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.
Nanodiscs have become a leading technology to solubilize membrane proteins for biophysical, enzymatic, and structural investigations. Nanodiscs are nanoscale, discoidal lipid bilayers surrounded by an amphipathic membrane scaffold protein (MSP) belt. A variety of analytical tools has been applied to membrane proteins in nanodiscs, including several recent mass spectrometry studies. Mass spectrometry of full-length proteins is an important technique for analyzing protein modifications, for structural studies, and for identification of proteins present in binding assays. However, traditional matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry methods for analyzing full-length membrane proteins solubilized in nanodiscs are limited by strong signal from the MSP belt and weak signal from the membrane protein inside the nanodisc. Herein, we show that an optimized ultra-thin layer MALDI sample preparation technique dramatically enhances the membrane protein signal and nearly completely eliminates the MSP signal. First-shot MALDI and MALDI imaging are used to characterize the spots formed by the ultra-thin layer method. Furthermore, the membrane protein enhancement and MSP suppression are shown to be independent of the type of membrane protein and are applicable to mixtures of membrane proteins in nanodiscs.
Nanodiscs are a promising system for studying gas-phase and solution complexes of membrane proteins and lipids. We previously demonstrated that native electrospray ionization allows mass spectral analysis of intact Nanodisc complexes at single lipid resolution. This report details an improved theoretical framework for interpreting and deconvoluting native mass spectra of Nanodisc lipoprotein complexes. In addition to the intrinsic lipid count and charge distributions, Nanodisc mass spectra are significantly shaped by constructive overlap of adjacent charge states at integer multiples of the lipid mass. We describe the mathematical basis for this effect and develop a probability-based algorithm to deconvolute the underlying mass and charge distributions. The probability-based deconvolution algorithm is applied to a series of dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine Nanodisc native mass spectra and used to provide a quantitative picture of the lipid loss in gas-phase fragmentation.
We describe here the analysis of nanodisc complexes by using native mass spectrometry (MS) to characterize their molecular weight (MW) and polydispersity. Nanodiscs are nanoscale lipid bilayers that offer a platform for solubilizing membrane proteins. Unlike detergent micelles, nanodiscs are native-like lipid bilayers that are well-defined and potentially monodisperse. Their mass spectra allow peak assignment based on differences in the mass of a single lipid per complex. Resultant masses agree closely with predicted values and demonstrate conclusively the narrow dispersity of lipid molecules in the nanodisc. Fragmentation with collisionally activated dissociation (CAD) or electron-capture dissociation (ECD) shows loss of a small number of lipids and eventual collapse of the nanodisc with release of the scaffold protein. These results provide a foundation for future studies utilizing nanodiscs as a platform for launching membrane proteins into the gas phase.
Biological membranes form barriers that are essential for cellular integrity and compartmentalisation. Proteins in the membrane have co-evolved with their hydrophobic lipid environment, which serves as a solvent for proteins with very diverse requirements. As a result, their interactions range from non-selective to highly discriminating. Mass spectrometry enables us to monitor how lipids interact with membrane proteins and assess their effects on structure and dynamics. Recent studies illustrate the ability to differentiate specific lipid binding, preferential interactions with lipid subsets, and nonselective annular contacts. Here, we consider the biological implications of different lipid-binding scenarios and propose that binding occurs on a sliding selectivity scale, in line with the view of biological membranes as facilitators of dynamic protein and lipid organization.