Familial L723P Mutation Can Shift the Distribution between the Alternative APP Transmembrane Domain Cleavage Cascades by Local Unfolding of the Ε‑Cleavage Site Suggesting a Straightforward Mechanism of Alzheimer’s Disease Pathogenesis.
Alzheimer’s disease is an age-related pathology associated with accumulation of amyloid-β peptides, products of enzymatic cleavage of amyloid-β precursor protein (APP) by secretases. Several familial mutations causing early onset of the disease have been identified in the APP transmembrane (TM) domain. The mutations influence production of amyloid-β, but the molecular mechanisms of this effect are unclear. The “Australian” (L723P) mutation located in the C-termini of APP TM domain is associated with autosomal-dominant, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Herein, we describe the impact of familial L723P mutation on the structural-dynamic behavior of APP TM domain studied by high-resolution NMR in membrane-mimicking micelles and augmented by molecular dynamics simulations in explicit lipid bilayer. We found L723P mutation to cause local unfolding of the C-terminal turn of the APP TM domain helix and increase its accessibility to water required for cleavage of the protein backbone by γ-secretase in the ε-site, thus switching between alternative (“pathogenic” and “non-pathogenic”) cleavage cascades. These findings suggest a straightforward mechanism of the pathogenesis associated with this mutation, and are of generic import for understanding the molecular-level events associated with APP sequential proteolysis resulting in accumulation of the pathogenic forms of amyloid-β. Moreover, age-related onset of Alzheimer’s disease can be explained by a similar mechanism, where the effect of mutation is emulated by the impact of local environmental factors, such as oxidative stress and/or membrane lipid composition. Knowledge of the mechanisms regulating generation of amyloidogenic peptides of different lengths is essential for development of novel treatment strategies of the Alzheimer’s disease.
Here we present a combined method to study mutual effects of a protein and a membrane upon the dimerization of transmembrane (TM) α-helical peptides. The approach is based on the numerical decomposition of dimerization free energy profiles for TM helices into components corresponding to different interaction types and on the mapping of the distribution of the average lipid density around the protein. The method was tested on the TM domains of human glycophorin A (GpA) and several model peptides. It is shown that lipids contribute significantly to a total free energy of dimerization, and the direct protein-protein contacts may be unfavorable. Also, we found some lipid acyl chains binding sides on the surface of TM domains of GpA. Thus, the amino acid sequence determines not only the protein- protein contacts during dimerization, but also the interactions with lipids, and that can determine the detailed balance between the free energy contributions. Lipid membrane can act as an active driving force in the process of TM helices association. The look rather promising for further rational design of peptide modulators aimed to interact with bitopic membrane proteins, including receptor tyrosine kinases.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family is an important class of receptor tyrosine kinases, mediating a variety of cellular responses in normal biological processes and in pathological states of multicellular organisms. Different modes of dimerization of the human EGFR transmembrane domain (TMD) in different membrane mimetics recently prompted us to propose a novel signal transduction mechanism based on protein-lipid interaction. However, the experimental evidence for it was originally obtained with slightly different TMD fragments used in the two different mimetics, compromising the validity of the comparison. To eliminate ambiguity, we determined the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) structure of the bicelle-incorporated dimer of the EGFR TMD fragment identical to the one previously used in micelles. The NMR results augmented by molecular dynamics simulations confirm the mutual influence of the TMD and lipid environment, as is required for the proposed lipid-mediated activation mechanism. They also reveal the possible functional relevance of a subtle interplay between the concurrent processes in the lipid and protein during signal transduction.
An efficient computational approach is developed to quantify the free energy of a spontaneous association of the α-helices of proteins in the membrane environment. The approach is based on the numerical decomposition of the free energy profiles of the transmembrane (TM) helices into components corresponding to protein-protein, protein-lipid, and protein-water interactions. The method was tested for the TM segments of human glycophorin A (GpA) and two mutant forms, Gly83Ala and Thr87Val. It was shown that lipids make a significant negative contribution to the free energy of dimerization, while amino acid residues forming the interface of the helix-helix contact may be unfavorable in terms of free energy. The detailed balance between different energy contributions is highly dependent on the amino acid sequence of the TM protein segment. The results show the dominant role of the environment in the interaction of membrane proteins that is changing our notion of the driving force behind the spontaneous association of TM α-helices. Adequate quantification of the contribution of the water-lipid environment thus becomes an extremely urgent task for a rational design of new molecules targeting bitopic membrane proteins, including receptor tyrosine kinases.
Background: Prior studies of the human growth hormone receptor (GHR) revealed a distinct role of spatial rearrangements of its dimeric transmembrane domain in signal transduction across membrane. Detailed structural information obtained in the present study allowed elucidating the bases of such rearrangement and provided novel insights into receptor functioning.
Methods: We investigated the dimerization of recombinant TMD fragment GHR254-294 by means of high-resolution NMR in DPC micelles and molecular dynamics in explicit POPC membrane.
Results: We resolved two distinct dimeric structures of GHR TMD coexisting in membrane-mimicking micellar environment and providing left- and right-handed helix-helix association via different dimerization motifs. Based on the available mutagenesis data, the conformations correspond to the dormant and active receptor states and are distinguished by cis-trans isomerization of Phe-Pro266 bond in the transmembrane helix entry. Molecular dynamic relaxations of the structures in lipid bilayer revealed the role of the proline residue in functionally significant rearrangements of the adjacent juxtamembrane region supporting alternation between protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions of this region that can be triggered by ligand binding. Also, the importance of juxtamembrane S-S bonding for signal persistency, and somewhat unusual aspects of transmembrane region interaction with water molecules were demonstrated.
Conclusions: Two alternative dimeric structures of GHR TMD attributed to dormant and active receptor states interchange via allosteric rearrangements of transmembrane helices and extracellular juxtamembrane regions that support coordination between protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions.
General Significance: This study provides a holistic vision of GHR signal transduction across the membrane emphasizing the role of protein-lipid interactions.
Transmembrane domains of the most membrane proteins consist of single α-helices or their bundles. They take part in the functioning of receptors and ion channels and provide spatial structure formation. Thus, helix-helix interactions in lipid environment are involved in crucial processes of cell functioning. The concept of dimerization motifs representing protein-protein interactions as direct residue contacts is now replaced with the model of active membrane medium affecting embedded proteins. In the present work computer molecular dynamics simulations have been used to study the behavior of the transmembrane segment of glycophorin A and two artificial polypeptides (based on polyalanine and polyleucine) in hydrated lipid bilayers. It was demonstrated that both monomers and dimers present lipid interaction sites on the surface of helical transmembrane segments. In the case of glycophorin A monomer, the most prominent interaction site corresponds to the dimerization interface. The redistribution of bound lipid molecules during dimer formation stabilizes the dimeric state with the entropy contribution into the association free energy.
Plasmatic membranes contain high amount of membrane proteins. They perform vital functions of life, so any disruptions in their structure result in pathologies and diseases. Studies of these proteins with experimental methods are very complicated and expensive, as they require the membrane environment. Despite considerable progress achieved so far in methods of structure determination and property analysis, many computational methods are developing to predict the structural and dynamical parameters of proteins in membranes. Among the algorithms of modeling are the homology analysis, de novo structure prediction, molecular dynamics simulations and other. With growing computational capabilities, sophisticated techniques are developed taking into account more environmental factors. Combined approaches with different levels of approximation of intermolecular interactions are widely used. The major interest in studies of membrane proteins is focused on their transmembrane domains that are fundamental structural elements and are constituted by α-helices or helical bundles incorporated into lipid bilayer in most cases. Therefore, the fundamental problem of interaction of a pair of helices in membrane arises: the exact mechanism of this process is still not so clear. In place of the prevailing concept of dimerization motifs that states the importance of protein-protein contacts, a new model of the membrane as an adaptable lipid matrix is proposed. It states that biological membrane can adjust its properties around proteins and also modulates their activity. This mechanism of the mutual influence of two components is challenging modern computational methods of membrane model- ing because these systems are quite large and include many components to be treated accurately. Nowadays, investigations of the complex multi-component model systems become possible with modern methods of computational experiment.
One of the key advances in genome assembly that has led to a significant improvement in contig lengths has been improved algorithms for utilization of paired reads (mate-pairs). While in most assemblers, mate-pair information is used in a post-processing step, the recently proposed Paired de Bruijn Graph (PDBG) approach incorporates the mate-pair information directly in the assembly graph structure. However, the PDBG approach faces difficulties when the variation in the insert sizes is high. To address this problem, we first transform mate-pairs into edge-pair histograms that allow one to better estimate the distance between edges in the assembly graph that represent regions linked by multiple mate-pairs. Further, we combine the ideas of mate-pair transformation and PDBGs to construct new data structures for genome assembly: pathsets and pathset graphs.
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Many environmental stimuli present a quasi-rhythmic structure at different timescales that the brain needs to decompose and integrate. Cortical oscillations have been proposed as instruments of sensory de-multiplexing, i.e., the parallel processing of different frequency streams in sensory signals. Yet their causal role in such a process has never been demonstrated. Here, we used a neural microcircuit model to address whether coupled theta–gamma oscillations, as observed in human auditory cortex, could underpin the multiscale sensory analysis of speech. We show that, in continuous speech, theta oscillations can flexibly track the syllabic rhythm and temporally organize the phoneme-level response of gamma neurons into a code that enables syllable identification. The tracking of slow speech fluctuations by theta oscillations, and its coupling to gamma-spiking activity both appeared as critical features for accurate speech encoding. These results demonstrate that cortical oscillations can be a key instrument of speech de-multiplexing, parsing, and encoding.
Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (NNRs) of the α7 subtype have been shown to contribute to the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. The site of action and the underlying mechanism, however, are unclear. Here we applied a circuit modeling approach, supported by electrochemical in vivo recordings, to clarify this issue. Modeling revealed two potential mechanisms for the drop in accumbal dopamine efflux evoked by the selective α7 partial agonist TC-7020. TC-7020 could desensitize α7 NNRs located predominantly on dopamine neurons or glutamatergic afferents to them or, alternatively, activate α7 NNRs located on the glutamatergic afferents to GABAergic interneurons in the ventral tegmental area. Only the model based on desensitization, however, was able to explain the neutralizing effect of coapplied PNU-120596, a positive allosteric modulator. According to our results, the most likely sites of action are the preterminal α7 NNRs controlling glutamate release from cortical afferents to the nucleus accumbens. These findings offer a rationale for the further investigation of α7 NNR agonists as therapy for diseases associated with enhanced mesolimbic dopaminergic tone, such as schizophrenia and addiction