Deacylated pulmonary surfactant protein SP-C transforms from α-helical to amyloid fibril structure via a pH-dependent mechanism: An infrared structural investigation

Academic Article


  • Bovine pulmonary surfactant protein C (SP-C) is a hydrophobic, α-helical membrane-associated lipoprotein in which cysteines C4 and C5 are acylated with palmitoyl chains. Recently, it has been found that the α-helix form of SP-C is metastable, and under certain circumstances may transform from an α-helix to β-strand conformation that resembles amyloid fibrils. This transformation is accelerated when the protein is in its deacylated form (dSP-C). We have used infrared spectroscopy to study the structure of dSP-C in solution and at membrane interfaces. Our results show that dSP-C transforms from an α-helical to β-type amyloid fibril structure via a pH-dependent mechanism. In solution at low pH, dSP-C is α-helical in nature, but converts to an amyloid fibril structure composed of short β-strands or β-hairpins at neutral pH. The α-helix structure of dSP-C is fully recoverable from the amyloid β-structure when the pH is once again lowered. Attenuated total reflectance infrared spectroscopy of lipid-protein monomolecular films showed that the fibril β-form of dSP-C is not surface-associated at the air-water interface. In addition, the lipid-associated α-helix form of dSP-C is only retained at the surface at low surface pressures and dissociates from the membrane at higher surface pressures. In situ polarization modulation infrared spectroscopy of protein and lipid-protein monolayers at the air-water interface confirmed that the residual dSP-C helix conformation observed in the attenuated total reflectance infrared spectra of transferred films is randomly or isotropically oriented before exclusion from the membrane interface. This work identifies pH as one of the mechanistic causes of amyloid fibril formation for dSP-C, and a possible contributor to the pathogenesis of pulmonary alveolar proteinosis.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 17341662
  • Author List

  • Dluhy RA; Shanmukh S; Leapard JB; Krüger P; Baatz JE
  • Start Page

  • 2417
  • End Page

  • 2429
  • Volume

  • 85
  • Issue

  • 4