Sep 28, 2004

Picometer-scale dynamical observations of individual membrane proteins: the case of bacteriorhodopsin

Physical Review. E, Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Yasuaki OkumuraY C Sasaki


In vivo measurements of dynamical conformational changes in single biomolecules under functional conditions have had a tremendous impact on molecular and cell biology. However, even single-molecule fluorescent resonance energy transfer cannot easily monitor the intramolecular dynamics in cell systems due to shortcomings in monitoring precision. Here, we report dynamical observations of irreversible intramolecular conformational changes in a single-membrane protein [bacteriorhodopsin (BR)] using diffracted x-ray tracking. The light-driven proton pump BR is the best-characterized membrane protein. The position of BR's 35th amino acid, which is located farthest from retinal, exhibits a momentary positional jump of 0.73+/-0.48 A due to the expression of its function. Following that, we observed Brownian motion without the diffracted spots returning to their initial positions. The average width of this jump is about 14 times larger than that of thermal Brownian motion and agrees with estimated movements from known x-ray crystallography data. This result is an important step toward realizing in vivo observations of single-molecular conformational changes in membrane proteins.

Mentioned in this Paper

Energy Transfer
Plain X-ray
ATP12A gene
Crystallography, X-Ray
Fluorescent stain
Protein Conformation
Purple Membrane

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