Peptide Folding Rates from Single-Molecule Residence Time Measurements


Grant A. Myers, Daniel A. Gacek, Eric M. Peterson, Christopher B. Fox,
Joel M. Harris, and Stephan J. Stranick



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The binding of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) to a planar phospholipid bilayer is measured using single-molecule total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. From several reports in the literature, GLP-1 has been shown to be a random coil in free solution, adopting a folded, α-helix conformation when intercalated into membrane environments. Single-molecule fluorescence measurements of GLP-1 binding to supported lipid bilayers show evidence of two populations of membrane-associated molecules having different residence times, suggesting weakly adsorbed peptides and strongly bound peptides in the lipid bilayer. The path to and from a strongly bound (folded, intercalated) state would likely include an adsorbed state as an intermediate, so that the resulting kinetics would correspond to a consecutive first-order reversible three-state model. In this work, the relationships between measured single-molecule residence times and the microscopic rates in a three-state kinetic model are derived and used to interpret the binding of GLP-1 to a supported lipid bilayer. The system of differential equations associated with the proposed consecutive-three state kinetics scheme is solved, and the solution is applied to interpret histograms of single-molecule, GLP-1 residence times in terms of the microscopic rates in the sequential two-step model. These microscopic rates are used to estimate the free energy barrier to adsorption, the fraction of peptides adsorbing to the membrane surface that successfully intercalate in the bilayer, the lifetime of inserted peptides in the membrane, and the free energy change of insertion into the lipid bilayer from the adsorbed state. The transition from a random coil in solution to a folded state in a membrane has been recognized as a common motif for insertion of membrane active peptides. Therefore, the relationships developed here could have wide application to the kinetic analysis of peptide–membrane interactions.  In future work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, super-resolution coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) and structured illumination microscopies will be used to further characterize the interactions of molecules with supported lipid bilayers.