[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Structural studies of membrane proteins remain a great experimental challenge. Functional reconstitution into artificial nanoscale bilayer disc carriers that mimic the native bilayer environment allows the handling of membrane proteins in solution. This enables the use of small-angle scattering techniques for fast and reliable structural analysis. The difficulty with this approach is that the carrier discs contribute to the measured scattering intensity in a highly nontrivial fashion, making subsequent data analysis challenging. Here, an elegant solution to circumvent the intrinsic complexity brought about by the presence of the carrier disc is presented. In combination with small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) and the D2O/H2O-based solvent contrast-variation method, it is demonstrated that it is possible to prepare specifically deuterated carriers that become invisible to neutrons in 100% D2O at the length scales relevant to SANS. These `stealth' carrier discs may be used as a general platform for low-resolution structural studies of membrane proteins using well established data-analysis tools originally developed for soluble proteins.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Monomeric bacteriorhodopsin (bR) reconstituted into POPC/POPG-containing nanodiscs was investigated by combined small-angle neutron and X-ray scattering. A novel hybrid approach to small-angle scattering data analysis was developed. In combination, these provided direct structural insight into membrane-protein localization in the nanodisc and into the protein-lipid interactions. It was found that bR is laterally decentred in the plane of the disc and is slightly tilted in the phospholipid bilayer. The thickness of the bilayer is reduced in response to the incorporation of bR. The observed tilt of bR is in good accordance with previously performed theoretical predictions and computer simulations based on the bR crystal structure. The result is a significant and essential step on the way to developing a general small-angle scattering-based method for determining the low-resolution structures of membrane proteins in physiologically relevant environments.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A software framework for analysis of small-angle scattering data is presented. On the basis of molecular constraints and prior knowledge of the chemical composition of the sample, the software is capable of simultaneously fitting small-angle X-ray and neutron scattering data to analytical or semi-analytical models of biomacromolecules. The software features various fitting routines along with the possibility of incorporating instrumental resolution effects on the fit. Finally, trust region estimation, based on the profile likelihood strategy, is implemented. The algorithms and models are written in C, whereas the user interface is written in Python. Parallelization is implemented using the OpenMP extensions to C. The source code is available for free upon request or via the associated code repository. The software runs on Linux, Windows and OSX and is available as an open-source initiative published under the General Publishing License.
Journal of Applied Crystallography 12/2013; 46(6). · 3.34 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In most temperate bacteriophages, regulation of the choice of lysogenic or lytic life cycle is controlled by a CI repressor protein. Inhibition of transcription is dependent on a helix-turn-helix motif, often located in the N-terminal domain (NTD), which binds to specific DNA sequences (operator sites). Here the crystal structure of the NTD of the CI repressor from phage TP901-1 has been determined at 1.6 Å resolution, and at 2.6 Å resolution in complex with a 9 bp double-stranded DNA fragment that constitutes a half-site of the OL operator. This N-terminal construct, comprising residues 2-74 of the CI repressor, is monomeric in solution as shown by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), small angle X-ray scattering, and gel filtration and is monomeric in the crystal structures. The binding interface between the NTD and the half-site in the crystal is very similar to the interface that can be mapped by NMR in solution with a full palindromic site. The interactions seen in the complexes (in the crystal and in solution) explain the observed affinity for the OR site that is lower than that for the OL site and the specificity for the recognized DNA sequence in comparison to that for other repressors. Compared with many well-studied phage repressor systems, the NTD from TP901-1 CI has a longer extended scaffolding helix that, interestingly, is strongly conserved in putative repressors of Gram-positive pathogens. On the basis of sequence comparisons, we suggest that these bacteria also possess repressor/antirepressor systems similar to that found in phage TP901-1.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The swelling behaviour of water-oil microemulsions - considering a surfactant layer between oil and water - has been studied using a two level-cuts Gaussian random field approach based on the Helfrich formalism. Microstructures and scattering properties of microemulsions have been calculated for different amounts of oil (and water) for flexible and rigid microemulsions. When the stiffness, the spontaneous curvature of the interfacial film, and the surface to volume ratio of the immiscible fluids are varied, the microemulsion topology and morphology change in order to minimize the microemulsion free energy. Our simulations point out a change in the microemulsion morphology as a function of the surfactant film rigidity and the composition of oil, water and the surfactant. Locally lamellar structures are found for rigid microemulsions, whereas for more flexible ones, the connected-droplet and/or bicontinuous structures are preferred. Furthermore, we show that the microemulsion swelling versus the volume fraction gives a specific signature of the microemulsion microstructure. This allows for discriminating between different types of microemulsions: flexible, frustrated and unfrustrated (close to bi-liquid foams), and connected structures as molten hexagonal and cubic phases. The universal swelling behaviour is compared to different analytic expressions of Disordered Open Connected (DOC) models for the microemulsion swelling versus the volume fraction.
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 04/2013; · 3.83 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Precise control of the oligomeric state of proteins is of central importance for biological function and for the properties of biopharmaceutical drugs. Here, the self-assembly of 2,2'-bipyridine conjugated monomeric insulin analogues, induced through coordination to divalent metal ions, was studied. This protein drug system was designed to form non-native homo-oligomers through selective coordination of two divalent metal ions, Fe(II) and Zn(II), respectively. The insulin type chosen for this study is a variant designed for a reduced tendency toward native dimer formation at physiological concentrations. A small-angle X-ray scattering analysis of the bipyridine-modified insulin system confirmed an organization into a novel well-ordered structure based on insulin trimers, as induced by the addition of Fe(II). In contrast, unmodified monomeric insulin formed larger and more randomly structured assemblies upon addition of Fe(II). The addition of Zn(II), on the other hand, led to the formation of small quantities of insulin hexamers for both the bipyridine-modified and the unmodified monomeric insulin. Interestingly, the location of the bipyridine-modification significantly affects the tendency to hexamer formation as compared to the unmodified insulin. Our study shows how combining a structural study and chemical design can be used to obtain molecular understanding and control of the self-assembly of a protein drug. This knowledge may eventually be employed to develop an optimized in vivo drug release profile.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Immune stimulating complex (ISCOM) particles consisting of a mixture of Quil-A, cholesterol, and phospholipids were structurally characterized by small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS). The ISCOM particles are perforated vesicles of very well-defined structures. We developed and implemented a novel (to our knowledge) modeling method based on Monte Carlo simulation integrations to describe the SAXS data. This approach is similar to the traditional modeling of SAXS data, in which a structure is assumed, the scattering intensity is calculated, and structural parameters are optimized by weighted least-squares methods when the model scattering intensity is fitted to the experimental data. SAXS data from plain ISCOM matrix particles in aqueous suspension, as well as those from complete ISCOMs (i.e., with an antigen (tetanus toxoid) incorporated) can be modeled as a polydisperse distribution of perforated bilayer vesicles with icosahedral, football, or tennis ball structures. The dominating structure is the tennis ball structure, with an outer diameter of 40 nm and with 20 holes 5-6 nm in diameter. The lipid bilayer membrane is 4.6 nm thick, with a low-electron-density, 2.0-nm-thick hydrocarbon core. Surprisingly, in the ISCOMs, the tetanus toxoid is located just below the membrane inside the particles.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The self-assembly of biopharmaceutical peptides into multimeric, nanoscale objects, as well as their disassembly to monomers, is central for their mode of action. Here, we describe a bioorthogonal strategy, using a non-native recognition principle, for control of protein self-assembly based on intermolecular fluorous interactions and demonstrate it for the small protein insulin. Perfluorinated alkyl chains of varying length were attached to desB30 human insulin by acylation of the ε-amine of the side-chain of LysB29. The insulin analogues were formulated with Zn(II) and phenol to form hexamers. The self-segregation of fluorous groups directed the insulin hexamers to self-assemble. The structures of the systems were investigated by circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy and synchrotron small-angle X-ray scattering. Also, the binding affinity to the insulin receptor was measured. Interestingly, varying the length of the perfluoroalkyl chain provided three different scenarios for self-assembly; the short chains hardly affected the native hexameric structure, the medium-length chains induced fractal-like structures with the insulin hexamer as the fundamental building block, while the longest chains lead to the formation of structures with local cylindrical geometry. This hierarchical self-assembly system, which combines Zn(II) mediated hexamer formation with fluorous interactions, is a promising tool to control the formation of high molecular weight complexes of insulin and potentially other proteins.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nanodiscs are self-assembled nanostructures composed of a belt protein and a small patch of lipid bilayer, which can solubilize membrane proteins in a lipid bilayer environment. We present a method for the alignment of a well-defined two-dimensional layer of nanodiscs at the air-water interface by careful design of an insoluble surfactant monolayer at the surface. We used neutron reflectivity to demonstrate the feasibility of this approach and to elucidate the structure of the nanodisc layer. The proof of concept is hereby presented with the use of nanodiscs composed of a mixture of two different lipid (DMPC and DMPG) types to obtain a net overall negative charge of the nanodiscs. We find that the nanodisc layer has a thickness or 40.9 ± 2.6 Å with a surface coverage of 66 ± 4%. This layer is located about 15 Å below a cationic surfactant layer at the air-water interface. The high level of organization within the nanodiscs layer is reflected by a low interfacial roughness (~4.5 Å) found. The use of the nanodisc as a biomimetic model of the cell membrane allows for studies of single membrane proteins isolated in a confined lipid environment. The 2D alignment of nanodiscs could therefore enable studies of high-density layers containing membrane proteins that, in contrast to membrane proteins reconstituted in a continuous lipid bilayer, remain isolated from influences of neighboring membrane proteins within the layer.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is well established that small sugars exert different types of stabilization of biomembranes both in vivo and in vitro. However, the essential question of whether sugars are bound to or expelled from membrane surfaces, i.e., the sign and size of the free energy of the interaction, remains unresolved, and this prevents a molecular understanding of the stabilizing mechanism. We have used small-angle neutron scattering and thermodynamic measurements to show that sugars may be either bound or expelled depending on the concentration of sugar. At low concentration, small sugars bind quite strongly to a lipid bilayer, and the accumulation of sugar at the interface makes the membrane thinner and laterally expanded. Above ∼0.2 M the sugars gradually become expelled from the membrane surface, and this repulsive mode of interaction counteracts membrane thinning. The dual nature of sugar-membrane interactions offers a reconciliation of conflicting views in earlier reports on sugar-induced modulations of membrane properties.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2011; 108(5):1874-8. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nanodiscs™ consist of small phospholipid bilayer discs surrounded and stabilized by amphiphilic protein belts. Nanodiscs and their confinement and stabilization of nanometer sized pieces of phospholipid bilayer are highly interesting from a membrane physics point of view. We demonstrate how the detailed structure of Di-Lauroyl-Phosphatidyl Choline (DLPC) nanodiscs may be determined by simultaneous fitting of a structural model to small-angle scattering data from the nanodiscs as investigated in three different contrast situations, respectively two SANS contrasts and one SAXS contrast. The article gives a detailed account of the underlying structural model for the nanodiscs and describe how additional chemical and biophysical information can be incorporated in the model in terms of molecular constraints. We discuss and quantify the contribution from the different elements of the structural model and provide very strong experimental support for the nanodiscs as having an elliptical cross-section and with poly-histidine tags protruding out from the rim of the protein belt. The analysis also provides unprecedented information about the structural conformation of the phospholipids when these are localized in the nanodiscs. The model paves the first part of the way in order to reach our long term goal of using the nanodiscs as a platform for small-angle scattering based structural investigations of membrane proteins in solution.
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 02/2011; 13(8):3161-70. · 3.83 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phospholipid bilayers host and support the function of membrane proteins and may be stabilized in disc-like nanostructures, allowing for unprecedented solution studies of the assembly, structure, and function of membrane proteins (Bayburt et al. Nano Lett. 2002, 2, 853-856). Based on small-angle neutron scattering in combination with variable-temperature studies of synchrotron small-angle X-ray scattering on nanodiscs in solution, we show that the fundamental nanodisc unit, consisting of a lipid bilayer surrounded by amphiphilic scaffold proteins, possesses intrinsically an elliptical shape. The temperature dependence of the curvature of the nanodiscs prepared with two different phospholipid types (DLPC and POPC) shows that it is the scaffold protein that determines the overall elliptical shape and that the nanodiscs become more circular with increasing temperature. Our data also show that the hydrophobic bilayer thickness is, to a large extent, dictated by the scaffolding protein and adjusted to minimize the hydrophobic mismatch between protein and phospholipid. Our conclusions result from a new comprehensive and molecular-based model of the nanodisc structure and the use of this to analyze the experimental scattering profile from nanodiscs. The model paves the way for future detailed structural studies of functional membrane proteins encapsulated in nanodiscs.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 10/2010; 132(39):13713-22. · 10.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Synaptic vesicles (SVs) are small, membrane-bound organelles that are found in the synaptic terminal of neurons, and which are crucial in neurotransmission. After a rise in internal [Ca(2+)] during neuronal stimulation, SVs fuse with the plasma membrane releasing their neurotransmitter content, which then signals neighboring neurons. SVs are subsequently recycled and refilled with neurotransmitter for further rounds of release. Recently, tremendous progress has been made in elucidating the molecular composition of SVs, as well as putative protein-protein interactions. However, what is lacking is an empirical description of SV structure at the supramolecular level-which is necessary to enable us to fully understand the processes of membrane fusion, retrieval, and recycling. Using small-angle x-ray scattering, we have directly investigated the size and structure of purified SVs. From this information, we deduced detailed size and density parameters for the protein layers responsible for SV function, as well as information about the lipid bilayer. To achieve a convincing model fit, a laterally anisotropic structure for the protein shell is needed, as a rotationally symmetric density profile does not explain the data. Not only does our model confirm many of the preexisting ideas concerning SV structure, but also for the first time, to our knowledge, it indicates structural refinements, such as the presence of protein microdomains.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the eukaryotic cell, protein glycosylation takes place in the crowded environment of the endoplasmatic reticulum. With the purpose of elucidating the impact of high concentration on the interactions of glycoproteins, we have conducted a series of small-angle x-ray scattering experiments on the heavily glycosylated enzyme Peniophora lycii phytase (Phy) and its deglycosylated counterpart (dgPhy). The small-angle x-ray scattering data were analyzed using an individual numerical form factor for each of the two glycoforms combined with two structure factors, a hard sphere and a screened coulomb potential structure factor, respectively, as determined by ab initio analysis. Based on this data analysis, three main conclusions could be drawn. First, at comparable protein concentrations (mg/ml), the relative excluded volume of Phy was approximately 75% higher than that of dgPhy, showing that the glycans significantly increase excluded-volume interactions. Second, the relative excluded volume of dgPhy increased with concentration, as expected; however, the opposite effect was observed for Phy, where the relative excluded volume decreased in response to increasing protein concentration. Third, a clear difference in the effect of salinity on the excluded-volume interactions was observed between the two glycol forms. Although the relative excluded volume of dgPhy decreased with increasing ionic strength, the relative excluded volume of Phy was basically insensitive to increased salinity. We suggest that protrusion forces from the glycans contribute to steric stabilization of the protein, and that glycosylation helps to sustain repulsive electrostatic interactions under crowded conditions. In combination, this aids in stabilizing high concentrations of glycosylated proteins.