Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube

Improved free-energy landscape reconstruction of bacteriorhodopsin highlights local variations in unfolding energy

TitleImproved free-energy landscape reconstruction of bacteriorhodopsin highlights local variations in unfolding energy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsHeenan, PR, Yu, H, Siewny, MGW, Perkins, TT
JournalThe Journal of Chemical Physics
Date Published2017-12
KeywordsAFM, amino acids, lipid bilayer, proteins

Precisely quantifying the energetics that drive the folding of membrane proteins into a lipid bilayer remains challenging. More than 15 years ago, atomic force microscopy (AFM) emerged as a powerful tool to mechanically extract individual membrane proteins from a lipid bilayer. Concurrently, fluctuation theorems, such as the Jarzynski equality, were applied to deduce equilibrium free energies (ΔG0) from non-equilibrium single-molecule force spectroscopy records. The combination of these two advances in single-molecule studies deduced the free-energy of the model membrane protein bacteriorhodopsin in its native lipid bilayer. To elucidate this free-energy landscape at a higher resolution, we applied two recent developments. First, as an input to the reconstruction, we used force-extension curves acquired with a 100-fold higher time resolution and 10-fold higher force precision than traditional AFM studies of membrane proteins. Next, by using an inverse Weierstrass transform and the Jarzynski equality, we removed the free energy associated with the force probe and determined the molecular free-energy landscape of the molecule under study, bacteriorhodopsin. The resulting landscape yielded an average unfolding free energy per amino acid (aa) of 1.0 ± 0.1 kcal/mol, in agreement with past single-molecule studies. Moreover, on a smaller spatial scale, this high-resolution landscape also agreed with an equilibrium measurement of a particular three-aa transition in bacteriorhodopsin that yielded 2.7 kcal/mol/aa, an unexpectedly high value. Hence, while average unfolding ΔG0 per aa is a useful metric, the derived high-resolution landscape details significant local variation from the mean. More generally, we demonstrated that, as anticipated, the inverse Weierstrass transform is an efficient means to reconstruct free-energy landscapes from AFM data.


JILA follows the six University nodes' policies for ensuring harassment-free environments. For more detailed information regarding the University of Colorado policies, please read the Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures.