TOAC spin labels in the backbone of alamethicin: EPR studies in lipid membranes.

Max-Planck-Institut für Biophysikalische Chemie, Abteilung Spektroskopie, Göttingen, Germany.
Biophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 3.67). 01/2007; 92(2):473-81. DOI: 10.1529/biophysj.106.092775
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Alamethicin is a 19-amino-acid residue hydrophobic peptide that produces voltage-dependent ion channels in membranes. Analogues of the Glu(OMe)(7,18,19) variant of alamethicin F50/5 that are rigidly spin-labeled in the peptide backbone have been synthesized by replacing residue 1, 8, or 16 with 2,2,6,6-tetramethyl-piperidine-1-oxyl-4-amino-4-carboxyl (TOAC), a helicogenic nitroxyl amino acid. Conventional electron paramagnetic resonance spectra are used to determine the insertion and orientation of the TOAC(n) alamethicins in fluid lipid bilayer membranes of dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine. Isotropic (14)N-hyperfine couplings indicate that TOAC(8) and TOAC(16) are situated in the hydrophobic core of the membrane, whereas the TOAC(1) label resides closer to the membrane surface. Anisotropic hyperfine splittings show that alamethicin is highly ordered in the fluid membranes. Experiments with aligned membranes demonstrate that the principal diffusion axis lies close to the membrane normal, corresponding to a transmembrane orientation. Combination of data from the three spin-labeled positions yields both the dynamic order parameter of the peptide backbone and the intramolecular orientations of the TOAC groups. The latter are compared with x-ray diffraction results from alamethicin crystals. Saturation transfer electron paramagnetic resonance, which is sensitive to microsecond rotational motion, reveals that overall rotation of alamethicin is fast in fluid membranes, with effective correlation times <30 ns. Thus, alamethicin does not form large stable aggregates in fluid membranes, and ionic conductance must arise from transient or voltage-induced associations.

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    ABSTRACT: The structure and energetics of alamethicin Rf30 monomer to nonamer in cylindrical pores of 5 to 11Å radius are investigated using molecular dynamics simulations in an implicit membrane model that includes the free energy cost of acyl chain hydrophobic area exposure. Stable, low energy pores are obtained for certain combinations of radius and oligomeric number. The trimer and the tetramer formed 6Å pores that appear closed while the larger oligomers formed open pores at their optimal radius. The hexamer in an 8Å pore and the octamer in an 11Å pore give the lowest effective energy per monomer. However, all oligomers beyond the pentamer have comparable energies, consistent with the observation of multiple conductance levels. The results are consistent with the widely accepted "barrel-stave" model. The N terminal portion of the molecule exhibits smaller tilt with respect to the membrane normal than the C terminal portion, resulting in a pore shape that is a hybrid between a funnel and an hourglass. Transmembrane voltage has little effect on the structure of the oligomers but enhances or decreases their stability depending on its orientation. Antiparallel bundles are lower in energy than the commonly accepted parallel ones and could be present under certain experimental conditions. Dry aggregates (without an aqueous pore) have lower average effective energy than the corresponding aggregates in a pore, suggesting that alamethicin pores may be excited states that are stabilized in part by voltage and in part by the ion flow itself.
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