Membrane Optimal Docking Area  


The function of a protein is determined by its intrinsic activity in the context of its subcellular distribution. Membranes localize proteins within cellular compartments and govern their specific activities. Discovering such membrane-protein interactions is important for understanding biological mechanisms, and could uncover novel sites for therapeutic intervention.

Here we present a method for detecting membrane interactive proteins and their exposed residues that insert into lipid bilayers. Although the development process involved analysis of how C1b, C2, ENTH, FYVE, Gla, pleckstrin homology (PH) and PX domains bind membranes, the resulting Membrane Optimal Docking Area (MODA) method yields predictions for a given protein of known three dimensional structures without referring to canonical membrane-targeting modules. This approach was tested on the Arf1 GTPase, ATF2 acetyltransferase, von Willebrand factor A3 domain and Neisseria gonorrhoeae MsrB protein, and further refined with membrane interactive and non-interactive FAPP1 and PKD1 pleckstrin homology domains, respectively.

Furthermore we demonstrated how this tool can be used to discover unprecedented membrane binding functions as illustrated by the Bro1 domain of Alix, which was revealed to recognize lysobisphosphatidic acid (LBPA). Validation of novel membrane-protein interactions relies on other techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) which was used here to map the sites of micelle interaction. Together this indicates that genome-wide identification of known and novel membrane interactive proteins and sites is now feasible, and provides a new tool for functional annotation of the proteome.

This work is supported by:

  • Welcome Trust, HWB-NMR and the EU-funded bio-NMR project for NMR facility support
  • PRISM EU Sixth Framework Program
  • BBSRC and Cancer Research UK
  • Swiss National Science Foundation
  • NIH grants R01 GM071872, U01 GM094612, and U54 GM094618.