G Protein-Coupled Receptors Contain Two Conserved Packing Clusters.
ABSTRACT: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have evolved a seven-transmembrane helix framework that is responsive to a wide range of extracellular signals. An analysis of the interior packing of family A GPCR crystal structures reveals two clusters of highly packed residues that facilitate tight transmembrane helix association. These clusters are centered on amino acid positions 2.47 and 4.53, which are highly conserved as alanine and serine, respectively. Ala2.47 mediates the interaction between helices H1 and H2, while Ser4.53 mediates the interaction between helices H3 and H4. The helical interfaces outside of these clusters are lined with residues that are more loosely packed, a structural feature that facilitates motion of helices H5, H6, and H7, which is required for receptor activation. Mutation of the conserved small side chain at position 4.53 within packing cluster 2 is shown to disrupt the structure of the visual receptor rhodopsin, whereas sites in packing cluster 1 (e.g., positions 1.46 and 2.47) are more tolerant to mutation but affect the overall stability of the protein. These findings reveal a common structural scaffold of GPCRs that is important for receptor folding and activation.
Project description:The human thromboxane A2 receptor (TP), belongs to the prostanoid subfamily of Class A GPCRs and mediates vasoconstriction and promotes thrombosis on binding to thromboxane (TXA2). In Class A GPCRs, transmembrane (TM) helix 4 appears to be a hot spot for non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphic (nsSNP) variants. Interestingly, A160T is a novel nsSNP variant with unknown structure and function. Additionally, within this helix in TP, Ala160(4.53) is highly conserved as is Gly164(4.57). Here we target Ala160(4.53) and Gly164(4.57) in the TP for detailed structure-function analysis. Amino acid replacements with smaller residues, A160S and G164A mutants, were tolerated, while bulkier beta-branched replacements, A160T and A160V showed a significant decrease in receptor expression (Bmax). The nsSNP variant A160T displayed significant agonist-independent activity (constitutive activity). Guided by molecular modeling, a series of compensatory mutations were made on TM3, in order to accommodate the bulkier replacements on TM4. The A160V/F115A double mutant showed a moderate increase in expression level compared to either A160V or F115A single mutants. Thermal activity assays showed decrease in receptor stability in the order, wild type>A160S>A160V>A160T>G164A, with G164A being the least stable. Our study reveals that Ala160(4.53) and Gly164(4.57) in the TP play critical structural roles in packing of TM3 and TM4 helices. Naturally occurring mutations in conjunction with site-directed replacements can serve as powerful tools in assessing the importance of regional helix-helix interactions.
Project description:Helix-helix interactions are important for the folding, stability, and function of membrane proteins. Here, two independent and complementary methods are used to investigate the nature and distribution of amino acids that mediate helix-helix interactions in membrane and soluble alpha-bundle proteins. The first method characterizes the packing density of individual amino acids in helical proteins based on the van der Waals surface area occluded by surrounding atoms. We have recently used this method to show that transmembrane helices pack more tightly, on average, than helices in soluble proteins. These studies are extended here to characterize the packing of interfacial and noninterfacial amino acids and the packing of amino acids in the interfaces of helices that have either right- or left-handed crossing angles, and either parallel or antiparallel orientations. We show that the most abundant tightly packed interfacial residues in membrane proteins are Gly, Ala, and Ser, and that helices with left-handed crossing angles are more tightly packed on average than helices with right-handed crossing angles. The second method used to characterize helix-helix interactions involves the use of helix contact plots. We find that helices in membrane proteins exhibit a broader distribution of interhelical contacts than helices in soluble proteins. Both helical membrane and soluble proteins make use of a general motif for helix interactions that relies mainly on four residues (Leu, Ala, Ile, Val) to mediate helix interactions in a fashion characteristic of left-handed helical coiled coils. However, a second motif for mediating helix interactions is revealed by the high occurrence and high average packing values of small and polar residues (Ala, Gly, Ser, Thr) in the helix interfaces of membrane proteins. Finally, we show that there is a strong linear correlation between the occurrence of residues in helix-helix interfaces and their packing values, and discuss these results with respect to membrane protein structure prediction and membrane protein stability.
Project description:G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) play a critical role in cellular signal transduction pathways and are prominent therapeutic targets. Recently there has been major progress in obtaining experimental structures for a few GPCRs. Each GPCR, however, exhibits multiple conformations that play a role in their function and we have been developing methods aimed at predicting structures for all these conformations. Analysis of available structures shows that these conformations differ in relative helix tilts and rotations. The essential issue is, determining how to orient each of the seven helices about its axis since this determines how it interacts with the other six helices. Considering all possible helix rotations to ensure that no important packings are overlooked, and using rotation angle increments of 30° about the helical axis would still lead to 12(7) or 35 million possible conformations each with optimal residue positions. We show in this paper how to accomplish this. The fundamental idea is to optimize the interactions between each pair of contacting helices while ignoring the other 5 and then to estimate the energies of all 35 million combinations using these pair-wise interactions. This BiHelix approach dramatically reduces the effort to examine the complete set of conformations and correctly identifies the crystal packing for the experimental structures plus other near-native packings we believe may play an important role in activation. This approach also enables a detailed structural analysis of functionally distinct conformations using helix-helix interaction energy landscapes and should be useful for other helical transmembrane proteins as well.
Project description:The packing of helices spanning lipid bilayers is crucial for the stability and function of alpha-helical membrane proteins. Using a modified Voronoi procedure, we calculated packing densities for helix-helix contacts in membrane spanning domains. Our results show that the transmembrane helices of protein channels and transporters are significantly more loosely packed compared with helices in globular proteins. The observed packing deficiencies of these membrane proteins are also reflected by a higher amount of cavities at functionally important sites. The cavities positioned along the gated pores of membrane channels and transporters are noticeably lined by polar amino acids that should be exposed to the aqueous medium when the protein is in the open state. In contrast, nonpolar amino acids surround the cavities in those protein regions where large rearrangements are supposed to take place, as near the hinge regions of transporters or at restriction sites of protein channels. We presume that the observed deficiencies of helix-helix packing are essential for the helical mobility that sustains the function of many membrane protein channels and transporters.
Project description:All G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) share a common seven TM helix architecture and the ability to activate heterotrimeric G proteins. Nevertheless, these receptors have widely divergent sequences with no significant homology. We present a detailed structure-function comparison of the very divergent Class A and D receptors to address whether there is a common activation mechanism across the GPCR superfamily. The Class A and D receptors are represented by the vertebrate visual pigment rhodopsin and the yeast alpha-factor pheromone receptor Ste2, respectively. Conserved amino acids within each specific receptor class and amino acids where mutation alters receptor function were located in the structures of rhodopsin and Ste2 to assess whether there are functionally equivalent positions or regions within these receptors. We find several general similarities that are quite striking. First, strongly polar amino acids mediate helix interactions. Their mutation generally leads to loss of function or constitutive activity. Second, small and weakly polar amino acids facilitate tight helix packing. Third, proline is essential at similar positions in transmembrane helices 6 and 7 of both receptors. Mapping the specific location of the conserved amino acids and sites of constitutively active mutations identified conserved microdomains on transmembrane helices H3, H6, and H7, suggesting that there are underlying similarities in the mechanism of the widely divergent Class A and Class D receptors.
Project description:A right-handed parallel beta-helix of 400 residues in 13 tightly packed coils is a major motif of the chains forming the trimeric P22 tailspike adhesin. The beta-helix domains of three identical subunits are side-by-side in the trimer and make predominantly hydrophilic inter-subunit contacts (Steinbacher S et al., 1994, Science 265:383-386). After the 13th coil the three individual beta-helices terminate and the chains wrap around each other to form three interdigitated beta-sheets organized into the walls of a triangular prism. The beta-strands then separate and form antiparallel beta-sheets, but still defining a triangular prism in which each side is a beta-sheet from a different subunit (Seckler R, 1998, J Struct Biol 122:216-222). The subunit interfaces are buried in the triangular core of the prism, which is densely packed with hydrophobic side chains from the three beta-sheets. Examination of this structure reveals that its packed core maintains the same pattern of interior packing found in the left-handed beta-helix, a single-chain structure. This packing is maintained in both the interdigitated parallel region of the prism and the following antiparallel sheet section. This oligomerization motif for the tailspike beta-helices presumably contributes to the very high thermal and detergent stability that is a property of the native tailspike adhesin.
Project description:This article presents the results of a detailed analysis of helix-helix interactions in membrane and soluble proteins. A data set of interacting pairs of helices in membrane proteins of known structure was constructed and a structure alignment algorithm was used to identify pairs of helices in soluble proteins that superimpose well with pairs of helices in the membrane-protein data set. Most helix pairs in membrane proteins are found to have a significant number of structural homologs in soluble proteins, although in some cases, primarily involving irregular helices, no close homologs exist. An analysis of geometric relationships between interacting helices in the two sets of proteins identifies some differences in the distributions of helix length, interfacial area, packing angle, and distance between the polypeptide backbones. However, a subset of soluble-protein helix pairs that are close structural homologs to membrane-protein helix pairs exhibits distributions that mirror those observed in membrane proteins. The larger average interface size and smaller distance of closest approach seen for helices in membrane proteins appears due in part to a relative enrichment of alanines and glycines, particularly as components of the AxxxA and GxxxG motifs. It is argued that membrane helices are not on average more tightly packed than helices in soluble proteins; they are simply able to approach each other more closely. This enables them to interact over longer distances, which may in turn facilitate their remaining in contact over much of the width of the lipid bilayer. The close structural similarity seen between some pairs of helices in membrane and soluble proteins suggests that packing patterns observed in soluble proteins may be useful in the modeling of membrane proteins. Moreover, there do not appear to be fundamental differences between the magnitude of the forces that drive helix packing in membrane and soluble proteins, suggesting that strategies to make membrane proteins more soluble by mutating surface residues are likely to encounter success, at least in some cases.
Project description:The packing structures of transmembrane helices are traditionally attributed to patterns in residues along the contact surface. In this view, besides keeping the helices confined in the membrane, the bilayer has only a minor effect on the helices structure. Here, we use two different approaches to show that the lipid environment has a crucial effect in determining the cross-angle distribution of packed helices. We analyzed structural data of a membrane proteins database. We show that the distribution of cross angles of helix pairs in this database is statistically indistinguishable from the cross-angle distribution of two noninteracting helices imbedded in the membrane. These results suggest that the cross angle is, to a large extent, determined by the tilt angle of the individual helices. We test this hypothesis using molecular simulations of a coarse-grained model that contains no specific residue interactions. These simulations reproduce the same cross-angle distribution as found in the database. As the tilt angle of a helix is dominated by hydrophobic mismatch between the protein and surrounding lipids, our results indicate that hydrophobic mismatch is the dominant factor guiding the transmembrane helix packing. Other short-range forces might then fine-tune the structure to its final configuration.
Project description:The PhoP-PhoR two-component signaling system from Mycobacterium tuberculosis is essential for the virulence of the tubercle bacillus. The response regulator, PhoP, regulates expression of over 110 genes. In order to elucidate the regulatory mechanism of PhoP, we determined the crystal structure of its DNA-binding domain (PhoPC). PhoPC exhibits a typical fold of the winged helix-turn-helix subfamily of response regulators. The structure starts with a four-stranded antiparallel beta-sheet, followed by a three-helical bundle of alpha-helices, and then a C-terminal beta-hairpin, which together with a short beta-strand between the first and second helices forms a three-stranded antiparallel beta-sheet. Structural elements are packed through a hydrophobic core, with the first helix providing a scaffold for the rest of the domain to pack. The second and third helices and the long, flexible loop between them form the helix-turn-helix motif, with the third helix being the recognition helix. The C-terminal beta-hairpin turn forms the wing motif. The molecular surfaces around the recognition helix and the wing residues show strong positive electrostatic potential, consistent with their roles in DNA binding and nucleotide sequence recognition. The crystal packing of PhoPC gives a hexamer ring, with neighboring molecules interacting in a head-to-tail fashion. This packing interface suggests that PhoPC could bind DNA in a tandem association. However, this mode of DNA binding is likely to be nonspecific because the recognition helix is partially blocked and would be prevented from inserting into the major groove of DNA. Detailed structural analysis and implications with respect to DNA binding are discussed.
Project description:The three-dimensional structure of a protein is organized around the packing of its secondary structure elements. Predicting the topology and constructing the geometry of structural motifs involving ?-helices and/or ?-strands are therefore key steps for accurate prediction of protein structure. While many efforts have focused on how to pack helices and on how to sample exhaustively the topologies and geometries of multiple strands forming a ?-sheet in a protein, there has been little progress on generating native-like packings of helices on sheets. We describe a method that can generate the packing of multiple helices on a given ?-sheet for ??? sandwich type protein folds. This method mines the results of a statistical analysis of the conformations of ??(2) motifs in protein structures to provide input values for the geometric attributes of the packing of a helix on a sheet. It then proceeds with a geometric builder that generates multiple arrangements of the helices on the sheet of interest by sampling through these values and performing consistency checks that guarantee proper loop geometry between the helices and the strands, minimal number of collisions between the helices, and proper formation of a hydrophobic core. The method is implemented as a module of ProteinShop. Our results show that it produces structures that are within 4-6 Å RMSD of the native one, regardless of the number of helices that need to be packed, though this number may increase if the protein has several helices between two consecutive strands in the sequence that pack on the sheet formed by these two strands.