Caveolins mediate the formation of caveolae, which are small omega-shaped membrane invaginations involved in a variety of cellular processes. There are three caveolin isoforms, the third of which (Cav3) is expressed in smooth and skeletal muscles. Mutations in Cav3 cause a variety of human muscular diseases. In this work, we characterize the secondary structure, dynamics, and topology of the monomeric form of the full-length lipidated protein. Cav3 consists of a series of membrane-embedded or surface-associated helical elements connected by extramembrane connecting loops or disordered domains. Our results also reveal that the N-terminal domain undergoes a large scale pH-mediated topological rearrangement between soluble and membrane-anchored forms. Considering that roughly one-third of pathogenic mutations in Cav3 influence charged residues located in this domain, we hypothesize that this transition is likely to be relevant to the molecular basis of Cav3-linked diseases. These results provide insight into the structure of Cav3 and set the stage for mechanistic investigations of the effects of pathogenic mutations.
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