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1.  Structure of the complex between teicoplanin and a bacterial cell-wall peptide: use of a carrier-protein approach 
Using a carrier-protein strategy, the structure of teicoplanin bound to its bacterial cell-wall target has been determined. The structure reveals the molecular determinants of target recognition, flexibility in the antibiotic backbone and intrinsic radiation sensitivity of teicoplanin.
Multidrug-resistant bacterial infections are commonly treated with glycopeptide antibiotics such as teicoplanin. This drug inhibits bacterial cell-wall biosynthesis by binding and sequestering a cell-wall precursor: a d-alanine-containing peptide. A carrier-protein strategy was used to crystallize the complex of teicoplanin and its target peptide by fusing the cell-wall peptide to either MBP or ubiquitin via native chemical ligation and subsequently crystallizing the protein–peptide–antibiotic complex. The 2.05 Å resolution MBP–peptide–teicoplanin structure shows that teicoplanin recognizes its ligand through a combination of five hydrogen bonds and multiple van der Waals interactions. Comparison of this teicoplanin structure with that of unliganded teicoplanin reveals a flexibility in the antibiotic peptide backbone that has significant implications for ligand recognition. Diffraction experiments revealed an X-ray-induced dechlorination of the sixth amino acid of the antibiotic; it is shown that teicoplanin is significantly more radiation-sensitive than other similar antibiotics and that ligand binding increases radiosensitivity. Insights derived from this new teicoplanin structure may contribute to the development of next-generation antibacterials designed to overcome bacterial resistance.
PMCID: PMC3606034  PMID: 23519660
antibiotics; carrier proteins; glycopeptides; teicoplanin; radiation damage
2.  Context-dependent protein folding of a virulence peptide in the bacterial and host environments: structure of an SycH–YopH chaperone–effector complex 
The structure of a SycH–YopH chaperone–effector complex from Yersinia reveals the bacterial state of a protein that adopts different folds in the host and pathogen environments.
Yersinia pestis injects numerous bacterial proteins into host cells through an organic nanomachine called the type 3 secretion system. One such substrate is the tyrosine phosphatase YopH, which requires an interaction with a cognate chaperone in order to be effectively injected. Here, the first crystal structure of a SycH–YopH complex is reported, determined to 1.9 Å resolution. The structure reveals the presence of (i) a nonglobular polypeptide in YopH, (ii) a so-­called β-motif in YopH and (iii) a conserved hydrophobic patch in SycH that recognizes the β-motif. Biochemical studies establish that the β-motif is critical to the stability of this complex. Finally, since previous work has shown that the N-­terminal portion of YopH adopts a globular fold that is functional in the host cell, aspects of how this polypeptide adopts radically different folds in the host and in the bacterial environments are analysed.
PMCID: PMC3606036  PMID: 23519663
Yersinia pestis; type 3 secretion; YopH; SycH; bacterial pathogenesis; chaperones; virulence peptides
3.  Structural analysis of β-glucosidase mutants derived from a hyperthermophilic tetrameric structure 
Substitutive mutations that convert a tetrameric β-glucosidase into a dimeric state lead to improvement of its crystal quality.
β-Glucosidase from Pyrococcus furiosus (BGLPf) is a hyperthermophilic tetrameric enzyme which can degrade cellooligosaccharides to glucose under hyperthermophilic conditions and thus holds promise for the saccharification of lignocellulosic biomass at high temperature. Prior to the production of large amounts of this enzyme, detailed information regarding the oligomeric structure of the enzyme is required. Several crystals of BGLPf have been prepared over the past ten years, but its crystal structure had not been solved until recently. In 2011, the first crystal structure of BGLPf was solved and a model was constructed at somewhat low resolution (2.35 Å). In order to obtain more detailed structural data on BGLPf, the relationship between its tetrameric structure and the quality of the crystal was re-examined. A dimeric form of BGLPf was constructed and its crystal structure was solved at a resolution of 1.70 Å using protein-engineering methods. Furthermore, using the high-resolution crystal structural data for the dimeric form, a monomeric form of BGLPf was constructed which retained the intrinsic activity of the tetrameric form. The thermostability of BGLPf is affected by its oligomeric structure. Here, the biophysical and biochemical properties of engineered dimeric and monomeric BGLPfs are reported, which are promising prototype models to apply to the saccharification reaction. Furthermore, details regarding the oligomeric structures of BGLPf and the reasons why the mutations yielded improved crystal structures are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3949513  PMID: 24598756
protein engineering; crystal engineering; intermolecular interactions; thermostable enzymes; biomass
4.  Multi-PAS domain-mediated protein oligomerization of PpsR from Rhodobacter sphaeroides  
Crystal structures of two truncated variants of the transcription factor PpsR from R. sphaeroides are presented that enabled the phasing of a triple PAS domain construct. Together, these structures reveal the importance of α-helical PAS extensions for multi-PAS domain-mediated protein oligomerization and function.
Per–ARNT–Sim (PAS) domains are essential modules of many multi-domain signalling proteins that mediate protein interaction and/or sense environmental stimuli. Frequently, multiple PAS domains are present within single polypeptide chains, where their interplay is required for protein function. Although many isolated PAS domain structures have been reported over the last decades, only a few structures of multi-PAS proteins are known. Therefore, the molecular mechanism of multi-PAS domain-mediated protein oligomerization and function is poorly understood. The transcription factor PpsR from Rhodobacter sphaeroides is such a multi-PAS domain protein that, in addition to its three PAS domains, contains a glutamine-rich linker and a C-terminal helix–turn–helix DNA-binding motif. Here, crystal structures of two N-terminally and C-terminally truncated PpsR variants that comprise a single (PpsRQ-PAS1) and two (PpsRN-Q-PAS1) PAS domains, respectively, are presented and the multi-step strategy required for the phasing of a triple PAS domain construct (PpsRΔHTH) is illustrated. While parts of the biologically relevant dimerization interface can already be observed in the two shorter constructs, the PpsRΔHTH structure reveals how three PAS domains enable the formation of multiple oligomeric states (dimer, tetramer and octamer), highlighting that not only the PAS cores but also their α-helical extensions are essential for protein oligomerization. The results demonstrate that the long helical glutamine-rich linker of PpsR results from a direct fusion of the N-cap of the PAS1 domain with the C-­terminal extension of the N-domain that plays an important role in signal transduction.
PMCID: PMC3949515  PMID: 24598755
Per–ARNT–Sim; N-cap; flanking region; AppA; coiled coil; linker; signalling helix; PAS dimer
5.  Structural characteristics of alkaline phosphatase from the moderately halophilic bacterium Halomonas sp. 593 
In order to clarify the structural basis of the halophilic characteristics of an alkaline phosphatase derived from the moderate halophile Halomonas sp. 593 (HaAP), the tertiary structure of HaAP was determined to 2.1 Å resolution by X-ray crystallography. The structural properties of surface negative charge and core hydrophobicity were shown to be intermediate between those characteristic of halophiles and non-halophiles, and may explain the unique functional adaptation to a wide range of salt concentrations.
Alkaline phosphatase (AP) from the moderate halophilic bacterium Halomonas sp. 593 (HaAP) catalyzes the hydrolysis of phosphomonoesters over a wide salt-concentration range (1–4 M NaCl). In order to clarify the structural basis of its halophilic characteristics and its wide-range adaptation to salt concentration, the tertiary structure of HaAP was determined by X-ray crystallography to 2.1 Å resolution. The unit cell of HaAP contained one dimer unit corresponding to the biological unit. The monomer structure of HaAP contains a domain comprised of an 11-stranded β-sheet core with 19 surrounding α-helices similar to those of APs from other species, and a unique ‘crown’ domain containing an extended ‘arm’ structure that participates in formation of a hydrophobic cluster at the entrance to the substrate-binding site. The HaAP structure also displays a unique distribution of negatively charged residues and hydrophobic residues in comparison to other known AP structures. AP from Vibrio sp. G15-21 (VAP; a slight halophile) has the highest similarity in sequence (70.0% identity) and structure (Cα r.m.s.d. of 0.82 Å for the monomer) to HaAP. The surface of the HaAP dimer is substantially more acidic than that of the VAP dimer (144 exposed Asp/Glu residues versus 114, respectively), and thus may enable the solubility of HaAP under high-salt conditions. Conversely, the monomer unit of HaAP formed a substantially larger hydrophobic interior comprising 329 C atoms from completely buried residues, whereas that of VAP comprised 264 C atoms, which may maintain the stability of HaAP under low-salt conditions. These characteristics of HaAP may be responsible for its unique functional adaptation permitting activity over a wide range of salt concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3949524  PMID: 24598750
halophilic enzymes; alkaline phosphatase
6.  Crystal structure and conformational flexibility of the unligated FK506-binding protein FKBP12.6 
Two crystal forms of unligated FKBP12.6 exhibit multiple conformations in the active site and in the 80s loop, the primary site for known protein-recognition interactions. The previously unreported NMR backbone assignment of FKBP12.6 revealed extensive doubling of amide resonances, which reflects a slow conformational transition centered in the 80s loop.
The primary known physiological function of FKBP12.6 involves its role in regulating the RyR2 isoform of ryanodine receptor Ca2+ channels in cardiac muscle, pancreatic β islets and the central nervous system. With only a single previously reported X-ray structure of FKBP12.6, bound to the immunosuppressant rapamycin, structural inferences for this protein have been drawn from the more extensive studies of the homologous FKBP12. X-ray structures at 1.70 and 1.90 Å resolution from P21 and P3121 crystal forms are reported for an unligated cysteine-free variant of FKBP12.6 which exhibit a notable diversity of conformations. In one monomer from the P3121 crystal form, the aromatic ring of Phe59 at the base of the active site is rotated perpendicular to its typical orientation, generating a steric conflict for the immunosuppressant-binding mode. The peptide unit linking Gly89 and Val90 at the tip of the protein-recognition ‘80s loop’ is flipped in the P21 crystal form. Unlike the >30 reported FKBP12 structures, the backbone conformation of this loop closely follows that of the first FKBP domain of FKBP51. The NMR resonances for 21 backbone amides of FKBP12.6 are doubled, corresponding to a slow conformational transition centered near the tip of the 80s loop, as recently reported for 31 amides of FKBP12. The comparative absence of doubling for residues along the opposite face of the active-site pocket in FKBP12.6 may in part reflect attenuated structural coupling owing to increased conformational plasticity around the Phe59 ring.
PMCID: PMC3949516  PMID: 24598733
FKBP12.6; FK506-binding proteins
7.  Role of κ→λ light-chain constant-domain switch in the structure and functionality of A17 reactibody 
Catalytic antibody variants with κ and λ light-chain constant domains show differences in their crystal structures which lead to subtle changes in catalytic efficiency and thermodynamic parameters as well as in their affinity for peptide substrates.
The engineering of catalytic function in antibodies requires precise information on their structure. Here, results are presented that show how the antibody domain structure affects its functionality. The previously designed organophos­phate-metabolizing reactibody A17 has been re-engineered by replacing its constant κ light chain by the λ chain (A17λ), and the X-ray structure of A17λ has been determined at 1.95 Å resolution. It was found that compared with A17κ the active centre of A17λ is displaced, stabilized and made more rigid owing to interdomain interactions involving the CDR loops from the VL and VH domains. These VL/VH domains also have lower mobility, as deduced from the atomic displacement parameters of the crystal structure. The antibody elbow angle is decreased to 126° compared with 138° in A17κ. These structural differences account for the subtle changes in catalytic efficiency and thermodynamic parameters determined with two organophosphate ligands, as well as in the affinity for peptide substrates selected from a combinatorial cyclic peptide library, between the A17κ and A17λ variants. The data presented will be of interest and relevance to researchers dealing with the design of antibodies with tailor-made functions.
PMCID: PMC3949517  PMID: 24598740
A17 reactibody; antibodies
8.  Structural evidence for the partially oxidized dipyrromethene and dipyrromethanone forms of the cofactor of porphobilinogen deaminase: structures of the Bacillus megaterium enzyme at near-atomic resolution 
The enzyme porphobilinogen deaminase (PBGD; hydroxymethylbilane synthase; EC catalyses a key early step in the biosynthesis of tetrapyrroles in which four molecules of the monopyrrole porphobilinogen are condensed to form a linear tetrapyrrole. Two near-atomic resolution structures of PBGD from B. megaterium are reported that demonstrate the time-dependent accumulation of partially oxidized forms of the cofactor, including one that possesses a tetrahedral C atom in the terminal pyrrole ring.
The enzyme porphobilinogen deaminase (PBGD; hydroxymethylbilane synthase; EC catalyses an early step of the tetrapyrrole-biosynthesis pathway in which four molecules of the monopyrrole porphobilinogen are condensed to form a linear tetrapyrrole. The enzyme possesses a dipyrromethane cofactor, which is covalently linked by a thioether bridge to an invariant cysteine residue (Cys241 in the Bacillus megaterium enzyme). The cofactor is extended during the reaction by the sequential addition of the four substrate molecules, which are released as a linear tetrapyrrole product. Expression in Escherichia coli of a His-tagged form of B. megaterium PBGD has permitted the X-ray analysis of the enzyme from this species at high resolution, showing that the cofactor becomes progressively oxidized to the dipyrromethene and dipyrromethanone forms. In previously solved PBGD structures, the oxidized cofactor is in the dipyromethenone form, in which both pyrrole rings are approximately coplanar. In contrast, the oxidized cofactor in the B. megaterium enzyme appears to be in the dipyrromethanone form, in which the C atom at the bridging α-position of the outer pyrrole ring is very clearly in a tetrahedral configuration. It is suggested that the pink colour of the freshly purified protein is owing to the presence of the dipyrromethene form of the cofactor which, in the structure reported here, adopts the same conformation as the fully reduced dipyrromethane form.
PMCID: PMC3949521  PMID: 24598743
tetrapyrrole biosynthesis; porphobilinogen deaminase; dipyrromethane cofactor
9.  Ensemble refinement shows conformational flexibility in crystal structures of human complement factor D 
Ensemble-refinement analysis of native and mutant factor D (FD) crystal structures indicates a dynamical transition in FD from a self-inhibited inactive conformation to a substrate-bound active conformation that is reminiscent of the allostery in thrombin. Comparison with previously observed dynamics in thrombin using NMR data supports the crystallographic ensembles.
Human factor D (FD) is a self-inhibited thrombin-like serine proteinase that is critical for amplification of the complement immune response. FD is activated by its substrate through interactions outside the active site. The substrate-binding, or ‘exosite’, region displays a well defined and rigid conformation in FD. In contrast, remarkable flexibility is observed in thrombin and related proteinases, in which Na+ and ligand binding is implied in allosteric regulation of enzymatic activity through protein dynamics. Here, ensemble refinement (ER) of FD and thrombin crystal structures is used to evaluate structure and dynamics simultaneously. A comparison with previously published NMR data for thrombin supports the ER analysis. The R202A FD variant has enhanced activity towards artificial peptides and simultaneously displays active and inactive conformations of the active site. ER revealed pronounced disorder in the exosite loops for this FD variant, reminiscent of thrombin in the absence of the stabilizing Na+ ion. These data indicate that FD exhibits conformational dynamics like thrombin, but unlike in thrombin a mechanism has evolved in FD that locks the unbound native state into an ordered inactive conformation via the self-inhibitory loop. Thus, ensemble refinement of X-ray crystal structures may represent an approach alternative to spectroscopy to explore protein dynamics in atomic detail.
PMCID: PMC3949522  PMID: 24598742
ensemble refinement; structural dynamics; complement system; proteolysis
10.  The structure of an authentic spore photoproduct lesion in DNA suggests a basis for recognition 
The structure of a spore photoproduct lesion in duplex DNA is described.
The spore photoproduct lesion (SP; 5-thymine-5,6-dihydro­thymine) is the dominant photoproduct found in UV-irradiated spores of some bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis. Upon spore germination, this lesion is repaired in a light-independent manner by a specific repair enzyme: the spore photoproduct lyase (SP lyase). In this work, a host–guest approach in which the N-terminal fragment of Moloney murine leukemia virus reverse transcriptase (MMLV RT) serves as the host and DNA as the guest was used to determine the crystal structures of complexes including 16 bp oligo­nucleotides with and without the SP lesion at 2.14 and 1.72 Å resolution, respectively. In contrast to other types of thymine–thymine lesions, the SP lesion retains normal Watson–Crick hydrogen bonding to the adenine bases of the complementary strand, with shorter hydrogen bonds than found in the structure of the undamaged DNA. However, the lesion induces structural changes in the local conformation of what is otherwise B-form DNA. The region surrounding the lesion differs significantly in helical form from B-DNA, and the minor groove is widened by almost 3 Å compared with that of the undamaged DNA. Thus, these unusual structural features associated with SP lesions may provide a basis for recognition by the SP lyase.
PMCID: PMC3949526  PMID: 24598744
spore photoproduct; DNA; host–guest approach
11.  Crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of Mycoplasma arthritidis-derived mitogen complexed with peptide/MHC class II antigen 
Mycoplasma arthritidis-derived mitogen (MAM), a bacterial superantigen, has been crystallized in complex with its human receptor, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antigen, by the hanging-drop vapor-diffusion method. Crystals were obtained under three conditions, with ammonium sulfate, phosphate salt and PEG 8000 as the precipitant. The crystals grown under these conditions all belong to space group I222, with the same unit-cell parameters: a = 137.4, b = 178.2, c = 179.6 Å. Diffraction data were collected to 3.3 and 3.4 Å resolution from crystals of native and selenomethionylated MAM–MHC complexes, respectively. Self- and cross-rotation function calculations suggest the presence of two complex molecules in the asymmetric unit, resulting in a VM of 4.0 and a solvent content of 69%. An interpretable electron-density map was produced using a combination of molecular replacement and SAD phasing.
PMCID: PMC3924564  PMID: 14747723
12.  Structural and functional characterization of a noncanonical nucleoside triphosphate pyrophosphatase from Thermotoga maritima  
A 2.15 Å resolution crystal structure of TM0159 with bound IMP and enzyme-kinetic data are presented. This noncanonical nucleoside triphosphatase from T. maritima helps to maintain a correct pool of DNA and RNA precursor molecules.
The hyperthermophilic bacterium Thermotoga maritima has a noncanonical nucleoside triphosphatase that catalyzes the conversion of inosine triphosphate (ITP), deoxyinosine triphosphate (dITP) and xanthosine triphosphate (XTP) into inosine monophosphate (IMP), deoxyinosine monophosphate (IMP) and xanthosine monophosphate (XMP), respectively. The k cat/K m values determined at 323 and 353 K fall between 1.31 × 104 and 7.80 × 104  M −1 s−1. ITP and dITP are slightly preferred over XTP. Activity towards canonical nucleoside triphosphates (ATP and GTP) was not detected. The enzyme has an absolute requirement for Mg2+ as a cofactor and has a preference for alkaline conditions. A protein X-ray structure of the enzyme with bound IMP was obtained at 2.15 Å resolution. The active site houses a well conserved network of residues that are critical for substrate recognition and catalysis. The crystal structure shows a tetramer with two possible dimer interfaces. One of these interfaces strongly resembles the dimer interface that is found in the structures of other noncanonical nucleoside pyrophosphatases from human (human ITPase) and archaea (Mj0226 and PhNTPase).
PMCID: PMC3565439  PMID: 23385455
enzymes; Thermotoga maritima; noncanonical nucleoside triphosphate pyrophosphatase; nucleotide metabolism; dimer interface
13.  Identification of quercitrin as an inhibitor of the p90 S6 ribosomal kinase (RSK): structure of its complex with the N-terminal domain of RSK2 at 1.8 Å resolution 
The crystal structure of quercitrin, a naturally occurring flavonol glycoside, has been determined in a complex with the N-terminal kinase domain of murine RSK2. The structure revealed that quercitrin inhibits the RSK2 kinase in the same fashion as another known inhibitor, SL0101.
Members of the RSK family of kinases constitute attractive targets for drug design, but a lack of structural information regarding the mechanism of selective inhibitors impedes progress in this field. The crystal structure of the N-terminal kinase domain (residues 45–346) of mouse RSK2, or RSK2NTKD, has recently been described in complex with one of only two known selective inhibitors, a rare naturally occurring flavonol glycoside, kaempferol 3-O-(3′′,4′′-di-O-acetyl-α-l-rhamnopyranoside), known as SL0101. Based on this structure, it was hypothesized that quercitrin (quercetin 3-­O-α-l-rhamnopyranoside), a related but ubiquitous and inexpensive compound, might also act as an RSK inhibitor. Here, it is demonstrated that quercitrin binds to RSK2NTKD with a dissociation constant (K d) of 5.8 µM as determined by isothermal titration calorimetry, and a crystal structure of the binary complex at 1.8 Å resolution is reported. The crystal structure reveals a very similar mode of binding to that recently reported for SL0101. Closer inspection shows a number of small but significant differences that explain the slightly higher K d for quercitrin compared with SL0101. It is also shown that quercitrin can effectively substitute for SL0101 in a biological assay, in which it significantly suppresses the contractile force in rabbit pulmonary artery smooth muscle in response to Ca2+.
PMCID: PMC3565440  PMID: 23385462
protein kinases; inhibitors; flavonol glycosides; quercitrin; SL0101
14.  The structures of the kinase domain and UBA domain of MPK38 suggest the activation mechanism for kinase activity 
The structure of a crystal of MPK38 (T167E), which consists of a kinase domain and a UBA domain, in complex with AMP-PNP is reported at 2.4 Å resolution. The structure indicates that the activation of MPK38 is induced by the UBA linker restraining the motion of the αC helix and by phosphorylation of Thr167 stabilizing the activation loop.
Murine protein serine/threonine kinase 38 (MPK38) is the murine orthologue of human maternal embryonic leucine-zipper kinase (MELK), which belongs to the SNF1/AMPK family. MELK is considered to be a promising drug target for anticancer therapy because overexpression and hyperactivation of MELK is correlated with several human cancers. Activation of MPK38 requires the extended sequence (ExS) containing the ubiquitin-associated (UBA) linker and UBA domain and phosphorylation of the activation loop. However, the activation mechanism of MPK38 is unknown. This paper reports the crystal structure of MPK38 (T167E), which mimics a phosphorylated state of the activation loop, in complex with AMP-PNP. In the MPK38 structure, the UBA linker forces an inward movement of the αC helix. Phosphorylation of the activation loop then induces movement of the activation loop towards the C-lobe and results in interlobar cleft closure. These processes generate a fully active state of MPK38. This structure suggests that MPK38 has a similar molecular mechanism regulating activation as in other kinases of the SNF1/AMPK family.
PMCID: PMC3940201  PMID: 24531485
MPK38; MELK; two-step activation model; UBA linker; activation-loop phosphorylation
15.  Structure of Bacillus subtilis γ-glutamyl­transpeptidase in complex with acivicin: diversity of the binding mode of a classical and electrophilic active-site-directed glutamate analogue 
The binding modes of acivicin, a classical and an electrophilic active-site-directed glutamate analogue, to bacterial γ-glutamyltranspeptidases were found to be diverse.
γ-Glutamyltranspeptidase (GGT) is an enzyme that plays a central role in glutathione metabolism, and acivicin is a classical inhibitor of GGT. Here, the structure of acivicin bound to Bacillus subtilis GGT determined by X-ray crystallography to 1.8 Å resolution is presented, in which it binds to the active site in a similar manner to that in Helicobacter pylori GGT, but in a different binding mode to that in Escherichia coli GGT. In B. subtilis GGT, acivicin is bound covalently through its C3 atom with sp 2 hybridization to Thr403 Oγ, the catalytic nucleophile of the enzyme. The results show that acivicin-binding sites are common, but the binding manners and orientations of its five-membered dihydroisoxazole ring are diverse in the binding pockets of GGTs.
PMCID: PMC3940202  PMID: 24531494
γ-glutamyltranspeptidase; inhibitors; acivicin; glutamine antagonist; glutathione; glutamine amidotransferase; Ntn-hydrolase family
16.  Elements in nucleotide sensing and hydrolysis of the AAA+ disaggregation machine ClpB: a structure-based mechanistic dissection of a molecular motor 
High-resolution crystal structures together with mutational analysis and transient kinetics experiments were utilized to understand nucleotide sensing and the regulation of the ATPase cycle in an AAA+ molecular motor.
ATPases of the AAA+ superfamily are large oligomeric molecular machines that remodel their substrates by converting the energy from ATP hydrolysis into mechanical force. This study focuses on the molecular chaperone ClpB, the bacterial homologue of Hsp104, which reactivates aggregated proteins under cellular stress conditions. Based on high-resolution crystal structures in different nucleotide states, mutational analysis and nucleotide-binding kinetics experiments, the ATPase cycle of the C-terminal nucleotide-binding domain (NBD2), one of the motor subunits of this AAA+ disaggregation machine, is dissected mechanistically. The results provide insights into nucleotide sensing, explaining how the conserved sensor 2 motif contributes to the discrimination between ADP and ATP binding. Furthermore, the role of a conserved active-site arginine (Arg621), which controls binding of the essential Mg2+ ion, is described. Finally, a hypothesis is presented as to how the ATPase activity is regulated by a conformational switch that involves the essential Walker A lysine. In the proposed model, an unusual side-chain conformation of this highly conserved residue stabilizes a catalytically inactive state, thereby avoiding unnecessary ATP hydrolysis.
PMCID: PMC3940203  PMID: 24531492
ClpB; AAA+ protein; molecular chaperones; molecular motors; transient kinetics; enzyme mechanisms; nucleotide sensing
17.  Identification of the first small-molecule ligand of the neuronal receptor sortilin and structure determination of the receptor–ligand complex 
The identification of the first small-molecule ligand of the neuronal receptor sortilin and structure determination of the receptor–ligand complex are reported.
Sortilin is a type I membrane glycoprotein belonging to the vacuolar protein sorting 10 protein (Vps10p) family of sorting receptors and is most abundantly expressed in the central nervous system. Sortilin has emerged as a key player in the regulation of neuronal viability and has been implicated as a possible therapeutic target in a range of disorders. Here, the identification of AF40431, the first reported small-molecule ligand of sortilin, is reported. Crystals of the sortilin–AF40431 complex were obtained by co-crystallization and the structure of the complex was solved to 2.7 Å resolution. AF40431 is bound in the neurotensin-binding site of sortilin, with the leucine moiety of AF40431 mimicking the binding mode of the C-terminal leucine of neurotensin and the 4-methyl­umbelliferone moiety of AF40431 forming π-stacking with a phenylalanine.
PMCID: PMC3940197  PMID: 24531479
sortilin; small molecules; ligands; AF40431; proNGF; Alzheimer’s disease; Vps10p
18.  High-resolution structure of the M14-type cytosolic carboxypeptidase from Burkholderia cenocepacia refined exploiting PDB_REDO strategies 
The structure of a bacterial M14-family carboxypeptidase determined exploiting microfocus synchrotron radiation and highly automated refinement protocols reveals its potential to act as a polyglutamylase.
A potential cytosolic metallocarboxypeptidase from Burk­holderia cenocepacia has been crystallized and a synchrotron-radiation microfocus beamline allowed the acquisition of diffraction data to 1.9 Å resolution. The asymmetric unit comprises a tetramer containing over 1500 amino acids, and the high-throughput automated protocols embedded in PDB_REDO were coupled with model–map inspections in refinement. This approach has highlighted the value of such protocols for efficient analyses. The subunit is constructed from two domains. The N-terminal domain has previously only been observed in cytosolic carboxypeptidase (CCP) proteins. The C-terminal domain, which carries the Zn2+-containing active site, serves to classify this protein as a member of the M14D subfamily of carboxypeptidases. Although eukaryotic CCPs possess deglutamylase activity and are implicated in processing modified tubulin, the function and substrates of the bacterial family members remain unknown. The B. cenocepacia protein did not display deglutamylase activity towards a furylacryloyl glutamate derivative, a potential substrate. Residues previously shown to coordinate the divalent cation and that contribute to peptide-bond cleavage in related enzymes such as bovine carboxypeptidase are conserved. The location of a conserved basic patch in the active site adjacent to the catalytic Zn2+, where an acetate ion is identified, suggests recognition of the carboxy-terminus in a similar fashion to other carboxypeptidases. However, there are significant differences that indicate the recognition of substrates with different properties. Of note is the presence of a lysine in the S1′ recognition subsite that suggests specificity towards an acidic substrate.
PMCID: PMC3940198  PMID: 24531462
carboxypeptidases; metalloproteins; refinement; specificity; zinc enzymes
19.  Likelihood-based molecular-replacement solution for a highly pathological crystal with tetartohedral twinning and sevenfold translational noncrystallographic symmetry 
With the implementation of a molecular-replacement likelihood target that accounts for translational noncrystallographic symmetry, it became possible to solve the crystal structure of a protein with seven tetrameric assemblies arrayed translationally along the c axis. The new algorithm found 56 protein molecules in reduced symmetry (P1), which was used to resolve space-group ambiguity caused by severe twinning.
Translational noncrystallographic symmetry (tNCS) is a pathology of protein crystals in which multiple copies of a molecule or assembly are found in similar orientations. Structure solution is problematic because this breaks the assumptions used in current likelihood-based methods. To cope with such cases, new likelihood approaches have been developed and implemented in Phaser to account for the statistical effects of tNCS in molecular replacement. Using these new approaches, it was possible to solve the crystal structure of a protein exhibiting an extreme form of this pathology with seven tetrameric assemblies arrayed along the c axis. To resolve space-group ambiguities caused by tetartohedral twinning, the structure was initially solved by placing 56 copies of the monomer in space group P1 and using the symmetry of the solution to define the true space group, C2. The resulting structure of Hyp-1, a pathogenesis-related class 10 (PR-10) protein from the medicinal herb St John’s wort, reveals the binding modes of the fluorescent probe 8-­anilino-1-naphthalene sulfonate (ANS), providing insight into the function of the protein in binding or storing hydrophobic ligands.
PMCID: PMC3940205  PMID: 24531481
maximum likelihood; translational noncrystallographic symmetry; molecular replacement; commensurate modulation; pseudo-symmetry
20.  Polarization-resolved second-harmonic generation microscopy as a method to visualize protein-crystal domains 
Polarization-resolved second-harmonic generation microscopy is applied to the identification of multiple crystalline domains within protein-crystal samples.
Polarization-resolved second-harmonic generation (PR-SHG) microscopy is described and applied to identify the presence of multiple crystallographic domains within protein-crystal conglomerates, which was confirmed by synchrotron X-ray diffraction. Principal component analysis (PCA) of PR-SHG images resulted in principal component 2 (PC2) images with areas of contrasting negative and positive values for conglomerated crystals and PC2 images exhibiting uniformly positive or uniformly negative values for single crystals. Qualitative assessment of PC2 images allowed the identification of domains of different internal ordering within protein-crystal samples as well as differentiation between multi-domain conglomerated crystals and single crystals. PR-SHG assessments of crystalline domains were in good agreement with spatially resolved synchrotron X-ray diffraction measurements. These results have implications for improving the productive throughput of protein structure determination through early identification of multi-domain crystals.
PMCID: PMC3532131  PMID: 23275165
protein-crystal detection; crystalline domains; second-harmonic generation; polarization-resolved nonlinear microscopy; principal component analysis
21.  Structure of a C-terminal AHNAK peptide in a 1:2:2 complex with S100A10 and an acetylated N-terminal peptide of annexin A2 
Structure of a 20-amino-acid peptide of AHNAK bound asymmetrically to the AnxA2–S100A10A heterotetramer (1:2:2 symmetry) provides insights into the atomic level interactions that govern this membrane-repair scaffolding complex.
AHNAK, a large 629 kDa protein, has been implicated in membrane repair, and the annexin A2–S100A10 hetero­tetramer [(p11)2(AnxA2)2)] has high affinity for several regions of its 1002-amino-acid C-terminal domain. (p11)2(AnxA2)2 is often localized near the plasma membrane, and this C2-symmetric platform is proposed to be involved in the bridging of membrane vesicles and trafficking of proteins to the plasma membrane. All three proteins co-localize at the intracellular face of the plasma membrane in a Ca2+-dependent manner. The binding of AHNAK to (p11)2(AnxA2)2 has been studied previously, and a minimal binding motif has been mapped to a 20-amino-acid peptide corresponding to residues 5654–5673 of the AHNAK C-­terminal domain. Here, the 2.5 Å resolution crystal structure of this 20-amino-acid peptide of AHNAK bound to the AnxA2–S100A10 heterotetramer (1:2:2 symmetry) is presented, which confirms the asymmetric arrangement first described by Rezvanpour and coworkers and explains why the binding motif has high affinity for (p11)2(AnxA2)2. Binding of AHNAK to the surface of (p11)2(AnxA2)2 is governed by several hydrophobic inter­actions between side chains of AHNAK and pockets on S100A10. The pockets are large enough to accommodate a variety of hydrophobic side chains, allowing the consensus sequence to be more general. Additionally, the various hydrogen bonds formed between the AHNAK peptide and (p11)2(AnxA2)2 most often involve backbone atoms of AHNAK; as a result, the side chains, particularly those that point away from S100A10/AnxA2 towards the solvent, are largely interchangeable. While the structure-based consensus sequence allows interactions with various stretches of the AHNAK C-terminal domain, comparison with other S100 structures reveals that the sequence has been optimized for binding to S100A10. This model adds new insight to the understanding of the specific interactions that occur in this membrane-repair scaffold.
PMCID: PMC3532133  PMID: 23275167
annexin A2; S100A10; AHNAK; calcium-binding proteins; membrane repair; 2:2:1 protein complex
22.  Structure and ligand-binding properties of the biogenic amine-binding protein from the saliva of a blood-feeding insect vector of Trypanosoma cruzi  
Biogenic amine-binding proteins mediate the anti-inflammatory and antihemostatic activities of blood-feeding insect saliva. The structure of the amine-binding protein from R. prolixus reveals the interaction of biogenic amine ligands with the protein.
Proteins that bind small-molecule mediators of inflammation and hemostasis are essential for blood-feeding by arthropod vectors of infectious disease. In ticks and triatomine insects, the lipocalin protein family is greatly expanded and members have been shown to bind biogenic amines, eicosanoids and ADP. These compounds are potent mediators of platelet activation, inflammation and vascular tone. In this paper, the structure of the amine-binding protein (ABP) from Rhodnius prolixus, a vector of the trypanosome that causes Chagas disease, is described. ABP binds the biogenic amines serotonin and norepinephrine with high affinity. A complex with tryptamine shows the presence of a binding site for a single ligand molecule in the central cavity of the β-barrel structure. The cavity contains significant additional volume, suggesting that this protein may have evolved from the related nitrophorin proteins, which bind a much larger heme ligand in the central cavity.
PMCID: PMC3532134  PMID: 23275168
lipocalins; Rhodnius prolixus; Triatominae; serotonin; norepinephrine; tryptamine; nitrophorin
23.  Atomic resolution view into the structure–function relationships of the human myelin peripheral membrane protein P2 
The structure of the human myelin peripheral membrane protein P2 has been refined at 0.93 Å resolution. In combination with functional experiments in vitro, in vivo and in silico, the fine details of the structure–function relationships in P2 are emerging.
P2 is a fatty acid-binding protein expressed in vertebrate peripheral nerve myelin, where it may function in bilayer stacking and lipid transport. P2 binds to phospholipid membranes through its positively charged surface and a hydrophobic tip, and accommodates fatty acids inside its barrel structure. The structure of human P2 refined at the ultrahigh resolution of 0.93 Å allows detailed structural analyses, including the full organization of an internal hydrogen-bonding network. The orientation of the bound fatty-acid carboxyl group is linked to the protonation states of two coordinating arginine residues. An anion-binding site in the portal region is suggested to be relevant for membrane interactions and conformational changes. When bound to membrane multilayers, P2 has a preferred orientation and is stabilized, and the repeat distance indicates a single layer of P2 between membranes. Simulations show the formation of a double bilayer in the presence of P2, and in cultured cells wild-type P2 induces membrane-domain formation. Here, the most accurate structural and functional view to date on P2, a major component of peripheral nerve myelin, is presented, showing how it can interact with two membranes simultaneously while going through conformational changes at its portal region enabling ligand transfer.
PMCID: PMC3919267  PMID: 24419389
human myelin peripheral membrane protein P2; myelin; membrane proteins
24.  Three-dimensional structure of a Streptomyces sviceus GNAT acetyltransferase with similarity to the C-terminal domain of the human GH84 O-GlcNAcase 
The crystal structure of a bacterial acetyltransferase with 27% sequence identity to the C-terminal domain of human O-GlcNAcase has been solved at 1.5 Å resolution. This S. sviceus protein is compared with known GCN5-related acetyltransferases, adding to the diversity observed in this superfamily.
The mammalian O-GlcNAc hydrolysing enzyme O-GlcNAcase (OGA) is a multi-domain protein with glycoside hydrolase activity in the N-terminus and with a C-terminal domain that has low sequence similarity to known acetyltransferases, prompting speculation, albeit controversial, that the C-terminal domain may function as a histone acetyltransferase (HAT). There are currently scarce data available regarding the structure and function of this C-terminal region. Here, a bacterial homologue of the human OGA C-terminal domain, an acetyltransferase protein (accession No. ZP_05014886) from Streptomyces sviceus (SsAT), was cloned and its crystal structure was solved to high resolution. The structure reveals a conserved protein core that has considerable structural homology to the acetyl-CoA (AcCoA) binding site of GCN5-related acetyltransferases (GNATs). Calorimetric data further confirm that SsAT is indeed able to bind AcCoA in solution with micromolar affinity. Detailed structural analysis provided insight into the binding of AcCoA. An acceptor-binding cavity was identified, indicating that the physiological substrate of SsAT may be a small molecule. Consistent with recently published work, the SsAT structure further questions a HAT function for the human OGA domain.
PMCID: PMC3919268  PMID: 24419391
acetyltransferases; O-GlcNAc; GCN5; GNAT; acetyl-CoA
25.  Ligand placement based on prior structures: the guided ligand-replacement method 
A new module, Guided Ligand Replacement (GLR), has been developed in Phenix to increase the ease and success rate of ligand placement when prior protein-ligand complexes are available.
The process of iterative structure-based drug design involves the X-ray crystal structure determination of upwards of 100 ligands with the same general scaffold (i.e. chemotype) complexed with very similar, if not identical, protein targets. In conjunction with insights from computational models and assays, this collection of crystal structures is analyzed to improve potency, to achieve better selectivity and to reduce liabilities such as absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicology. Current methods for modeling ligands into electron-density maps typically do not utilize information on how similar ligands bound in related structures. Even if the electron density is of sufficient quality and resolution to allow de novo placement, the process can take considerable time as the size, complexity and torsional degrees of freedom of the ligands increase. A new module, Guided Ligand Replacement (GLR), was developed in Phenix to increase the ease and success rate of ligand placement when prior protein–ligand complexes are available. At the heart of GLR is an algorithm based on graph theory that associates atoms in the target ligand with analogous atoms in the reference ligand. Based on this correspondence, a set of coordinates is generated for the target ligand. GLR is especially useful in two situations: (i) modeling a series of large, flexible, complicated or macrocyclic ligands in successive structures and (ii) modeling ligands as part of a refinement pipeline that can automatically select a reference structure. Even in those cases for which no reference structure is available, if there are multiple copies of the bound ligand per asymmetric unit GLR offers an efficient way to complete the model after the first ligand has been placed. In all of these applications, GLR leverages prior knowledge from earlier structures to facilitate ligand placement in the current structure.
PMCID: PMC3919265  PMID: 24419386
ligand placement; guided ligand-replacement method; GLR

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