Conserved noncanonical residue Gly-126 confers instability to the middle part of the tropomyosin molecule.
Nevzorov IA., Nikolaeva OP., Kainov YA., Redwood CS., Levitsky DI.
Tropomyosin (Tm) is a two-stranded α-helical coiled-coil protein with a well established role in regulation of actin cytoskeleton and muscle contraction. It is believed that many Tm functions are enabled by its flexibility whose nature has not been completely understood. We hypothesized that the well conserved non-canonical residue Gly-126 causes local destabilization of Tm. To test this, we substituted Gly-126 in skeletal muscle α-Tm either with an Ala residue, which should stabilize the Tm α-helix, or with an Arg residue, which is expected to stabilize both α-helix and coiled-coil structure of Tm. We have shown that both mutations dramatically reduce the rate of Tm proteolysis by trypsin at Asp-133. Differential scanning calorimetry was used for detailed investigation of thermal unfolding of the Tm mutants, both free in solution and bound to F-actin. It was shown that a significant part of wild type Tm unfolds in a non-cooperative manner at low temperature, and both mutations confer cooperativity to this part of the Tm molecule. The size of the flexible middle part of Tm is estimated to be 60-70 amino acid residues, about a quarter of the Tm molecule. Thus, our results show that flexibility is unevenly distributed in the Tm molecule and achieves the highest extent in its middle part. We conclude that the highly conserved Gly-126, acting in concert with the previously identified non-canonical Asp-137, destabilizes the middle part of Tm, resulting in a more flexible region that is important for Tm function.