Examination of EmrE conformational differences in various membrane mimetic environments

Sandra L. Federkeil, Tara L. Winstone, Glen Jickling, Raymond J. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Ethidium multidrug resistance protein (EmrE) is a member of the small multidrug resistance family of proteins and is responsible for resistance in Escherichia coli to a diverse group of lipophilic cations. Research is beginning to elucidate structural information as well as substrate binding and extrusion mechanisms for this protein. However, the choice of membrane mimetic environment to perform structural studies needs to be made. In this study EmrE was solubilized in different membrane mimetic environments to investigate the influence of environment on the structure and dynamics of the protein by comparing the fluorescence properties of emission maxima, peak shifts, relative intensities, acrylamide quenching constants, and polarization. Taken together, the different fluorescence observations on EmrE in the various membrane mimetic systems tested suggest that the tryptophan residues in EmrE are present in the most flexible and exposed state when solubilized in methanol, followed by sodium dodecyl sulfate and urea. The two detergents N-dodecyl-β-D- maltoside (DM) and polyoxyethylene(8)dodecyl ether, for the most part, only display subtle differences between the spectral properties with DM best representing the lipid environment. The conformation of EmrE is clearly more open and dynamic in detergent relative to being reconstituted in small unilamellar vesicles. The fluorescence observations of EmrE solubilized in trifluoroethanol shows an environment that is similar to that of EmrE solubilized in detergents. Additionally, secondary structure was monitored by circular dichroism (CD). The CD spectra were similar among the different solubilizing conditions, suggesting little difference in α-helical content. This work establishes groundwork for the choice of solubilizing conditions for future structural, folding, and ligand binding studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalBiochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Detergent solubilization
  • EmrE
  • Membrane mimetic
  • Membrane proteins
  • SMR
  • Tryptophan fluorescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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