Ligand-Free Open-Closed Transitions of Periplasmic Binding Proteins: The Case of Glutamine-Binding Protein

Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.
Biochemistry (Impact Factor: 3.02). 02/2010; 49(9):1893-902. DOI: 10.1021/bi902045p
Source: PubMed


The ability to undergo large-scale domain rearrangements is essential for the substrate-binding function of periplasmic binding proteins (PBPs), which are indispensable for nutrient uptake in Gram-negative bacteria. Crystal structures indicate that PBPs typically adopt either an "open" unliganded configuration or a "closed" liganded one. However, it is not clear whether, as a general rule, PBPs remain open until ligand-induced interdomain closure or are in equilibrium with a minor population of unliganded, closed species. Evidence for the latter has been recently reported on maltose-binding protein (MBP) in aqueous solution [Tang, C., et al. (2007) Nature 449, 1078-1082] via paramagnetic relaxation enhancement (PRE), a technique able to probe lowly populated regions of conformational space. Here, we use PRE to study the unliganded open-closed transition of another PBP: glutamine-binding protein (GlnBP). Through a combination of domain structure knowledge and intermolecular and concentration dependence PRE experiments, a set of surface residues was found to be involved in intermolecular interactions. Barring such residues, PRE data on ligand-free GlnBP, paramagnetically labeled at two sites (one at a time), could be appropriately explained by the unliganded, open crystal structure in that it both yielded a good PRE fit and was not significantly affected by PRE-based refinement. Thus, contrary to MBP, our data did not particularly suggest the coexistence of a minor closed conformer. Several possibilities were explored to explain the observed differences in such closely structurally related systems; among them, a particularly interesting one arises from close inspection of the interdomain "hinge" region of various PBPs: strong hydrogen bond interactions discourage large-scale interdomain dynamics.

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