation of ion pairs. This study broadens our knowledge regarding the effect of positively charged residues on TM-TM interactions in vivo, and provides a potential therapeutic approach to inhibit uncontrolled dimerization of TM domains caused by mutations of polar amino acids.
Project description:The E5 oncoprotein is the major transforming protein of bovine papillomavirus type 1. This 44-residue transmembrane protein can interact with the platelet-derived growth factor receptor ?, leading to ligand-independent activation and cell transformation. For productive interaction, E5 needs to dimerize via a C-terminal pair of cysteines, though a recent study suggested that its truncated transmembrane segment can dimerize on its own. To analyze the structure of the full protein in a membrane environment and elucidate the role of the Cys-Ser-Cys motif, we produced recombinantly the wild-type protein and four cysteine mutants. Comparison by circular dichroism in detergent micelles and lipid vesicular dispersion and by NMR in trifluoroethanol demonstrates that the absence of one or both cysteines does not influence the highly ?-helical secondary structure, nor does it impair the ability of E5 to dimerize, observations that are further supported by sodium dodecylsulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. We also observed assemblies of higher order. Oriented circular dichroism in lipid bilayers shows that E5 is aligned as a transmembrane helix with a slight tilt angle, and that this membrane alignment is also independent of any cysteines. We conclude that the Cys-containing motif represents a disordered region of the protein that serves as an extra covalent connection for stabilization.
Project description:Computationally designed transmembrane ?-helical peptides (CHAMP) have been used to compete for helix-helix interactions within the membrane, enabling the ability to probe the activation of the integrins ?IIb?3 and ?v?3. Here, this method is extended towards the design of CHAMP peptides that inhibit the association of the ?5?1 transmembrane (TM) domains, targeting the Ala-X3-Gly motif within ?5. Our previous design algorithm was performed alongside a new workflow implemented within the widely used Rosetta molecular modeling suite. Peptides from each computational approach activated integrin ?5?1 but not ?V?3 in human endothelial cells. Two CHAMP peptides were shown to directly associate with an ?5 TM domain peptide in detergent micelles to a similar degree as a ?1 TM peptide does. By solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance, one of these CHAMP peptides was shown to bind primarily the integrin ?1 TM domain, which itself has a Gly-X3-Gly motif. The second peptide associated modestly with both ?5 and ?1 constructs, with slight preference for ?5. Although the design goal was not fully realized, this work characterizes novel CHAMP peptides activating ?5?1 that can serve as useful reagents for probing integrin biology.
Project description:The pHLIP peptide has three states: (I) soluble in aqueous buffer, (II) bound to the bilayer surface at neutral pH, and (III) inserted as a transmembrane (TM) helix at acidic pH. The membrane insertion of pHLIP at low pH can be used to target the acidic tissues characteristic of different diseases, such as cancer. We find that the ?-helix content of state II depends on lipid acyl chain length but not cholesterol, suggesting the helicity of the bound state may be controlled by the bilayer elastic bending modulus. Experiments with the P20G variant show the proline residue in pHLIP reduces the ?-helix content of both states II and III. We also observe that the membrane insertion pKa is influenced by membrane physical properties, following a biphasic pattern similar to the membrane thickness optima observed for the function of eukaryotic membrane proteins. Because tumor cells exhibit altered membrane fluidity, we suggest this might influence pHLIP tumor targeting. We used a cell insertion assay to determine the pKa in live cells, observing that the properties in liposomes held in the more complex plasma membrane. Our results show that the formation of a TM helix is modulated by both the conformational propensities of the peptide and the physical properties of the bilayer. These results suggest a physical role for helix-membrane interactions in optimizing the function of more complex TM proteins.
Project description:Little direct information is available regarding the influence of membrane environment on transmembrane (TM) G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) conformation and dynamics. The human CB1 cannabinoid receptor (hCB1) is a prominent GPCR pharmacotherapeutic target in which helix 7 appears critical to ligand recognition. We have chemically synthesized a hCB1 peptide corresponding to a segment of TM helix 7 and the entire contiguous helix 8 domain (fourth cytoplasmic loop) and reconstituted it in defined phospholipid-bilayer model membranes. Using an NMR-based strategy combined with molecular dynamics simulations, we provide the first direct experimental description of the orientation of hCB1 helix 7 in phospholipid membranes of varying thickness and the mechanism by which helix-7 conformation adjusts to avoid hydrophobic mismatch. Solid-state (15)N NMR data show that hCB1 helices 7 and 8 reconstituted into phospholipid bilayers are oriented in a TM and in-plane (i.e., parallel to the phospholipid membrane surface) fashion, respectively. TM helix orientation is influenced by the thickness of the hydrophobic membrane bilayer as well as the interaction of helix 8 with phospholipid polar headgroups. Molecular dynamics simulations show that a decrease in phospholipid chain-length induces a kink at P394 in TM helix 7 to avoid hydrophobic mismatch. Thus, the NP(X)nY motif found in hCB1 and highly conserved throughout the GPCR superfamily is important for flexing helix 7 to accommodate bilayer thickness. Dynamic modulation of hCB1-receptor TM helix conformation by its membrane environment may have general relevance to GPCR structure and function.
Project description:The sequence of the transmembrane (TM) helix of ErbB2, a member of the epidermal growth factor receptor (ErbB) family, can influence its activity. In this report, the sequence and lipid dependence of the transverse position of a model-membrane-inserted peptides containing the ErbB2 TM helix and some of the juxtamembrane (JM) residues were studied. For the ErbB2 TM helix inserted into phosphatidylcholine vesicles, the activating V664E mutation was found to induce a transverse shift involving the movement of the E residue toward the membrane surface. This shortened the effective length of the TM-spanning portion of the sequence. The transverse shift was observed with the E664 residue in both the uncharged and charged states, but the extent of the shift was larger when the E residue was charged. When a series of hydrophilic residues was substituted for V664, the resulting transverse shifts at pH 7.0 decreased in the order D,H>E>Q>K>G>V. Except for His, this order is strongly correlated to that reported for the degree to which these substitutions induce cellular transformation when introduced into full-length ErbB2. To examine the effect of lipid on transverse shift, we studied the uncharged V664Q mutation. The presence of 20% of the anionic lipid DOPS (dioleoylphosphatidylserine) in the model membrane vesicles, which introduces a physiologically relevant level of anionic lipid, did not affect the degree of transverse shift. However, in the case of a peptide containing a V674Q substitution, in which the Q is closer to the C-terminus of the ErbB2 TM helix than the N-terminus, transverse shift was suppressed in vesicles containing 20% DOPS. This suggests that the interaction of the cationic JM residues flanking the C-terminus of the ErbB2 TM helix interact with anionic lipids to anchor the C-terminal end of the TM helix. This anchoring site may act as a pivot that amplifies transverse movements of the ErbB2 TM segment to induce a large swinging-type motion in the extracellular domain of the protein, affecting ErbB2 activity. Interactions interrupting C-terminal JM residue association with anionic lipid might partly impact ErbB2 activity by disrupting this pivoting.