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.
Despite their value as sources of therapeutic drug targets, membrane proteomes are largely inaccessible to high-throughput screening (HTS) tools designed for soluble proteins. An important example comprises the membrane proteins that bind amyloid β oligomers (AβOs). AβOs are neurotoxic ligands thought to instigate the synapse damage that leads to Alzheimer's dementia. At present, the identities of initial AβO binding sites are highly uncertain, largely because of extensive protein-protein interactions that occur following attachment of AβOs to surface membranes. Here, we show that AβO binding sites can be obtained in a state suitable for unbiased HTS by encapsulating the solubilized synaptic membrane proteome into nanoscale lipid bilayers (Nanodiscs). This method gives a soluble membrane protein library (SMPL)--a collection of individualized synaptic proteins in a soluble state. Proteins within SMPL Nanodiscs showed enzymatic and ligand binding activity consistent with conformational integrity. AβOs were found to bind SMPL Nanodiscs with high affinity and specificity, with binding dependent on intact synaptic membrane proteins, and selective for the higher molecular weight oligomers known to accumulate at synapses. Combining SMPL Nanodiscs with a mix-incubate-read chemiluminescence assay provided a solution-based HTS platform to discover antagonists of AβO binding. Screening a library of 2700 drug-like compounds and natural products yielded one compound that potently reduced AβO binding to SMPL Nanodiscs, synaptosomes, and synapses in nerve cell cultures. Although not a therapeutic candidate, this small molecule inhibitor of synaptic AβO binding will provide a useful experimental antagonist for future mechanistic studies of AβOs in Alzheimer's model systems. Overall, results provide proof of concept for using SMPLs in high throughput screening for AβO binding antagonists, and illustrate in general how a SMPL Nanodisc system can facilitate drug discovery for membrane protein targets.
Lipoprotein nanodiscs are ideally suited for native mass spectrometry because they provide a relatively monodisperse nanoscale lipid bilayer environment for delivering membrane proteins into the gas phase. However, native mass spectrometry of nanodiscs produces complex spectra that can be challenging to assign unambiguously. To simplify interpretation of nanodisc spectra, we engineered a series of mutant membrane scaffold proteins (MSP) that do not affect nanodisc formation but shift the masses of nanodiscs in a controllable way, eliminating isobaric interference from the lipids. Moreover, by mixing two different belts before assembly, the stoichiometry of MSP is encoded in the peak shape, which allows the stoichiometry to be assigned unambiguously from a single spectrum. Finally, we demonstrate the use of mixed belt nanodiscs with embedded membrane proteins to confirm the dissociation of MSP prior to desolvation.
Soluble proteins are key mediators of many biochemical signaling pathways via direct interaction with the lipid bilayer and via membrane-bound receptors. Components of the cell membrane are involved in many important biological processes, including viral infection, blood clotting, and signal transduction, and as such, they are common targets of therapeutic agents. Therefore, the development of analytical approaches to study interactions at the cell membrane is of critical importance. Herein, we integrate two key technologies, silicon photonic microring resonator arrays and phospholipid bilayer nanodiscs, which together allow multiplexed screening of soluble protein interactions with lipid and membrane-embedded targets. Microring resonator arrays are an intrinsically multiplexable, label-free analysis platform that has previously been applied to studying protein-protein, protein-nucleic acid, and nucleic acid-nucleic acid interactions. Nanodiscs are protein-stabilized lipid assemblies that represent a convenient construct to mimic the native phospholipid bilayer, investigate the effects of membrane composition, and solubilize membrane-embedded targets. Exploiting the natural affinity of nanodisc-supported lipid bilayers for oxide-passivated silicon, we assembled single and multiplex sensor arrays via direct physisorption, characterizing electrostatic effects on the nanodisc attachment. Using model systems, we demonstrate the applicability of this platform for the parallel screening of protein interactions with nanodisc-embedded lipids, glycolipids, and membrane proteins.
Interactions between membrane proteins and lipids are often crucial for structure and function yet difficult to define because of their dynamic and heterogeneous nature. Here, we use mass spectrometry to demonstrate that membrane protein oligomers ejected from nanodiscs in the gas phase retain large numbers of lipid interactions. The complex mass spectra that result from gas-phase dissociation were assigned using a Bayesian deconvolution algorithm together with mass defect analysis, allowing us to count individual lipid molecules bound to membrane proteins. Comparison of the lipid distributions measured by mass spectrometry with molecular dynamics simulations reveals that the distributions correspond to distinct lipid shells that vary according to the type of protein-lipid interactions. Our results demonstrate that nanodiscs offer the potential for native mass spectrometry to probe interactions between membrane proteins and the wider lipid environment.