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J Neurochem. 2006 Sep;98(5):1551-9.

Mutational and bioinformatics analysis of proline- and glycine-rich motifs in vesicular acetylcholine transporter.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106-9510, USA.


The vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) contains six conserved sequence motifs that are rich in proline and glycine. Because these residues can have special roles in the conformation of polypeptide backbone, the motifs might have special roles in conformational changes during transport. Using published bioinformatics insights, the amino acid sequences of the 12 putative, helical, transmembrane segments of wild-type and mutant VAChTs were analyzed for propensity to form non-alpha-helical conformations and molecular notches. Many instances were found. In particular, high propensity for kinks and notches are robustly predicted for motifs D2, C and C'. Mutations in these motifs either increase or decrease Vmax for transport, but they rarely affect the equilibrium dissociation constants for ACh and the allosteric inhibitor, vesamicol. The near absence of equilibrium effects implies that the mutations do not alter the backbone conformation. In contrast, the Vmax effects demonstrate that the mutations alter the difficulty of a major conformational change in transport. Interestingly, mutation of an alanine to a glycine residue in motif C significantly increases the rates for reorientation across the membrane. These latter rates are deduced from the kinetics model of the transport cycle. This mutation is also predicted to produce a more flexible kink and tighter tandem notches than are present in wild-type. For the full set of mutations, faster reorientation rates correlate with greater predicted propensity for kinks and notches. The results of the study argue that conserved motifs mediate conformational changes in the VAChT backbone during transport.

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