A Gly-zipper motif mediates homodimerization of the transmembrane domain of the mitochondrial kinase ADCK3

J Am Chem Soc. 2014 Oct 8;136(40):14068-77. doi: 10.1021/ja505017f. Epub 2014 Sep 24.


Interactions between α-helices within the hydrophobic environment of lipid bilayers are integral to the folding and function of transmembrane proteins; however, the major forces that mediate these interactions remain debated, and our ability to predict these interactions is still largely untested. We recently demonstrated that the frequent transmembrane association motif GASright, the GxxxG-containing fold of the glycophorin A dimer, is optimal for the formation of extended networks of Cα-H hydrogen bonds, supporting the hypothesis that these bonds are major contributors to association. We also found that optimization of Cα-H hydrogen bonding and interhelical packing is sufficient to computationally predict the structure of known GASright dimers at near atomic level. Here, we demonstrate that this computational method can be used to characterize the structure of a protein not previously known to dimerize, by predicting and validating the transmembrane dimer of ADCK3, a mitochondrial kinase. ADCK3 is involved in the biosynthesis of the redox active lipid, ubiquinone, and human ADCK3 mutations cause a cerebellar ataxia associated with ubiquinone deficiency, but the biochemical functions of ADCK3 remain largely undefined. Our experimental analyses show that the transmembrane helix of ADCK3 oligomerizes, with an interface based on an extended Gly-zipper motif, as predicted by our models. The data provide strong evidence for the hypothesis that optimization of Cα-H hydrogen bonding is an important factor in the association of transmembrane helices. This work also provides a structural foundation for investigating the role of transmembrane association in regulating the biological activity of ADCK3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / enzymology*
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Escherichia coli / cytology
  • Glycine*
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Mitochondria / enzymology*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis
  • Protein Multimerization*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • COQ8A protein, human
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Glycine