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J Phys Chem B. 2008 Jul 24;112(29):8730-6. doi: 10.1021/jp8002678. Epub 2008 Jun 26.

Analysis of the structural and dynamic properties of human N-terminal domain of apolipoprotein E by molecular dynamics simulations.

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Structure et Fonction des Membranes Biologiques, Université Libre de Bruxelles, CP 206/2, Bld du Triomphe, B-1050 Bruxelles, Belgium.


Whereas the lipid-free N-terminal domain of apolipoprotein E (apoE-NT) adopts a four-helix bundle, the lipid-bound form is believed to undergo a large conformational change likely to be characterized by the opening of the bundle. ApoE-NT in a water/alcohol mixture was also shown to experience conformational changes exhibiting similarities with those induced upon lipid binding. The structure and dynamics of apoE-NT have been here investigated by analyzing 40 ns and 60 ns molecular dynamics simulations performed in water and in a water/propanol mixture, respectively. The overall structural properties show alterations of the tertiary structure of apoE-NT in the water/alcohol system in agreement with those observed experimentally. In contrast, in the water simulation, the sampled conformations remain closer to the crystal structure that served as a starting point for both simulations. Interestingly, several propanol molecules are seen to penetrate two hydrophobic regions of the bundle interior. One of these regions is enclosed in part by the short helix (H1') connecting helices 1 and 2 of the bundle which has been experimentally shown to be important for modulating lipid binding activity of apoE-NT. Principal component analysis of the water/propanol trajectory confirms that the region including H1' is the locus of the largest motion. Another region involves the loop connecting helix 2 and helix 3 which has been hypothesized to play the role of a hinge in the opening of the bundle.

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