Publication
PNAS
Paper

Structural cavities are critical to balancing stability and activity of a membrane-integral enzyme

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Abstract

Packing interaction is a critical driving force in the folding of helical membrane proteins. Despite the importance, packing defects (i.e., cavities including voids, pockets, and pores) are prevalent in membrane-integral enzymes, channels, transporters, and receptors, playing essential roles in function. Then, a question arises regarding how the two competing requirements, packing for stability vs. cavities for function, are reconciled in membrane protein structures. Here, using the intramembrane protease GlpG of Escherichia coli as a model and cavity-filling mutation as a probe, we tested the impacts of native cavities on the thermodynamic stability and function of a membrane protein. We find several stabilizing mutations which induce substantial activity reduction without distorting the active site. Notably, these mutations are all mapped onto the regions of conformational flexibility and functional importance, indicating that the cavities facilitate functional movement of GlpG while compromising the stability. Experiment and molecular dynamics simulation suggest that the stabilization is induced by the coupling between enhanced protein packing and weakly unfavorable lipid desolvation, or solely by favorable lipid solvation on the cavities. Our result suggests that, stabilized by the relatively weak interactions with lipids, cavities are accommodated in membrane proteins without severe energetic cost, which, in turn, serve as a platform to fine-tune the balance between stability and flexibility for optimal activity.

Date

26 Aug 2020

Publication

PNAS

Authors

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