NMR Investigations of Peptide-Membrane Interactions, Modulation of Peptide-Lipid Interaction as a Switch in Signaling across the Lipid Bilayer

University dissertation from DBB, SU

Abstract: The complexity of multi cellular organisms demands systems that facilitate communicationbetween cells. The neurons in our brains for instance are specialized in this cell-cellcommunication. The flow of ions, through their different ion channels, across the membrane, isresponsible for almost all of the communication between neurons in the brain by changing theneurons membrane potentials. Voltage-gated ion channels open when a certain thresholdpotential is reached. This change in membrane potential is detected by voltage-sensors in the ionchannels. In this licentiate thesis the Homo sapiens voltage- and calcium-gated BK potassiumchannel (HsapBK) has been studied. The NMR solution structure of the voltage-sensor ofHsapBK was solved to shed light upon the voltage-gating in these channels. Structures of othervoltage-gated potassium channels (Kv) have been determined by other groups, enablingcomparison among different types of Kv channels. Interestingly, the peptide-lipid interactions ofthe voltage-sensor in HsapBK are crucial for its mechanism of action.Uni cellular organisms need to sense their environment too, to be able to move towardsmore favorable areas and from less favorable ones, and to adapt their gene profiles to currentcircumstances. This is accomplished by the two-component system, comprising a sensor proteinand a response regulator. The sensor protein transfers signals across the membrane to thecytoplasm. Many sensor proteins contain a HAMP domain close to the membrane that isinvolved in transmitting the signal. The mechanism of this transfer is not yet revealed. Ourstudies show that HAMP domains can be divided into two groups based on the membraneinteraction of their AS1 segments. Further, these two groups are suggested to work by differentmechanisms; one membrane-dependent and one membrane-independent mechanism.Both the voltage-gating mechanism and the signal transduction carried out by HAMPdomains in the membrane-dependent group, demand peptide-lipid interactions that can be readilymodulated. This modulation enables movement of peptides within membranes or within thelipid-water interface. These conditions make these peptides especially suitable for NMR studies.