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Probing the Spontaneous Membrane Insertion of a Tail-Anchored Membrane Protein by Sum Frequency Generation Spectroscopy

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posted on 03.11.2010, 00:00 by Khoi Tan Nguyen, Ronald Soong, Sang-Choul lm, Lucy Waskell, Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy, Zhan Chen
In addition to providing a semipermeable barrier that protects a cell from harmful stimuli, lipid membranes occupy a central role in hosting a variety of biological processes, including cellular communications and membrane protein functions. Most importantly, protein−membrane interactions are implicated in a variety of diseases and therefore many analytical techniques were developed to study the basis of these interactions and their influence on the molecular architecture of the cell membrane. In this study, sum frequency generation (SFG) vibrational spectroscopy is used to investigate the spontaneous membrane insertion process of cytochrome b5 and its mutants. Experimental results show a significant difference in the membrane insertion and orientation properties of these proteins, which can be correlated with their functional differences. In particular, our results correlate the nonfunctional property of a mutant cytochrome b5 with its inability to insert into the lipid bilayer. The approach reported in this study could be used as a potential rapid screening tool in measuring the topology of membrane proteins as well as interactions of biomolecules with lipid bilayers in situ.

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