The intracellular lipid-binding domain of human Na+/H+ exchanger 1 forms a lipid-protein co-structure essential for activity
Dynamic interactions of proteins with lipid membranes are essential regulatory events in biology, but remain rudimentarily understood and particularly overlooked in membrane proteins. The ubiquitously expressed membrane protein Na+/H+-exchanger 1 (NHE1) regulates intracellular pH (pHi) with dysregulation linked to e.g. cancer and cardiovascular diseases. NHE1 has a long, regulatory cytosolic domain carrying a membrane-proximal region described as a lipid-interacting domain (LID), yet, the LID structure and underlying molecular mechanisms are unknown. Here we decompose these, combining structural and biophysical methods, molecular dynamics simulations, cellular biotinylation- and immunofluorescence analysis and exchanger activity assays. We find that the NHE1-LID is intrinsically disordered and, in presence of membrane mimetics, forms a helical αα-hairpin co-structure with the membrane, anchoring the regulatory domain vis-a-vis the transport domain. This co-structure is fundamental for NHE1 activity, as its disintegration reduced steady-state pHi and the rate of pHi recovery after acid loading. We propose that regulatory lipid-protein co-structures may play equally important roles in other membrane proteins.
protein interaction, lipid-interacting domain, LID, moledular dynamics