Nonspecific lipid transfer proteins are multifunctional and multispecific seed proteins with a characteristic hydrophobic cavity that runs form N-terminal to the C-terminal end. They are capable of binding and transferring different lipid molecules by means of their hydrophobic cavity. Apart from the cavity, lipid molecules bind and interact at key positions on the nsLTP surface as well. The plasticity of the hydrophobic cavity is an unusual property, considered as the primary lipid binding site. Here, we report a crystal structure of nsLTP from Solanum melongena with two lauric acid molecules bound inside the cavity. It has been observed that the extent of the N-terminal entry point and plasticity of the cavity can be extended, upon binding of one or two lipid molecules inside the cavity. The MD simulation further revealed that the lipid molecule shows high mobility inside the cavity and interestingly, was able to change its orientation. An alternate lipid entry site adjacent to the N-terminal end was uncovered during simulation and Arg-84 was implicated to be a potential regulatory residue aside from Tyr-59. Collectively, this study helps to understand that changes in orientation of the lipid inside the cavity could occur intermittently besides entering the cavity via tail-in-mechanism.Communicated by Ramaswamy H. Sarma.
Keywords: Cavity plasticity; lipid orientation; lipid transfer protein; relative binding affinities.