The peroxidation of cardiolipins by reactive oxygen species, which is regulated and enhanced by cytochrome c (cyt c), is a critical signaling event in mitochondrial apoptosis. We probe the molecular underpinnings of this mitochondrial death signal through structural and functional studies of horse heart cyt c binding to mixed-lipid membranes containing cardiolipin with mono- and polyunsaturated acyl chains. Lipidomics reveal the selective oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) cardiolipin (CL), while multidimensional solid-state NMR probes the structure and dynamics of the membrane and the peripherally bound protein. The hydrophilic milieu at the membrane interface stabilizes a native-like fold, but also leads to localized flexibility at the membrane-interacting protein face. PUFA CL acts as both a preferred substrate and a dynamic regulator by affecting the dynamics of the cyt c N70-I85 Ω loop, which covers the heme cavity.
- mitochondrial protein
- membrane protein
- protein structure and dynamics
- membrane oxidation
- solid-state NMR