TCBG Seminar

Binding of ADP in the Mitochondrial ADP/ATP Carrier is driven by an Electrostatic Funnel

Dr. Christophe Chipot
Equipe de dynamique des assemblages membranaires, Unité mixte de recherche 7565
Nancy Université, CNRS
Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
10:00 am (CT)
3269 Beckman Institute


The ADP/ATP carrier (AAC) is a membrane protein of paramount importance for the energy-fueling function of the mitochondria, transporting ADP from the intermembrane space to the matrix and ATP in the opposite direction. On the basis of the high-resolution, 2.2-Å structure of the bovine carrier, a total of 0.53 μs of classical molecular dynamics simulations were conducted in a realistic membrane environment to decipher the early events of ADP translocation across the inner membrane of the mitochondria. Examination of apo-AAC underscores the impermeable nature of the carrier, impeding passive transport of permeants toward the matrix. The electrostatic funnel illuminated from three-dimensional mapping of the electrostatic potential forms a privileged passageway anticipated to drive the diphosphate nucleotide rapidly toward the bottom of the internal cavity. This conjecture is verified in the light of repeated, independent numerical experiments, whereby the permeant is dropped near the mouth of the mitochondrial carrier. Systematic association of ADP to the crevice of the AAC, an early event in its transport across the inner membrane, is accompanied by the formation of an intricate network of noncovalent bonds. Simulations relying on the use of an adaptive biasing force reveal for the first time that the proposed binding site corresponds to a minimum of the free energy landscape delineating the translocation of ADP in the carrier. The present work paves the way to the design of novel nucleotides and new experiments aimed at unveiling key structural features in the chronology of ADP/ATP transport across the mitochondrial membrane.

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