Validation of the single-stranded channel conformation of gramicidin A by solid-state NMR

F. Kovacs, J. Quine, T. A. Cross

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The monovalent cation selective channel formed by a dimer of the polypeptide gramicidin A has a single-stranded, right-handed helical motif with 6.5 residues per turn forming a 4-Å diameter pore. The structure has been refined to high resolution against 120 orientational constraints obtained from samples in a liquid-crystalline phase lipid bilayer. These structural constraints from solid-state NMR reflect the orientation of spin interaction tensors with respect to a unique molecular axis. Because these tensors are fixed in the molecular frame and because the samples are uniformly aligned with respect to the magnetic field of the NMR spectrometer, each constraint restricts the orientation of internuclear vectors with respect to the laboratory frame of reference. The structural motif of this channel has been validated, and the high-resolution structure has led to precise models for cation binding, cation selectivity, and cation conductance efficiency. The structure is consistent with the electrophysiological data and numerous biophysical studies. Contrary to a recent claim [Burkhart, B. M., Li, N., Langs, D. A., Pangborn, W. A. and Duax, W. L. (1998) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95, 12950-12955], the solid-state NMR constraints for gramicidin A in a lipid bilayer are not consistent with an x-ray crystallographic structure for gramicidin having a double-stranded, right- handed helix with 7.2 residues per turn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7910-7915
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 6 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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