Gephyrin is a trimeric protein involved in the final steps of molybdenum-cofactor (Moco) biosynthesis and in the clustering of inhibitory glycine and GABAA receptors at postsynaptic specializations. Each protomer consists of stably folded domains (referred to as the G and E domains) located at either terminus and connected by a proteolytically sensitive linker of ∼150 residues. Both terminal domains can oligomerize in their isolated forms; however, in the context of the full-length protein only the G-domain trimer is permanently present, whereas E-domain dimerization is prevented. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) reveal a high degree of flexibility in the structure of gephyrin. The results imply an equilibrium between compact and extended conformational states in solution, with a preference for compact states. CD spectroscopy suggests that a partial compaction is achieved by interactions of the linker with the G and E domains. Taken together, the data provide a rationale for the role of the linker in the overall structure and the conformational dynamics of gephyrin.
Keywords: GABAA receptor; Moco biosynthesis; atomic force microscopy; ensemble-optimization method; gephyrin; glycine receptor; intrinsic disorder; receptor clustering; single-molecule analysis; small-angle X-ray scattering.