Biological membranes create compartments, and are usually formed by lipid bilayers. However, in hyperthermophilic archaea that live optimally at temperatures above 80°C the membranes are monolayers which resemble fused bilayers. Many double-stranded DNA viruses which parasitize such hosts, including the filamentous virus AFV1 of Acidianus hospitalis, are enveloped with a lipid-containing membrane. Using cryo-EM, we show that the membrane in AFV1 is a ~2 nm-thick monolayer, approximately half the expected membrane thickness, formed by host membrane-derived lipids which adopt a U-shaped 'horseshoe' conformation. We hypothesize that this unusual viral envelope structure results from the extreme curvature of the viral capsid, as 'horseshoe' lipid conformations favor such curvature and host membrane lipids that permit horseshoe conformations are selectively recruited into the viral envelope. The unusual envelope found in AFV1 also has many implications for biotechnology, since this membrane can survive the most aggressive conditions involving extremes of temperature and pH.
- Edward H Egelman
- David Prangishvili
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Sriram Subramaniam, National Cancer Institute, United States
© 2017, Egelman 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.
Cleavage of membrane proteins in the lipid bilayer by intramembrane proteases is crucial for health and disease. Although different lipid environments can potently modulate their activity, how this is linked to their structural dynamics is unclear. Here we show that the carboxy-peptidase-like activity of the archaeal intramembrane protease PSH, a homolog of the Alzheimer's disease-associated presenilin/γ-secretase is impaired in micelles and promoted in a lipid bilayer. Comparative molecular dynamics simulations revealed that important elements for substrate binding such as transmembrane domain 6a of PSH are more labile in micelles and stabilized in the lipid bilayer. Moreover, consistent with an enhanced interaction of PSH with a transition-state analog inhibitor, the bilayer promoted the formation of the enzyme´s catalytic active site geometry. Our data indicate that the lipid environment of an intramembrane protease plays a critical role in structural stabilization and active site arrangement of the enzyme-substrate complex thereby promoting intramembrane proteolysis.
Transport of proteins across and into membranes is a fundamental biological process with the vast majority being conducted by the ubiquitous Sec machinery. In bacteria, this is usually achieved when the SecY-complex engages the cytosolic ATPase SecA (secretion) or translating ribosomes (insertion). Great strides have been made towards understanding the mechanism of protein translocation. Yet, important questions remain – notably, the nature of the individual steps that constitute transport, and how the proton-motive force (PMF) across the plasma membrane contributes. Here, we apply a recently developed high-resolution protein transport assay to explore these questions. We find that pre-protein transport is limited primarily by the diffusion of arginine residues across the membrane, particularly in the context of bulky hydrophobic sequences. This specific effect of arginine, caused by its positive charge, is mitigated for lysine which can be deprotonated and transported across the membrane in its neutral form. These observations have interesting implications for the mechanism of protein secretion, suggesting a simple mechanism through which the PMF can aid transport by enabling a 'proton ratchet', wherein re-protonation of exiting lysine residues prevents channel re-entry, biasing transport in the outward direction.