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Research article2008Peer reviewedOpen access

C-terminal, endoplasmic reticulum-lumenal domain of prosurfactant protein C - structural features and membrane interactions

Casals, Cristina; Johansson, Hanna; Saenz, Alejandra; Gustafsson, Magnus; Alfonso, Carlos; Nordling, Kerstin; Johansson, Jan


Surfactant protein C (SP-C) constitutes the transmembrane part of prosurfactant protein C (proSP-C) and is alpha-helical in its native state. The C-terminal part of proSP-C (CTC) is localized in the endoplasmic reticulum lumen and binds to misfolded (beta-strand) SP-C, thereby preventing its aggregation and amyloid fibril formation. In this study, we investigated the structure of recombinant human CTC and the effects of CTC-membrane interaction on protein structure. CTC forms noncovalent trimers and supratrimeric oligomers. It contains two intrachain disulfide bridges, and its secondary structure is significantly affected by urea or heat only after disulfide reduction. The postulated Brichos domain of CTC, with homologs found in proteins associated with amyloid and proliferative disease, is up to 1000-fold more protected from limited proteolysis than the rest of CTC. The protein exposes hydrophobic surfaces, as determined by CTC binding to the environment-sensitive fluorescent probe 1,1'-bis(4-anilino-5,5'-naphthalenesulfonate). Fluorescence energy transfer experiments further reveal close proximity between bound 1,1'-bis(4-anilino-5,5'-naphthalenesulfonate) and tyrosine residues in CTC, some of which are conserved in all Brichos domains. CTC binds to unilamellar phospholipid vesicles with low micromolar dissociation constants, and differential scanning calorimetry and CD analyses indicate that membrane-bound CTC is less structurally ordered than the unbound protein. The exposed hydrophobic surfaces and the structural disordering that result from interactions with phospholipid membranes suggest a mechanism whereby CTC binds to misfolded SP-C in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane.


amyloid disease; Brichos domain; membrane protein; protein -lipid interactions

Published in

FEBS Journal
2008, Volume: 275, number: 3, pages: 536-547