Solution NMR provides a powerful approach for detecting complex formation involving weak to moderate intermolecular affinity. However, solution NMR has only rarely been used to detect complex formation between two membrane proteins in model membranes. The impact of specific binding on the NMR spectrum of a membrane protein can be difficult to distinguish from spectral changes that are induced by nonspecific binding and/or by changes that arise from forced cohabitation of the two proteins in a single model membrane assembly. This is particularly the case when solubility limits make it impossible to complete a titration to the point of near saturation of complex formation. In this work experiments are presented that provide the basis for establishing whether specific complex formation occurs between two membrane proteins under conditions where binding is not of high avidity. Application of these methods led to the conclusion that the membrane protein CD147 (also known as EMMPRIN or basigin) forms a specific heterodimeric complex in the membrane with the 99-residue transmembrane C-terminal fragment of the amyloid precursor protein (C99 or APP-βCTF), the latter being the immediate precursor of the amyloid-β polypeptides that are closely linked to the etiology of Alzheimer's disease.
© 2011 American Chemical Society