Posts Tagged ‘Protein’

Activation mechanism of the calcium-activated chloride channel TMEM16A revealed by cryo-EM

The calcium-activated chloride channel TMEM16A is a ligand-gated anion channel that opens in response to an increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration. The protein is broadly expressed and contributes to diverse physiological processes, including transepithelial chloride transport and the control of electrical signalling in smooth muscles and certain neurons. As a member of the TMEM16 (or anoctamin) family of membrane proteins, TMEM16A is closely related to paralogues that function as scramblases, which facilitate the bidirectional movement of lipids across membranes. The unusual functional diversity of the TMEM16 family and the relationship between two seemingly incompatible transport mechanisms has been the focus of recent investigations. Previous breakthroughs were obtained from the X-ray structure of the lipid scramblase of the fungus Nectria haematococca (nhTMEM16), and from the cryo-electron microscopy structure of mouse TMEM16A at 6.6 Å (ref. 14). Although the latter structure disclosed the architectural differences that distinguish ion channels from lipid scramblases, its low resolution did not permit a detailed molecular description of the protein or provide any insight into its activation by Ca2+. Here we describe the structures of mouse TMEM16A at high resolution in the presence and absence of Ca2+. These structures reveal the differences between ligand-bound and ligand-free states of a calcium-activated chloride channel, and when combined with functional experiments suggest a mechanism for gating. During activation, the binding of Ca2+ to a site located within the transmembrane domain, in the vicinity of the pore, alters the electrostatic properties of the ion conduction path and triggers a conformational rearrangement of an α-helix that comes into physical contact with the bound ligand, and thereby directly couples ligand binding and pore opening. Our study describes a process that is unique among channel proteins, but one that is presumably general for both functional branches of the TMEM16 family.

Protein synthesis is lowered by 4EBP1 and eIF2-{alpha} signaling while protein degradation may be maintained in fasting, hypoxic Amazonian cichlid, Astronotus ocellatus [RESEARCH ARTICLE]

A. A. Cassidy, W. R. Driedzic, D. Campos, W. Heinrichs-Caldas, V. M. F. Almeida-Val, A. L. Val, and S. G. LamarreThe Amazonian cichlid, Astronotus ocellatus, is highly tolerant to hypoxia, and is known to reduce its metabolic rate by reducing the acti…

Force loading explains spatial sensing of ligands by cells

Cells can sense the density and distribution of extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules by means of individual integrin proteins and larger, integrin-containing adhesion complexes within the cell membrane. This spatial sensing drives cellular activity in a variety of normal and pathological contexts. Previous studies of cells on rigid glass surfaces have shown that spatial sensing of ECM ligands takes place at the nanometre scale, with integrin clustering and subsequent formation of focal adhesions impaired when single integrin–ligand bonds are separated by more than a few tens of nanometres. It has thus been suggested that a crosslinking ‘adaptor’ protein of this size might connect integrins to the actin cytoskeleton, acting as a molecular ruler that senses ligand spacing directly. Here, we develop gels whose rigidity and nanometre-scale distribution of ECM ligands can be controlled and altered. We find that increasing the spacing between ligands promotes the growth of focal adhesions on low-rigidity substrates, but leads to adhesion collapse on more-rigid substrates. Furthermore, disordering the ligand distribution drastically increases adhesion growth, but reduces the rigidity threshold for adhesion collapse. The growth and collapse of focal adhesions are mirrored by, respectively, the nuclear or cytosolic localization of the transcriptional regulator protein YAP. We explain these findings not through direct sensing of ligand spacing, but by using an expanded computational molecular-clutch model, in which individual integrin–ECM bonds—the molecular clutches—respond to force loading by recruiting extra integrins, up to a maximum value. This generates more clutches, redistributing the overall force among them, and reducing the force loading per clutch. At high rigidity and high ligand spacing, maximum recruitment is reached, preventing further force redistribution and leading to adhesion collapse. Measurements of cellular traction forces and actin flow speeds support our model. Our results provide a general framework for how cells sense spatial and physical information at the nanoscale, precisely tuning the range of conditions at which they form adhesions and activate transcriptional regulation.

Phase-plate cryo-EM structure of a class B GPCR–G-protein complex

Class B G-protein-coupled receptors are major targets for the treatment of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity. Here we report the structure of a full-length class B receptor, the calcitonin receptor, in complex with peptide ligand and heterotrimeric Gαsβγ protein determined by Volta phase-plate single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. The peptide agonist engages the receptor by binding to an extended hydrophobic pocket facilitated by the large outward movement of the extracellular ends of transmembrane helices 6 and 7. This conformation is accompanied by a 60° kink in helix 6 and a large outward movement of the intracellular end of this helix, opening the bundle to accommodate interactions with the α5-helix of Gαs. Also observed is an extended intracellular helix 8 that contributes to both receptor stability and functional G-protein coupling via an interaction with the Gβ subunit. This structure provides a new framework for understanding G-protein-coupled receptor function.

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