High-speed AFM images of thermal motion provide stiffness map of interfacial membrane protein moieties.
ABSTRACT: The flexibilities of extracellular loops determine ligand binding and activation of membrane receptors. Arising from fluctuations in inter- and intraproteinaceous interactions, flexibility manifests in thermal motion. Here we demonstrate that quantitative flexibility values can be extracted from directly imaging the thermal motion of membrane protein moieties using high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM). Stiffness maps of the main periplasmic loops of single reconstituted water channels (AqpZ, GlpF) revealed the spatial and temporal organization of loop-stabilizing intraproteinaceous H-bonds and salt bridges.
Project description:From equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations we have determined single-channel water permeabilities for Escherichia coli aquaporin Z (AqpZ) and aquaglyceroporin GlpF with the channels embedded in lipid bilayers. GlpF's osmotic water permeability constant pf exceeds by 2-3 times that of AqpZ and the diffusive permeability constant (pd) of GlpF is found to exceed that of AqpZ 2-9-fold. Achieving complete water selectivity in AqpZ consequently implies lower transport rates overall relative to the less selective, wider channel of GlpF. For AqpZ, the ratio pf/pd congruent with 12 is close to the average number of water molecules in the channel lumen, whereas for GlpF, pf/pd congruent with 4. This implies that single-file structure of the luminal water is more pronounced for AqpZ, the narrower channel of the two. Electrostatics profiles across the pore lumens reveal that AqpZ significantly reinforces water-channel interactions, and weaker water-water interactions in turn suppress water-water correlations relative to GlpF. Consequently, suppressed water-water correlations across the narrow selectivity filter become a key structural determinant for water permeation causing luminal water to permeate slower across AqpZ.
Project description:Non-covalent molecular association underlies a diverse set of biologically and technologically relevant phenomena, including the action of drugs on their biomolecular targets and self- and supra-molecular assembly processes. Computer models employed to model binding frequently use interaction potentials with atomistic detail while neglecting the thermal molecular motions of the binding species. However, errors introduced by this simplification and, more broadly, the thermodynamic consequences of molecular flexibility on binding, are little understood. Here, we isolate the fundamental relationship of molecular flexibility to binding thermodynamics via simulations of simplified molecules with a wide range of flexibilities but the same interaction potential. Disregarding molecular motion is found to generate large errors in binding entropy, enthalpy and free energy, even for molecules that are nearly rigid. Indeed, small decreases in rigidity markedly reduce affinity for highly rigid molecules. Remarkably, precisely the opposite occurs for more flexible molecules, for which increasing flexibility leads to stronger binding affinity. We also find that differences in flexibility suffice to generate binding specificity: for example, a planar surface selectively binds rigid over flexible molecules. Intriguingly, varying molecular flexibility while keeping interaction potentials constant leads to near-linear enthalpy-entropy compensation over a wide range of flexibilities, with the unexpected twist that increasing flexibility produces opposite changes in entropy and enthalpy for molecules in the flexible versus the rigid regime. Molecular flexibility is thus a crucial determinant of binding affinity and specificity and variations in flexibility can lead to strong yet non-intuitive consequences.
Project description:The inherent flexibility of rod-like tropomyosin coiled-coils is a significant factor that constrains tropomyosin's complex positional dynamics on actin filaments. Flexibility of elongated straight molecules typically is assessed by persistence length, a measure of lengthwise thermal bending fluctuations. However, if a molecule's equilibrium conformation is curved, this formulation yields an "apparent" persistence length ( approximately 100nm for tropomyosin), measuring deviations from idealized straight conformations which then overestimate actual dynamic flexibility. To obtain the "dynamic" persistence length, a true measurement of flexural stiffness, the average curvature of the molecule must be taken into account. Different methods used in our studies for measuring the dynamic persistence length directly from Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations of tropomyosin are described here in detail. The dynamic persistence length found, 460+/-40nm, is approximately 12-times longer than tropomyosin and 5-times the apparent persistence length, showing that tropomyosin is considerably stiffer than previously thought. The longitudinal twisting behavior of tropomyosin during MD shows that the amplitude of end-to-end twisting fluctuation is approximately 30 degrees when tropomyosin adopts its near-average conformation. The measured bending and twisting flexibilities are used to evaluate different models of tropomyosin motion on F-actin.
Project description:Single-channel osmotic water permeability (p(f)) is a key quantity for investigating the transport capability of the water channel protein, aquaporin. However, the direct connection between the single scalar quantity p(f) and the channel structure remains unclear. In this study, based on molecular dynamics simulations, we propose a p(f)-matrix method, in which p(f) is decomposed into contributions from each local region of the channel. Diagonal elements of the p(f) matrix are equivalent to the local permeability at each region of the channel, and off-diagonal elements represent correlated motions of water molecules in different regions. Averaging both diagonal and off-diagonal elements of the p(f) matrix recovers p(f) for the entire channel; this implies that correlated motions between distantly-separated water molecules, as well as adjacent water molecules, influence the osmotic permeability. The p(f) matrices from molecular dynamics simulations of five aquaporins (AQP0, AQP1, AQP4, AqpZ, and GlpF) indicated that the reduction in the water correlation across the Asn-Pro-Ala region, and the small local permeability around the ar/R region, characterize the transport efficiency of water. These structural determinants in water permeation were confirmed in molecular dynamics simulations of three mutants of AqpZ, which mimic AQP1.
Project description:Aquaporin-Z (AqpZ) are water channel proteins with excellent water permeability and solute rejection properties. AqpZ can be reconstituted into vesicles utilizing cell-like bilayer membranes assembled from amphiphilic block copolymers, for the preparation of high-performance biomimetic membranes. However, only a few copolymers have been found suitable to act as the membrane matrix for protein reconstitution. Hence, this work analyzes the mechanism of protein reconstitution based on a composition-reconstitution relationship. The vesicle formation and AqpZ reconstitution processes in various amphiphilic block copolymers were investigated in terms of size, morphology, stability, polymeric bilayer membrane rigidity, and thermal behavior. Overall, this study contributes to the understanding of the composition-reconstitution relationship of biomimetic membranes based on AqpZ-reconstituted polymeric vesicles.
Project description:Dynamic properties are functionally important in many proteins, including the enzyme adenylate kinase (AK), for which the open/closed transition limits the rate of catalytic turnover. Here, we compare our previously published coarse-grained (double-well G?) simulation of mesophilic AK from E. coli (AKmeso) to simulations of thermophilic AK from Aquifex aeolicus (AKthermo). In AKthermo, as with AKmeso, the LID domain prefers to close before the NMP domain in the presence of ligand, but LID rigid-body flexibility in the open (O) ensemble decreases significantly. Backbone foldedness in O and/or transition state (TS) ensembles increases significantly relative to AKmeso in some interdomain backbone hinges and within LID. In contact space, the TS of AKthermo has fewer contacts at the CORE-LID interface but a stronger contact network surrounding the CORE-NMP interface than the TS of AKmeso. A "heated" simulation of AKthermo at 375K slightly increases LID rigid-body flexibility in accordance with the "corresponding states" hypothesis. Furthermore, while computational mutation of 7 prolines in AKthermo to their AKmeso counterparts produces similar small perturbations, mutation of these sites, especially positions 8 and 155, to glycine is required to achieve LID rigid-body flexibility and hinge flexibilities comparable to AKmeso. Mutating the 7 sites to proline in AKmeso reduces some hinges' flexibilities, especially hinge 2, but does not reduce LID rigid-body flexibility, suggesting that these two types of motion are decoupled in AKmeso. In conclusion, our results suggest that hinge flexibility and global functional motions alike are correlated with but not exclusively determined by the hinge residues. This mutational framework can inform the rational design of functionally important flexibility and allostery in other proteins toward engineering novel biochemical pathways.
Project description:Structure is only the first step in understanding the interactions and functions of proteins. In this paper, we explore the flexibility of proteins across a broad database of over 250 solvated protein molecular dynamics simulations in water for an aggregate simulation time of approximately 6 micros. These simulations are from our Dynameomics project, and these proteins represent approximately 75% of all known protein structures. We employ principal component analysis of the atomic coordinates over time to determine the primary axis and magnitude of the flexibility of each atom in a simulation. This technique gives us both a database of flexibility for many protein fold families and a compact visual representation of a particular protein's native-state conformational space, neither of which are available using experimental methods alone. These tools allow us to better understand the nature of protein motion and to describe its relationship to other structural and dynamical characteristics. In addition to reporting general properties of protein flexibility and detailing many dynamic motifs, we characterize the relationship between protein native-state flexibility and early events in thermal unfolding and show that flexibility predicts how a protein will begin to unfold. We provide evidence that fold families have conserved flexibility patterns, and family members who deviate from the conserved patterns have very low sequence identity. Finally, we examine novel aspects of highly inflexible loops that are as important to structural integrity as conventional secondary structure. These loops, which are difficult if not impossible to locate without dynamic data, may constitute new structural motifs.
Project description:Interest in nanopore technology has been growing due to nanopores' unique capabilities in small molecule sensing, measurement of protein folding, and low-cost DNA and RNA sequencing. The E. coli ?-barrel outer membrane protein OmpG is an excellent alternative to other protein nanopores because of its single polypeptide chain. However, the flexibility of its extracellular loops ultimately limits applications in traditional biosensing. We deleted several residues in and near loop 6 of OmpG. The dynamic structure of the new construct determined by NMR shows that loops 1, 2, 6, and 7 have reduced flexibilities compared to those of wild-type. Electrophysiological measurements show that the new design virtually eliminates flickering between open and closed states across a wide pH range. Modification of the pore lumen with a copper chelating moiety facilitates detection of small molecules. As proof of concept, we demonstrate concurrent single-molecule biosensing of glutamate and adenosine triphosphate.
Project description:The adaptation of microorganisms to extreme living temperatures requires the evolution of enzymes with a high catalytic efficiency under these conditions. Such extremophilic enzymes represent valuable tools to study the relationship between protein stability, dynamics and function. Nevertheless, the multiple effects of temperature on the structure and function of enzymes are still poorly understood at the molecular level. Our analysis of four homologous esterases isolated from bacteria living at temperatures ranging from 10°C to 70°C suggested an adaptation route for the modulation of protein thermal properties through the optimization of local flexibility at the protein surface. While the biochemical properties of the recombinant esterases are conserved, their thermal properties have evolved to resemble those of the respective bacterial habitats. Molecular dynamics simulations at temperatures around the optimal temperatures for enzyme catalysis revealed temperature-dependent flexibility of four surface-exposed loops. While the flexibility of some loops increased with raising the temperature and decreased with lowering the temperature, as expected for those loops contributing to the protein stability, other loops showed an increment of flexibility upon lowering and raising the temperature. Preserved flexibility in these regions seems to be important for proper enzyme function. The structural differences of these four loops, distant from the active site, are substantially larger than for the overall protein structure, indicating that amino acid exchanges within these loops occurred more frequently thereby allowing the bacteria to tune atomic interactions for different temperature requirements without interfering with the overall enzyme function.
Project description:Cold-adapted enzymes from psychrophilic species achieve their high catalytic efficiency at low temperature by a different partitioning of the activation free energy into its enthalpic and entropic components, compared to orthologous mesophilic enzymes. Their lower activation enthalpy, partly compensated by an increased entropic penalty, has been suggested to originate from changes in flexibility of the protein surface. Multiple sequence alignments of psychrophilic and mesophilic enzymes also show characteristic motifs located in surface loops of the protein. Here, we use computer simulations to examine the effects of a number of designed surface mutations of psychrophilic and mesophilic elastases on the temperature dependence of the catalyzed peptide cleavage reaction. For each of 14 mutant enzyme variants we report calculations of their thermodynamic activation parameters. The results show that substitution of psychrophilic loop residues into the mesophilic enzyme consistently changes both the activation parameters and loop flexibilities towards the former, and vice versa for opposite substitutions.