The Department of Biomedicine
BBB seminar

BBB seminar: Nathalie Reuter

Life at the periphery: molecular simulations of protein-membrane encounters

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Nathalie Reuter
Department of Chemistry, and Computational Biology Unit, Department of Informatics, University of Bergen

Peripheral membrane proteins (PMPs) are soluble proteins that bind to the surface of membranes, and often recognize specific lipids. Unlike integral membrane proteins, the membrane-binding interfaces of PMPs are restricted to a small part of their exposed surface, so the ability to engage in strong selective interactions with membrane lipids at various depths in the interface is an advantage. Because of the transient nature of PMP-membrane interactions, structural data on membrane-bound (or vesicle-bound) PMPs is very scarce.

Protein bioinformatics and molecular simulations, in combination with experimental data, have the potential to reveal structural and thermodynamic properties of PMP-membrane interfaces. I will illustrate this using our work on three types of phospholipases: a bacterial phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C, three SicTox phospholipases D from recluse spider venoms, and a phospholipase A2 from cobra snake venom. I will show how we could predict interfacial binding sites and reveal amino acids responsible for lipid specificity. Moreover, using free energy calculations, we were able to obtain accurate estimates of the contribution of particular amino acids to the overall protein-membrane affinity.

Chairperson: Harald Barsnes, Department of Biomedicine