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J Mol Biol. 2006 May 19;358(5):1221-8. Epub 2006 Mar 13.

The stability of transmembrane helix interactions measured in a biological membrane.

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Institut für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Stefan-Meier-Strasse 19, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.


Despite some promising progress in the understanding of membrane protein folding and assembly, there is little experimental information regarding the thermodynamic stability of transmembrane helix interactions and even less on the stability of transmembrane helix-helix interactions in a biological membrane. Here we describe an approach that allows quantitative measurement of transmembrane helix interactions in a biological membrane, and calculation of changes in the interaction free energy resulting from substitution of single amino acids. Dimerization of several variants of the glycophorin A transmembrane domain are characterized and compared to the wild-type (wt) glycophorin A transmembrane helix dimerization. The calculated DeltaDeltaG(app) values are further compared with values found in the literature. In addition, we compare interactions between the wt glycophorin A transmembrane domain and helices in which critical glycine residues are replaced by alanine or serine, respectively. The data demonstrate that replacement of the glycine residues by serine is less destabilizing than replacement by alanine with a DeltaDeltaG(app) value of about 0.4 kcal/mol. Our study comprises the first measurement of a transmembrane helix interaction in a biological membrane, and we are optimistic that it can be further developed and applied.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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