The Structural Characterization of Two Prokaryotic Membrane Proteins: CfrA and ELIC

Title: The Structural Characterization of Two Prokaryotic Membrane Proteins: CfrA and ELIC
Authors: Carswell, Casey
Date: 2014
Abstract: This thesis focuses on the structural and functional characterization of two integral membrane proteins; CfrA, an outer membrane TonB-dependent transporter (TBDT) from Campylobacter jejuni, and ELIC, a pentameric ligand-gated ion channel (pLGIC) from Erwinia Chrysanthemi. The spectroscopic characterization of CfrA revealed a fold consistent with the structural and biophysical properties observed for other TBDT. Both a homology model of CfrA and sequence alignments of CfrA with other ferric-enterobactin transporters suggested a unique mode of ligand binding, thus raising the possibility that C. jejuni can be specifically inhibited. To investigate the molecular determinates of binding to CfrA, I set out to crystallize CfrA. Hundreds of crystal trials led to crystals diffracting to 3.6 Å resolution, with a complete data set acquired at 5 Å resolution that led to a structural model of the CfrA β-barrel. In the second part of this thesis, I reconstituted ELIC into model membranes in order to test the role of intramembrane aromatic interactions in ELIC gating and lipid sensing. ELIC was reconstituted into both asolectin (aso-ELIC) and 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl phosphatidylcholine (PC-ELIC), membranes that stabilize the homologous nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) in functional coupled versus non-functional uncoupled conformations, respectively. In both membrane environments, ELIC exhibits a mixed α-helical and β-sheet secondary structure, with a thermal denaturation intermediate between those of the nAChR and the close prokaryotic homolog, GLIC, in similar membranes. The data suggest that although ELIC has a decreased propensity to adopt an uncoupled conformation relative to the nAChR, its ability to undergo cysteamine-induced channel gating is sensitive to its lipid environment. The decreased propensity to uncouple may reflect an increased level of aromatics at the interface between the transmembrane α-helices, M1, M3, and M4. To test this hypothesis further, the level or aromatic residues at the M1, M3, and M4 interface in both GLIC and ELIC were varied, and in both cases the levels of intramembrane aromatic interactions correlated with the efficiency of coupling binding to gating. The data provide further evidence for a role of intramembrane aromatics in channel gating and in dictating the propensity of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels to adopt an uncoupled conformation.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -