- Purification and characterisation of the respiratory supercomplex III/IV from Corynebacterium glutamicum and phospholipid analysis of membrane proteins (2008)
- The respiratory chain is composed of protein complexes residing in the inner mitochondrial membrane of eukaryotes or in the cytoplasmic membrane of prokaryotes. This cellular energy converter transforms a redox potential stored in low potential substrates into an electrochemical potential across the respective membrane. Typical respiratory chains contain the complexes I, II, III and IV named according to their sequence in the respiratory chain reaction. Electrons of low potential substrates enter at complex I or II and are passed via complex III to complex IV where they are transferred to oxygen. The transport of electrons between the complexes is mediated by small electron shuttles like quinol or cytochrome c. Two different models describe their exchange either by (1) random collision of freely diffusible electron shuttles and membrane protein complexes or (2) arrangement of the complexes in supercomplexes enabling direct channeling of electron shuttles. In the Gram positive bacterium Corynebacterium glutamicum, the complex III to complex IV electron shuttle cytochrome c is not diffusible but a covalently bound part of the diheme cytochrome subunit QcrC of complex III. Therefore, the complexes III and IV have to form a supercomplex for electron transduction. The aim of this thesis was to purify and characterise this obligatory supercomplex III/IV of C. glutamicum. To gain sufficient biomass of C. glutamicum as starting material for purification, a phosphate buffered minimal medium was developed that enabled yield of total 120 g wet cell mass (38 g dry mass) in 12 L (6×2 L) shaking cultures. The determined conversion factor of glucose into biomass was 0.46 g/g indicating an intact respiratory chain. The yield was increased by bioreactor cultivation to ~690 g wet cell mass (~220 g dry mass) in ~10 L culture volume. A previously described homologous expression system was applied that produces the complex IV subunit CtaD with a fused Strep-tag II to facilitate purification. Affinity purifications using the Strep-tag II affinity to Strep-Tactin resin yielded a mixture of complexes and supercomplexes. Two supercomplex III/IV versions named supercomplex A and B and free complex IV were identified in this mixture by size exclusion chromatography, redox difference spectroscopy and two dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis including blue native polyacrylamide electrophoresis. The here presented downscaled blue native polyacrylamide electrophoresis method with analysis times of ~1 h enabled efficient screening of factors influencing the stability of supercomplex III/IV. The screening resulted that the integrity of supercomplex III/IV is preserved by using neutral detergents at minimal detergent to protein ratios for solubilisation and low detergent concentrations for purification and storage slightly above the required critical micellar concentration. Furthermore, pH <=7.5 is required for stability of supercomplex III/IV. Large biomass yields enabled upscaling of supercomplex III/IV affinity purification. Application of the identified stability conditions resulted in affinity purified samples free of supercomplex B. The major component supercomplex A was efficiently separated from residual free complex IV by preparative size exclusion chromatography. Concentration of purified supercomplex A by ultracentrifugation resulted in integrity of the supercomplex for several days at 4 °C. Purified supercomplex A contains ten different previously described subunits. The heme content of supercomplex A relative to the protein mass is heme A: 6.0 μmol/g, heme B: 6.5 μmol/g, and heme C: 5.8 μmol/g determined by redox difference spectroscopy and biochemical protein quantification. This indicates an equimolar ratio of complex III and complex IV in supercomplex A. Supercomplex A has quinol oxidase activity that is inhibited by stigmatellin or sodium azide. The turnover number of transferred electrons per complex III monomer is 148 s−1 at 25° C. The homogeneity and stability of the prepared supercomplex A enabled the growth of threedimensional crystals of up to 0.1 mm in length. Their composition of supercomplex A was verified by redox difference spectroscopy of intact crystals and blue native polyacrylamide electrophoresis of dissolved crystals. The crystals diffracted X-rays corresponding to a resolution of ~10 Å. Electron microscopy of negative stained samples revealed the uniform shape of purified supercomplex A particles with dimensions of 22 × 9 nm in the view plane. Combined heme quantification, size determination, determined activity, symmetry considerations, and particle shape indicate that supercomplex A has a central dimer of complex III and two monomers of complex IV on opposite sides. This conformation is functionally reasonable because it provides each complex III monomer with one complex IV monomer as electron acceptor. Therefore, the stoichiometry of supercomplex A is most likely III2IV2. The sensitivity of supercomplex A to detergents indicated a role of phospholipids in its stability. Therefore, a method for phospholipid identification and quantification was developed that is suitable for detergent solubilised crude and purified membrane protein samples. The analysis combines separation of phospholipid classes according to their head group by normal phase high performance liquid chromatography with evaporative light scattering detection. Calibration with external standard allows quantification of phospholipid amount in the range of 0.25-12 μg. The method is verified by analysing the phospholipid content of the well characterised complex III of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The reduction of its phospholipid content during its purification steps is monitored. The complex III sample purified to crystallisation quality contains the phospholipid content that was also observed in previously reported structures determined by X-ray crystallography. Purified stable supercomplex A from C. glutamicum revealed a large content of bound phospholipids. The main differences between intact supercomplex A and a mixture of potentially disintegrated smaller complexes is that intact supercomplex A has a doubled phosphatidic acid content and an increased phosphatidyl glycerol content. The importance of the small anionic phosphatidic acid for mediation of contacts between complexes in a supercomplex is discussed. The total phospholipid content of stable supercomplex A is sufficient for a complete belt surrounding the supercomplex in the membrane plane. This indicates that also all essential internal phospholipid binding positions are occupied and potentially stabilise supercomplex A.