The Role of Proline in the Membrane Re-entrant Helix of Caveolin-1 Academic Article uri icon

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  • Caveolin-1 has a segment of hydrophobic amino acids comprising approximately residues 103-122. We have performed an in silico analysis of the conformational preference of this segment of caveolin-1 using PepLook. We find that there is one main group of stable conformations corresponding to a hydrophobic U bent model that would not traverse the membrane. Furthermore, the calculations predict that substituting the Pro(110) residue with an Ala will change the conformation to a straight hydrophobic helix that would traverse the membrane. We have expressed the P110A mutant of caveolin-1, with a FLAG tag at the N terminus, in HEK 293 cells. We evaluate the topology of the proteins with confocal immunofluorescence microscopy in these cells. We find that FLAG tag at the N terminus of the wild type caveolin-1 is not reactive with antibodies unless the cell membrane is permeabilized with detergent. This indicates that in these cells, the hydrophobic segment of this protein is not transmembrane but takes up a bent conformation, making the protein monotopic. In contrast, the FLAG tag at the N terminus of the P110A mutant is equally exposed to antibodies, before and after membrane permeabilization. We also find that the P110A mutation causes a large reduction of endocytosis of caveolae, cellular lipid accumulation, and lipid droplet formulation. In addition, we find that this mutation markedly reduces the ability of caveolin-1 to form structures with the characteristic morphology of caveolae or to partition into the detergent-resistant membranes of these cells. Thus, the single Pro residue in the membrane-inserting segment of caveolin-1 plays an important role in both the membrane topology and localization of the protein as well as its functions.


  • Aoki, Satoko
  • Thomas, Annick
  • Decaffmeyer, Marc
  • Brasseur, Robert
  • Epand, Richard

publication date

  • October 2010