Interaction Fingerprint of Transmembrane Segments In Voltage Sensor Domains

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Physics and Astronomy


Mathematics and Natural Sciences


Voltage sensor domain (VSD) in channel and non-channel membrane proteins shares a common function in the detection of changes in the transmembrane electric potential. The VSD is made of four helical transmembrane segments (S1–S4) that form a structurally conserved scaffold through inter-transmembrane residue-residue interactions. Details about these interactions are yet to be fully understood in the context of the unique structural and physical characteristics of the voltage sensor unit. In this study, molecular dynamics simulations were carried out to investigate transmembrane helix-helix interactions via residue-based nonbonding energies using the activated and resting state conformations of VSD from Hv1, CiVSP, KvAP and NavAb. Inter-transmembrane interaction energies within the VSD were determined. Analysis of electrostatic and van der Waals components revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the interactions between each pair of transmembrane segments. In all cases the S4 helix had the highest electrostatic contribution to favor the key role as the voltage sensitive segment. Electrostatic interactions for the S1–S2 pair as well as the S1–S3 pair were relatively weak. Van der Waal interaction energies between adjacent segments were on average greater than that between diagonally opposite segments. Salt bridge interactions between S4-arginines and the negatively charged residues in other segments appear to contribute more to stabilizing the energy than the van der Waals interactions between nonpolar residues. The overall behavior of residue-residue contacts is similar among the transmembrane domains, reflecting the common inter- transmembrane interaction pattern in the VSD. In addition, analysis of the residue positions suggested that subtle differences in the orientation of the salt-bridges can be attributed to the difference in the inter-transmembrane interaction strengths inside the VSDs.

Publication Title

Biophysical Chemistry



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