Membrane-bound proteins can play a role in the binding of anionic gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) to model bilayers; however, the mechanism for this binding remains unresolved. In this work, we determine the relative orientation of the peripheral membrane protein cytochrome c in binding to a mercaptopropionic acid-functionalized AuNP (MPA-AuNP). As this is nonrigid binding, traditional methods involving crystallographic or rigid molecular docking techniques are ineffective at resolving the question. Instead, we have implemented a computational assay technique using a cross-correlation of a small ensemble of 200 ns long molecular dynamics trajectories to identify a preferred nonrigid binding orientation or pose of cytochrome c on MPA-AuNPs. We have also employed a mass spectrometry-based footprinting method that enables the characterization of the stable protein corona that forms at long time-scales in solution but remains in a dynamic state. Through the combination of these computational and experimental primary results, we have established a consensus result establishing the identity of the exposed regions of cytochrome c in proximity to MPA-AuNPs and its complementary pose(s) with amino-acid specificity. Moreover, the tandem use of the two methods can be applied broadly to determine the accessibility of membrane-binding sites for peripheral membrane proteins upon adsorption to AuNPs or to determine the exposed amino-acid residues of the hard corona that drive the acquisition of dynamic soft coronas. We anticipate that the combined use of simulation and experimental methods to characterize biomolecule-nanoparticle interactions, as demonstrated here, will become increasingly necessary as the complexity of such target systems grows.
- Cytochrome c
- Gold nanoparticle
- Lysine modification
- Mass spectrometry
- Molecular dynamics simulations
- Protein footprinting
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
- Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.