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Protein Sci. 2003 Feb;12(2):337-48.

Computational design of a water-soluble analog of phospholamban.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104-6059, USA.


Membrane proteins and water-soluble proteins share a similar core. This similarity suggests that it should be possible to water-solubilize membrane proteins by mutating only their lipid-exposed residues. We have developed computational tools to design water-soluble variants of helical membrane proteins, using the pentameric phospholamban (PLB) as our test case. To water-solublize PLB, the membrane-exposed positions were changed to polar or charged amino acids, while the putative core was left unaltered. We generated water-soluble phospholamban (WSPLB), and compared its properties to its predecessor PLB. In aqueous solution, WSPLB mimics all of the reported properties of PLB including oligomerization state, helical structure, and stabilization upon phosphorylation. We also characterized the truncated mutant WSPLB (21-52) comprising only the former transmembrane segment of PLB. This peptide shows a decreased specificity for forming a pentameric oligomerization state.

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