Membrane Proteins Have Distinct Fast Internal Motion and Residual Conformational Entropy

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2020 Jun 26;59(27):11108-11114. doi: 10.1002/anie.202003527. Epub 2020 Apr 30.


The internal motions of integral membrane proteins have largely eluded comprehensive experimental characterization. Here the fast side-chain dynamics of the α-helical sensory rhodopsin II and the β-barrel outer membrane protein W have been investigated in lipid bilayers and detergent micelles by solution NMR relaxation techniques. Despite their differing topologies, both proteins have a similar distribution of methyl-bearing side-chain motion that is largely independent of membrane mimetic. The methyl-bearing side chains of both proteins are, on average, more dynamic in the ps-ns timescale than any soluble protein characterized to date. Accordingly, both proteins retain an extraordinary residual conformational entropy in the folded state, which provides a counterbalance to the absence of the hydrophobic effect. Furthermore, the high conformational entropy could greatly influence the thermodynamics underlying membrane-protein functions, including ligand binding, allostery, and signaling.

Keywords: NMR spectroscopy; conformational entropy; membrane proteins; protein folding; side-chain dynamics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Entropy*
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular


  • Membrane Proteins