Lipids Alter Rhodopsin Function via Ligand-like and Solvent-like Interactions
Rhodopsin, a prototypical G protein-coupled receptor, is a membrane protein that can sense dim light. This highly effective photoreceptor is known to be sensitive to the composition of its lipidic environment, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this fine-tuned modulation of the receptor's function and structural stability are not fully understood. There are two competing hypotheses to explain how this occurs: 1) lipid modulation occurs via solvent-like interactions, where lipid composition controls membrane properties like hydrophobic thickness, which in turn modulate the protein's conformational equilibrium; or 2) protein-lipid interactions are ligand-like, with specific hot spots and long-lived binding events. By analyzing an ensemble of all-atom molecular dynamics simulations of five different states of rhodopsin, we show that a local ordering effect takes place in the membrane upon receptor activation. Likewise, docosahexaenoic acid acyl tails and phosphatidylethanolamine headgroups behave like weak ligands, preferentially binding to the receptor in inactive-like conformations and inducing subtle but significant structural changes.
Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/biophysj/fulltext/S0006-3495(17)31253-5
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