Influence of interfacial tryptophan residues on an arginine-flanked transmembrane helix

by Sustich, S. J.; Afrose, F.; Greathouse, D. V.; Koeppe, R. E.

The transmembrane helices of membrane proteins often are flanked by interfacial charged or aromatic residues that potentially help to anchor the membrane-spanning protein. For isolated single-span helices, the interfacial residues may be especially important for stabilizing particular tilted transmembrane orientations. The peptide RWALP23 (acetyl-GR(2)ALW(LA)(6)LWLAR(22)A-amide) has been employed to investigate the interplay between interfacial arginines and tryptophans. Here we replace the tryptophans of RWALP23 with A5 and A19, to investigate arginines alone with respect to helix fraying and orientation in varying lipid bilayers. Deuterated alanines incorporated into the central sequence allow the orientation and stability of the core helix to be assessed by means of solid-state H-2 NMR in bilayers of DOPC, DMPC and DLPC. The helix tilt from the bilayer normal is found to increase slightly when R2 and R22 are present, and increases still further when the tryptophans W5 and W19 are replaced by alanines. The extent of helix dynamic averaging remains low in all cases. The preferred helix azimuthal rotation is essentially constant for all of the helices in each of the lipid membranes considered here. The alanines located outside of the core region of the peptide are sensitive to helical integrity. The new alanines, A5 and A19, therefore, provide new information about the length of the core helix and the onset of unraveling of the terminals. Residue A19 remains essentially on the central helix in each lipid membrane, while residues A3, A5 and A21 deviate from the core helix to an extent that depends on the membrane thickness. Differential unraveling of the two ends to expose peptide backbone groups for hydrogen bonding therefore acts together with specific interfacial side chains to stabilize a transmembrane helix.

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-Biomembranes