, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 739-750
Date: 19 Feb 2010

The interaction of zinc with membrane-associated 18.5 kDa myelin basic protein: an attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopic study

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Myelin basic protein (MBP) is an essential structural protein required for tight compaction of the myelin sheath of the central nervous system, and belongs to the family of intrinsically disordered proteins. It contains a high proportion of polar and charged amino acids, and has an adaptive conformation depending on its environment and binding surfaces (membranes) or partners (other proteins or small ligands including divalent cations). Zinc is an important stabilizing component of myelin and its concentration is substantially higher than that of any other trace element in the brain. In this study, we investigate the effect of zinc on different variants of 18.5 kDa MBP, including new recombinant forms lacking hexahistidine tags which would interfere with the binding of the cation. Isothermal titration calorimetry showed the dissociation constant to be in the micromolar range for all variants. Circular dichroism spectroscopy showed that there was minimal effect of zinc on the secondary structure on MBP in aqueous solution. When MBP was reconstituted with myelin-mimetic membranes, attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy revealed that there was a rearrangement of secondary structure components upon addition of zinc that was subtly different for each variant, indicative of a synergistic protein–membrane–cation interaction.

G. S. T. Smith, L. Chen and V. V. Bamm contributed equally to this work.