Structural analysis of the alpha N-terminal region of erythroid and nonerythroid spectrins by small-angle X-ray scattering

Biochemistry. 2003 Dec 16;42(49):14702-10. doi: 10.1021/bi0353833.


We used SpalphaI-1-156 peptide, a well-characterized model peptide of the alphaN-terminal region of erythrocyte spectrin, and SpalphaII-1-149, an alphaII brain spectrin model peptide similar in sequence to SpalphaI-1-156, to study their association affinities with a betaI-spectrin peptide, SpbetaI-1898-2083, by isothermal titration calorimetry. We also determined their conformational flexibilities in solution by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) methods. These two peptides exhibit sequence homology and could be expected to exhibit similar association affinities with beta-spectrin. However, our studies show that the affinity of SpalphaII-1-149 with SpbetaI-1898-2083 is much higher than that of SpalphaI-1-156. Our SAXS findings also indicate a significantly more extended conformation for SpalphaII-1-149 than for SpalphaI-1-156. The radius of gyration values obtained by two different analyses of SAXS data and by molecular modeling all show a value of about 25 A for SpalphaI-1-156 and of about 30 A for SpalphaII-1-149, despite the fact that SpalphaI-1-156 has seven amino acid residues more than SpalphaII-1-149. For SpalphaI-1-156, the SAXS results are consistent with a flexible junction between helix C' and the triple helical bundle that allows multiple orientations between these two structural elements, in good agreement with our published NMR analysis. The SAXS findings for SpalphaII-1-149 support the hypothesis that this junction region is rigid (and probably helical) for alphaII brain spectrin. The nature of the junction region, from one extreme as a random coil (conformationally mobile) segment in alphaI to another extreme as a rigid segment in alphaII, determines the orientation of helix C' relative to the first structural domain. We suggest that this particular junction region in alpha-spectrin plays a major role in modulating its association affinity with beta-spectrins, and thus regulates spectrin tetramer levels. We also note that these are the first conformational studies of brain spectrin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Calorimetry
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Isoforms / chemistry
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Spectrin / chemistry*
  • Thermodynamics
  • X-Rays


  • Peptide Fragments
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Spectrin