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- Biophysical studies on LmrA : a multidrug resistance ABC transporter / von Ute A. Hellmich (2010)
- LmrA is a member of the ATP Binding Cassette (ABC) transporter family of membrane proteins and a structural and functional homologue of P-glycoprotein1, 2. ABC-transporters share a common architecture of two transmembrane domains and two nucleotide binding domains. The NBDs are highly conserved in this transporter family whereas the TMDs are highly diverse3. The TMDs recognize the substrate and the NBDs bind and hydrolyze ATP and thus contribute the energy for substrate translocation. ABC transporters as a protein family transport a high number of substrates including peptides, nutrients, ions, bile acids, lipids and other lipophilic compounds. LmrA is a multidrug transporter that recognizes a number of hydrophobic substrates including fluorescent dyes and antibiotics1, 4-6. LmrA is a native protein of the gram-positive bacterium Lactococcus lactis. In this thesis, L. lactis was used as a homologous expression host for the preparation of LmrA for a variety of experiments. Wildtype LmrA as well as a number of cysteine mutants were successfully expressed in L. lactis, purified and subsequently characterized by a variety of biochemical assays (Chapter 4). LmrA can be expressed to very high amounts in L. lactis. The purification and reconstitution were optimized for the requirements of solid-state NMR experiments in this thesis. For the first time, an ABC transporter has been reconstituted in synthetic lipids to a ratio of up to 1:150 (mol/mol). LmrA was shown to be active under magic angle spinning conditions with these reconstitution ratios. By taking advantage of the slower ATP hydrolysis by LmrA ΔK388 (lysine deletion in the Walker A motif), a real-time 31P solid-state NMR ATPase assay was established (Chapter 5). This assay allowed, for the first time, the investigation of all phosphor nuclei during the ATP hydrolysis cycle of a membrane protein simultaneously and in real time7. This assay has been successfully adapted to investigate both ATP hydrolysis and substrate phosphorylation of diacylglycerol kinase (together with S. Wollschlag) and ATP hydrolysis at high temperatures of the thermophilic ABC transporter ABC1 from Thermos thermophilus (together with A. Zutz). In the course of this thesis, the gene for LmrA has been cloned into expression vectors suitable for Escherichia coli and the heterologous expression of LmrA was established (Chapter 4). The functionality of the heterologously expressed protein has been investigated and compared to L. lactis LmrA. In these experiments, LmrA was shown to yield a distinct multidrug resistance phenotype in its E. coli host and to show secondary active multidrug transport in the absence of ATP and presence of a proton gradient [Hellmich et al, in prep] (Chapter 4). Previously, it had been shown that LmrA acts as a seconadary active transporter when the NBDs are truncated8. The overexpression in minimal and defined medium and the purification of LmrA from E. coli have been optimized. Isotope labeling for ssNMR has been established and the first multinuclear ssNMR experiments have been carried out on a functional ABC transporter (Chapter 8). ABC transporters couple two cycles: upon ATP binding, the NBDs dimerize, hydrolyze the ATP, subsequently release Pi and ADP and finally dissociate. During this cycle, conformational changes are relayed to the TMDs which utilize the energy from ATP binding and/or hydrolysis to translocate the respective substrate. The prehydrolysis state can be trapped by beryllium fluoride, whereas the post-hydrolysis state of this cycle can be trapped by vanadate9-12. Trapping protocols for these reagents were successfully established for LmrA in this thesis (Chapter 4). This allowed for the investigation of different catalytic states by both ssNMR and EPR. A general 19F labeling protocol for membrane proteins has been established in the course of this thesis and successfully applied to proteorhodopsin (together with N. Pfleger)13 and LmrA (chapter 6). Single cysteine mutants of LmrA that line out the dimer interface have been labeled with a fluorine label for ssNMR. In the apo state, the 19F labeling indicates highly flexible transmembrane domains, a finding that is supported by 13C ssNMR and EPR measurements. The addition of drugs has a different effect on different positions within the LmrA dimer, therefore indicating that different drugs are recognized at a different position within the protein. For P-glycoprotein and LmrA it has been previously shown by biochemical methods that different drug binding sites co-exist. For a 19F label attached at position 314 (LmrA E314C), the spectra showed two distinct peaks with similar populations. This could hint towards a structural asymmetry within the LmrA dimer that might also be reflected in the alternating ATP hydrolysis at the NBDs. E314 has been specifically implicated with drug transport. Thus, structural asymmetry at this position might be functionally relevant for guiding a substrate through the transporter. Structural asymmetry within a homodimeric ABC transporter has also been shown for BtuCD, the E. coli vitamin B12 importer14. In addition, the conserved glutamates in EmrE, a small multidrug resistance protein, were shown to be asymmetric in the drug bound state15. Both, uniformly 13C/15N labeled as well as selectively amino acid type labeled LmrA has been investigated in different conformational states. Interestingly, significant dynamic changes in the b-sheet regions of LmrA (confined to the NBDs) were observed in the pre-hydrolysis (beryllium fluoride) and transition state (vanadate trapped) state. These were interpreted as the transition from a domain in fast conformational exchange in the apo state to one of intermediate exchange in the nucleotide bound state. A significant change in NBD mobility upon nucleotide binding was previously also shown with 2H ssNMR on LmrA16. By EPR it was shown that LmrA in both the vanadate and BeFx trapped states displays a significantly higher rigidity and therefore defined distances, whereas the apo state resembled a “floppy” protein with no preferred distance distribution. This concurs with data obtained from 19F ssNMR with fluorine labeled single-cysteine mutants. Here, in agreement with the EPR data, a higher label (and possibly) protein mobility was observed in the apo state displaying rather broad line widths. Upon trapping with vanadate, the line widths of the majority of fluorine-labeled mutants decreased due to an enhanced protein rigidity and a more homogenous environment of the fluorine labels. A similar observation was made when increasing the temperature that can be explained due to higher protein flexibility at increased temperatures. Solution NMR was employed to investigate the isolated soluble NBD of LmrA (Chapter 9). First 2D and 3D spectra were successfully obtained and could be utilized for a preliminary assignment of a significant fraction of residues. Additionally, binding of ATP and ADP in absence and presence of magnesium was investigated. Finally, the effects of peptides emulating the coupling helices of the full-length transporter on the soluble NBD were investigated. Strikingly, binding of one of these peptides only occurred in the presence of nucleotides (whereas the other showed no binding at all) hinting towards a tightly coupled regulation of the NBD and TMD during the substrate translocation/ATP hydrolysis cycle based on nucleotide binding.