In order to characterize the type IV pili of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae, an attempt to solve the atomic structure of the major pilin subunit PilA was initiated. A 1.73 Å resolution X-ray diffraction data set was collected from native N-terminally truncated PilA (ΔN-PilA).
The type IV pili of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) are involved in twitching motility, adherence, competence and biofilm formation. They are potential virulence factors for this important human pathogen and are thus considered to be vaccine targets. To characterize these pili, an attempt to solve the atomic structure of the major pilin subunit PilA was initiated. A 1.73 Å resolution X-ray diffraction data set was collected from native N-terminally truncated PilA (ΔN-PilA). Data processing indicated a hexagonal crystal system, which was determined to belong to space group P61 or P65 based on the systematic absences and near-perfect twinning of the crystal. The unit-cell parameters were a = b = 68.08, c = 197.03 Å with four molecules in the asymmetric unit, giving a solvent content of 50%. Attempts to solve the ΔN-PilA structure by molecular replacement with existing type IV pilin and type II secretion pseudopilin structures are in progress.
nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae; type IV pili; otitis media
This paper reports the successful purification, crystallization and preliminary structure solution of the transfer protein TraM from the Gram-positive conjugative plasmid pIP501.
The major means of horizontal gene spread (e.g. of antibiotic resistance) is conjugative plasmid transfer. It presents a serious threat especially for hospitalized and immuno-suppressed patients, as it can lead to the accelerated spread of bacteria with multiple antibiotic resistances. Detailed information about the process is available only for bacteria of Gram-negative (G−) origin and little is known about the corresponding mechanisms in Gram-positive (G+) bacteria. Here we present the purification, biophysical characterization, crystallization and preliminary structure determination of the TraM C-terminal domain (TraMΔ, comprising residues 190–322 of the full-length protein), a putative transfer protein from the G+ conjugative model plasmid pIP501. The crystals diffracted to 2.5 Å resolution and belonged to space group P1, with unit-cell parameters a = 39.21, b = 54.98, c = 93.47 Å, α = 89.91, β = 86.44, γ = 78.63° and six molecules per asymmetric unit. The preliminary structure was solved by selenomethionine single-wavelength anomalous diffraction.
Gram-positive; conjugative plasmid transfer; pIP501; TraM
The use of UV imaging as a means of locating protein crystals is a fairly new tool, however not suitable for all protein crystallization trials. Practical examples of the strengths and some of the pitfalls of the technology are presented.
High-throughput imaging of protein crystallization experiments with ultraviolet (UV) light has recently become commercially available and can enable crystallographers to differentiate between crystals of protein and those of salt, as the visualization of protein crystals is based on intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence. Unfortunately, UV imaging is not a panacea, as some protein crystals will not fluoresce under UV excitation and some salt crystals are UV-fluorescently active. As a new technology, there is little experience within the general community on how to use this technology effectively and what caveats to look out for. Here, an attempt is made to identify some of the common problems that may arise using UV-imaging technology by examining test proteins, common crystallization reagents and a range of proteins by assessing their UV–Vis absorbance spectra. Some pointers are offered as to which systems may not be appropriate for this methodology.
A focused strategy has been directed towards the structural characterization of selected proteins from the bacterial pathogen P. aeruginosa. The objective is to exploit the resulting structural data, in combination with ligand-binding studies, and to assess the potential of these proteins for early-stage antimicrobial drug discovery.
Bacterial infections are increasingly difficult to treat owing to the spread of antibiotic resistance. A major concern is Gram-negative bacteria, for which the discovery of new antimicrobial drugs has been particularly scarce. In an effort to accelerate early steps in drug discovery, the EU-funded AEROPATH project aims to identify novel targets in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa by applying a multidisciplinary approach encompassing target validation, structural characterization, assay development and hit identification from small-molecule libraries. Here, the strategies used for target selection are described and progress in protein production and structure analysis is reported. Of the 102 selected targets, 84 could be produced in soluble form and the de novo structures of 39 proteins have been determined. The crystal structures of eight of these targets, ranging from hypothetical unknown proteins to metabolic enzymes from different functional classes (PA1645, PA1648, PA2169, PA3770, PA4098, PA4485, PA4992 and PA5259), are reported here. The structural information is expected to provide a firm basis for the improvement of hit compounds identified from fragment-based and high-throughput screening campaigns.
protein structure; Gram-negative bacteria; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; infectious diseases; structure-based inhibitor design
Three different truncation constructs of the S-layer protein SbsC containing domains crucial for self-assembly could be crystallized. Native data were collected for the three crystal forms from crystals that diffracted to 3.4, 2.8 and 1.5 Å resolution.
The Gram-positive bacterium Geobacillus stearothermophilus ATCC 12980 is completely covered with a two-dimensional crystalline monolayer composed of the S-layer protein SbsC. In order to complete the structure of the full-length protein, additional soluble constructs containing the crucial domains for self-assembly have been successfully cloned, expressed and purified. Crystals obtained from three different recombinant constructs yielded diffraction to 3.4, 2.8 and 1.5 Å resolution. Native data have been collected.
S-layer; self-assembly; Geobacillus stearothermophilus
Obituary for Dame Louise Napier Johnson.
A corrigendum to the article by Dutta et al.
[(2012) Acta Cryst. F68, 786–789].
In the article by Dutta et al. [(2012) Acta Cryst. F68, 786–789] two citations were given erroneously. These are now corrected.
FabG4; high-molecular-weight ketoacyl reductases; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; corrigendum
An addendum to the article by Do et al. [(2012) Acta Cryst. F68, 806–809].
An additional acknowledgement is published for the article by Do et al. [(2012) Acta Cryst. F68, 806–809].
antifreeze proteins; ice-binding proteins; Flavobacterium frigoris PS1; psychrophilic bacteria; addendum
The article by Natarajan & Mathews [(2012) (2012) Acta Cryst. F68, 207–210] is retracted.
The article by Natarajan & Mathews [(2012) Acta Cryst. F68, 207–210] is retracted.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; aspartyl aminopeptidase; retraction
The solution structure of the cold-shock-like protein from R. rickettsii, the causative agent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, is reported.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by Rickettsia rickettsii infection. R. rickettsii can be transmitted to mammals, including humans, through the bite of an infected hard-bodied tick of the family Ixodidae. Since the R. rickettsii genome contains only one cold-shock-like protein and given the essential nature of cold-shock proteins in other bacteria, the structure of the cold-shock-like protein from R. rickettsii was investigated. With the exception of a short α-helix found between β-strands 3 and 4, the solution structure of the R. rickettsii cold-shock-like protein has the typical Greek-key five-stranded β-barrel structure found in most cold-shock domains. Additionally, the R. rickettsii cold-shock-like protein, with a ΔG of unfolding of 18.4 kJ mol−1, has a similar stability when compared with other bacterial cold-shock proteins.
NMR; cold-shock domains; OB folds; Rocky Mountain spotted fever; Rickettsia rickettsii
Crystals of the portal protein from Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteriophage CNPH82, diffracting to ∼4.2 Å resolution, have been obtained. The protein is a 13-subunit oligomer both in solution and in the crystal.
The portal protein cn3 of bacteriophage CNPH82 is predicted to serve as a gateway for translocation of viral genome into preformed pro-capsid, like portal proteins from other double-stranded DNA tailed bacteriophages. The host of bacteriophage CNPH82 is the opportunistic human pathogenic bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis, a major cause of nosocomial infections. The portal protein of this phage has been cloned, overexpressed and purified. Size-exclusion chromatography–multi-angle laser light scattering analysis has indicated that the portal protein contains ∼13 subunits. Crystals of the portal protein, diffracting to 4.2 Å, have been obtained. These crystals belong to the space group C2221 with the unit-cell parameters of a = 252.4, b = 367.0, c = 175.5 Å. The self-rotation function revealed the presence of a single 13-subunit oligomer in the asymmetric unit.
portal protein; DNA translocation; bacteriophage CNPH82; oligomeric state
The cell-cycle regulator ChpT of C. crescentus is a dimeric histidine phosphotransferase that resembles the typical structure of histidine kinases.
Two-component and phosphorelay signal-transduction proteins are crucial for bacterial cell-cycle regulation in Caulobacter crescentus. ChpT is an essential histidine phosphotransferase that controls the activity of the master cell-cycle regulator CtrA by phosphorylation. Here, the 2.2 Å resolution crystal structure of ChpT is reported. ChpT is a homodimer and adopts the domain architecture of the intracellular part of class I histidine kinases. Each subunit consists of two distinct domains: an N-terminal helical hairpin domain and a C-terminal α/β domain. The two N-terminal domains are adjacent within the dimer, forming a four-helix bundle. The ChpT C-terminal domain adopts an atypical Bergerat ATP-binding fold.
bacterial cell cycle; Caulobacter crescentus; histidine kinases; histidine phosphotransferases
As-p18, an unusual fatty-acid-binding protein from a parasitic nematode, was expressed in bacteria, purified and crystallized. The use of a microfocus beamline was essential for data collection.
As-p18 is a fatty-acid-binding protein from the parasitic nematode Ascaris suum. Although it exhibits sequence similarity to mammalian intracellular fatty-acid-binding proteins, it contains features that are unique to nematodes. Crystals were obtained, but initial diffraction data analysis revealed that they were composed of a number of ‘microdomains’. Interpretable data could only be collected using a microfocus beamline with a beam size of 12 × 8 µm.
fatty-acid-binding proteins; parasitic nematodes; Ascaris suum; microfocus beamlines
The anomalous dispersion signal of the bromine-containing kinase inhibitor H-89 was used to characterize discrete binding modes of the compound when complexed with the catalytic subunit of protein kinase A.
With its ability to show the interactions between drug-target proteins and small-molecule ligands, X-ray crystallography is an essential tool in drug-discovery programmes. However, its usefulness can be limited by crystallization artifacts or by the data resolution, and in particular when assumptions of unimodal binding (and isotropic motion) do not apply. Discrepancies between the modelled crystal structure and the physiological range of structures generally prevent quantitative estimation of binding energies. Improved crystal structure resolution will often not aid energy estimation because the conditions which provide the highest rigidity and resolution are not likely to reflect physiological conditions. Instead, strategies must be employed to measure and model flexibility and multiple binding modes to supplement crystallographic information. One useful tool is the use of anomalous dispersion for small molecules that contain suitable atoms. Here, an analysis of the binding of the kinase inhibitor H-89 to protein kinase A (PKA) is presented. H-89 contains a bromobenzene moiety that apparently binds with multiple conformations in the kinase ATP pocket. Using anomalous dispersion methods, it was possible to resolve these conformations into two distinct binding geometries.
protein kinase A; kinases; ligands; inhibitors; flexibility; anomalous dispersion; SAD; bromine
The expression, purification and crystallization of an N-terminal fragment of SHARPIN are reported. Diffraction-quality crystals were obtained using a two-dimensional grid-screen seeding technique.
An N-terminal fragment of human SHARPIN was recombinantly expressed in Escherichia coli, purified and crystallized. Crystals suitable for X-ray diffraction were obtained by a one-step optimization of seed dilution and protein concentration using a two-dimensional grid screen. The crystals belonged to the primitive tetragonal space group P43212, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 61.55, c = 222.81 Å. Complete data sets were collected from native and selenomethionine-substituted protein crystals at 100 K to 2.6 and 2.0 Å resolution, respectively.
Na-FAR-1, a fatty acid- and retinol-binding protein, was expressed in bacteria, purified and crystallized. Crystals grew in two different morphologies under the same conditions.
Na-FAR-1 is an unusual α-helix-rich fatty acid- and retinol-binding protein from Necator americanus, a blood-feeding intestinal parasitic nematode of humans. It belongs to the FAR protein family, which is unique to nematodes; no structural information is available to date for FAR proteins from parasites. Crystals were obtained with two different morphologies that corresponded to different space groups. Crystal form 1 exhibited space group P432 (unit-cell parameters a = b = c = 120.80 Å, α = β = γ = 90°) and diffracted to 2.5 Å resolution, whereas crystal form 2 exhibited space group F23 (unit-cell parameters a = b = c = 240.38 Å, α = β = γ = 90°) and diffracted to 3.2 Å resolution. Crystal form 2 showed signs of significant twinning.
fatty acid- and retinol-binding proteins; parasitic nematodes; Necator americanus; Na-FAR-1
A crystallographic and biochemical study of L. major cysteine synthase, which is a pyridoxyl phosphate-dependent enzyme, is reported. The structure was determined to 1.8 Å resolution and revealed that the cofactor has been lost and that a fragment of γ-poly-d-glutamic acid, a crystallization ingredient, was bound in the active site. The enzyme was inhibited by peptides.
Cysteine biosynthesis is a potential target for drug development against parasitic Leishmania species; these protozoa are responsible for a range of serious diseases. To improve understanding of this aspect of Leishmania biology, a crystallographic and biochemical study of L. major cysteine synthase has been undertaken, seeking to understand its structure, enzyme activity and modes of inhibition. Active enzyme was purified, assayed and crystallized in an orthorhombic form with a dimer in the asymmetric unit. Diffraction data extending to 1.8 Å resolution were measured and the structure was solved by molecular replacement. A fragment of γ-poly-d-glutamic acid, a constituent of the crystallization mixture, was bound in the enzyme active site. Although a d-glutamate tetrapeptide had insignificant inhibitory activity, the enzyme was competitively inhibited (K
i = 4 µM) by DYVI, a peptide based on the C-terminus of the partner serine acetyltransferase with which the enzyme forms a complex. The structure surprisingly revealed that the cofactor pyridoxal phosphate had been lost during crystallization.
Arabidopsis thaliana; cysteine synthase; Leishmania major
The cloning, overexpression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction data are described for UDP-galactopyranose mutase, an enzyme involved in cell-wall synthesis in A. fumigatus.
Aspergillus fumigatus UDP-galactopyranose mutase (AfUGM) is a potential drug target involved in the synthesis of the cell wall of this fungal pathogen. AfUGM was recombinantly produced in Escherichia coli, purified and crystallized by the sitting-drop method, producing orthorhombic crystals that diffracted to a resolution of 3.25 Å. The crystals contained four molecules per asymmetric unit and belonged to space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 127.72, b = 134.30, c = 173.84 Å. Incorporation of selenomethionine was achieved, but the resulting crystals did not allow solution of the phase problem.
UDP-galactopyranose mutase; Aspergillus fumigatus
The structure of 3-methyladenine DNA glycosylase I in complex with 3-methyladenine is reported.
The removal of chemically damaged DNA bases such as 3-methyladenine (3-MeA) is an essential process in all living organisms and is catalyzed by the enzyme 3-MeA DNA glycosylase I. A key question is how the enzyme selectively recognizes the alkylated 3-MeA over the much more abundant adenine. The crystal structures of native and Y16F-mutant 3-MeA DNA glycosylase I from Staphylococcus aureus in complex with 3-MeA are reported to 1.8 and 2.2 Å resolution, respectively. Isothermal titration calorimetry shows that protonation of 3-MeA decreases its binding affinity, confirming previous fluorescence studies that show that charge–charge recognition is not critical for the selection of 3-MeA over adenine. It is hypothesized that the hydrogen-bonding pattern of Glu38 and Tyr16 of 3-MeA DNA glycosylase I with a particular tautomer unique to 3-MeA contributes to recognition and selection.
3-methyladenine DNA glycosylase I; fluorescence measurements; ITC; DNA repair; recognition
The major capsid proteins VP16 and VP17 of bacteriophage P23-77 have been crystallized using both recombinant and purified virus and preliminary diffraction analyses have been performed.
Members of the diverse double-β-barrel lineage of viruses are identified by the conserved structure of their major coat protein. New members of this lineage have been discovered based on structural analysis and we are interested in identifying relatives that utilize unusual versions of the double-β-barrel fold. One candidate for such studies is P23-77, an icosahedral dsDNA bacteriophage that infects the extremophile Thermus thermophilus. P23-77 has two major coat proteins, namely VP16 and VP17, of a size consistent with a single-β-barrel core fold. These previously unstudied proteins have now been successfully expressed as recombinant proteins, purified and crystallized using hanging-drop and sitting-drop vapour-diffusion methods. Crystals of coat proteins VP16 and VP17 have been obtained as well as of a putative complex. In addition, virus-derived material has been crystallized. Diffraction data have been collected to beyond 3 Å resolution for five crystal types and structure determinations are in progress.
bacteriophages; capsid proteins
Hexameric rings of RadA recombinase from M. voltae have been crystallized. Structural comparisons suggest that homologues of RadA tend to form double-ringed assemblies.
Archaeal RadA proteins are close homologues of eukaryal Rad51 and DMC1 proteins and are remote homologues of bacterial RecA proteins. For the repair of double-stranded breaks in DNA, these recombinases promote a pivotal strand-exchange reaction between homologous single-stranded and double-stranded DNA substrates. This DNA-repair function also plays a key role in the resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy and radiotherapy and in the resistance of bacterial cells to antibiotics. A hexameric form of a truncated Methanococcus voltae RadA protein devoid of its small N-terminal domain has been crystallized. The RadA hexamers further assemble into two-ringed assemblies. Similar assemblies can be observed in the crystals of Pyrococcus furiosus RadA and Homo sapiens DMC1. In all of these two-ringed assemblies the DNA-interacting L1 region of each protomer points inward towards the centre, creating a highly positively charged locus. The electrostatic characteristics of the central channels can be utilized in the design of novel recombinase inhibitors.
RadA recombinase; Methanococcus voltae
The structure factors deposited with PDB entry 3k78 show properties inconsistent with experimentally observed diffraction data, and without uncertainty represent calculated structure factors. The refinement of the 3k78 model against these structure factors leads to an isomorphous structure different from the deposited model with an implausibly small R value (0.019).
Physically improbable features in the model of the birch pollen structure Bet v 1d (PDB entry 3k78) are faithfully reproduced in electron density generated with the deposited structure factors, but these structure factors themselves exhibit properties that are characteristic of data calculated from a simple model and are inconsistent with the data and error model obtained through experimental measurements. The refinement of the 3k78 model against these structure factors leads to an isomorphous structure different from the deposited model with an implausibly small R value (0.019). The abnormal refinement is compared with normal refinement of an isomorphous variant structure of Bet v 1l (PDB entry 1fm4). A variety of analytical tools, including the application of Diederichs plots, Rσ plots and bulk-solvent analysis are discussed as promising aids in validation. The examination of the Bet v 1d structure also cautions against the practice of indicating poorly defined protein chain residues through zero occupancies. The recommendation to preserve diffraction images is amplified.
protein structure; Bet V 1 birch pollen allergen; Diederichs plot; validation; bulk-solvent correction; refinement statistics; intensity statistics