We present a mechanism for a generic, powerful force of assembly and mobility for transmembrane proteins in lipid bilayers. This force is a pre-transition (or pre-melting) effect for the first-order transition between ordered and disordered phases in the membrane. Using large-scale molecular simulation, we show that a protein with hydrophobic thickness equal to that of the disordered phase embedded in an ordered bilayer stabilizes a microscopic order-disorder interface. The stiffness of that interface is finite. When two such proteins approach each other, they assemble because assembly reduces the net interfacial energy. Analogous to the hydrophobic effect, we refer to this phenomenon as the 'orderphobic effect'. The effect is mediated by proximity to the order-disorder phase transition and the size and hydrophobic mismatch of the protein. The strength and range of forces arising from this effect are significantly larger than those that could arise from membrane elasticity for the membranes considered.
- Axel T Brunger, Stanford University, United States
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Voltage-gated sodium channels are targets for a range of pharmaceutical drugs developed for treatment of neurological diseases. Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive compound isolated from cannabis plants, was recently approved for treatment of two types of epilepsy associated with sodium channel mutations. This study used high resolution X-ray crystallography to demonstrate the detailed nature of the interactions between CBD and the NavMs voltage-gated sodium channel, and electrophysiology to show the functional effects of binding CBD to these channels. CBD binds at a novel site at the interface of the fenestrations and the central hydrophobic cavity of the channel. Binding at this site blocks the transmembrane-spanning sodium ion translocation pathway, providing a molecular mechanism for channel inhibition. Modelling studies suggest why the closely-related psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol may not have the same effects on these channels. Finally, comparisons are made with the TRPV2 channel, also recently proposed as a target site for CBD. In summary, this study provides novel insight into a possible mechanism for CBD interactions with sodium channels.
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