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.
Carotenoid (Car) pigments perform central roles in photosynthesis-related light harvesting (LH), photoprotection, and assembly of functional pigment-protein complexes. However, the relationships between Car depletion in the LH, assembly of the prokaryotic reaction center (RC)-LH complex, and quinone exchange are not fully understood. Here, we analyzed native RC-LH (nRC-LH) and Car-depleted RC-LH (dRC-LH) complexes in Roseiflexus castenholzii, a chlorosome-less filamentous anoxygenic phototroph that forms the deepest branch of photosynthetic bacteria. Newly identified exterior Cars functioned with the bacteriochlorophyll B800 to block the proposed quinone channel between LHαβ subunits in the nRC-LH, forming a sealed LH ring that was disrupted by transmembrane helices from cytochrome c and subunit X to allow quinone shuttling. dRC-LH lacked subunit X, leading to an exposed LH ring with a larger opening, which together accelerated the quinone exchange rate. We also assigned amino acid sequences of subunit X and two hypothetical proteins Y and Z that functioned in forming the quinone channel and stabilizing the RC-LH interactions. This study reveals the structural basis by which Cars assembly regulates the architecture and quinone exchange of bacterial RC-LH complexes. These findings mark an important step forward in understanding the evolution and diversity of prokaryotic photosynthetic apparatus.
Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is essential for long-term potentiation (LTP) of excitatory synapses that is linked to learning and memory. In this study, we focused on understanding how interactions between CaMKIIα and the actin-crosslinking protein α-actinin-2 underlie long-lasting changes in dendritic spine architecture. We found that association of the two proteins was unexpectedly elevated within 2 minutes of NMDA receptor stimulation that triggers structural LTP in primary hippocampal neurons. Furthermore, disruption of interactions between the two proteins prevented the accumulation of enlarged mushroom-type dendritic spines following NMDA receptor activation. α-Actinin-2 binds to the regulatory segment of CaMKII. Calorimetry experiments, and a crystal structure of α-actinin-2 EF hands 3 and 4 in complex with the CaMKII regulatory segment, indicate that the regulatory segment of autoinhibited CaMKII is not fully accessible to α-actinin-2. Pull-down experiments show that occupation of the CaMKII substrate-binding groove by GluN2B markedly increases α-actinin-2 access to the CaMKII regulatory segment. Furthermore, in situ labelling experiments are consistent with the notion that recruitment of CaMKII to NMDA receptors contributes to elevated interactions between the kinase and α-actinin-2 during structural LTP. Overall, our study provides new mechanistic insight into the molecular basis of structural LTP and reveals an added layer of sophistication to the function of CaMKII.