The role of proline residues in the dynamics of transmembrane helices: The case of bacteriorhodopsin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Proline residues in transmembrane helices have been found to have important roles in the functioning of membrane proteins. Moreover, Pro residues occur with high frequency in transmembrane α-helices, as compared to α-helices for soluble proteins. Here, we report several properties of the bacteriorhodopsin mutants P50A (helix B), P91A (helix C) and P186A (helix F). Compared to wild type, strongly perturbed behaviour has been found for these mutants. In the resting state, increased hydroxylamine accessibility and altered Asp-85 pKa and light-dark adaptation were observed. On light activation, hydroxylamine accessibility was increased and proton transport activity, M formation kinetics and FTIR difference spectra of M and N intermediates showed clear distortions. On the basis of these alterations and the near identity of the crystalline structures of mutants with that of wild type, we conclude that the transmembrane proline residues of bacteriorhodopsin fulfil a dynamic role in both the resting and the light-activated states. Our results are consistent with the notion that mutation of Pro to Ala allows the helix to increase its flexibility towards the direction originally hindered by the steric clash between the ring Cγ and the carbonyl O of the i-4 residue, at the same time decreasing the mobility towards the opposite direction. Due to their properties, transmembrane Pro residues may serve as transmission elements of conformational changes during the transport process. We propose that these concepts can be extended to other transmembrane proteins. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-135
JournalMolecular Membrane Biology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2006


  • Bacteriorhodopsin
  • Conformational flexibility
  • Proline residues
  • Proton transport
  • Purple membrane


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of proline residues in the dynamics of transmembrane helices: The case of bacteriorhodopsin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this