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1.  The E3 Ubiquitin Ligase CHIP and the Molecular Chaperone Hsc70 Form a Dynamic, Tethered Complex 
Biochemistry  2013;52(32):10.1021/bi4009209.
The E3 ubiquitin ligase CHIP (C-terminus of Hsc70 Interacting Protein, a 70 kDa homodimer) binds to the molecular chaperone Hsc70 (a 70 kDa monomer) and this complex is important in both the ubiquitination of Hsc70 and the turnover of Hsc70-bound clients. Here we used NMR spectroscopy, bio-layer interferometry, and fluorescence polarization to characterize the Hsc70-CHIP interaction. We found that CHIP binds tightly to two molecules of Hsc70 forming a 210 kDa complex, with a Kd of approximately 60 nM, and that the IEEVD motif at the C-terminus of Hsc70 (residues 642–646) is both necessary and sufficient for binding. Moreover, the same motif is required for CHIP-mediated ubiquitination of Hsc70 in vitro, highlighting its functional importance. Relaxation-based NMR experiments on the Hsc70-CHIP complex determined that the two partners move independently in solution, similar to “beads on a string”. These results suggest that a dynamic C-terminal region of Hsc70 provides for flexibility between CHIP and the chaperone, allowing the ligase to “search” a large space and engage in productive interactions with a wide range of clients. In support of this suggestion, we find that deleting residues 623–641 of the C-terminal region, while retaining the IEEVD motif, caused a significant decrease in the efficiency of Hsc70 ubiquitination by CHIP.
PMCID: PMC3856692  PMID: 23865999
2.  Minor activities and transition state properties of the human steroid hydroxylases cytochromes P450c17 and P450c21, from reactions observed with deuterium-labeled substrates 
Biochemistry  2012;51(36):7064-7077.
The steroid hydroxylases CYP17A1 (P450c17, 17-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase) and CYP21A2 (P450c21, 21-hydroxylase) catalyze progesterone hydroxylation at one or more sites within a 2 Å radius. We probed their hydrogen atom abstraction mechanisms and regiochemical plasticity with deuterium-labeled substrates: 17-[2H]-pregnenolone; 17-[2H]-, 16α-[2H]-, 21,21,21-[2H3]-, and 21-[2H]-progesterone; and 21,21,21-[2H3]-17-hydroxyprogesterone. Product distribution and formation rates with recombinant human P450-oxidoreductase and wild-type human CYP17A1 or mutation A105L (reduced progesterone 16α-hydroxylation) and wild-type human CYP21A2 or mutation V359A (substantial progesterone 16α-hydroxylation) were used to calculate intramolecular and intermolecular kinetic isotope effects (KIEs). The intramolecular KIEs for CYP17A1 and mutation A105L were 4.1 and 3.8, respectively, at H-17 and 2.9 and 5.1, respectively, at H-16α. Mutation A105L 21-hydroxylates progesterone (5% of products), and wild-type CYP17A1 also catalyzes a trace of 21-hydroxylation, which increases with 16α-[2H]- and 17-[2H]-progesterone. The intramolecular KIEs with CYP21A2 mutation V359A and progesterone were 6.2 and 3.8 at H-21 and H-16α, respectively. Wild-type CYP21A2 also forms a trace of 16α-hydroxyprogesterone, which increased with 21,21,21-[2H3]-progesterone substrate. Competitive intermolecular KIEs paralleled the intramolecular KIE values, with DV values of 1.4–5.1 and DV/K values of 1.8–5.1 for these reactions. CYP17A1 and CYP21A2 mutation V359A both 16α-hydroxylate 16α-[2H]-progesterone with 33–44% deuterium retention, indicating stereochemical inversion. We conclude that human CYP17A1 has progesterone 21-hydroxylase activity and human CYP21A2 has progesterone 16α-hydroxylase activity, both of which are enhanced with deuterated substrates. The transition states for C-H bond cleavage in these hydroxylation reactions are either significantly non-linear and/or asymmetric, and C-H bond breakage is partially rate-limiting for all reactions.
PMCID: PMC3471366  PMID: 22873692
3.  Targeting Bacterial Nitric Oxide Synthase with Aminoquinoline-based Inhibitors 
Biochemistry  2016;55(39):5587-5594.
Nitric oxide (NO) is produced in Gram-positive pathogens Bacillus anthracis and Staphylococcus aureus by the bacterial isoform of nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Inhibition of bacterial nitric oxide synthase (bNOS) has been identified as a promising antibacterial strategy for targeting methicillin-resistant Staphylocoocus aureus1. One class of NOS inhibitors that demonstrates antimicrobial efficacy utilizes an aminoquinoline scaffold. Here we report on a variety of aminoquinolines that target the bacterial NOS active site, in part, by binding to a hydrophobic patch that is unique to bNOS. Through mutagenesis and crystallographic studies, our findings demonstrate that aminoquinolines are an excellent scaffold to further aid in the development of bNOS-specific inhibitors.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC5283056  PMID: 27607918
4.  β-Lactone Synthetase Found in Olefin Biosynthesis Path-way 
Biochemistry  2017;56(2):348-351.
The first β-lactone synthetase enzyme is reported, creating an unexpected link between the biosynthesis of olefinic hydrocarbons and highly functionalized natural products. The enzyme OleC, involved in the microbial biosynthesis of long-chain olefinic hydrocarbons, reacts with syn- and anti-β-hydroxy acid substrates to yield cis- and trans-β-lactones, respectively. Protein sequence comparisons reveal that enzymes homologous to OleC are encoded in natural product gene clusters that generate β-lactone rings, suggesting a common mechanism of biosynthesis.
Table of Contents Artwork
PMCID: PMC5499249  PMID: 28029240
5.  The Cation−π Interaction Enables a Halo-Tag Fluorogenic Probe for Fast No-Wash Live Cell Imaging and Gel-Free Protein Quantification 
Biochemistry  2017;56(11):1585-1595.
The design of fluorogenic probes for a Halo tag is highly desirable but challenging. Previous work achieved this goal by controlling the chemical switch of spirolactones upon the covalent conjugation between the Halo tag and probes or by incorporating a “channel dye” into the substrate binding tunnel of the Halo tag. In this work, we have developed a novel class of Halo-tag fluorogenic probes that are derived from solvatochromic fluorophores. The optimal probe, harboring a benzothiadiazole scaffold, exhibits a 1000-fold fluorescence enhancement upon reaction with the Halo tag. Structural, computational, and biochemical studies reveal that the benzene ring of a tryptophan residue engages in a cation−π interaction with the dimethylamino electron-donating group of the benzothiadiazole fluorophore in its excited state. We further demonstrate using noncanonical fluorinated tryptophan that the cation−π interaction directly contributes to the fluorogenicity of the benzothiadiazole fluorophore. Mechanistically, this interaction could contribute to the fluorogenicity by promoting the excited-state charge separation and inhibiting the twisting motion of the dimethylamino group, both leading to an enhanced fluorogenicity. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of the probe in no-wash direct imaging of Halo-tagged proteins in live cells. In addition, the fluorogenic nature of the probe enables a gel-free quantification of fusion proteins expressed in mammalian cells, an application that was not possible with previously nonfluorogenic Halo-tag probes. The unique mechanism revealed by this work suggests that incorporation of an excited-state cation−π interaction could be a feasible strategy for enhancing the optical performance of fluorophores and fluorogenic sensors.
PMCID: PMC5362743  PMID: 28221782
6.  Human-Mouse Chimeras With Normal Expression and Function Reveal That Major Domain Swapping is Tolerated by P-glycoprotein (ABCB1) 
Biochemistry  2016;55(7):1010-1023.
The efflux transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp) plays a vital role in the transport of molecules across cell membranes and has been shown to interact with a panoply of functionally and structurally unrelated compounds. How human P-gp interacts with this large number of drugs has not been well understood, although structural flexibility has been implicated. To gain insight into this transporter's broad substrate specificity and to assess its ability to accommodate a variety of molecular and structural changes, we generated human-mouse P-gp chimeras by the exchange of homologous transmembrane and nucleotide-binding domains. High-level expression of these chimeras by BacMam- and baculovirus-mediated transduction in mammalian (HeLa) and insect cells, respectively, was achieved. There were no detectable differences between wild-type and chimeric P-gp in terms of cell surface expression, ability to efflux the P-gp substrates rhodamine 123, calcein-AM, and JC-1, or to be inhibited by the substrate cyclosporine A and the inhibitors tariquidar and elacridar. Additionally, expression of chimeric P-gp was able to confer a paclitaxel-resistant phenotype to HeLa cells characteristic of P-gp-mediated drug resistance. P-gp ATPase assays and photo-crosslinking with [125I]-Iodoarylazidoprazosin confirmed that transport and biochemical properties of P-gp chimeras were similar to those of wild-type P-gp, although differences in drug-binding were detected when human and mouse transmembrane domains were combined. Overall, chimeras with one or two mouse P-gp domains were deemed functionally equivalent to human wild-type P-gp, demonstrating the ability of human P-gp to tolerate major structural changes.
PMCID: PMC5348299  PMID: 26820614
7.  Structural Features Essential to the Antimicrobial Functions of Human SPLUNC1 
Biochemistry  2016;55(21):2979-2991.
SPLUNC1 is an abundantly secreted innate immune protein in the mammalian respiratory tract that exerts bacteriostatic and antibiofilm effects, binds to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and acts as a fluid-spreading surfactant. Here, we unravel the structural elements essential for the surfactant and antimicrobial functions of human SPLUNC1 (Short Palate Lung Nasal Epithelial Clone 1). A unique α-helix (α4) that extends from the body of SPLUNC1 is required for the bacteriostatic, surfactant, and LPS-binding activities of this protein. Indeed, we find that mutation of just four leucine residues within this helical motif to alanine is sufficient to significantly reduce the fluid spreading abilities of SPLUNC1, as well as its bacteriostatic actions against the Gram-negative pathogens Burkholderia cenocepacia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Conformational flexibility in the body of the SPLUNC1 is also involved in the bacteriostatic, surfactant, and LPS-binding functions of the protein as revealed by disulfide mutants introduced into SPLUNC1. In addition, SPLUNC1 exerts antibiofilm effects against Gram-negative bacteria, although α4 is not involved in this activity. Interestingly, though, the introduction of surface electrostatic mutations away from α4 based on the unique dolphin SPLUNC1 sequence, and confirmed by crystal structure, are shown to impart antibiofilm activity against Staphylococcus aureus, the first SPLUNC1-depenent effect against a Gram-positive bacterium reported to date. Together, these data pinpoint SPLUNC1 structural motifs required for the antimicrobial and surfactant actions of this protective human protein.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4887393  PMID: 27145151
8.  Inhibitor Bound Crystal Structures of Bacterial Nitric Oxide Synthase 
Biochemistry  2015;54(26):4075-4082.
Nitric oxide generated by bacterial nitric oxide synthase (NOS) increases the susceptibility of Gram-positive pathogens Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus anthracis to oxidative stress, including antibiotic-induced oxidative stress. Not surprisingly, NOS inhibitors also improve the effectiveness of antimicrobials. Development of potent and selective bacterial NOS inhibitors is complicated by the high active site sequence and structural conservation shared with the mammalian NOS isoforms. To exploit bacterial NOS for the development of new therapeutics, recognition of alternative NOS surfaces and pharmacophores suitable for drug binding is required. Here, we report on a wide number of inhibitor-bound bacterial NOS crystal structures to identify several compounds that interact with surfaces unique to the bacterial NOS. Although binding studies indicate that these inhibitors weakly interact with the NOS active site, many of the inhibitors reported here provide a revised structural framework for the development of new antimicrobials that target bacterial NOS. In addition, mutagenesis studies reveal several key residues that unlock access to bacterial NOS surfaces that could provide the selectivity required to develop potent bacterial NOS inhibitors.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4860011  PMID: 26062720
9.  Magic Angle Spinning Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Characterization of Voltage-Dependent Anion Channel Gating in Two-Dimensional Lipid Crystalline Bilayers 
Biochemistry  2014;54(4):994-1005.
The N-terminus of the voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) has been proposed to contain the mechanistically important gating helices that modulate channel opening and closing. In this study, we utilize magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance (MAS NMR) to determine the location and structure of the N-terminus for functional channels in lipid bilayers by measuring long-range 13C–13C distances between residues in the N-terminus and other domains of VDAC reconstituted into DMPC lipid bilayers. Our structural studies show that the distance between A14 Cβ in the N-terminal helix and S193 Cβ is ∼4–6 Å. Furthermore, VDAC phosphorylation by a mitochondrial kinase at residue S193 has been claimed to delay mitochondrial cell death by causing a conformational change that closes the channel, and a VDAC-Ser193Glu mutant has been reported to show properties very similar to those of phosphorylated VDAC in a cellular context. We expressed VDAC-S193E and reconstituted it into DMPC lipid bilayers. Two-dimensional 13C–13C correlation experiments showed chemical shift perturbations for residues located in the N-terminus, indicating possible structural perturbations to that region. However, electrophysiological data recorded on VDAC-S193E showed that channel characteristics were identical to those of wild type samples, indicating that phosphorylation of S193 does not directly affect channel gating. The combination of NMR and electrophysiological results allows us to discuss the validity of proposed gating models.
PMCID: PMC4318587  PMID: 25545271
10.  Lateral Diffusion of Proteins on Supported Lipid Bilayers: Additive Friction of Synaptotagmin 7 C2A–C2B Tandem Domains 
Biochemistry  2014;53(50):7904-7913.
The synaptotagmin (Syt) family of proteins contains tandem C2 domains, C2A and C2B, which bind membranes in the presence of Ca2+ to trigger vesicle fusion during exocytosis. Despite recent progress, the role and extent of interdomain interactions between C2A and C2B in membrane binding remain unclear. To test whether the two domains interact on a planar lipid bilayer (i.e., experience thermodynamic interdomain contacts), diffusion of fluorescent-tagged C2A, C2B, and C2AB domains from human Syt7 was measured using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy with single-particle tracking. The C2AB tandem exhibits a lateral diffusion constant approximately half the value of the isolated single domains and does not change when additional residues are engineered into the C2A–C2B linker. This is the expected result if C2A and C2B are separated when membrane-bound; theory predicts that C2AB diffusion would be faster if the two domains were close enough together to have interdomain contact. Stopped-flow measurements of membrane dissociation kinetics further support an absence of interdomain interactions, as dissociation kinetics of the C2AB tandem remain unchanged when rigid or flexible linker extensions are included. Together, the results suggest that the two C2 domains of Syt7 bind independently to planar membranes, in contrast to reported interdomain cooperativity in Syt1.
PMCID: PMC4278679  PMID: 25437758
11.  Drug Modulation of Water–Heme Interactions in Low-Spin P450 Complexes of CYP2C9d and CYP125A1 
Biochemistry  2015;54(5):1198-1207.
Azoles and pyridines are commonly incorporated into small molecule inhibitor scaffolds that target cytochromes P450 (CYPs) as a strategy to increase drug binding affinity, impart isoform-dependent selectivity, and improve metabolic stability. Optical absorbance spectra of the CYP–inhibitor complex are widely used to infer whether these inhibitors are ligated directly to the heme iron as catalytically inert, low-spin (type II) complexes. Here, we show that the low-spin complex between a drug-metabolizing CYP2C9 variant and 4-(3-phenyl-propyl)-1H-1,2,3-triazole (PPT) retains an axial water ligand despite exhibiting elements of “classic” type II optical behavior. Hydrogens of the axial water ligand are observed by pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy for both inhibitor-free and inhibitor-bound species and show that inhibitor binding does not displace the axial water. A 15N label incorporated into PPT is 0.444 nm from the heme iron, showing that PPT is also in the active site. The reverse type I inhibitor, LP10, of CYP125A1 from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, known from X-ray crystal structures to form a low-spin water-bridged complex, is found by EPR and by visible and near-infrared magnetic circular dichroism spectroscopy to retain the axial water ligand in the complex in solution.
PMCID: PMC4437715  PMID: 25591012
12.  Strength of Axial Water Ligation in Substrate-Free Cytochrome P450s Is Isoform Dependent 
Biochemistry  2014;53(9):1428-1434.
The heme-containing cytochrome P450s exhibit isoform-dependent ferric spin equilibria in the resting state and differential substrate-dependent spin equilibria. The basis for these differences is not well understood. Here, magnetic circular dichroism (MCD) reveals significant differences in the resting low spin ligand field of CYPs 3A4, 2E1, 2C9, 125A1, and 51B1, which indicates differences in the strength of axial water ligation to the heme. The near-infrared bands that specifically correspond to charge-transfer porphyrin-to-metal transitions span a range of energies of nearly 2 kcal/mol. In addition, the experimentally determined MCD bands are not entirely in agreement with the expected MCD energies calculated from electron paramagnetic resonance parameters, thus emphasizing the need for the experimental data. MCD marker bands of the high spin heme between 500 and 680 nm were also measured and suggest only a narrow range of energies for this ensemble of high spin Cys(S–) → Fe3+ transitions among these isoforms. The differences in axial ligand energies between CYP isoforms of the low spin states likely contribute to the energetics of substrate-dependent spin state perturbation. However, these ligand field energies do not correlate with the fraction of high spin vs low spin in the resting state enzyme, suggestive of differences in water access to the heme or isoform-dependent differences in the substrate-free high spin states as well.
PMCID: PMC3985942  PMID: 24576089
13.  Structure and Function of the Genomically Encoded Fosfomycin Resistance Enzyme, FosB, from Staphylococcus aureus 
Biochemistry  2014;53(4):755-765.
The Gram-positive pathogen Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality. Like many multi-drug-resistant organisms, S. aureus contains antibiotic-modifying enzymes that facilitate resistance to a multitude of antimicrobial compounds. FosB is a Mn2+-dependent fosfomycin-inactivating enzyme found in S. aureus that catalyzes nucleophilic addition of either l-cysteine (l-Cys) or bacillithiol (BSH) to the antibiotic, resulting in a modified compound with no bactericidal properties. The three-dimensional X-ray crystal structure of FosB from S. aureus (FosBSa) has been determined to a resolution of 1.15 Å. Cocrystallization of FosBSa with either l-Cys or BSH results in a disulfide bond between the exogenous thiol and the active site Cys9 of the enzyme. An analysis of the structures suggests that a highly conserved loop region of the FosB enzymes must change conformation to bind fosfomycin. While two crystals of FosBSa contain Zn2+ in the active site, kinetic analyses of FosBSa indicated that the enzyme is inhibited by Zn2+ for l-Cys transferase activity and only marginally active for BSH transferase activity. Fosfomycin-treated disk diffusion assays involving S. aureus Newman and the USA300 JE2 methicillin-resistant S. aureus demonstrate a marked increase in the sensitivity of the organism to the antibiotic in either the BSH or FosB null strains, indicating that both are required for survival of the organism in the presence of the antibiotic. This work identifies FosB as a primary fosfomycin-modifying pathway of S. aureus and establishes the enzyme as a potential therapeutic target for increased efficacy of fosfomycin against the pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3985756  PMID: 24447055
14.  Diacylglycerol Kinase Delta Promotes Lipogenesis† 
Biochemistry  2013;52(44):10.1021/bi401178y.
We have studied the relationship between diacylglycerol kinase delta (DGKδ) and lipogenesis. There is a marked increase in the expression of DGKδ during the differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells to adipocytes, as well as in the synthesis of neutral and polar lipids. When 3T3-L1 undifferentiated fibroblasts are transfected to express DGKδ there is increased triglyceride synthesis without differentiation to adipocytes. Hence, expression of DGKδ promotes lipogenesis. Lipid synthesis is decreased in DGKδ knockout mouse embryo fibroblasts, especially for lipids with shorter acyl chains and limited unsaturation. This reduction occurs for both neutral and polar lipids. These findings suggest reduced de novo lipid synthesis. This is confirmed by measuring the incorporation of glycerol into polar and neutral lipids that is higher in the wild type cells than in the DGKδ knockouts. In comparison, there was no change in lipid synthesis in DGKε knockout mouse embryo fibroblasts. We also demonstrate that the DGKδ knockout cells had a lower expression of acetyl-CoA carboxylase and fatty acid synthase as well as a lower degree of activation by phosphorylation of ATP citrate lyase. These three enzymes are involved in the synthesis of long chain fatty acids. Our results demonstrate that DGKδ markedly increases lipid synthesis, at least in part as a result of promoting the de novo synthesis of fatty acids.
PMCID: PMC3864584  PMID: 24090246
15.  Structural and chemical aspects of resistance to the antibiotic, fosfomycin, conferred by FosB from Bacillus cereus†,‡ 
Biochemistry  2013;52(41):7350-7362.
The fosfomycin resistance enzymes, FosB, from Gram-positive organisms, are M2+ dependent thiol tranferases that catalyze nucleophilic addition of either L-cysteine (L-cys) or bacillithiol (BSH) to the antibiotic, resulting in a modified compound with no bacteriacidal properties. Here we report the structural and functional characterization of FosB from Bacillus cereus (FosBBc). The overall structure of FosBBc, at 1.27 Å resolution, reveals that the enzyme belongs to the vicinal oxygen chelate (VOC) superfamily. Crystal structures of FosBBc co-crystallized with fosfomycin and a variety of divalent metals, including Ni2+, Mn2+, Co2+, and Zn2+, indicate that the antibiotic coordinates to the active site metal center in an orientation similar to that found in the structurally homologous manganese-dependent fosfomycin resistance enzyme, FosA. Surface analysis of the FosBBc structures show a well-defined binding pocket and an access channel to C1 of fosfomycin, the carbon to which nucleophilic addition of the thiol occurs. The pocket and access channel are appropriate in size and shape to accommodate L-cys or BSH. Further investigation of the structures revealed that the fosfomycin molecule, anchored by the metal, is surrounded by a cage of amino acids that hold the antibiotic in an orientation such that C1 is centered at the end of the solvent channel positioning the compound for direct nucleophilic attack by the thiol substrate. In addition, the structures of FosBBc in complex with the L-cysteine-fosfomycin product (1.55 Å resolution) and in complex with the bacillithiol-fosfomycin product (1.77 Å resolution) coordinated to a Mn2+ metal in the active site have been determined. The L-cysteine moiety of either product is located in the solvent channel, where the thiol has added to the backside of fosfomycin C1 located at the end of the channel. Concomitant kinetic analyses of FosBBc indicated that the enzyme has a preference for bacillithiol over L-cysteine when activated by Mn2+ and is inhibited by Zn2+. The fact that Zn2+ is an inhibitor of FosBBc was used to obtain a ternary complex structure of the enzyme with both fosfomycin and L-cysteine bound.
PMCID: PMC4108214  PMID: 24004181
16.  Identification of palmitoyl protein thioesterase 1 in human THP-1 monocytes/macrophages and characterization of unique biochemical activities for this enzyme 
Biochemistry  2013;52(43):7559-7574.
The profiles of serine hydrolases in human and mouse macrophages are similar yet different. For instance, human macrophages express high levels of carboxylesterase 1 (CES1), whereas mouse macrophages have minimal amounts of the orthologous murine CES1. On the other hand, both species' macrophages exhibit limited expression of the canonical 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) hydrolytic enzyme, MAGL. Our previous study showed carboxylesterase 1 (CES1) was partly responsible for the hydrolysis of 2-AG (50%) and prostaglandin glyceryl esters (PG-Gs) (80-95%) in human THP1 monocytes/macrophages. However, MAGL and other endocannabinoid hydrolases, FAAH, ABHD6 and ABHD12, did not have a role because of either limited or no expression. Thus, another enzyme was hypothesized to be responsible for the remaining 2-AG hydrolysis activity following chemical inhibition and immunodepletion of CES1 (previous study) or CES1 gene knockdown (this study). Here we identified two candidate serine hydrolases in THP1 cell lysates by activity-based protein profiling (ABPP)–MudPIT and western blotting: cathepsin G and palmitoyl protein thioesterase 1 (PPT1). Both proteins exhibited similar electrophoretic properties to a serine hydrolase in THP1 cells detected by gel-based ABPP at 31-32 kDa; however, only PPT1 exhibited lipolytic activity and hydrolyzed 2-AG in vitro. Interestingly, PPT1 was highly expressed in THP1 cells but was significantly less reactive than cathepsin G toward the activity-based probe, fluorophosphonate-biotin. KIAA1363, another serine hydrolase, was also identified in THP1 cells but did not have significant lipolytic activity. On the basis of chemoproteomic profiling, immunodepletion studies and chemical inhibitor profiles, we estimated that PPT1 contributed 32-40% of 2-AG hydrolysis activity in the THP1 cell line. In addition, pure recombinant PPT1 catalyzed the hydrolysis of 2-AG, PGE2-G and PGF2α-G, although the catalytic efficiency of 2-AG hydrolysis by PPT1 was ∼10-fold lower than CES1's. PPT1 was also insensitive to several chemical inhibitors that potently inhibit CES1, such as organophosphate poisons and JZL184. This is the first report to document the expression of PPT1 in a human monocyte/macrophage cell line and to show PPT1 can hydrolyze the natural substrates 2-AG and PG-Gs. These findings suggest that PPT1 may participate in endocannabinoid metabolism within specific cellular contexts, and highlights the functional redundancy often exhibited by enzymes involved in lipid metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4102699  PMID: 24083319
Palmitoyl protein thioesterase 1; carboxylesterase 1; endocannabinoid; 2-arachidonoylglycerol; THP1 monocytes/macrophages; hexadecylsulfonyl fluoride; paraoxon
17.  Free Cholesterol Determines rHDL Phospholipid Phase Structure and Stability 
Biochemistry  2013;52(25):4324-4330.
Reassembled high density lipoproteins (rHDL) of various sizes and compositions containing apo A-I or apo A-II as their sole protein, dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine (DMPC), and various amounts of free cholesterol (FC) have been isolated and analyzed by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and by circular dichroism to determine their stability and the temperature dependence of their helical content. Our data show that the multiple rHDL species obtained at each mol% FC usually do not have the same mole% FC as the starting mixture and that the size of the multiple species increases in a quantized way with their respective mol% FC. DSC studies reveal multiple phases or domains that can be classified as virtual DMPC, which contains a small amount of DMPC that slightly reduces the melting temperature Tm, a boundary phase that is adjacent to the apo A-I or apo A-II that circumscribes the discoidal rHDL, and a mixed FC + DMPC phase that has a Tm that increases with mol% FC. Only the large rHDL contain virtual DMPC whereas all contain boundary phase and various amounts of mixed FC + DMPC according to increasing size and mol% FC. As reported by others, FC stabilizes the rHDL. For rHDL (apo A-II) compared to rHDL (apo A-I), this occurs in spite of the reduced number of helical regions that mediate binding to the DMPC surface. This effect is attributed to the very high lipophilicity of apo A-II and the reduction in the polarity of the interface between DMPC and the aqueous phase with increasing mol% FC, an effect that is expected to increase the hydrophobic associations with the non polar face of the amphipathic helices of apo A-II. These data are relevant to the differential effects of FC and apolipoprotein species on intracellular and plasma membrane nascent HDL assembly and subsequent remodeling by plasma proteins.
PMCID: PMC3959168  PMID: 23721456
Cholesterol; Apolipoprotein A-I; Apolipoprotein A-II; Size Exclusion Chromatography; Circular Dichroism; Fluorescence; Differential Scanning Calorimetry
18.  Structure and Function of the Genomically Encoded Fosfomycin Resistance Enzyme, FosB, from Staphylococcus aureus 
Biochemistry  2014;53(4):755-765.
The Gram-positive pathogen Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality. Like many multi-drug-resistant organisms, S. aureus contains antibiotic-modifying enzymes that facilitate resistance to a multitude of antimicrobial compounds. FosB is a Mn2+-dependent fosfomycin-inactivating enzyme found in S. aureus that catalyzes nucleophilic addition of either L-cysteine (L-Cys) or bacillithiol (BSH) to the antibiotic, resulting in a modified compound with no bactericidal properties. The three-dimensional X-ray crystal structure of FosB from S. aureus (FosBSa) has been determined to a resolution of 1.15 Å. Cocrystallization of FosBSa with either L-Cys or BSH results in a disulfide bond between the exogenous thiol and the active site Cys9 of the enzyme. An analysis of the structures suggests that a highly conserved loop region of the FosB enzymes must change conformation to bind fosfomycin. While two crystals of FosBSa contain Zn2+ in the active site, kinetic analyses of FosBSa indicated that the enzyme is inhibited by Zn2+ for L-Cys transferase activity and only marginally active for BSH transferase activity. Fosfomycin-treated disk diffusion assays involving S. aureus Newman and the USA300 JE2 methicillin-resistant S. aureus demonstrate a marked increase in the sensitivity of the organism to the antibiotic in either the BSH or FosB null strains, indicating that both are required for survival of the organism in the presence of the antibiotic. This work identifies FosB as a primary fosfomycin-modifying pathway of S. aureus and establishes the enzyme as a potential therapeutic target for increased efficacy of fosfomycin against the pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3985756  PMID: 24447055
19.  The Functional Consequences of the Creation of an Asp-His-Fe Triad in a 3/3 Globin†,‡ 
Biochemistry  2011;50(44):9664-9680.
The proximal side of dehaloperoxidase-hemoglobin A (DHP A) from Amphitrite ornata has been modified via site-directed mutagenesis of methionine-86 into aspartate (M86D) to introduce an Asp-His-Fe triad charge relay. X-ray crystallographic structure determination of the metcyano forms of M86D (PDB 3MYN) and M86E (PDB 3MYM) mutants reveals the structural origins of a stable catalytic triad in DHP A. A decrease in rate of H2O2 activation, as well as a lowered reduction potential than the wild-type enzyme was observed in M86D. One possible explanation for the significantly lower activity is an increased affinity for the distal histidine to bind to the heme Fe to form a bis-histidine adduct. Resonance Raman spectroscopy demonstrates a pH-dependent ligation by the distal histidine in M86D, which is indicative of an increased trans effect. At pH 5.0, the heme Fe is 5-coordinate and this resembles the wild-type DHP A resting state. However, at pH 7.0, the distal histidine appears to form a 6-coordinate ferric bis-histidine (hemichrome) adduct. These observations can be explained by the effect of the increased positive charge on the heme Fe on the formation of a 6-coordinate low-spin adduct, which inhibits the ligation and activation of H2O2 as required for peroxidase activity. The results suggest that the role of the proximal charge relay in peroxidases regulates the redox potential of the heme Fe, but that the trans effect is a carefully balanced property that can both activate H2O2 and attract ligation by the distal histidine. To understand the balance of forces that modulate peroxidase reactivity, three mutants in the M86 position, M86A, M86D, and M86E were studied by spectroelectrochemistry and NMR spectroscopy of 13C15N -labeled cyanide adducts as probes of the redox potential and of the trans effect in the heme Fe, both of which can be correlated with the proximity of negative charge to the Nδ hydrogen of the proximal histidine, consistent with an Asp-His-Fe charge relay observed in heme peroxidases.
PMCID: PMC4007314  PMID: 21950839
20.  1,2,3-Triazole-Heme Interactions in Cytochrome P450: Functionally Competent Triazole-Water- Heme Complexes 
Biochemistry  2012;51(32):6441-6457.
In comparison to imidazole (IMZ) and 1,2,4-triazole (1,2,4-TRZ) the isosteric 1,2,3-triazole (1,2,3-TRZ) is unrepresented among CYP inhibitors. This is surprising because 1,2,3-TRZs are easily obtained via ‘click’ chemistry. To understand this underrepresentation of 1,2,3-TRZs among CYP inhibitors, thermodynamic and DFT computational studies were performed with unsusbstituted IMZ, 1,2,4-TRZ, and 1,2,3-TRZ. The results indicate that the lower affinity of 1,2,3-TRZ for the heme iron includes a large unfavorable entropy term likely originating in solvent – 1,2,3-TRZ interactions; the difference is not solely due to differences in the enthalpy of heme – ligand interactions. In addition, the 1,2,3-TRZ fragment was incorporated into a well-established CYP3A4 substrate and mechanism based inactivator, 17-α-ethynylestradiol (17EE), via click chemistry. This derivative, 17-click, yielded optical spectra consistent with low spin ferric heme iron (type II) in contrast to 17EE, which yields a high spin complex (type I). Furthermore, the rate of CYP3A4-mediated metabolism of 17-click was comparable to 17EE, and with different regioselectivity. Surprisingly, CW EPR and HYSCORE EPR spectroscopy indicate that the 17-click does not displace water from the 6th axial ligand position of CYP3A4 as expected for a type II ligand. We propose a binding model where 17-click pendant 1,2,3-TRZ hydrogen bonds with the 6th axial water ligand. The results demonstrate the potential for 1,2,3-TRZ to form metabolically labile water-bridged low spin heme complexes, consistent with recent evidence that nitrogenous type II ligands of CYPs can be efficiently metabolized. The specific case of [CYP3A4•17-click] highlights the risk of interpreting CYP-ligand complex structure on the basis of optical spectra.
PMCID: PMC3448000  PMID: 22809252
Biochemistry  2012;51(28):5642-5654.
MIP-2/CXCL2 is a murine chemokine related to human chemokines that possess the Glu-Leu-Arg (ELR) activation motif and activates CXCR2 for neutrophil chemotaxis. We determined the structure of MIP-2 to 1.9Å resolution and created a model with its receptor murine CXCR2 based on the coordinates of human CXCR4. Chemokine-induced migration of cells through specific G protein-coupled receptors is regulated by glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) that oligomerize chemokines. MIP-2 GAG-binding residues were identified that interact with heparin disaccharide I-S by NMR spectroscopy. A model a GAG:MIP-2:CXCR2 complex that supports a 2:2 complex between chemokine and receptor was created. Mutants of these disaccharide-binding residues were made and tested for heparin binding, in vitro neutrophil chemotaxis, and in vivo neutrophil recruitment to the mouse peritoneum and lung. The mutants have a 10-fold decrease in neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. There is no difference in neutrophil recruitment between wild-type MIP-2 and mutants in the peritoneum but all activity of the mutants is lost in the lung supporting the concept that GAG regulation of chemokines is tissue-dependent.
PMCID: PMC3511906  PMID: 22686371
22.  Solution Structural Ensembles of Substrate-Free Cytochrome P450cama,b 
Biochemistry  2012;51(16):3383-3393.
Removal of substrate (+)-camphor from the active site of cytochrome P450cam (CYP101A1) results in nuclear magnetic resonance-detected perturbations in multiple regions of the enzyme. The 1H,15N correlation map of substrate-free diamagnetic Fe(II) CO-bound CYP101A permits these perturbations to be mapped onto the solution structure of the enzyme. Residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) were measured for 15N-1H amide pairs in two independent alignment media for the substrate-free enzyme and used as restraints in solvated molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to generate an ensemble of best-fit structures of the substrate-free enzyme in solution. NMR-detected chemical shift perturbations reflect changes in the electronic environment of the NH pairs, such as hydrogen bonding and ring current shifts, and are observed for residues in the active site as well as in hinge regions between secondary structural features. RDCs provide information regarding relative orientations of secondary structures, and RDC-restrained MD simulations indicate that portions of a β-rich region adjacent to the active site shift so as to partially occupy the vacancy left by removal of substrate. The accessible volume of the active site is reduced in the substrate-free enzyme relative to the substrate-bound structure calculated using the same methods. Both symmetric and asymmetric broadening of multiple resonances observed upon substrate removal as well as localized increased errors in RDC fits suggest that an ensemble of enzyme conformations are present in the substrate-free form.
PMCID: PMC3424371  PMID: 22468842
23.  The Enzyme Function Initiative† 
Biochemistry  2011;50(46):9950-9962.
The Enzyme Function Initiative (EFI) was recently established to address the challenge of assigning reliable functions to enzymes discovered in bacterial genome projects; in this Current Topic we review the structure and operations of the EFI. The EFI includes the Superfamily/Genome, Protein, Structure, Computation, and Data/Dissemination Cores that provide the infrastructure for reliably predicting the in vitro functions of unknown enzymes. The initial targets for functional assignment are selected from five functionally diverse superfamilies (amidohydrolase, enolase, glutathione transferase, haloalkanoic acid dehalogenase, and isoprenoid synthase), with five superfamily-specific Bridging Projects experimentally testing the predicted in vitro enzymatic activities. The EFI also includes the Microbiology Core that evaluates the in vivo context of in vitro enzymatic functions and confirms the functional predictions of the EFI. The deliverables of the EFI to the scientific community include: 1) development of a large-scale, multidisciplinary sequence/structure-based strategy for functional assignment of unknown enzymes discovered in genome projects (target selection, protein production, structure determination, computation, experimental enzymology, microbiology, and structure-based annotation); 2) dissemination of the strategy to the community via publications, collaborations, workshops, and symposia; 3) computational and bioinformatic tools for using the strategy; 4) provision of experimental protocols and/or reagents for enzyme production and characterization; and 5) dissemination of data via the EFI’s website, The realization of multidisciplinary strategies for functional assignment will begin to define the full metabolic diversity that exists in nature and will impact basic biochemical and evolutionary understanding, as well as a wide range of applications of central importance to industrial, medicinal and pharmaceutical efforts.
PMCID: PMC3238057  PMID: 21999478
24.  Solution Structure of 4′-Phosphopantetheine - GmACP3 from Geobacter metallireducens: A Specialized Acyl Carrier Protein with Atypical Structural Features and a Putative Role in Lipopolysaccharide Biosynthesis† 
Biochemistry  2011;50(9):1442-1453.
GmACP3 from Geobacter metallireducens is a specialized acyl carrier protein (ACP) whose gene, gmet_2339, is located near genes encoding many proteins involved in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) biosynthesis, indicating a likely function for GmACP3 in LPS production. By overexpression in Escherichia coli, about 50% holo-GmACP3 and 50% apo-GmACP3 were obtained. Apo-GmACP3 exhibited slow precipitation and non-monomeric behavior by 15N NMR relaxation measurements. Addition of 4′-phosphopantetheine (4′-PP) via enzymatic conversion by E. coli holo-ACP synthase, resulted in stable >95% holo-GmACP3 that was characterized as monomeric by 15N relaxation measurements and had no indication of conformational exchange. We have determined a high-resolution solution structure of holo-GmACP3 by standard NMR methods, including refinement with two sets of NH residual dipolar couplings, allowing for a detailed structural analysis of the interactions between 4′-PP and GmACP3. Whereas the overall four helix bundle topology is similar to previously solved ACP structures, this structure has unique characteristics, including an ordered 4′-PP conformation that places the thiol at the entrance to a central hydrophobic cavity near a conserved hydrogen-bonded Trp-His pair. These residues are part of a conserved WDSLxH/N motif found in GmACP3 and it’s orthologs. The helix locations and the large hydrophobic cavity are more similar to medium- and long-chain acyl-ACPs than to other apo- and holo-ACP structures. Taken together, structural characterization along with bioinformatic analysis of nearby genes suggest that GmACP3 is involved in lipid A acylation, possibly by atypical long-chain hydroxy fatty acids, and potentially involved in synthesis of secondary metabolites.
PMCID: PMC3063093  PMID: 21235239
25.  Intramolecular Heme Ligation of the CYP2C9 R108H Mutant Demonstrates Pronounced Conformational Flexibility of the B-C Loop Region: Implications for Substrate Binding† 
Biochemistry  2010;49(40):8700-8708.
A previous study (i.e. Dickmann, L., et al. (2004) Mol. Pharmacol. 65, 842-850.) revealed some unusual properties of the R108H mutant of cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9), including elevated thermostability relative to CYP2C9, as well as a UV-visible absorbance spectrum that was indicative of nitrogenous ligation to the heme iron. In the present study, size-exclusion chromatography and UV-visible absorbance spectroscopy of CYP2C9 R108H monomers demonstrated that nitrogen ligation is indeed intramolecular. Pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance of CYP2C9 R108H monomers showed that a histidine is most likely bound to the heme as previously hypothesized. An energy-minimized model of the R108H mutant maintained a CYP fold, despite substantial movement of several loop regions of the mutant and, therefore, represents an extreme example of a closed conformation of the enzyme. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of CYP2C9 were performed in order to study the range of energetically accessible CYP2C9 conformations. These in silico studies showed that the B-C loop region of CYP2C9 moves away from the heme to a position resembling the putative open conformation described for rabbit CYP2B4. A model involving the movement of the B-C loop region and R108 between the open and closed conformations of CYP2C9 is presented, which helps to explain the enzyme’s ability to regio- and stereo-specifically metabolize some ligands, while allosterically activating others.
PMCID: PMC3005909  PMID: 20815369
CYP2C9; pulsed EPR; conformational changes; size-exclusion chromatography; HYSCORE; UV-visible spectroscopy

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