Cys accessibility and quantitative intact mass spectrometry (MS) analyses have been devised to study the topological transitions of Mhp1, the membrane protein for sodium-linked transport of hydantoins from Microbacterium liquefaciens. Mhp1 has been crystallized in three forms (outward-facing open, outward-facing occluded with substrate bound, and inward-facing open). We show that one natural cysteine residue, Cys327, out of three, has an enhanced solvent accessibility in the inward-facing (relative to the outward-facing) form. Reaction of the purified protein, in detergent, with the thiol-reactive N-ethylmalemide (NEM), results in modification of Cys327, suggesting that Mhp1 adopts predominantly inward-facing conformations. Addition of either sodium ions or the substrate 5-benzyl-l-hydantoin (L-BH) does not shift this conformational equilibrium, but systematic co-addition of the two results in an attenuation of labeling, indicating a shift toward outward-facing conformations that can be interpreted using conventional enzyme kinetic analyses. Such measurements can afford the Km for each ligand as well as the stoichiometry of ion-substrate-coupled conformational changes. Mutations that perturb the substrate binding site either result in the protein being unable to adopt outward-facing conformations or in a global destabilization of structure. The methodology combines covalent labeling, mass spectrometry, and kinetic analyses in a straightforward workflow applicable to a range of systems, enabling the interrogation of changes in a protein's conformation required for function at varied concentrations of substrates, and the consequences of mutations on these conformational transitions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry