Scramblases catalyze the movement of lipids between both leaflets of a bilayer. Whereas the X-ray structure of the protein nhTMEM16 has previously revealed the architecture of a Ca2+-dependent lipid scramblase, its regulation mechanism has remained elusive. Here, we have used cryo-electron microscopy and functional assays to address this question. Ca2+-bound and Ca2+-free conformations of nhTMEM16 in detergent and lipid nanodiscs illustrate the interactions with its environment and they reveal the conformational changes underlying its activation. In this process, Ca2+-binding induces a stepwise transition of the catalytic subunit cavity, converting a closed cavity that is shielded from the membrane in the absence of ligand, into a polar furrow that becomes accessible to lipid headgroups in the Ca2+-bound state. Additionally, our structures demonstrate how nhTMEM16 distorts the membrane at both entrances of the subunit cavity, thereby decreasing the energy barrier for lipid movement.
- Cristina Paulino
- Raimund Dutzler
- Raimund Dutzler
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Kenton Jon Swartz, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, United States
© 2019, Kalienkova 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.
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