Intrinsic conformational plasticity of native EmrE provides a pathway for multidrug resistance.
ABSTRACT: EmrE is a multidrug resistance efflux pump with specificity to a wide range of antibiotics and antiseptics. To obtain atomic-scale insight into the attributes of the native state that encodes the broad specificity, we used a hybrid of solution and solid-state NMR methods in lipid bilayers and bicelles. Our results indicate that the native EmrE dimer oscillates between inward and outward facing structural conformations at an exchange rate (k(ex)) of ~300 s(-1) at 37 °C (millisecond motions), which is ~50-fold faster relative to the tetraphenylphosphonium (TPP(+)) substrate-bound form of the protein. These observables provide quantitative evidence that the rate-limiting step in the TPP(+) transport cycle is not the outward-inward conformational change in the absence of drug. In addition, using differential scanning calorimetry, we found that the width of the gel-to-liquid crystalline phase transition was 2 °C broader in the absence of the TPP(+) substrate versus its presence, which suggested that changes in transporter dynamics can impact the phase properties of the membrane. Interestingly, experiments with cross-linked EmrE showed that the millisecond inward-open to outward-open dynamics was not the culprit of the broadening. Instead, the calorimetry and NMR data supported the conclusion that faster time scale structural dynamics (nanosecond-microsecond) were the source and therefore impart the conformationally plastic character of native EmrE capable of binding structurally diverse substrates. These findings provide a clear example how differences in membrane protein transporter structural dynamics between drug-free and bound states can have a direct impact on the physical properties of the lipid bilayer in an allosteric fashion.
Project description:The small multidrug resistance transporters represent a unique model system for studying the mechanism of secondary active transport and membrane protein evolution. However, this seemingly simple protein has been highly controversial. Recent studies have provided experimental evidence that EmrE exists as an asymmetric dimer that exchanges between identical inward-facing and outward-facing states. Re-examination of the published literature in light of these findings fills in many details of the microscopic steps in the transport cycle. Future work will need to examine how the symmetry observed in vitro affects EmrE function in the asymmetric environment of its native Escherichia coli membrane.
Project description:It is known that the lipid composition within a cellular membrane can influence membrane protein structure and function. In this Article, we investigated how structural changes to a membrane protein upon substrate binding can impact the lipid bilayer. To carry out this study, we reconstituted the secondary active drug transporter EmrE into a variety of phospholipid bilayers varying in headgroup and chain length and carried out differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and solid-state NMR experiments. The DSC results revealed a difference in cooperativity of the lipid phase transition for drug-free EmrE protonated at glutamic acid 14 (i.e., proton-loaded form) and the tetraphenylphosphonium (TPP+) bound form of the protein (i.e., drug-loaded form). To complement these findings, we acquired magic-angle-spinning (MAS) spectra in the presence and absence of TPP+ by directly probing the phospholipid headgroup using 31P NMR. These spectra showed a reduction in lipid line widths around the main phase transition for samples where EmrE was bound to TPP+ compared to the drug free form. Finally, we collected oriented solid-state NMR spectra on isotopically enriched EmrE that displayed chemical shift perturbations to both transmembrane and loop residues upon TPP+ binding. All of these results prompt us to propose a mechanism whereby substrate-induced changes to the structural dynamics of EmrE alters the surrounding lipids within the bilayer.
Project description:The small multidrug resistance transporter EmrE is a homodimer that uses energy provided by the proton motive force to drive the efflux of drug substrates. The pKa values of its "active-site" residues--glutamate 14 (Glu14) from each subunit--must be poised around physiological pH values to efficiently couple proton import to drug export in vivo. To assess the protonation of EmrE, pH titrations were conducted with (1)H-(15)N TROSY-HSQC nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra. Analysis of these spectra indicates that the Glu14 residues have asymmetric pKa values of 7.0 ± 0.1 and 8.2 ± 0.3 at 45°C and 6.8 ± 0.1 and 8.5 ± 0.2 at 25°C. These pKa values are substantially increased compared with typical pKa values for solvent-exposed glutamates but are within the range of published Glu14 pKa values inferred from the pH dependence of substrate binding and transport assays. The active-site mutant, E14D-EmrE, has pKa values below the physiological pH range, consistent with its impaired transport activity. The NMR spectra demonstrate that the protonation states of the active-site Glu14 residues determine both the global structure and the rate of conformational exchange between inward- and outward-facing EmrE. Thus, the pKa values of the asymmetric active-site Glu14 residues are key for proper coupling of proton import to multidrug efflux. However, the results raise new questions regarding the coupling mechanism because they show that EmrE exists in a mixture of protonation states near neutral pH and can interconvert between inward- and outward-facing forms in multiple different protonation states.
Project description:Small multidrug resistance transporters provide an ideal system to study the minimal requirements for active transport. EmrE is one such transporter in Escherichia coli. It exports a broad class of polyaromatic cation substrates, thus conferring resistance to drug compounds matching this chemical description. However, a great deal of controversy has surrounded the topology of the EmrE homodimer. Here we show that asymmetric antiparallel EmrE exchanges between inward- and outward-facing states that are identical except that they have opposite orientation in the membrane. We quantitatively measure the global conformational exchange between these two states for substrate-bound EmrE in bicelles using solution NMR dynamics experiments. Förster resonance energy transfer reveals that the monomers within each dimer are antiparallel, and paramagnetic relaxation enhancement NMR experiments demonstrate differential water accessibility of the two monomers within each dimer. Our experiments reveal a 'dynamic symmetry' that reconciles the asymmetric EmrE structure with the functional symmetry of residues in the active site.
Project description:EmrE, a member of the small multidrug transporters superfamily, extrudes positively charged hydrophobic compounds out of Escherichia coli cytoplasm in exchange for inward movement of protons down their electrochemical gradient. Although its transport mechanism has been thoroughly characterized, the structural basis of energy coupling and the conformational cycle mediating transport have yet to be elucidated. In this study, EmrE structure in liposomes and the substrate-induced conformational changes were investigated by systematic spin labeling and EPR analysis. Spin label mobilities and accessibilities describe a highly dynamic ligand-free (apo) conformation. Dipolar coupling between spin labels across the dimer reveals at least two spin label populations arising from different packing interfaces of the EmrE dimer. One population is consistent with antiparallel arrangement of the monomers, although the EPR parameters suggest deviations from the crystal structure of substrate-bound EmrE. Resolving these discrepancies requires an unusual disposition of TM3 relative to the membrane-water interface and a kink in its backbone that enables bending of its C-terminal part. Binding of the substrate tetraphenylphosphonium changes the environment of spin labels and their proximity in three transmembrane helices. The underlying conformational transition involves repacking of TM1, tilting of TM2, and changes in the backbone configurations of TM3 and the adjacent loop connecting it to TM4. A dynamic apo conformation is necessary for the polyspecificity of EmrE allowing the binding of structurally diverse substrates. The flexibility of TM3 may play a critical role in movement of substrates across the membrane.
Project description:EmrE, a small multidrug resistance transporter, serves as an ideal model to study coupling between multidrug recognition and protein function. EmrE has a single small binding pocket that must accommodate the full range of diverse substrates recognized by this transporter. We have studied a series of tetrahedral compounds, as well as several planar substrates, to examine multidrug recognition and transport by EmrE. Here we show that even within this limited series, the rate of interconversion between the inward- and outward-facing states of EmrE varies over 3 orders of magnitude. Thus, the identity of the bound substrate controls the rate of this critical step in the transport process. The binding affinity also varies over a similar range and is correlated with substrate hydrophobicity within the tetrahedral substrate series. Substrate identity influences both the ground-state and transition-state energies for the conformational exchange process, highlighting the coupling between substrate binding and transport required for alternating access antiport.
Project description:Small multidrug resistance (SMR) pumps represent a minimal paradigm of proton-coupled membrane transport in bacteria, yet no high-resolution structure of an SMR protein is available. Here, atomic-resolution structures of the Escherichia coli efflux-multidrug resistance E (EmrE) multidrug transporter in ligand-bound form are refined using microsecond molecular dynamics simulations biased using low-resolution data from X-ray crystallography. The structures are compatible with existing mutagenesis data as well as NMR and biochemical experiments, including pKas of the catalytic glutamate residues and the dissociation constant ([Formula: see text]) of the tetraphenylphosphonium+ cation. The refined structures show the arrangement of residue side chains in the EmrE active site occupied by two different ligands and in the absence of a ligand, illustrating how EmrE can adopt structurally diverse active site configurations. The structures also show a stable, well-packed binding interface between the helices H4 of the two monomers, which is believed to be crucial for EmrE dimerization. Guided by the atomic details of this interface, we design proteolysis-resistant stapled peptides that bind to helix H4 of an EmrE monomer. The peptides are expected to interfere with the dimerization and thereby inhibit drug transport. Optimal positions of the peptide staple were determined using free-energy simulations of peptide binding to monomeric EmrE Three of the four top-scoring peptides selected for experimental testing resulted in significant inhibition of proton-driven ethidium efflux in live cells without nonspecific toxicity. The approach described here is expected to be of general use for the design of peptide therapeutics.
Project description:The small multidrug transporter from Escherichia coli, EmrE, couples the energetically uphill extrusion of hydrophobic cations out of the cell to the transport of two protons down their electrochemical gradient. Although principal mechanistic elements of proton/substrate antiport have been described, the structural record is limited to the conformation of the substrate-bound state, which has been shown to undergo isoenergetic alternating access. A central but missing link in the structure/mechanism relationship is a description of the proton-bound state, which is an obligatory intermediate in the transport cycle. Here we report a systematic spin labeling and double electron electron resonance (DEER) study that uncovers the conformational changes of EmrE subsequent to protonation of critical acidic residues in the context of a global description of ligand-induced structural rearrangements. We find that protonation of E14 leads to extensive rotation and tilt of transmembrane helices 1-3 in conjunction with repacking of loops, conformational changes that alter the coordination of the bound substrate and modulate its access to the binding site from the lipid bilayer. The transport model that emerges from our data posits a proton-bound, but occluded, resting state. Substrate binding from the inner leaflet of the bilayer releases the protons and triggers alternating access between inward- and outward-facing conformations of the substrate-loaded transporter, thus enabling antiport without dissipation of the proton gradient.
Project description:The dimeric transporter, EmrE, effluxes polyaromatic cationic drugs in a proton-coupled manner to confer multidrug resistance in bacteria. Although the protein is known to adopt an antiparallel asymmetric topology, its high-resolution drug-bound structure is so far unknown, limiting our understanding of the molecular basis of promiscuous transport. Here we report an experimental structure of drug-bound EmrE in phospholipid bilayers, determined using <sup>19</sup>F and <sup>1</sup>H solid-state NMR and a fluorinated substrate, tetra(4-fluorophenyl) phosphonium (F<sub>4</sub>-TPP<sup>+</sup>). The drug-binding site, constrained by 214 protein-substrate distances, is dominated by aromatic residues such as W63 and Y60, but is sufficiently spacious for the tetrahedral drug to reorient at physiological temperature. F<sub>4</sub>-TPP<sup>+</sup> lies closer to the proton-binding residue E14 in subunit A than in subunit B, explaining the asymmetric protonation of the protein. The structure gives insight into the molecular mechanism of multidrug recognition by EmrE and establishes the basis for future design of substrate inhibitors to combat antibiotic resistance.
Project description:Secondary active transporters undergo large conformational changes to facilitate the efflux of substrates across the lipid bilayer. Among the smallest known transport proteins are members of the small multidrug resistance (SMR) family that are composed of four transmembrane (TM) domains and assemble into dimers. An unanswered question in the SMR field is how the dimerization domain (TM4) is coupled with the substrate-binding chamber (TM1-3). To provide insight for this essential aspect of ion-coupled transport, we carried out a structure-function study on the SMR protein EmrE using solid-state NMR spectroscopy in lipid bilayers and resistance assays in Escherichia coli. The chemical shifts for EmrE were consistent with ?-strand secondary structure for the loop connecting TM3 and TM4. Based on these structural results, EmrE mutants were created to ascertain whether a specific loop length and composition were necessary for function. A linker encompassing six extra Gly residues relative to wild-type EmrE failed to give resistance; however, the number of residues in the loop was not the only criterion for a functional efflux pump. Replacement of the central hydrophobic residue with Gly (L83G) also conferred no ethidium resistance phenotype, which supported the conclusion that the structure and length of the loop were both essential for ion-coupled transport. Taken together with a bioinformatics analysis, a structured linker is likely conserved across the SMR family to play an active role in mediating the conformational switch between inward-open and outward-open states necessary for drug efflux. These findings underscore the important role loops can play in mediating efflux.