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Proteins. 2003 Nov 15;53(3):758-67.

The intracellular domain of the Drosophila cholinesterase-like neural adhesion protein, gliotactin, is natively unfolded.

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  • 1Department of Structural Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


Drosophila gliotactin (Gli) is a 109-kDa transmembrane, cholinesterase-like adhesion molecule (CLAM), expressed in peripheral glia, that is crucial for formation of the blood-nerve barrier. The intracellular portion (Gli-cyt) was cloned and expressed in the cytosolic fraction of Escherichia coli BLR(DE3) at 45 mg/L and purified by Ni-NTA (nitrilotriacetic acid) chromatography. Although migration on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), under denaturing conditions, was unusually slow, molecular weight determination by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) confirmed that the product was consistent with its theoretical size. Gel filtration chromatography yielded an anomalously large Stokes radius, suggesting a fully unfolded conformation. Circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy demonstrated that Gli-cyt was >50% unfolded, further suggesting a nonglobular conformation. Finally, 1D-(1)H NMR conclusively demonstrated that Gli-cyt possesses an extended unfolded structure. In addition, Gli-cyt was shown to possess charge and hydrophobic properties characteristic of natively unfolded proteins (i.e., proteins that, when purified, are intrinsically disordered under physiologic conditions in vitro).

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