Structural Impact of Phosphorylation and Dielectric Constant Variation on Synaptotagmin’s IDR

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We used time-resolved Förster resonance energy transfer, circular dichroism, and molecular dynamics simulation to investigate the structural dependence of synaptotagmin 1’s intrinsically disordered region (IDR) on phosphorylation and dielectric constant. We found that a peptide corresponding to the full-length IDR sequence, a ∼60-residue strong polyampholyte, can sample structurally collapsed states in aqueous solution, consistent with its κ-predicted behavior, where κ is a sequence-dependent parameter that is used to predict IDR compaction. In implicit solvent simulations of this same sequence, lowering the dielectric constant to more closely mimic the environment near a lipid bilayer surface promoted further sampling of collapsed structures. We then examined the structural tendencies of central region residues of the IDR in isolation. We found that the exocytosis-modulating phosphorylation of Thr112 disrupts a local disorder-to-order transition induced by trifluoroethanol/water mixtures that decrease the solution dielectric constant and stabilize helical structure. Implicit solvent simulations on these same central region residues testing the impact of dielectric constant alone converge on a similar result, showing that helical structure is formed with higher probability at a reduced dielectric. In these helical conformers, lysine-aspartic acid salt bridges contribute to stabilization of transient secondary structure. In contrast, phosphorylation results in formation of salt bridges unsuitable for helix formation. Collectively, these results suggest a model in which phosphorylation and compaction of the IDR sequence regulate structural transitions that in turn modulate neuronal exocytosis.

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Biophysical Journal, v. 114, issue 3, p. 550-561