Entropy in the Molecular Recognition of Membrane Protein-Lipid Interactions

J Phys Chem Lett. 2021 Dec 30;12(51):12218-12224. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.1c03750. Epub 2021 Dec 20.


Understanding the molecular driving forces that underlie membrane protein-lipid interactions requires the characterization of their binding thermodynamics. Here, we employ variable-temperature native mass spectrometry to determine the thermodynamics of lipid binding events to the human G-protein-gated inward rectifier potassium channel, Kir3.2. The channel displays distinct thermodynamic strategies to engage phosphatidylinositol (PI) and phosphorylated forms thereof. The addition of a 4'-phosphate to PI results in an increase in favorable entropy. PI with two or more phosphates exhibits more complex binding, where lipids appear to bind two nonidentical sites on Kir3.2. Remarkably, the interaction of 4,5-bisphosphate PI with Kir3.2 is solely driven by a large, favorable change in entropy. Installment of a 3'-phosphate to PI(4,5)P2 results in an altered thermodynamic strategy. The acyl chain of the lipid has a marked impact on binding thermodynamics and, in some cases, enthalpy becomes favorable.

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • G Protein-Coupled Inwardly-Rectifying Potassium Channels / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / chemistry*
  • Thermodynamics*


  • G Protein-Coupled Inwardly-Rectifying Potassium Channels
  • KCNJ6 protein, human
  • Lipids