Calcium binding to the purple membrane:A molecular dynamics study

Tsjerk A. Wassenaar, Xavier Daura, Esteve Padros, Alan E. Mark

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The purple membrane (PM) is a specialized membrane patch found in halophilic archaea, containing the photoreceptor bacteriorhodopsin (bR). It is long known that calcium ions bind to the PM, but their position and role remain elusive to date. Molecular dynamics simulations in conjunction with a highly detailed model of the PM have been used to investigate the stability of calcium ions placed at three proposed cation binding sites within bR, one nearthe Schiff base, one in the region of the proton release group, and one near Glu9. The simulations suggest that, of the sites investigated, the binding of calcium ions was most likely at the proton release group. Binding in the region of the Schiff base, while possible, was associated with significant changes in local geometry. Calcium ions placed near Glu9 in the interior of bR (simultaneously to a Ca 2+near the Schiff base and another one near the Glu194-Glu204 site) were not stable. The results obtained are discussed in relation to recent experimental observations and theoretical considerations. © 2008 wiley-Liss, inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-681
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2009


  • Bacteriorhodopsin
  • Bond valence sum
  • Cat ion binding
  • Model
  • Simulation


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