Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a genetic disorder linked to inactivating mutations or a homozygous deletion of the Nf1 gene, is characterized by tumorigenesis, cognitive dysfunction, seizures, migraine, and pain. Omic studies on human NF1 tissues identified an increase in the expression of collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2), a cytosolic protein reported to regulate the trafficking and activity of presynaptic N-type voltage-gated calcium (Cav2.2) channels. Because neurofibromin, the protein product of the Nf1 gene, binds to and inhibits CRMP2, the neurofibromin-CRMP2 signaling cascade will likely affect Ca channel activity and regulate nociceptive neurotransmission and in vivo responses to noxious stimulation. Here, we investigated the function of neurofibromin-CRMP2 interaction on Cav2.2. Mapping of >275 peptides between neurofibromin and CRMP2 identified a 15-amino acid CRMP2-derived peptide that, when fused to the tat transduction domain of HIV-1, inhibited Ca influx in dorsal root ganglion neurons. This peptide mimics the negative regulation of CRMP2 activity by neurofibromin. Neurons treated with tat-CRMP2/neurofibromin regulating peptide 1 (t-CNRP1) exhibited a decreased Cav2.2 membrane localization, and uncoupling of neurofibromin-CRMP2 and CRMP2-Cav2.2 interactions. Proteomic analysis of a nanodisc-solubilized membrane protein library identified syntaxin 1A as a novel CRMP2-binding protein whose interaction with CRMP2 was strengthened in neurofibromin-depleted cells and reduced by t-CNRP1. Stimulus-evoked release of calcitonin gene-related peptide from lumbar spinal cord slices was inhibited by t-CNRP1. Intrathecal administration of t-CNRP1 was antinociceptive in experimental models of inflammatory, postsurgical, and neuropathic pain. Our results demonstrate the utility of t-CNRP1 to inhibit CRMP2 protein-protein interactions for the potential treatment of pain.
Small molecules are known to stabilize membrane proteins and to modulate their function and oligomeric state, but such interactions are often hard to precisely define. Here we develop and apply a high-resolution, Orbitrap mass spectrometry-based method for analyzing intact membrane protein-ligand complexes. Using this platform, we resolve the complexity of multiple binding events, quantify small molecule binding and reveal selectivity for endogenous lipids that differ only in acyl chain length.
Mass spectrometry (MS) has emerged as a powerful tool to study membrane protein complexes and protein-lipid interactions. Because they provide a precisely defined lipid bilayer environment, lipoprotein Nanodiscs offer a promising cassette for membrane protein MS analysis. However, heterogeneous lipids create several potential challenges for native MS: additional spectral complexity, ambiguous assignments, and differing gas-phase behaviors. Here, we present strategies to address these challenges and streamline analysis of heterogeneous-lipid Nanodiscs. We show that using two lipids of similar mass limits the complexity of the spectra in heterogeneous Nanodiscs and that the lipid composition can be determined by using a dual Fourier transform approach to obtain the average lipid mass. Further, the relationship between gas-phase behavior, lipid composition, and instrumental polarity was investigated to determine the effects of lipid headgroup chemistry on Nanodisc dissociation mechanisms. These results provide unique mechanistic and methodological insights into characterization of complex and heterogeneous systems by mass spectrometry.
The isolation and identification of unknown membrane proteins offers the prospect of discovering new pharmaceutical targets and identifying key biochemical receptors. However, interactions between membrane protein targets and soluble ligands are difficult to study in vitro due to the insolubility of membrane proteins in non-detergent systems. Nanodiscs, nanoscale discoidal lipid bilayers encircled by a membrane scaffold protein belt, have proven to be an effective platform to solubilize membrane proteins and have been used to study a wide variety of purified membrane proteins. This report details the incorporation of an unbiased population of membrane proteins from Escherichia coli membranes into Nanodiscs. This solubilized membrane protein library (SMPL) forms a soluble in vitro model of the membrane proteome. Since Nanodiscs contain isolated proteins or small complexes, the SMPL is an ideal platform for interactomics studies and pull-down assays of membrane proteins. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis of the protein population before and after formation of the Nanodisc library indicates that a large percentage of the proteins are incorporated into the library. Proteomic identification of several prominent bands demonstrates the successful incorporation of outer and inner membrane proteins into the Nanodisc library.
Interpretation of mass spectra is challenging because they report a ratio of two physical quantities, mass and charge, which may each have multiple components that overlap in m/z. Previous approaches to disentangling the two have focused on peak assignment or fitting. However, the former struggle with complex spectra, and the latter are generally computationally intensive and may require substantial manual intervention. We propose a new data analysis approach that employs a Bayesian framework to separate the mass and charge dimensions. On the basis of this approach, we developed UniDec (Universal Deconvolution), software that provides a rapid, robust, and flexible deconvolution of mass spectra and ion mobility-mass spectra with minimal user intervention. Incorporation of the charge-state distribution in the Bayesian prior probabilities provides separation of the m/z spectrum into its physical mass and charge components. We have evaluated our approach using systems of increasing complexity, enabling us to deduce lipid binding to membrane proteins, to probe the dynamics of subunit exchange reactions, and to characterize polydispersity in both protein assemblies and lipoprotein Nanodiscs. The general utility of our approach will greatly facilitate analysis of ion mobility and mass spectra.