- NMR, EM and functional studies on TBsmr, a small multidrug transporter from M. tuberculosis (2008)
- Antibiotic resistance of pathogenic bacteria is a major worldwide problem. Bacteria can resist antibiotics by active efflux due to multidrug efflux pumps. The focus of this study has been the mycobacterial multidrug transporter TBsmr because it belongs to the small multidrug resistance (SMR) family whose members are a paradigm to study multidrug efflux due to their small size. SMR proteins are typically 11-12 kDa in size and have a four-transmembrane helix topology. They bind cationic, lipophilic antibiotics such as ethidium bromide (EtBr) and TPP+, and transport them across the membrane in exchange for protons. To understand the molecular mechanism of multidrug resistance, we have to gain information about the structure and function of these proteins. The research described in this thesis aimed to deduce details about the topology, transport cycle and key residues of TBsmr using biophysical techniques. Solid-state NMR (ssNMR) can provide detailed insight into structural organization and dynamical properties of these systems. However, a major bottleneck is the preparation of mg amounts of isotope labeled protein. In case of proteoliposomes, the problem is compounded by the presence of lipids which have to fit into the small active volume of the ssNMR rotor. In Chapter 3, an enhanced protein preparation is described which yields large amounts of TBsmr reconstituted in a native lipid environment suitable for further functional and structual studies. The achieved high protein-to-lipid ratios made a further characterization by ssNMR feasible. The transport activity and oligomeric state of the reconstituted protein in different types of lipid was studied as shown in Chapter 4. The exact oligomeric state of native SMR proteins is still uncertain but a number of biochemical and biophysical studies in detergent suggest that the minimal functional unit capable of binding substrate is a dimer. However, binding assays are not ideal since a protein may bind substrate without completing the transport cycle which can only be shown for reconstituted protein in transport assays.By combining functional data of a TPP+ transport assay with information about theoligomeric state of reconstituted TBsmr obtained by freeze-fracture electron microscopy, it could be shown that lipids affect the function and the oligomeric state of the protein, and that the TBsmr dimer is the minimal functional unit necessary for transport. The transport cycle must involve various conformational states of the protein needed for substrate binding, translocation and release. A fluorescent substrate will therefore experience a significant change of environment while being transported, which influences its fluorescence properties. Thus the substrate itself can report intermediate states that form during the transport cycle. In Chapter 5, the existence of such a substrate-transporter complex for the TBsmr and its substrate EtBr could be shown. The pH gradient needed for antiport has been generated by co-reconstituting TBsmr with bacteriorhodopsin. The measurements have shown the formation of a pH-dependant, transient substrate-protein complex between binding and release of EtBr. This state was further characterized by determining the Kd, by inhibiting EtBr transport through titration with non-fluorescent substrate and by fluorescence anisotropy measurements. The findings support a model with a single occluded intermediate state in which the substrate is highly immobile. Liquid-state NMR is a useful tool to monitor protein-ligand interactions by chemical shift mapping and thus identify and characterize important residues in the protein which are involved in substrate binding. In agreement with previous studies (Krueger-Koplin et al., 2004), the detergent LPPG was found to be highly suitable for liquid-state NMR studies of the membrane protein TBsmr and 42% of the residues could be assigned, as reported in Chapter 6. However, no specific interactions with EtBr were found. This observation was confirmed by LILBID mass spectrometry which showed that TBsmr was predominantly in the non-functional monomeric state. Functional protein was prepared in proteoliposomes which can be investigated by solidstate NMR (Chapter 7). Besides the essential E13, the aromatic residues W63, Y40, and Y60 have been shown to be directly involved in drug binding and transport. Different isotope labeling strategies were evaluated to improve the quality of the NMR spectra to identify and characterize these key residues. In a single tryptophan mutant of reconstituted TBsmr W30A, the binding of ethidium bromide could be detected by 13C solid-state NMR. The measurements have revealed two populations of the conserved W63 residue with distinct backbone structures in the presence of substrate. There is a controversy about the parallel or anti-parallel arrangement of the protomers in the EmrE dimer (Schuldiner, 2007) but this structural asymmetry is consistent with both a parallel and anti-parallel topology.