[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This paper describes the use of a newly-developed micro-chip bilayer platform to examine the electrophysiological properties of the prokaryotic voltage-gated sodium channel pore (NavSp) from Silicibacter pomeroyi. The platform allows up to 6 bilayers to be analysed simultaneously. Proteoliposomes were incorporated into suspended lipid bilayers formed within the microfluidic bilayer chips. The chips provide access to bilayers from either side, enabling the fast and controlled titration of compounds. Dose-dependent modulation of the opening probability by the channel blocking drug nifedipine was measured and its IC50 determined.
PLoS ONE 07/2015; 10(7):e0131286. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0131286 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The protein calexcitin was originally identified in molluscan photoreceptor neurons as a 20 kDa molecule which was up-regulated and phosphorylated following a Pavlovian conditioning protocol. Subsequent studies showed that calexcitin regulates the voltage-dependent potassium channel and the calcium-dependent potassium channel as well as causing the release of calcium ions from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) by binding to the ryanodine receptor. A crystal structure of calexcitin from the squid
showed that the fold is similar to that of another signalling protein, calmodulin, the N- and C-terminal domains of which are known to separate upon calcium binding, allowing interactions with the target protein. Phosphorylation of calexcitin causes it to translocate to the cell membrane, where its effects on membrane excitability are exerted and, accordingly,
calexcitin contains two protein kinase C phosphorylation sites (Thr61 and Thr188). Thr-to-Asp mutations which mimic phosphorylation of the protein were introduced and crystal structures of the corresponding single and double mutants were determined, which suggest that the C-terminal phosphorylation site (Thr188) exerts the greatest effects on the protein structure. Extensive NMR studies were also conducted, which demonstrate that the wild-type protein predominantly adopts a more open conformation in solution than the crystallographic studies have indicated and, accordingly, normal-mode dynamic simulations suggest that it has considerably greater capacity for flexible motion than the X-ray studies had suggested. Like calmodulin, calexcitin consists of four EF-hand motifs, although only the first three EF-hands of calexcitin are involved in binding calcium ions; the C-terminal EF-hand lacks the appropriate amino acids. Hence, calexcitin possesses two functional EF-hands in close proximity in its N-terminal domain and one functional calcium site in its C-terminal domain. There is evidence that the protein has two markedly different affinities for calcium ions, the weaker of which is most likely to be associated with binding of calcium ions to the protein during neuronal excitation. In the current study, site-directed mutagenesis has been used to abolish each of the three calcium-binding sites of calexcitin, and these experiments suggest that it is the single calcium-binding site in the C-terminal domain of the protein which is likely to have a sensory role in the neuron.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1) is a key enzyme in the triacylglyceride synthesis pathway. Bovine DGAT1 is an endoplasmic reticulum membrane-bound protein associated with the regulation of fat content in milk and meat. The aim of this study was to evaluate the interaction of DGAT1 peptides corresponding to putative substrate binding sites with different types of model membranes. Whilst these peptides are predicted to be located in an extramembranous loop of the membrane-bound protein, their hydrophobic substrates are membrane-bound molecules. In this study, peptides corresponding to the binding sites of the two substrates involved in the reaction were examined in the presence of model membranes in order to probe potential interactions between them that might influence the subsequent binding of the substrates. Whilst the conformation of one of the peptides changed upon binding several types of micelles regardless of their surface charge, suggesting binding to hydrophobic domains, the other peptide bound strongly to negatively-charged model membranes. This binding was accompanied by a change in conformation, and produced leakage of the liposome-entrapped dye calcein. The different hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions observed suggest the peptides may be involved in the interactions of the enzyme with membrane surfaces, facilitating access of the catalytic histidine to the triacylglycerol substrates.
PLoS ONE 02/2015; 10(2):e0118407. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0118407 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe the identification in aphids of a unique heterodimeric voltage-gated sodium channel which has an atypical ion selectivity filter and, unusually for insect channels, is highly insensitive to tetrodotoxin. We demonstrate that this channel has most likely arisen by adaptation (gene fission or duplication) of an invertebrate ancestral mono(hetero)meric channel. This is the only identifiable voltage-gated sodium channel homologue in the aphid genome(s), and the channel’s novel selectivity filter motif (DENS instead of the usual DEKA found in other eukaryotes) may result in a loss of sodium selectivity, as indicated experimentally in mutagenised Drosophila channels.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe a scalable artificial bilayer lipid membrane platform for rapid electrophysiological screening of ion channels and transporters. A passive pumping method is used to flow microliter volumes of ligand solution across a suspended bilayer within a microfluidic chip. Bilayers are stable at flow rates up to ∼0.5 μl/min. Phospholipid bilayers are formed across a photolithographically defined aperture made in a dry film resist within the microfluidic chip. Bilayers are stable for many days and the low shunt capacitance of the thin film support gives low-noise high-quality single ion channel recording. Dose-dependent transient blocking of α-hemolysin with β-cyclodextrin (β-CD) and polyethylene glycol is demonstrated and dose-dependent blocking studies of the KcsA potassium channel with tetraethylammonium show the potential for determining IC50 values. The assays are fast (30 min for a complete IC50 curve) and simple and require very small amounts of compounds (100 μg in 15 μl). The technology can be scaled so that multiple bilayers can be addressed, providing a screening platform for ion channels, transporters, and nanopores.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy is a valuable method for defining canonical secondary structure contents of proteins based on empirically-defined spectroscopic signatures derived from proteins with known three-dimensional structures. Many proteins identified as being “Intrinsically Disordered Proteins” have a significant amount of their structure that is neither sheet, helix, nor turn; this type of structure is often classified by CD as “other”, “random coil”, “unordered” or “disordered”. However the “other” category can also include polyprolineII (PPII)-type structures, whose spectral properties have not been well-distinguished from those of unordered structures.In this study, synchrotron radiation circular dichroism spectroscopy was used to investigate the spectral properties of collagen and polyproline, which both contain PPII-type structures. Their native spectra were compared as representatives of PPII structures. In addition, their spectra before and after treatment with various conditions to produce unfolded or denatured structures were also compared, with the aim of defining the differences between CD spectra of PPII and disordered structures. We conclude that the spectral features of collagen are more appropriate than those of polyproline for use as the representative spectrum for PPII structures present in typical amino acid-containing proteins, and that the single most characteristic spectroscopic feature distinguishing a PPII structure from a disordered structure is the presence of a positive peak around 220 nm in the former but not in the latter. These spectra are now available for inclusion in new reference data sets used for CD analyses of the secondary structures of soluble proteins.
Protein Science 12/2014; 23(12). DOI:10.1002/pro.2558 · 2.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The favourable transfer free energy for a transmembrane (TM) α-helix between the aqueous phase and lipid bilayer underlies the stability of membrane proteins. However, the connection between the energetics and process of membrane protein assembly by the Sec61/SecY translocon complex in vivo is not clear. Here, we directly determine the partitioning free energies of a family of designed peptides using three independent approaches: an experimental microsomal Sec61 translocon assay, a biophysical (spectroscopic) characterization of peptide insertion into hydrated planar lipid bilayer arrays, and an unbiased atomic-detail equilibrium folding-partitioning molecular dynamics simulation. Remarkably, the measured free energies of insertion are quantitatively similar for all three approaches. The molecular dynamics simulations show that TM helix insertion involves equilibrium with the membrane interface, suggesting that the interface may play a role in translocon-guided insertion.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cationic amphipathic designer peptide LAH4 exhibits potent antimicrobial, nucleic acid transfection and cell penetration activities. Closely related derivatives have been developed to enhance viral transduction for gene therapeutic assays. LAH4 contains four histidines and, consequently, its overall charge and membrane topology in lipid bilayers are strongly pH dependent. In order to better understand the differential interactions of this amphipathic peptide with negatively-charged membranes its interactions, topologies, and penetration depth were investigated in the presence of lipid bilayers as a function of pH, buffer, phospholipid head group, and fatty acyl chain composition using a combination of oriented synchrotron radiation circular dichroism spectroscopy as well as oriented and non-oriented solid-state NMR spectroscopy. This combination of methods indicates that in the presence of lipids with phosphatidylglycerol head groups, the topological equilibria of LAH4 is shifted towards more in-plane configurations even at neutral pH. In contrast, a transmembrane alignment is promoted when LAH4 interacts with membranes made of dimyristoyl phospholipids rather than palmitoyl-oleoyl-phospholipids. Finally, the addition of citrate buffer favours LAH4 transmembrane alignments, even at low pH, probably by complex formation with the cationic charges of the peptide. In summary, this study has revealed that the membrane topology of this peptide is readily modulated by the environmental conditions.
European Biophysics Journal 09/2014; 43(10-11). DOI:10.1007/s00249-014-0980-y · 2.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1) is a microsomal membrane enzyme responsible for the final step in the synthesis of triacylglycerides. Although DGATs from a wide range of organisms have nearly identical sequences, there is little structural information available for these enzymes. The substrate binding sites of DGAT1 are predicted to be in its large luminal extramembranous loop and to include common motifs with acyl-CoA cholesterol acyltransferase enzymes and the diacylglycerol binding domain found in protein kinases. In this study, synthetic peptides corresponding to the predicted binding sites of DGAT1 enzyme were examined using synchrotron radiation circular dichroism spectroscopy, fluorescence emission and adsorption onto lipid monolayers to determine their interactions with substrates associated with triacylglyceride synthesis (oleoyl-CoA and dioleoylglycerol). One of the peptides, Sit1, which includes the FYxDWWN motif common to both DGAT1 and acyl-CoA cholesterol acyltransferase, changes its conformation in the presence of both substrates, suggesting its capability to bind their acyl chains. The other peptide (Sit2), which includes the putative diacylglycerol binding domain HKWCIRHFYKP found in protein kinase C and diacylglycerol kinases, appears to interact with the charged headgroup region of the substrates. Moreover, in an extended-peptide which contains Sit1 and Sit2 sequences separated by a flexible linker, larger conformational changes were induced by both substrates, suggesting the two binding sites may bring the substrates into close proximity within the membrane, thus catalysing the formation of the triacylglyceride product.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated sodium channels are important targets for the development of pharmaceutical drugs, because mutations in different human sodium channel isoforms have causal relationships with a range of neurological and cardiovascular diseases. In this study, functional electrophysiological studies show that the prokaryotic sodium channel from Magnetococcus marinus (NavMs) binds and is inhibited by eukaryotic sodium channel blockers in a manner similar to the human Na(v)1.1 channel, despite millions of years of divergent evolution between the two types of channels. Crystal complexes of the NavMs pore with several brominated blocker compounds depict a common antagonist binding site in the cavity, adjacent to lipid-facing fenestrations proposed to be the portals for drug entry. In silico docking studies indicate the full extent of the blocker binding site, and electrophysiology studies of NavMs channels with mutations at adjacent residues validate the location. These results suggest that the NavMs channel can be a valuable tool for screening and rational design of human drugs.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2014; 111(23). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1406855111 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Planar lipid bilayers suspended in apertures provide a controlled environment for ion channel studies. However, short lifetimes and poor mechanical stability of suspended bilayers limit the experimental throughput of bilayer electrophysiology experiments. Although bilayers are more stable in smaller apertures, ion channel incorporation through vesicle fusion with the suspended bilayer becomes increasingly difficult. In an alternative bilayer stabilization approach, we have developed shaped apertures in SU8 photoresist that have tapered sidewalls and a minimum diameter between 60 and 100 μm. Bilayers formed at the thin tip of these shaped apertures, either with the painting or the folding method, display drastically increased lifetimes, typically >20 h, and mechanical stability, being able to withstand extensive perturbation of the buffer solution. Single-channel electrical recordings of the peptide alamethicin and of the proteoliposome-delivered potassium channel KcsA demonstrate channel conductance with low noise, made possible by the small capacitance of the 50 μm thick SU8 septum, which is only thinned around the aperture, and unimpeded proteoliposome fusion, enabled by the large aperture diameter. We anticipate that these shaped apertures with micrometer edge thickness can substantially enhance the throughput of channel characterization by bilayer lipid membrane electrophysiology, especially in combination with automated parallel bilayer platforms.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND
The pyrethroid insecticides are a very successful group of compounds that target invertebrate voltage-gated sodium channels and are widely used in the control of insects, ticks and mites. It is well established that some pyrethroids are good insecticides whereas others are more effective as acaricides. This species specificity is advantageous for controlling particular pest(s) in the presence of another non-target invertebrate, for example controlling the Varroa mite in honeybee colonies. RESULTSWe applied in silico techniques to compare the voltage-gated sodium channels of insects versus ticks and mites and their interactions with a range of pyrethroids and DDT analogues. We identified a single amino acid difference within the pyrethroid binding pocket of ticks/mites that may have significant impact on the effectiveness of pyrethroids as acaricides. Other individual amino acid differences within the binding pocket in distinct tick and mite species may provide a basis for future acaricidal selectivity. CONCLUSIONS
Three-dimensional modelling of the pyrethroid/DDT receptor site has led to a new hypothesis to explain the preferential binding of acaricidal pyrethroids to the sodium channels of ticks/mites. This is important for understanding pyrethroid selectivity and the potential effects of mutations that can give rise to resistance to pyrethroids in commercially-important pest species. (c) 2013 Society of Chemical Industry
Pest Management Science 03/2014; 70(3). DOI:10.1002/ps.3561 · 2.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: S100A12 (Calgranulin C) is a small acidic calcium-binding peripheral membrane protein with two EF-hand structural motifs. It is expressed in macrophages and lymphocytes and highly up-regulated in several human inflammatory diseases. In pigs, S100A12 is abundant in the cytosol of granulocytes, where it is believed to be involved in signal modulation of inflammatory process. In this study, we investigated the interaction of the porcine S100A12 with phospholipid bilayers and the effect that ions (Ca(2+), Zn(2+) or both together) have in modifying protein-lipid interactions. More specifically, we intended to address issues such as: (1) is the protein-membrane interaction modulated by the presence of ions? (2) is the protein overall structure affected by the presence of the ions and membrane models simultaneously? (3) what are the specific conformational changes taking place when ions and membranes are both present? (4) does the protein have any kind of molecular preferences for a specific lipid component? To provide insight into membrane interactions and answer those questions, synchrotron radiation circular dichroism spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, and surface plasmon resonance were used. The use of these combined techniques demonstrated that this protein was capable of interacting both with lipids and with ions in solution, and enabled examination of changes that occur at different levels of structure organization. The presence of both Ca(2+) and Zn(2+) ions modify the binding, conformation and thermal stability of the protein in the presence of lipids. Hence, these studies examining molecular interactions of porcine S100A12 in solution complement the previously determined crystal structure information on this family of proteins, enhancing our understanding of its dynamics of interaction with membranes.
PLoS ONE 12/2013; 8(12):e82555. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0082555 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy is a widely used technique for the charac-terisation of proteins. A number of CD instruments are currently on the market, and there are more than a dozen synchrotron radiation circular dichroism (SRCD) beamlines in operation worldwide. All produce different output formats and contents. In order for users of CD and SRCD data to be able simply to compare and contrast data and the associated recorded or unrecorded metadata, it is essential to have a common data format. For this reason, the JCAMP-DX-CD format for CD spectroscopy has been developed, based on extensive con-sultations with users and senior representatives of all the instrument manufacturers and beamlines, and under the auspices of IUPAC, based on the Joint Committee on Atomic and Physical Data Exchange protocols. The availability of a common format is also important for deposition to, and access from, the Protein Circular Dichroism Data Bank, the public repos-itory for CD and SRCD data and metadata. The JCAMP-DX-CD format can be read by stan-dard JCAMP programs such as JSpecView. We have also created a series of parsers, avail-able at the DichroJCAMP web site (http://valispec.cryst.bbk.ac.uk/formatConverter/ dichroJCAMPDX-CD.html), which will enable the conversion between instrument and beamline formats and the JCAMP-DX-CD format.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated sodium channels have essential roles in electrical signalling. Prokaryotic sodium channels are tetramers consisting of transmembrane (TM) voltage-sensing and pore domains, and a cytoplasmic carboxy-terminal domain. Previous crystal structures of bacterial sodium channels revealed the nature of their TM domains but not their C-terminal domains (CTDs). Here, using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy combined with molecular dynamics, we show that the CTD of the NavMs channel from Magnetococcus marinus includes a flexible region linking the TM domains to a four-helix coiled-coil bundle. A 2.9 Å resolution crystal structure of the NavMs pore indicates the position of the CTD, which is consistent with the EPR-derived structure. Functional analyses demonstrate that the coiled-coil domain couples inactivation with channel opening, and is enabled by negatively charged residues in the linker region. A mechanism for gating is proposed based on the structure, whereby splaying of the bottom of the pore is possible without requiring unravelling of the coiled-coil.