In eukaryotic cells, cholesterol is an important regulator of a broad range of membrane proteins, including receptors, transporters, and ion channels. Understanding how cholesterol interacts with membrane proteins is a difficult task because structural data of these proteins complexed with cholesterol are scarce. Here, we describe a dual approach based on in silico studies of protein-cholesterol interactions, combined with physico-chemical measurements of protein insertion into cholesterol-containing monolayers. Our algorithm is validated through careful analysis of the effect of key mutations within and outside the predicted cholesterol-binding site. Our method is illustrated by a complete analysis of cholesterol-binding to Alzheimer's β-amyloid peptide, a protein that penetrates the plasma membrane of brain cells through a cholesterol-dependent process.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s β-amyloid peptide; Cholesterol-binding motif; Langmuir monolayer; Molecular docking; Molecular dynamics simulations; Transmembrane domain.