The vast majority of membrane proteins are anchored to biological membranes through hydrophobic α-helices. Sequence analysis of high-resolution membrane protein structures show that ionizable amino acid residues are present in transmembrane (TM) helices, often with a functional and/or structural role. Here, using as scaffold the hydrophobic TM domain of the model membrane protein glycophorin A (GpA), we address the consequences of replacing specific residues by ionizable amino acids on TM helix insertion and packing, both in detergent micelles and in biological membranes. Our findings demonstrate that ionizable residues are stably inserted in hydrophobic environments, and tolerated in the dimerization process when oriented toward the lipid face, emphasizing the complexity of protein-lipid interactions in biological membranes. © 2012 Bañó-Polo et al.
Bañó-Polo, M., Baeza-Delgado, C., Orzáez, M., Marti-Renom, M. A., Abad, C., & Mingarro, I. (2012). Polar/Ionizable Residues in Transmembrane Segments: Effects on Helix-Helix Packing. PLoS ONE, 7(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044263