Human posttranslationally modified N-ras oncogenes are known to be implicated in numerous human cancers. Here, we applied a combination of experimental and computational techniques to determine structural and dynamical details of the lipid chain modifications of an N-ras heptapeptide in 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) membranes. Experimentally, 2H NMR spectroscopy was used to study oriented membranes that incorporated ras heptapeptides with two covalently attached perdeuterated hexadecyl chains. Atomistic molecular dynamics simulations of the same system were carried out over 100 ns including 60 DMPC and 4 ras molecules. Several structural and dynamical experimental parameters could be directly compared to the simulation. Experimental and simulated 2H NMR order parameters for the methylene groups of the ras lipid chains exhibited a systematic difference attributable to the absence of collective motions in the simulation and to geometrical effects. In contrast, experimental 2H NMR spin-lattice relaxation rates for Zeeman order were well reproduced in the simulation. The lack of slower collective motions in the simulation did not appreciably influence the relaxation rates at a Larmor frequency of 115.1 MHz. The experimental angular dependence of the 2H NM Rrelaxation rates with respect to the external magnetic field was also relatively well simulated. These relaxation rates showed a weak angular dependence, suggesting that the lipid modifications of ras are very flexible and highly mobile in agreement with the low order parameters. To quantify these results, the angular dependence of the 2H relaxation rates was calculated by an analytical model considering both molecular and collective motions. Peptide dynamics in the membrane could be modeled by an anisotropic diffusion tensor with principal values of D∥ = 2.1 × 109 s-1 and D⊥ = 4.5 × 105 s-1. A viscoelastic fitting parameter describing the membrane elasticity, viscosity, and temperature was found to be relatively similar for the ras peptide and the DMPC host matrix. Large motional amplitudes and relatively short correlation times facilitate mixing and dispersal with the lipid bilayer matrix, with implications for the role of the full-length ras protein in signal transduction and oncogenesis.
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