A study of lipid recognition and membrane binding by the human oxysterol-binding protein (OSBP).
Recent studies have established oxysterol-binding protein (OSBP) and members of the OSBP-related protein (ORP) family as global cellular sterol sensors that participate in non-vesicular anterograde transport of monomeric sterols from the endoplasmic reticulum to other organelles such as the Golgi and the plasma membrane. By exchanging sterols for phosphoinositides, these multi-domain proteins change the bilayer composition at membrane contact sites and thus, regulate various signaling pathways. Despite the wealth of knowledge garnered from the study of fluorescent/radiolabeled ligand-protein interactions and inter-vesicular lipid transfer assays in vitro, the precise nature of the association of ORPs with organellar membranes and the factors modulating such interactions have remained largely enigmatic. The goal of my project was to characterize the behaviour of human OSBP using a label-free analytical technique called dual polarization interferometry (DPI). This technique enables surface-immobilization of phospholipid vesicles to observe and analyze the behaviour of proteins towards adsorbed bilayers. From my investigation, I found that OSBP prefers binding to membranes containing anionic phospholipids, such as phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate (PI(4)P), over membranes made up of neutral phosphatidylcholine (PC). In the presence of PI(4)P, the wild-type protein clearly demonstrated a rapid bilayer association, followed by PI(4)P extraction and a slower dissociation, in a dosage-dependent fashion. The OSBP-related domain (ORD) mutant, OSBP-HH/AA, due to its impaired ability to extract PI(4)P, failed to dissociate from the membrane while the pleckstrin homology domain (PHD) mutant, OSBP-RR/EE, could not associate with membranes at all. The presence of sterols did not alter OSBP’s affinity for PC membranes despite a two-fold increase in protein adsorption per unit area in the presence of cholesterol in the membrane, compared to 25-hydroxycholesterol. Both cholesterol and 25-hydroxycholesterol competed with 22-NBD-cholesterol for the binding site in the ORD of OSBP, with resulting EC50 values of 15.6 ± 0.7 nM for the former and 5.0 ± 0.5 nM for the latter. OSBP also transferred ORD-bound fluorescent cholesterol to acceptor vesicles, but the rate remained unaltered upon incorporation of PI(4)P in those membranes. These results provide useful insight into the preferential association of OSBP with membranes containing specific recognizable ligands, such as sterols and PI(4)P, and help build a molecular level description of the mechanism of this protein.