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Biochemistry. 2005 Sep 20;44(37):12329-43.

Design of amphiphilic protein maquettes: controlling assembly, membrane insertion, and cofactor interactions.

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Johnson Research Foundation, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


We have designed polypeptides combining selected lipophilic (LP) and hydrophilic (HP) sequences that assemble into amphiphilic (AP) alpha-helical bundles to reproduce key structure characteristics and functional elements of natural membrane proteins. The principal AP maquette (AP1) developed here joins 14 residues of a heme binding sequence from a structured diheme-four-alpha-helical bundle (HP1), with 24 residues of a membrane-spanning LP domain from the natural four-alpha-helical M2 channel of the influenza virus, through a flexible linking sequence (GGNG) to make a 42 amino acid peptide. The individual AP1 helices (without connecting loops) assemble in detergent into four-alpha-helical bundles as observed by analytical ultracentrifugation. The helices are oriented parallel as indicated by interactions typical of adjacent hemes. AP1 orients vectorially at nonpolar-polar interfaces and readily incorporates into phospholipid vesicles with >97% efficiency, although most probably without vectorial bias. Mono- and diheme-AP1 in membranes enhance functional elements well established in related HP analogues. These include strong redox charge coupling of heme with interior glutamates and internal electric field effects eliciting a remarkable 160 mV splitting of the redox potentials of adjacent hemes that leads to differential heme binding affinities. The AP maquette variants, AP2 and AP3, removed heme-ligating histidines from the HP domain and included heme-ligating histidines in LP domains by selecting the b(H) heme binding sequence from the membrane-spanning d-helix of respiratory cytochrome bc(1). These represent the first examples of AP maquettes with heme and bacteriochlorophyll binding sites located within the LP domains.

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