Contribution of transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains to membrane protein association

Sankaranarayanan Srinivasan, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Membrane proteins are critical to every aspect of cell physiology, with their association mediating important biological functions. The transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains are known to be important for their association. In order to characterize their role in detail, we have applied different biophysical techniques in detergent micelles to two model systems. The first study involves FcRγ, a single transmembrane domain protein existing as a disulfide linked homodimer. We investigated the role of a conserved transmembrane polar residue and the cytoplasmic tail in FcRγ homo-interactions. Our results by various biophysical techniques including SDS-PAGE, circular dichroism and sedimentation equilibrium in detergent micelles indicate importance of both the transmembrane polar residue and cytoplasmic tail in maintaining proper conformation for FcRγ homo-interactions. A contrasting second study was on L-selectin, another single transmembrane domain protein with a large extracellular domain and a short cytoplasmic tail. Previous cross-linking experiments indicate its possible dimerization. However, the purified fragment of L-selectin and corresponding mutants did not dimerize when analyzed by TOXCAT assay, sedimentation equilibrium and fluorescence resonance energy transfer. It was likely that the presence of juxtamembrane positively charged residues led to decreased migrational rates in SDS PAGE. In conclusion, complementary biophysical techniques should be used with care when studying membrane protein association in detergent micelles. As an extension to our study on L-selectin, we also investigated its interaction with Calmodulin (CaM) in detergent micelles. CaM was found to interact with different detergents. We applied fluorescence and NMR spectroscopy to characterize the interaction of both the apo and Ca 2+ bound form of CaM, with commonly used detergents, below and above their respective critical micelle concentrations. The interaction of apo-CaM with detergents was found to vary with the nature of the detergent head group, whereas Ca2+-CaM interacted with individual detergent molecules irrespective of the nature of their head group. NMR titration experiments of CaM with detergents indicated involvement of specific residues from the N-lobe, linker and C-lobe of CaM.

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Recommended Citation

Srinivasan, Sankaranarayanan, "Contribution of transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains to membrane protein association" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3339624.