The Na+/K+-pump maintains the physiological K+ and Na+ electrochemical gradients across the cell membrane. It operates via an 'alternating-access' mechanism, making iterative transitions between inward-facing (E1) and outward-facing (E2) conformations. Although the general features of the transport cycle are known, the detailed physicochemical factors governing the binding site selectivity remain mysterious. Free energy molecular dynamics simulations show that the ion binding sites switch their binding specificity in E1 and E2. This is accompanied by small structural arrangements and changes in protonation states of the coordinating residues. Additional computations on structural models of the intermediate states along the conformational transition pathway reveal that the free energy barrier toward the occlusion step is considerably increased when the wrong type of ion is loaded into the binding pocket, prohibiting the pump cycle from proceeding forward. This self-correcting mechanism strengthens the overall transport selectivity and protects the stoichiometry of the pump cycle.
- Benoît Roux
- Pablo Artigas
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Nir Ben-Tal, Tel Aviv University, Israel
© 2016, Rui et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Single-molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS) uses the cantilever tip of an atomic force microscopy (AFM) to apply a force able to unfold a single protein. The obtained force-distance curve encodes the unfolding pathway, and from its analysis it is possible to characterize the folded domains. SMFS has been mostly used to study the unfolding of purified proteins, in solution or reconstituted in a lipid bilayer. Here, we describe a pipeline for analyzing membrane proteins based on SMFS, which involves the isolation of the plasma membrane of single cells and the harvesting of force-distance curves directly from it. We characterized and identified the embedded membrane proteins combining, within a Bayesian framework, the information of the shape of the obtained curves, with the information from mass spectrometry and proteomic databases. The pipeline was tested with purified/reconstituted proteins and applied to five cell types where we classified the unfolding of their most abundant membrane proteins. We validated our pipeline by overexpressing four constructs, and this allowed us to gather structural insights of the identified proteins, revealing variable elements in the loop regions. Our results set the basis for the investigation of the unfolding of membrane proteins in situ, and for performing proteomics from a membrane fragment.
Cas7-11 is a Type III-E CRISPR Cas effector that confers programmable RNA cleavage and has potential applications in RNA interference. Cas7-11 encodes a single polypeptide containing four Cas7- and one Cas11-like segments that obscures the distinction between the multi-subunit Class 1 and the single-subunit Class-2 CRISPR-Cas systems. We report a cryo-EM structure of the active Cas7-11 from Desulfonema ishimotonii (DiCas7-11) that reveals the molecular basis for RNA processing and interference activities. DiCas7-11 arranges its Cas7- and Cas11-like domains in an extended form that resembles the backbone made up by four Cas7 and one Cas11 subunits in the multi-subunit enzymes. Unlike the multi-subunit enzymes, however, the backbone of DiCas7-11 contains evolutionarily different Cas7 and Cas11 domains, giving rise to their unique functionality. The first Cas7-like domain nearly engulfs the last 15 direct repeat nucleotides in processing and recognition of the CRISPR RNA, and its free-standing fragment retains most of the activity. Both the second and the third Cas7-like domains mediate target RNA cleavage in a metal-dependent manner. The structure and mutational data indicate that the long variable insertion to the fourth Cas7 domain has little impact to RNA processing or targeting, suggesting the possibility for engineering a compact and programmable RNA interference tool.