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Biochemistry. 2014 Dec 9;53(48):7625-40. doi: 10.1021/bi501111j. Epub 2014 Nov 25.

An experimentally robust model of monomeric apolipoprotein A-I created from a chimera of two X-ray structures and molecular dynamics simulations.

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Department of Medicine, Atherosclerosis Research Unit, and Center for Computational and Structural Dynamics, University of Alabama at Birmingham , Birmingham, Alabama 35294, United States.


High-density lipoprotein (HDL) retards atherosclerosis by accepting cholesterol from the artery wall. However, the structure of the proposed acceptor, monomeric apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), the major protein of HDL, is poorly understood. Two published models for monomeric apoA-I used cross-linking distance constraints to derive best fit conformations. This approach has limitations. (i) Cross-linked peptides provide no information about secondary structure. (ii) A protein chain can be folded in multiple ways to create a best fit. (iii) Ad hoc folding of a secondary structure is unlikely to produce a stable orientation of hydrophobic and hydrophilic residues. To address these limitations, we used a different approach. We first noted that the dimeric apoA-I crystal structure, (Δ185-243)apoA-I, is topologically identical to a monomer in which helix 5 forms a helical hairpin, a monomer with a hydrophobic cleft running the length of the molecule. We then realized that a second crystal structure, (Δ1-43)apoA-I, contains a C-terminal structure that fits snuggly via aromatic and hydrophobic interactions into the hydrophobic cleft. Consequently, we combined these crystal structures into an initial model that was subjected to molecular dynamics simulations. We tested the initial and simulated models and the two previously published models in three ways: against two published data sets (domains predicted to be helical by H/D exchange and six spin-coupled residues) and against our own experimentally determined cross-linking distance constraints. We note that the best fit simulation model, superior by all tests to previously published models, has dynamic features of a molten globule with interesting implications for the functions of apoA-I.

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