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Effects of Curvature and Composition onα-Synuclein Binding to Lipid Vesicles

Biophysical Journal
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.07.056
  • Protein
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract Parkinson's disease is characterized by the presence of intracellular aggregates composed primarily of the neuronal protein α-synuclein ( αS). Interactions between αS and various cellular membranes are thought to be important to its native function as well as relevant to its role in disease. We use fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to investigate binding of αS to lipid vesicles as a function of the lipid composition and membrane curvature. We determine how these parameters affect the molar partition coefficient of αS, providing a quantitative measure of the binding energy, and calculate the number of lipids required to bind a single protein. Specific anionic lipids have a large effect on the free energy of binding. Lipid chain saturation influences the binding interaction to a lesser extent, with larger partition coefficients measured for gel-phase vesicles than for fluid-phase vesicles, even in the absence of anionic lipid components. Although we observe variability in the binding of the mutant proteins, differences in the free energies of partitioning are less dramatic than with varied lipid compositions. Vesicle curvature has a strong effect on the binding affinity, with a >15-fold increase in affinity for small unilamellar vesicles over large unilamellar vesicles, suggesting that αS may be a curvature-sensing protein. Our findings provide insight into how physical properties of the membrane may modulate interactions of αS with cellular membranes.

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