The conformational dynamic capabilities of the in situ bacteriorhodopsin (bR) can be studied by determination of the changes of the bR net helical segmental tilt angle (the angle between the polypeptide segments and the membrane normal) induced by various perturbations of the purple membrane (PM). The analysis of the far-UV oriented circular dichroism (CD) of the PM provides one means of achieving this. Previous CD studies have indicated that the tilt angle can change from approximately 10 degrees to 39 degrees depending on the perturbants used with no changes in the secondary structure of the bR. A recent study has indicated that the bleaching-induced tilt angle can be enhanced from approximately 24 degrees to 39 degrees by cross-linkage and papain-digestion perturbations which by themselves do not alter the tilt angle. To add further credence, this study has been repeated using midinfrared (IR) linear dichroic spectral analysis. In contrast to the CD method, analysis by the IR method depends on the orientation of the amide plane of the helix assumed. Excellent consistency is achieved between the two methods only when it is assumed that the structural characteristics of the alpha-helices of the bR are equally alpha I and alpha II in nature. Furthermore, the analysis of the IR data becomes essentially independent of the three amide transitions utilized. The net tilt angle of segments completely randomized relative to the incident light must be 54.736 in view of helix symmetry. A value of 54.735 degrees +/- 0.001 degree was achieved by the IR method for the ethanol-treated PM film, establishing this kind of film as an ideal random state standard and demonstrating the accuracy potential of the IR method. © 1991, The Biophysical Society. All rights reserved.
Draheim, J. E., Gibson, N. J., & Cassim, J. Y. (1991). Dramatic in situ conformational dynamics of the transmembrane protein bacteriorhodopsin. Biophysical Journal, 60(1), 89–100. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(91)82033-1