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Abstract

Intramembrane aspartyl proteases (IAPs) comprise one of four families of integral membrane proteases that hydrolyze substrates within the hydrophobic lipid bilayer. IAPs include signal peptide peptidase, which processes remnant signal peptides from nascent polypeptides in the endoplasmic reticulum, and presenilin, the catalytic component of the γ-secretase complex that processes Notch and amyloid precursor protein. Despite their broad biomedical reach, basic structure-function relationships of IAPs remain active areas of research. Characterization of membrane-bound proteins is notoriously challenging due to their inherently hydrophobic character. For IAPs, oligomerization state in solution is one outstanding question, with previous proposals for monomer, dimer, tetramer, and octamer. Here we used small angle neutron scattering (SANS) to characterize n-dodecyl-β-D-maltopyranoside (DDM) detergent solutions containing and absent a microbial IAP ortholog. A unique feature of SANS is the ability to modulate the solvent composition to mask all but the enzyme of interest. The signal from the IAP was enhanced by deuteration and, uniquely, scattering from DDM and buffers were matched by the use of both tail-deuterated DDM and D2O. The radius of gyration calculated for IAP and the corresponding ab initio consensus model are consistent with a monomer. The model is slightly smaller than the crystallographic IAP monomer, suggesting a more compact protein in solution compared with the crystal lattice. Our study provides direct insight into the oligomeric state of purified IAP in surfactant solution, and demonstrates the utility of fully contrast-matching the detergent in SANS to characterize other intramembrane proteases and their membrane-bound substrates.

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... To achieve the true extinction of any scattering contribution from detergents such as DDM, two refined approaches have very recently been developed and demonstrated on test cases involving different classes of membrane proteins. One method is to raise the CMP of the DDM micelle core to 48.5% D 2 O to match the shell by precisely blending 44%(w/v) tail-deuterated DDM (d 25 -DDM), which is commercially available (Anatrace), with regular DDM (Naing et al., 2018;Oliver et al., 2017). The second approach uses a single detergent species with partial deuterium substitutions on the alkyl chain and/or head group (Midtgaard Søren et al., 2017). ...
... Recently, two sophisticated approaches to studying proteindetergent systems have been developed and demonstrated with test cases involving different classes of membrane protein to achieve precise contrast-matching of detergent scattering. One method is to raise the contrast-match point of the n-dodecyl--d-maltopyranoside (dodecyl maltoside; DDM) tail to equal that of the head group by precisely blending 44% (by mole) commercially available fully tail-deuterated DDM (d 25 -DDM) into unlabeled DDM (Naing et al., 2018;Oliver et al., 2017). This mixture produces a detergent micelle for which both the core and shell can be contrast-matched by 48% deuterated aqueous medium. ...
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The scattering of neutrons can be used to provide information on the structure and dynamics of biological systems on multiple length and time scales. Pursuant to a National Science Foundation-funded workshop in February 2018, recent developments in this field are reviewed here, as well as future prospects that can be expected given recent advances in sources, instrumentation and computational power and methods. Crystallography, solution scattering, dynamics, membranes, labeling and imaging are examined. For the extraction of maximum information, the incorporation of judicious specific deuterium labeling, the integration of several types of experiment, and interpretation using high-performance computer simulation models are often found to be particularly powerful.
... Early attempts to study membrane proteins with contrastmatched detergent micelles were performed on rhodopsin in the 1970s (Osborne et al., 1978). Since that time, this approach has been used to study the structure of other membrane proteins (Breyton et al., 2013;Naing et al., 2018), however, these studies tended to focus on the radius of gyration and oligomeric state of the proteins. More recently, structural work on membrane proteins showed how the use of differentially labeled detergents with a homogeneous scattering length density allowed for superior contrast-matching of the detergent micelle; consequently, the scattering curves were a more faithful representation of the isolated membrane protein (Midtgaard et al., 2018). ...
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This perspective describes advances in determining membrane protein structures in lipid bilayers using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). Differentially labeled detergents with a homogeneous scattering length density facilitate contrast matching of detergent micelles; this has previously been used successfully to obtain the structures of membrane proteins. However, detergent micelles do not mimic the lipid bilayer environment of the cell membrane in vivo . Deuterated vesicles can be used to obtain the radius of gyration of membrane proteins, but protein-protein interference effects within the vesicles severely limits this method such that the protein structure cannot be modeled. We show herein that different membrane protein conformations can be distinguished within the lipid bilayer of the bicontinuous cubic phase using contrast-matching. Time-resolved studies performed using SANS illustrate the complex phase behavior in lyotropic liquid crystalline systems and emphasize the importance of this development. We believe that studying membrane protein structures and phase behavior in contrast-matched lipid bilayers will advance both biological and pharmaceutical applications of membrane-associated proteins, biosensors and food science.
... The IAP ortholog from M. marisnigri JR1 was structurally characterized by X-ray crystallography 37 and in solution, 54 56 Despite being clustered closely together in methanogens, no neighboring gene related to methanogenesis has a predicted signal peptide that could serve as an IAP substrate, suggesting that there is another reason for the IAP gene to be located in this neighborhood. ...
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Signal peptides help newly synthesized proteins reach the cell membrane or be secreted. As part of a biological process key to immune response and surveillance in humans, and associated with diseases, e.g. Alzheimer, remnant signal peptides and other transmembrane segments are proteolyzed by the intramembrane aspartyl protease (IAP) enzyme family. Here, we identified IAP orthologs throughout the tree of life. In addition to eukaryotes, IAPs are encoded in metabolically diverse archaea from a wide range of environments. We found three distinct clades of archaeal IAPs: (1) Euryarchaeota (e.g. halophilic Halobacteriales, methanogenic Methanosarcinales and Methanomicrobiales, marine Poseidoniales, acidophilic Thermoplasmatales, hyperthermophilic Archaeoglobus spp.), (2) DPANN, and (3) Bathyarchaeota, Crenarchaeota, and Asgard. IAPs were also present in bacterial genomes from uncultivated members of Candidate Phylum Radiation, perhaps due to horizontal gene transfer from DPANN archaeal lineages. Sequence analysis of the catalytic motif YD…GXGD (where X is any amino acid) in IAPs from archaea and bacteria reveals WD in Lokiarchaeota and many residue types in the X position. Gene neighborhood analysis in halophilic archaea shows IAP genes near corrinoid transporters (btuCDF genes). In marine Euryarchaeota, a putative BtuF-like domain is found in N-terminus of the IAP gene, suggesting a role for these IAPs in metal ion cofactor or other nutrient scavenging. Interestingly, eukaryotic IAP family members appear to have evolved either from Euryarchaeota or from Asgard archaea. Taken together, our phylogenetic and bioinformatics analysis should prompt experiments to probe the biological roles of IAPs in prokaryotic secretomes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... The active site aspartates (Asp 162 on TM6 and Asp 220 on TM7) are located in a cavity accessible from the cytoplasmic side, approximately 8 Å from the membrane surface. The structure of MCMJR1 characterized by small angle neutron scattering (SANS) is smaller than the crystal structure, indicating that the enzyme may be more compact in solution (Naing et al., 2018b). ...
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Intramembrane-cleaving proteases (I-CLiPs) catalyze the hydrolysis of peptide bonds within the transmembrane regions of membrane protein substrates, releasing bioactive fragments that play roles in many physiological and pathological processes. Based on their catalytic mechanism and nucleophile, I-CLiPs are classified into metallo, serine, aspartyl, and glutamyl proteases. Presenilin is the most prominent among I-CLiPs, as the catalytic subunit of γ-secretase (GS) complex responsible for cleaving the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and Notch, as well as many other membrane substrates. Recent cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of GS provide new details on how presenilin recognizes and cleaves APP and Notch. First, presenilin transmembrane helix (TM) 2 and 6 are dynamic. Second, upon binding to GS, the substrate TM helix is unwound from the C-terminus, resulting in an intermolecular β-sheet between the substrate and presenilin. The transition of the substrate C-terminus from α-helix to β-sheet is proposed to expose the scissile peptide bond in an extended conformation, leaving it susceptible to protease cleavage. Despite the astounding new insights in recent years, many crucial questions remain unanswered regarding the inner workings of γ-secretase, however. Key unanswered questions include how the enzyme recognizes and recruits substrates, how substrates are translocated from an initial docking site to the active site, how active site aspartates recruit and coordinate catalytic water, and the nature of the mechanisms of processive trimming of the substrate and product release. Answering these questions will have important implications for drug discovery aimed at selectively reducing the amyloid load in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with minimal side effects.
... 42,44,45 With membrane proteins solubilized in DDM or other alkyl glycosides, deuterated detergent analogs can be used to eliminate the neutron contrast between the inner core of the micelle due to the alkyl chains and the outer shell formed by the sugar head groups. 44,46 In our studies of rhodopsin solubilized in fully protiated DDM, significant differences were evident versus the protiated CHAPS detergent (Figure 2b). Although the scattering below Q ≈ 0.03 Å −1 is approximately the same for both samples, in the higher Q region from ∼0.04 to 0.1 Å −1 , a dip is seen in the reciprocal space near ∼0.07 Å −1 for the DDM-solublized protein. ...
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Knowledge of the activation principles for G-protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) is critical to development of new pharmaceuticals. Rhodopsin is the archetype for the largest GPCR family, yet the changes in protein dynamics that trigger signaling are not fully understood. Here we show that rhodopsin can be investigated by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) in fully protiated detergent micelles under contrast matching to resolve the protein structure. In SANS studies of membrane proteins, the zwitterionic detergent [(Cholamidopropyl)dimethylammonio]-propanesulfonate (CHAPS) is advantageous because of the low contrast difference between the hydrophobic core and hydrophilic head groups as compared to alkyl glycoside detergents. Combining SANS results with quasielastic neutron scattering (QENS) reveals how changes in volumetric protein shape are coupled (slaved) to the aqueous solvent. Upon light exposure rhodopsin is swollen by penetration of water into the protein core, allowing interactions with effector proteins in the visual signaling mechanism.
... What contributes to their substrate recognition? The authors recently published a second manuscript showing, with small-angle neutron scattering, that the structure of detergent solubilized mIAP is more compact compared to the crystal structure of mIAP or the cryoEM structure of presenilin (10). Importantly, a structure with substrate is lacking for this class of intramembrane protease, which could reveal how IAPs cut processively at multiple sites and trim transmembrane substrates. ...
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Decades of work have contributed to our in-depth mechanistic understanding of soluble proteases, but much less is known about the catalytic mechanism of intramembrane proteolysis due to inherent difficulties in both preparing and analyzing integral membrane enzymes and transmembrane substrates. New work from Nainget al.tackles this challenge by examining the catalytic parameters of an aspartyl intramembrane protease homologous to the enzyme that cleaves amyloid precursor protein, finding that both chemistry and register contribute to specificity in substrate cleavage.
Chapter
This chapter outlines a protocol developed to prepare a purified deuterated membrane protein for a small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiment. SANS is a noninvasive technique well suited to studying membrane protein solution structures, and deuteration enhances the signal from the protein over the background (Breyton et al., Eur Phys J E Soft Matter 36 (7):71, 2013; Garg et al., Biophys J 101 (2):370–377, 2011). We present our workflow: transformation of our plasmid into E. coli, cell growth and expression of our deuterated protein, membrane isolation, detergent solubilization, protein purification, purity assessment, and final preparation for SANS.
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Presenilins are the catalytic components of gamma-secretase, an intramembrane-cleaving protease whose substrates include beta-amyloid precursor protein (betaAPP) and the Notch receptors. These type I transmembrane proteins undergo two distinct presenilin-dependent cleavages within the transmembrane region, which result in the production of Abeta and APP intracellular domain (from betaAPP) and the Notch intracellular domain signaling peptide. Most cases of familial Alzheimer's disease are caused by presenilin mutations, which are scattered throughout the coding sequence. Although the underlying molecular mechanism is not yet known, the familial Alzheimer's disease mutations produce a shift in the ratio of the long and short forms of the Abeta peptide generated by the gamma-secretase. We and others have previously shown that presenilin homodimerizes and suggested that a presenilin dimer is at the catalytic core of gamma-secretase. Here, we demonstrate that presenilin transmembrane domains contribute to the formation of the dimer. In-frame substitution of the hydrophilic loop 1, located between transmembranes I and II, which modulates the interactions within the N-terminal fragment/N-terminal fragment dimer, abolishes both presenilinase and gamma-secretase activities. In addition, by reconstituting gamma-secretase activity from two catalytically inactive presenilin aspartic mutants, we provide evidence of an active diaspartyl group assembled at the interface between two presenilin monomers. Under our conditions, this catalytic group mediates the generation of APP intracellular domain and Abeta but not Notch intracellular domain, therefore suggesting that specific diaspartyl groups within the presenilin catalytic core of gamma-secretase mediate the cleavage of different substrates.
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Three-dimensional structure determination of integral membrane proteins has advanced in unprecedented detail our understanding of mechanistic events of how ion channels, transporters, receptors and enzymes function. This exciting progress required a tremendous amount of methods development, as exemplified here with G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs): Optimizing the production of GPCRs in recombinant hosts; increasing the probability of crystal formation using high-affinity ligands, nanobodies, and minimal G proteins for co-crystallization, thus stabilizing receptors into one conformation; using the T4 lysozyme technology and other fusion partners to promote crystal contacts; advancing crystallization methods including the development of novel detergents, and miniaturization and automation of the lipidic cubic phase crystallization method; the concept of conformational thermostabilization of GPCRs; and developing microfocus X-ray synchrotron technologies to analyze small GPCR crystals. However, despite immense progress to explain how GPCRs function, many receptors pose intractable hurdles to structure determination at this time. Three emerging methods, serial femtosecond crystallography, micro electron diffraction, and single particle electron cryo-microscopy, hold promise to overcome current limitations in structural membrane biology. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Proteases are considered attractive drug targets. Various drugs targeting classical, soluble proteases have been approved for treatment of human disease. Intramembrane proteases (IMPs) are a more recently discovered group of proteolytic enzymes. They are embedded in lipid bilayers and their active sites are located in the plane of a membrane. All four mechanistic families of IMPs have been linked to disease, but currently, no drugs against IMPs have entered the market. In this review, I will outline the function of IMPs with a focus on the ones involved in human disease, which includes Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and infectious diseases by microorganisms. Inhibitors of IMPs are known for all mechanistic classes, but are not yet very potent or selective – apart from those targeting γ-secretase. I will here describe the different features of IMP inhibitors and discuss a list of issues that need attention in the near future in order to improve the drug development for IMPs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Chapter
Detergents play a significant role in structural and functional characterisation of integral membrane proteins (IMPs). IMPs reside in the biological membranes and exhibit a great variation in their structural and physical properties. For in vitro biophysical studies, structural and functional analyses, IMPs need to be extracted from the membrane lipid bilayer environment in which they are found and purified to homogeneity while maintaining a folded and functionally active state. Detergents are capable of successfully solubilising and extracting the IMPs from the membrane bilayers. A number of detergents with varying structure and physicochemical properties are commercially available and can be applied for this purpose. Nevertheless, it is important to choose a detergent that is not only able to extract the membrane protein but also provide an optimal environment while retaining the correct structural and physical properties of the protein molecule. Choosing the best detergent for this task can be made possible by understanding the physical and chemical properties of the different detergents and their interaction with the IMPs. In addition, understanding the mechanism of membrane solubilisation and protein extraction along with crystallisation requirements, if crystallographic studies are going to be undertaken, can help in choosing the best detergent for the purpose. This chapter aims to present the fundamental properties of detergents and highlight information relevant to IMP crystallisation. The first section of the chapter reviews the physicochemical properties of detergents and parameters essential for predicting their behaviour in solution. The second section covers the interaction of detergents with the biologic membranes and proteins followed by their role in membrane protein crystallisation. The last section will briefly cover the types of detergent and their properties focusing on custom designed detergents for membrane protein studies.
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Chemical details of intramembrane proteolysis remain elusive despite its prevalence throughout biology. We developed a FRET peptide assay for an intramembrane aspartyl protease (IAP) from Methanoculleus marisnigri JR1 in combination with quantitative mass spectrometry cleavage site analysis. IAP can hydrolyze the angiotensinogen sequence, a substrate for the soluble aspar-tyl protease renin, at a predominant cut site, His-Thr. Turnover is slow (min-1 x 10-3), affinity and Michaelis constant (Km) values are in the low micromolar range, and both catalytic rates and cleavage sites are the same in detergent as reconstituted into bicelles. Three well-established, IAP-directed inhibitors were directly confirmed as competitive, albeit with modest inhibitor con-stant (Ki) values. Partial deletion of the first transmembrane helix results in a biophysically simi-lar but less active enzyme than full-length IAP, indicating a catalytic role. Our study demon-strates previously unappreciated similarities with soluble aspartyl proteases, provides new bio-chemical features of IAP and inhibitors, as well as offers tools to study other intramembrane pro-tease family members in molecular detail.
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The small-angle neutron scattering instruments at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory High Flux Isotope Reactor recently upgraded the area detectors from the large, single volume crossed-wire detectors originally installed to staggered arrays of linear position-sensitive detectors, based on the design used on the EQ-SANS instrument at ORNL Spallation Neutron Source. The specific geometry of the LPSD array requires that approaches to data reduction traditionally employed be modified. Here, two methods for correcting the geometric distortion produced by the LPSD array are presented and compared. The first method applies a correction derived from a detector sensitivity measurement performed using the same configuration as the samples are measured. In the second method presented here, a solid angle correction derived for the LPSDs is applied to data collected in any instrument configuration during the data reduction process in conjunction with a detector sensitivity measurement collected at a sufficiently long camera length where the geometric distortions are negligible. Both methods produce consistent results and yield a maximum deviation of corrected data from isotropic scattering samples of less than 0.05 for momentum transfers up to a maximum of 0.8 A-1. The results are broadly applicable to any SANS instrument employing LPSD array detectors, which will be increasingly common as instruments having higher incident flux are constructed at various neutron scattering facilities around the world.
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A method is proposed for the determination of the optimum value of the regularization parameter (Lagrange multiplier) when applying indirect transform techniques in small-angle scattering data analysis. The method is based on perceptual criteria of what is the best solution. A set of simple criteria is used to construct a total estimate describing the quality of the solution. Maximization of the total estimate is straightforward. Model computations show the effectiveness of the technique. The method is implemented in the program GNOM [Svergun, Semenyuk & Feigin (1988). Acta Cryst. A44, 244–250].
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Scattering patterns from geometrical bodies with different shapes and anisometry (solid and hollow spheres, cylinders, prisms) are computed and the shapes are reconstructed ab initio using envelope function and bead modelling methods. A procedure is described to analyze multiple solutions provided by bead modeling methods and to estimate stability and reliability of the shape reconstruction. It is demonstrated that flat shapes are more difficult to restore than elongated ones and types of shapes are indicated, which require additional information for reliable shape reconsrtuction from the scattering data.
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A method is presented for automated best-matching alignment of three-dimensional models represented by ensembles of points. A normalized spatial discrepancy (NSD) is introduced as a proximity measure between three-dimensional objects. Starting from an inertia-axes alignment, the algorithm minimizes the NSD; the ®nal value of the NSD provides a quantitative estimate of similarity between the objects. The method is implemented in a computer program. Simulations have been performed to test its performance on model structures with speci®ed numbers of points ranging from a few to a few thousand. The method can be used for comparative analysis of structural models obtained by different methods, e.g. of high-resolution crystallographic atomic structures and low-resolution models from solution scattering or electron microscopy.
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The Center for Structural Molecular Biology (CSMB) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is developing facilities and techniques for the characterization and analysis of biological systems at the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). The cornerstone of the effort is a small-angle neutron scattering instrument (Bio-SANS) currently under construction at HFIR that will be dedicated to the analysis of the structure, function and dynamics of complex biological systems. In support of this program, we are developing advanced computational tools for neutron analysis and modeling, alongside a supporting biophysical characterization and X-ray scattering infrastructure. Specifically, we established a Bio-Deuteration Laboratory for in vivo production of H/D-labeled macromolecules that will permit selected parts of macromolecular structures to be highlighted and analyzed in situ using neutron scattering. These new facilities will make ORNL a world-leading scientific center and user facility for neutron-based studies of biomolecular structure and function.
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Healthy cellular function requires tight regulation of a multitude of bio-molecular interactions and processes, often in response to external stimuli. In achieving this regulation, nature uses a number of ‘second messengers’ that are released inside cells in response to first messengers, such as hormones that bind to the cell surface. Divalent calcium and cyclic nucleotides, like cAMP, are among nature's second messengers that bind to receptor proteins inside cells order to regulate the activities of various targets, including many protein kinases. Kinases are enzymes that catalyze the attachment of phosphate groups to proteins in order to modulate their functions. We have been using neutron contrast variation and small-angle solution scattering to study the interactions of the second messenger receptor proteins and their regulatory targets in order to understand the structural basis for these complex processes that use a number of common structural motifs to accomplish highly regulated function. Our most recent work has focused on the different isoforms of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase and the muscle regulatory complex troponin.
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Although being much smaller than the number of soluble proteins in the Protein Data Bank, the number of membrane proteins therein now approaches 700, and a statistical analysis becomes meaningful. Such an analysis showed that the conventional subdivision into monotopic, β-barrel and α-helical membrane proteins is appropriate but should be amended by a classification according to the detergent micelle structure in the crystal, which can be derived from the packing of the membrane-immersed parts of the proteins. The crystal packing density is specific for the three conventional types of membrane proteins and soluble proteins. It is also specific for three observed detergent arrangements that are micelle pockets, micelle filaments and micelle sheets, demonstrating that the detergent structure affects crystallization. The packing density distribution of crystals from integral membrane proteins has approximately the same shape as that of soluble proteins but is by a factor of two broader and shifted to lower density. It seems unlikely that the differences can be explained by a mere solvent expansion due to the required detergent. The crystallized membrane proteins were further analyzed with respect to protein mass, oligomerization and crystallographic asymmetric unit, space group, crystal ordering and symmetry. The results provide a new view on membrane proteins.
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Green photosynthetic bacteria harvest light and perform photosynthesis in low-light environments, and contain specialized antenna complexes to adapt to this condition. We performed small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) studies to obtain structural information about the photosynthetic apparatus, including the peripheral light-harvesting chlorosome complex, the integral membrane light-harvesting B808-866 complex, and the reaction center (RC) in the thermophilic green phototrophic bacterium Chloroflexus aurantiacus. Using contrast variation in SANS measurements, we found that the B808-866 complex is wrapped around the RC in Cfx. aurantiacus, and the overall size and conformation of the B808-866 complex of Cfx. aurantiacus is roughly comparable to the LH1 antenna complex of the purple bacteria. A similar size of the isolated B808-866 complex was suggested by dynamic light scattering measurements, and a smaller size of the RC of Cfx. aurantiacus compared to the RC of the purple bacteria was observed. Further, our SANS measurements indicate that the chlorosome is a lipid body with a rod-like shape, and that the self-assembly of bacteriochlorophylls, the major component of the chlorosome, is lipid-like. Finally, two populations of chlorosome particles are suggested in our SANS measurements.
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The structure of spinach light-harvesting complex II (LHC II), stabilized in a solution of the detergent n-octyl-beta-D-glucoside (BOG), was investigated by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). Physicochemical characterization of the isolated complex indicated that it was pure (>95%) and also in its native trimeric state. SANS with contrast variation was used to investigate the properties of the protein-detergent complex at three different H(2)O/D(2)O contrast match points, enabling the scattering properties of the protein and detergent to be investigated independently. The topological shape of LHC II, determined using ab initio shape restoration methods from the SANS data at the contrast match point of BOG, was consistent with the X-ray crystallographic structure of LHC II (Liu et al. Nature 2004 428, 287-292). The interactions of the protein and detergent were investigated at the contrast match point for the protein and also in 100% D(2)O. The data suggested that BOG micelle structure was altered by its interaction with LHC II, but large aggregate structures were not formed. Indirect Fourier transform analysis of the LHC II/BOG scattering curves showed that the increase in the maximum dimension of the protein-detergent complex was consistent with the presence of a monolayer of detergent surrounding the protein. A model of the LHC II/BOG complex was generated to interpret the measurements made in 100% D(2)O. This model adequately reproduced the overall size of the LHC II/BOG complex, but demonstrated that the detergent does not have a highly regular shape that surrounds the hydrophobic periphery of LHC II. In addition to demonstrating that natively structured LHC II can be produced for functional characterization and for use in artificial solar energy applications, the analysis and modeling approaches described here can be used for characterizing detergent-associated alpha-helical transmembrane proteins.
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Intramembrane proteolysis is increasingly seen as a regulatory step in a range of diverse processes, including development, organelle shaping, metabolism, pathogenicity and degenerative disease. Initial scepticism over the existence of intramembrane proteases was soon replaced by intense exploration of their catalytic mechanisms, substrate specificities, regulation and structures. Crystal structures of metal-dependent and serine intramembrane proteases have revealed active sites embedded in the plane of the membrane but accessible by water, a requirement for hydrolytic reactions. Efforts to understand how these membrane-bound proteases carry out their reactions have started to yield results.
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The assessment of the physical size of integral membrane protein complexes has generally been limited to samples solubilized in non-ionic detergent, a process which may introduce artifacts of unknown scope and severity. A system has been developed that allows observation of the small angle scattering profile of an integral membrane protein while incorporated in small unilamellar phospholipid vesicles. Contrast matching of isotopically substituted phospholipid eliminates the contribution of the bilayer to the observed scattering, resulting in a profile dependent only on the structure of the individual membrane protein complexes and their spatial arrangement in the vesicle. After appropriate compensation for their spatial arrangement, information about the molecular mass and radius of gyration of the individual complexes can be obtained. The validity of the approach has been established using monomeric bacteriorhodopsin as a model system.
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Random deuteration of recombinant proteins in Escherichia coli is widely used for protein structure determination by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). It is desirable to predict accurately the degree of deuteration because each NMR experiment benefits from a different level of deuteration. The method described here which uses [2H]2O and glucose as the sole carbon and deuterium sources is an alternative for a previously published procedure using acetate and [2H]2O (Venter et al., J. Biomol. NMR 5, 339-344, 1995) and it is of advantage for proteins that do not express well using acetate. While the deuteration degree with acetate is approximately linear with the [2H]2O content in the medium, the use of glucose leads to deviations up to 19%, which is analyzed systematically here. With [2H]2O as the sole deuterium source 0-86% of the chemically nonexchangeable hydrogen atoms can be deuterated. Higher levels of deuteration require perdeuterated glucose in combination with [2H]2O. As an example, recombinant peptide deformylase from Bacillus subtilis was overexpressed, deuterated to various degrees, purified, and analyzed by mass spectrometry and NMR.
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A method is proposed to restore ab initio low resolution shape and internal structure of chaotically oriented particles (e.g., biological macromolecules in solution) from isotropic scattering. A multiphase model of a particle built from densely packed dummy atoms is characterized by a configuration vector assigning the atom to a specific phase or to the solvent. Simulated annealing is employed to find a configuration that fits the data while minimizing the interfacial area. Application of the method is illustrated by the restoration of a ribosome-like model structure and more realistically by the determination of the shape of several proteins from experimental x-ray scattering data.
Article
We thank our colleagues Utpal Dave and Nick Grishin for helpful discussions and critical review of the manuscript. Our research is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (HL20948) and the Perot Family Foundation.
Article
Detergents are indispensable in the isolation of integral membrane proteins from biological membranes to study their intrinsic structural and functional properties. Solubilization involves a number of intermediary states that can be studied by a variety of physicochemical and kinetic methods; it usually starts by destabilization of the lipid component of the membranes, a process that is accompanied by a transition of detergent binding by the membrane from a noncooperative to a cooperative interaction already below the critical micellar concentration (CMC). This leads to the formation of membrane fragments of proteins and lipids with detergent-shielded edges. In the final stage of solubilization membrane proteins are present as protomers, with the membrane inserted sectors covered by detergent. We consider in detail the nature of this interaction and conclude that in general binding as a monolayer ring, rather than as a micelle, is the most probable mechanism. This mode of interaction is supported by neutron diffraction investigations on the disposition of detergent in 3-D crystals of membrane proteins. Finally, we briefly discuss the use of techniques such as analytical ultracentrifugation, size exclusion chromatography, and mass spectrometry relevant for the structural investigation of detergent solubilized membrane proteins.
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Regulated intramembrane proteolysis (RIP) has recently emerged as a conserved mechanism for controlling many signalling pathways in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Although early examples were confined to the activation of membrane-tethered transcription factors in the cell receiving the signal, recent analysis indicates that RIP also regulates the emission of factors involved in intercellular communication.
Article
In Escherichia coli, SecA is a large, multifunctional protein that is a vital component of the general protein secretion pathway. In its membrane-bound form it functions as the motor component of the protein translocase, perhaps through successive rounds of membrane insertion and ATP hydrolysis. To understand both the energy conversion process and translocase assembly, we have used contrast-matched, small-angle neutron-scattering (SANS) experiments to examine SecA in small unilamellar vesicles of E.coli phospholipids. In the absence of nucleotide, we observe a dimeric form of SecA with a radius of gyration comparable to that previously observed for SecA in solution. In contrast, the presence of either ADP or a non-hydrolyzable ATP analog induces conversion to a monomeric form. The larger radius of gyration for the ATP-bound relative to the ADP-bound form suggests the former has a more expanded global conformation. This is the first direct structural determination of SecA in a lipid bilayer. The SANS data indicate that nucleotide turnover can function as a switch of conformation of SecA in the membrane in a manner consistent with its proposed role in successive cycles of deep membrane penetration and release with concommitant preprotein insertion.
Article
Membrane protein structural biology is a frontier area of modern biomedical research. Twenty to thirty-five percent of the proteins encoded by an organism's genome are integral membrane proteins. Integral membrane proteins, such as channels, transporters, and receptors, are critical components of many fundamental biological processes. Also, many integral membrane proteins are important in biomedical and biotechnological applications; the majority of drug targets are integral membrane proteins. The sharp increase in the number of membrane protein structures over the last several years gives some indication that this field is poised for rather explosive growth as more and more investigators take on membrane protein projects. The purpose of this brief practical review was to take a snapshot of a field at the onset of its likely exponential growth phase, and to lay out the methods that have worked to date for obtaining membrane protein crystals suitable for structure determination by X-ray crystallography. Many of the successful experimental methods are identical to those used for soluble proteins. The major difference, and a non-trivial difference, is the necessity for inclusion of detergents above the critical micelle concentration in the purified membrane protein solution.