Effects of phenylalanine substitutions in gramicidin A on the kinetics of channel formation in vesicles and channel structure in SDS micelles

by Jordan, J. B.; Easton, P. L.; Hinton, J. F.

The common occurrence of Trp residues at the aqueous-lipid interface region of transmembrane channels is thought to be indicative of its importance for insertion and stabilization of the channel in membranes. To further investigate the effects of Trp --> Phe substitution on the structure and function of the gramicidin channel, four analogs of gramicidin A have been synthesized in which the tryptophan residues at positions 9, 11, 13, and 15 are sequentially replaced with phenylalanine. The three-dimensional structure of each viable analog has been determined using a combination of two-dimensional NMR techniques and distance geometry-simulated annealing structure calculations. These phenylalanine analogs adopt a homodimer motif, consisting of two beta(6.3) helices joined by six hydrogen bonds at their NH2-termini. The replacement of the tryptophan residues does not have a significant effect on the backbone structure of the channels when compared to native gramicidin A, and only small effects are seen on side-chain conformations. Single-channel conductance measurements have shown that the conductance and lifetime of the channels are significantly affected by the replacement of the tryptophan residues (Wallace, 2000; Becker et al., 1991). The variation in conductance appears to be caused by the sequential removal of a tryptophan dipole, thereby removing the ion-dipole interaction at the channel entrance and at the ion binding site. Channel lifetime variations appear to be related to changing side chain-lipid interactions. This is supported by data relating to transport and incorporation kinetics.

Biophysical Journal
Start Page
1542-0086; 0006-3495