The high-affinity cation-binding sites of bacteriorhodopsin (bR) were examined by solid-state 13C NMR of samples labeled with [3-13C]Ala and [1-13C]Val. We found that the 13C NMR spectra of two kinds of blue membranes, deionized (pH 4) and acid blue at pH 1.2, were very similar and different from that of the native purple membrane. This suggested that when the surface pH is lowered, either by removal of cations or by lowering the bulk pH, substantial change is induced in the secondary structure of the protein. Partial replacement of the bound cations with Na+, Ca2+, or Mn2+ produced additional spectral changes in the 13C NMR spectra. The following conclusions were made. First, there are high-affinity cation- binding sites in both the extracellular and the cytoplasmic regions, presumably near the surface, and one of the preferred cation-binding sites is located at the loop between the helix F and G (F-G loop) near Ala196, consistent with the 3D structure of bR from x-ray diffraction and cryoelectron microscopy. Second, the bound cations undergo rather rapid exchange (with a lifetime shorter than 3 ms) among various types of cation- binding sites. As expected from the location of one of the binding sites, cation binding induced conformational alteration of the F-G interhelical loop.
Tuzi, S., Yamaguchi, S., Tanio, M., Konishi, H., Inoue, S., Naito, A., … Saitô, H. (1999). Location of a cation-binding site in the loop between helices F and G of bacteriorhodopsin as studied by 13C NMR. Biophysical Journal, 76(3), 1523–1531. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(99)77311-X