- Characterization of proteorhodopsin 2D crystals by electron microscopy and solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (2008)
- Proteorhodopsin (PR) originally isolated from uncultivated γ-Proteobacterium as a result of biodiversity screens, is highly abundant ocean wide. PR, a Type I retinal binding protein with 26% sequence identity, is a bacterial homologue of Bacteriorhodopsin (BR). The members within this family share about 78% of sequence identity and display a 40 nm difference in the absorption spectra. This property of the PR family members provides an excellent model system for understanding the mechanism of spectral tuning. Functionally PR is a photoactive proton pump and is suggested to exhibit a pH dependent vectorality of proton transfer. This raises questions about its potential role as pH dependent regulator. The abundance of PR in huge numbers within the cell, its widespread distribution ocean wide at different depths hints towards the involvement of PR in utilization of solar energy, energy metabolism and carbon recycling in the Sea. Contrary to BR, which is known to be a natural 2D crystal, no such information is available for PR til date. Neither its functional mechanism nor its 3D structure has been resolved so far. This PhD project is an attempt to gain a deeper insight so as to understand structural and functional characterization of PR. The approach combines the potentials of 2D crystallography, Atomic Force Microscopy and Solid State NMR techniques for characterization of this protein. Wide range of crystalline conditions was obtained as a result of 2D crystallization screens. This hints towards dominant protein protein interactions. Considering the high number of PR molecules reported per cell, it is likely that driven by such interactions, the protein has a native dense packing in the environment. The projection map represented low resolution of these crystals but suggested a donut shape oligomeric arrangement of protein in a hexagonal lattice with unit cell size of 87Å*87Å. Preliminary FTIR measurements indicated that the crystalline environment does not obstruct the photocycle of PR and K as well as M intermediate states could be identified. Single molecule force spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy on these 2D crystals was used to probe further information about the oligomeric state and nature of unfolding. The data revealed that protein predominantly exists as hexamers in crystalline as well as densely reconstituted regions but a small percentage of pentamers is also observed. The unfolding mechanism was similar to the other relatively well-characterized members of rhodopsin family. A good correlation of the atomic force microscopy and the electron microscopy data was achieved. Solid State NMR of the isotopically labeled 2D crystalline preparations using uniformly and selectively labeling schemes, allowed to obtain high quality SSNMR spectra with typical 15N line width in the range of 0.6-1.2 ppm. The measured 15N chemical shift value of the Schiff base in the 2D crystalline form was observed to be similar to the Schiff base chemical shift values for the functionally active reconstituted samples. This provides an indirect evidence for the active functionality of the protein and hence the folding. The first 15N assignment has been achieved for the Tryptophan with the help of Rotational Echo Double Resonance experiments. The 2D Cross Polarization Lee Goldberg measurements reflect the dynamic state of the protein inspite of restricted mobility in the crystalline state. The behavior of lipids as measured by 31P from the lipid head group showed that the lipids are not tightly bound to the protein but behave more like the lipid bilayer. The 13C-13C homonulear correlation experiments with optimized mixing time based on build up curve analysis, suggest that it is possible to observe individual resonances as seen in case of glutamic acid. The signal to noise was good enough to record a decent spectrum in a feasible period. The selective unlabeling is an efficient method for reduction in the spectral overlap. However, more efficient labeling schemes are required for further characterization. The present spectral resolution is good for individual amino acid investigation but for uniformly labeled samples, further improvement is required.