Connexin-46/50 in a dynamic lipid environment resolved by CryoEM at 1.9 A

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
J. A. FloresSteve L Reichow


Gap junctions establish direct pathways for connected cells and tissues to transfer metabolic and electrical messages1. The local lipid environment is known to affect the structure, stability and intercellular channel activity of gap junctions2-5; however, the molecular basis for these effects remains unknown. To gain insight toward how gap junctions interact with their local membrane environment, we used lipid nanodisc technology to incorporate native connexin-46/50 (Cx46/50) intercellular channels into a dual lipid membrane system, closely mimicking a native cell-to-cell junction. Structural characterization of Cx46/50 lipid-embedded channels by single particle CryoEM revealed a lipid-induced stabilization to the channel, resulting in a 3D reconstruction at 1.9 [A] resolution. Together with all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and 3D heterogeneity analysis of the ensemble CryoEM data, it is shown that Cx46/50 in turn imparts long-range stabilization to the dynamic local lipid environment that is specific to the extracellular lipid leaflet of the two opposed membranes. In addition, nearly 400 water molecules are resolved in the CryoEM map, localized throughout the intercellular permeation pathway and contributing to th...Continue Reading

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