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Stanford, CA, United States

Oliver R.C.,University of Virginia | Lipfert J.,Technical University of Delft | Fox D.A.,University of Virginia | Lo R.H.,University of Virginia | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Micelle-forming detergents provide an amphipathic environment that can mimic lipid bilayers and are important tools for solubilizing membrane proteins for functional and structural investigations in vitro. However, the formation of a soluble protein-detergent complex (PDC) currently relies on empirical screening of detergents, and a stable and functional PDC is often not obtained. To provide a foundation for systematic comparisons between the properties of the detergent micelle and the resulting PDC, a comprehensive set of detergents commonly used for membrane protein studies are systematically investigated. Using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), micelle shapes and sizes are determined for phosphocholines with 10, 12, and 14 alkyl carbons, glucosides with 8, 9, and 10 alkyl carbons, maltosides with 8, 10, and 12 alkyl carbons, and lysophosphatidyl glycerols with 14 and 16 alkyl carbons. The SAXS profiles are well described by two-component ellipsoid models, with an electron rich outer shell corresponding to the detergent head groups and a less electron dense hydrophobic core composed of the alkyl chains. The minor axis of the elliptical micelle core from these models is constrained by the length of the alkyl chain, and increases by 1.2-1.5 Å per carbon addition to the alkyl chain. The major elliptical axis also increases with chain length; however, the ellipticity remains approximately constant for each detergent series. In addition, the aggregation number of these detergents increases by ∼16 monomers per micelle for each alkyl carbon added. The data provide a comprehensive view of the determinants of micelle shape and size and provide a baseline for correlating micelle properties with protein-detergent interactions. © 2013 Oliver et al.

Chang C.-W.,Physiology Graduate Training Program | Chiang C.-W.,Biophysics Program | Gaffaney J.D.,Howard Hughes Medical Institute | Chapman E.R.,Biophysics Program | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Biological Chemistry | Year: 2016

SNARE proteins catalyze many forms of biological membrane fusion, including Ca2+-triggered exocytosis. Although fusion mediated by SNAREs generally involves proteins anchored to each fusing membrane by a transmembrane domain (TMD), the role of TMDs remains unclear, and previous studies diverge on whether SNAREs can drive fusion without a TMD. This issue is important because it relates to the question of the structure and composition of the initial fusion pore, as well as the question of whether SNAREs mediate fusion solely by creating close proximity between two membranes versus a more active role in transmitting force to the membrane to deform and reorganize lipid bilayer structure. To test the role of membrane attachment, we generated four variants of the synaptic v-SNARE synaptobrevin- 2 (syb2) anchored to the membrane by lipid instead of protein. These constructs were tested for functional efficacy in three different systems as follows: Ca2+-triggered dense core vesicle exocytosis, spontaneous synaptic vesicle exocytosis, and Ca2+-synaptotagmin-enhanced SNARE-mediated liposome fusion. Lipid-anchoring motifs harboring one or two lipid acylation sites completely failed to support fusion in any of these assays. Only the lipid-anchoring motif from cysteine string protein-α, which harbors many lipid acylation sites, provided support for fusion but at levels well below that achieved with wild type syb2. Thus, lipid-anchored syb2 provides little or no support for exocytosis, and anchoring syb2 to a membrane by a TMD greatly improves its function. The low activity seen with syb2-cysteine string protein-α may reflect a slower alternative mode of SNARE-mediated membrane fusion. ©2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

Bowman G.R.,Biophysics Program | Ensign D.L.,Stanford University | Pande V.S.,Biophysics Program | Pande V.S.,Stanford University
Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation | Year: 2010

Computer simulations can complement experiments by providing insight into molecular kinetics with atomic resolution. Unfortunately, even the most powerful supercomputers can only simulate small systems for short time scales, leaving modeling of most biologically relevant systems and time scales intractable. In this work, however, we show that molecular simulations driven by adaptive sampling of networks called Markov State Models (MSMs) can yield tremendous time and resource savings, allowing previously intractable calculations to be performed on a routine basis on existing hardware. We also introduce a distance metric (based on the relative entropy) for comparing MSMs. We primarily employ this metric to judge the convergence of various sampling schemes but it could also be employed to assess the effects of perturbations to a system (e.g., determining how changing the temperature or making a mutation changes a systems dynamics). Copyright © 2010 American Chemical Society.

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