Solid-State 13C NMR reveals annealing of raft-like membranes containing cholesterol by the intrinsically disordered protein α-synuclein

Avigdor Leftin, Constantin Job, Klaus Beyer, Michael F. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Misfolding and aggregation of the intrinsically disordered protein α-Synuclein (αS) in Lewy body plaques are characteristic markers of late-stage Parkinson's disease. It is well established that membrane binding is initiated at the N-terminus of the protein and affects biasing of conformational ensembles of αS. However, little is understood about the effect of αS on the membrane lipid bilayer. One hypothesis is that intrinsically disordered αS alters the structural properties of the membrane, thereby stabilizing the bilayer against fusion. Here, we used two-dimensional 13C separated local-field NMR to study interaction of the wild-type α-Synuclein (wt-αS) or its N-terminal (1-25) amino acid sequence (N-αS) with a cholesterol-enriched ternary membrane system. This lipid bilayer mimics cellular raft-like domains in the brain that are proposed to be involved in neuronal membrane fusion. The two-dimensional dipolar-recoupling pulse sequence DROSS (dipolar recoupling on-axis with scaling and shape preservation) was implemented to measure isotropic 13C chemical shifts and 13C-1H residual dipolar couplings under magic-angle spinning. Site-specific changes in NMR chemical shifts and segmental order parameters indicate that both wt-αS and N-αS bind to the membrane interface and change lipid packing within raft-like membranes. Mean-torque modeling of 13C-1H NMR order parameters shows that αS induces a remarkable thinning of the bilayer (≈ 6 Å), accompanied by an increase in phospholipid cross-sectional area (≈ 10 Å2). This perturbation is characterized as membrane annealing and entails structural remodeling of the raft-like liquid-ordered phase. We propose this process is implicated in regulation of synaptic membrane fusion that may be altered by aggregation of αS in Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2973-2987
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 23 2013


  • Parkinson's disease
  • magic-angle spinning
  • membrane lipid raft
  • residual dipolar coupling
  • segmental order parameter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology


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