Role of tryptophan residues in gramicidin channel organization and function
by Chattopadhyay, A.; Rawat, S. S.; Greathouse, D. V.; Kelkar, D. A.; Koeppe, R. E.
The linear peptide gramicidin forms prototypical ion channels specific for monovalent cations and has been used extensively to study the organization, dynamics, and function of membrane-spanning channels. The tryptophan residues in gramicidin channels are crucial for maintaining the structure and function of the channel. We explored the structural basis for the reduction in channel conductance in the case of single-tryptophan analogs of gramicidin with three Trp -> hydrophobic substitutions using a combination of fluorescence approaches, which include red edge excitation shift and membrane penetration depth analysis, size-exclusion chromatography, and circular dichroism spectroscopy. We show here that the gramicidin analogs containing single-tryptophan residues adopt a mixture of nonchannel and channel conformations, as evident from analysis of membrane penetration depth, size-exclusion chromatography, and backbone circular dichroism data. These results are potentially useful in analyzing the effect of tryptophan substitution on the functioning of other ion channels and membrane proteins.