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Biochemistry. 2010 Nov 2;49(43):9226-40. doi: 10.1021/bi101134h.

Distance measurements within a concatamer of the plasma membrane Cl⁻/HCO₃⁻ exchanger, AE1.

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Membrane Protein Research Group, Department of Physiology and Department of Biochemistry, School of Molecular and Systems Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


AE1, which exists in the erythrocyte plasma membrane as a noncovalent dimer, facilitates transmembrane Cl⁻/HCO₃⁻ exchange. Here a concatamer of AE1 (two AE1 monomers fused via a two-residue linker to form an intramolecular dimer) was designed to facilitate fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) studies. The concatameric protein (AE1·AE1) was expressed at the plasma membrane at levels similar to that of wild-type AE1 and had Cl⁻/HCO₃⁻ exchange activity indistinguishable from that of wild-type AE1. Nondenaturing gel electrophoresis revealed that AE1·AE1 does not associate into higher-order oligomers when expressed in HEK293 cells and Xenopus laevis oocytes. The cysteine-less concatamer (AE1·AE1-C⁻) enabled introduction of unique cysteine residues into the whole intramolecular dimer. AE1(Q434C)·AE1(Q434C)-C⁻, with a single cysteine residue in each AE1 subunit, was labeled with the donor Alexa Fluor 488 C(5)-maleimide (AF) and the acceptor tetramethylrhodamine methanethiosulfonate (TMR-MTS). Energy transfer efficiency revealed that the distance between these residues in the AE1 dimer is 49 ± 5 Å. The 72% FRET efficiency observed between AE1(Q434C)·AE1-C⁻ labeled with AF and the lipid bilayer labeled with 1,1'-didodecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate indicates that Q434 is less than 33 Å from the lipid bilayer. We thus provide two distance constraints for the position of Q434, which is located in extracellular loop 1, connecting the first two transmembrane segments of AE1.

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