The Effect of Membrane Environment on Surfactant Protein C Stability Studied by Constant-pH Molecular Dynamics
journal contributionposted on 26.10.2015, 00:00 by Catarina A. Carvalheda, Sara R. R. Campos, António M. Baptista
Pulmonary surfactant protein C (SP-C) is a small peptide with two covalently linked fatty acyl chains that plays a crucial role in the formation and stabilization of the pulmonary surfactant reservoirs during the compression and expansion steps of the respiratory cycle. Although its function is known to be tightly related to its highly hydrophobic character and key interactions maintained with specific lipid components, much is left to understand about its molecular mechanism of action. Also, although it adopts a mainly helical structure while associated with the membrane, factors as pH variation and deacylation have been shown to affect its stability and function. In this work, the conformational behavior of both the acylated and deacylated SP-C isoforms was studied in a DPPC bilayer under different pH conditions using constant-pH molecular dynamics simulations. Our findings show that both protein isoforms are remarkably stable over the studied pH range, even though the acylated isoform exhibits a labile helix–turn–helix motif rarely observed in the other isoform. We estimate similar tilt angles for the two isoforms over the studied pH range, with a generally higher degree of internalization of the basic N-terminal residues in the deacylated case, and observe and discuss some protonation–conformation coupling effects. Both isoforms establish contacts with the surrounding lipid molecules (preferentially with the sn-2 ester bonds) and have a local effect on the conformational behavior of the surrounding lipid molecules, the latter being more pronounced for acylated SP-C.