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Biophys J. 1993 Sep;65(3):1295-306.

Two-dimensional crystallization of Escherichia coli-expressed bacteriorhodopsin and its D96N variant: high resolution structural studies in projection.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0448.


Highly ordered two-dimensional (2-D) crystals of Escherichia coli-expressed bacteriorhodopsin analog (e-bR) and its D96N variant (e-D96N) reconstituted in Halobacterium halobium lipids have been obtained by starting with the opsin protein purified in the denaturing detergent sodium dodecyl sulfate. These crystals embedded in glucose show electron diffraction in projection to better than 3.0 A at room temperature. This is the first instance that expressed bR or a variant has been crystallized in 2-D arrays showing such high order. The crystal lattice is homologous to that in wild-type bR (w-bR) in purple membranes (PM) and permit high resolution analyses of the structure of the functionally impaired D96N variant. The e-bR crystal is isomorphous to that in PM with an overall averaged fractional change of 12.7% (26-3.6-A resolution) in the projection structure factors. The projection difference Fourier map e-bR-PM at 3.6-A resolution indicates small conformational changes equivalent to movement of approximately < 7 C-atoms distributed within and in the neighborhood of the protein envelope. This result shows that relative to w-bR there are no global structural rearrangements in e-bR at this 3.6 A resolution level. The e-D96N crystal is isomorphous to the e-bR crystal with a smaller (9.2%) overall averaged fractional change in the structure factors. The significant structural differences between e-D96N and e-bR are concentrated at high resolution (5-3.6 A); however, these changes are small as quantified from the 3.6 A resolution e-D96N-e-bR Fourier difference map. The difference map showed no statistically significant peaks or valleys within 5 A in projection from the site of D96 substitution on helix C. Elsewhere within the protein envelope the integrated measure of peaks or valleys was < approximately 3 C-atom equivalents. Thus, our results show that for the isosteric substitution of Asp96 by Asn, the molecular conformation of bR in its ground state is essentially unaltered. Therefore, the known effect of D96N on the slowed M412 decay is not due to ground-state structural perturbations.

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