Importance of indole N-H hydrogen bonding in the organization and dynamics of gramicidin channels

by Chaudhuri, A.; Haldar, S.; Sun, H. Y.; Koeppe, R. E.; Chattopadhyay, A.

The linear ion channel peptide gramicidin represents an excellent model for exploring the principles underlying membrane protein structure and function, especially with respect to typtophan residues. The tryptophan residues in gramicidin channels are crucial for the structure and function of the channel. In order to test the importance of indole hydrogen bonding for the biophysical properties of gramicidin channels, we monitored the effect of N-methylation of gramicidin tryptophans, using a combination of steady state and time-resolved fluorescence approaches along with circular dichroism spectroscopy. We show here that in the absence of the hydrogen bonding ability of tryptophans, tetramethyltryptophan gramicidin (TM-gramicidin) is unable to maintain the single stranded, head-to-head dimeric channel conformation in membranes. Our results show that TM-gramicidin displays a red-shifted fluorescence emission maximum, lower red edge excitation shift (REES), and higher fluorescence intensity and lifetime, consistent with its nonchannel conformation. This is in agreement with the measured location (average depth) of the 1-methyltryptophans in TM-gramicidin using the parallax method. These results bring out the usefulness of 1-methyltryptophan as a fluorescent tool to examine the hydrogen bonding ability of tryptophans in proteins and peptides. We conclude that changes in the hydrogen bonding ability of typtophans, along with coupled changes in peptide backbone structure induce the loss of single stranded 1363 helical dimer conformation. These results agree with earlier results from sizeexclusion chromatography and single-channel measurements for TM-gramicidin, and confirm the importance of indole hydrogen bonding for the conformation and function of ion channels and membrane proteins.

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-Biomembranes
Start Page