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1.  Structure of the catalytic chain of Methanococcus jannaschii aspartate transcarbamoylase in a hexagonal crystal form: insights into the path of carbamoyl phosphate to the active site of the enzyme 
The structure of the catalytic chain of Methanococcus jannaschii aspartate transcarbamoylase has been determined in a hexagonal crystal form and gives insight into the possible paths that the substrate carbamoyl phosphate may follow to reach the active site during catalysis.
Crystals of the catalytic chain of Methanococcus jannaschii aspartate trans­carbamoylase (ATCase) grew in the presence of the regulatory chain in the hexagonal space group P6322, with one monomer per asymmetric unit. This is the first time that crystals with only one monomer in the asymmetric unit have been obtained; all known structures of the catalytic subunit contain several crystallographically independent monomers. The symmetry-related chains form the staggered dimer of trimers observed in the other known structures of the catalytic subunit. The central channel of the catalytic subunit contains a sulfate ion and a K+ ion as well as a glycerol molecule at its entrance. It is possible that it is involved in channeling carbamoyl phosphate (CP) to the active site of the enzyme. A second sulfate ion near Arg164 is near the second CP position in the wild-type Escherichia coli ATCase structure complexed with CP. It is suggested that this position may also be in the path that CP takes when binding to the active site in a partial diffusion process at 310 K. Additional biochemical studies of carbamoylation and the molecular organization of this enzyme in M. janna­schii will provide further insight into these points.
PMCID: PMC3374506  PMID: 22691781
aspartate transcarbamoylase; Methanococcus jannaschii; catalytic chain; enzyme mechanisms; protein structure-function
2.  A Cooperative Escherichia coli Aspartate Transcarbamoylase without Regulatory Subunits†‡ 
Biochemistry  2010;49(35):7694-7703.
Here we report the isolation, kinetic characterization, and X-ray structure determination of a cooperative E. coli aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase) without regulatory subunits. The native ATCase holoenzyme consists of six catalytic chains organized as two trimers bridged non-covalently by six regulatory chains organized as three dimers, c6r6. Dissociation of the native holoenzyme produces catalytically active trimers, c3, and nucleotide-binding regulatory dimers, r2. By introducing specific disulfide bonds linking the catalytic chains from the upper trimer site specifically to their corresponding chains in the lower trimer prior to dissociation, a new catalytic unit, c6, was isolated consisting of two catalytic trimers linked by disulfide bonds. Not only does the c6 species display enhanced enzymatic activity compared to the wild-type enzyme, but the disulfide bonds also impart homotropic cooperativity, never observed in the wild-type c3. The c6 ATCase was crystallized in the presence of phosphate and its X-ray structure determined to 2.10 Å resolution. The structure of c6 ATCase liganded with phosphate exists in a nearly identical conformation as other R-state structures with similar values calculated for the vertical separation and planar angles. The disulfide bonds linking upper and lower catalytic trimers predispose the active site into a more active conformation by locking the 240’s loop into the position characteristic of the high-affinity R state. Furthermore, the elimination of the structural constraints imposed by the regulatory subunits within the holoenzyme provides increased flexibility to the c6 enzyme enhancing its activity over the wild-type holoenzyme (c6r6) and c3. The covalent linkage between upper and lower catalytic trimers restores homotropic cooperativity so that a binding event at one or so active sites stimulates binding at the other sites. Reduction of the disulfide bonds in the c6 ATCase results in c3 catalytic subunits that display similar kinetic parameters to wild-type c3. This is the first report of an active c6 catalytic unit that displays enhanced activity and homotropic cooperativity.
PMCID: PMC2935174  PMID: 20681545
3.  Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of the aspartate transcarbamoylase domain of human CAD 
The recombinant aspartate transcarbamoylase domain of human CAD was expressed in E. coli, purified and crystallized in the presence and absence of the inhibitor PALA. X-ray diffraction data sets were collected for both crystal forms at 2.1 Å resolution.
Aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase) catalyzes the synthesis of N-carbamoyl-l-aspartate from carbamoyl phosphate and aspartate in the second step of the de novo biosynthesis of pyrimidines. In prokaryotes, the first three activities of the pathway, namely carbamoyl phosphate synthetase (CPSase), ATCase and dihydroorotase (DHOase), are encoded as distinct proteins that function independently or in noncovalent association. In animals, CPSase, ATCase and DHOase are part of a 243 kDa multifunctional polypeptide named CAD. Up-regulation of CAD is essential for normal and tumour cell proliferation. Although the structures of numerous prokaryotic ATCases have been determined, there is no structural information about any eukaryotic ATCase. In fact, the only detailed structural information about CAD is that it self-assembles into hexamers and trimers through interactions of the ATCase domains. Here, the expression, purification and crystallization of the ATCase domain of human CAD is reported. The recombinant protein, which was expressed in bacteria and purified with good yield, formed homotrimers in solution. Crystallization experiments both in the absence and in the presence of the inhibitor PALA yielded small crystals that diffracted X-rays to 2.1 Å resolution using synchrotron radiation. The crystals appeared to belong to the hexagonal space group P6322, and Matthews coefficient calculation indicated the presence of one ATCase subunit per asymmetric unit, with a solvent content of 48%. However, analysis of the intensity statistics suggests a special case of the P21 lattice with pseudo-symmetry and possibly twinning.
PMCID: PMC3855736  PMID: 24316846
CAD; aspartate transcarbamoylase domain; de novo pyrimidine synthesis; PALA
4.  Structure of the T109S mutant of Escherichia coli dihydroorotase complexed with the inhibitor 5-­fluoroorotate: catalytic activity is reflected by the crystal form 
A single-point mutant (T109S) of E. coli dihydroorotase initially crystallizes so that the two monomers of the dimer are related by a crystallographic twofold axis. In the presence of substrate, conversion to the previously observed asymmetric dimer with substrate bound in one subunit and product in the other is observed.
Crystals of a single-point mutant (T109S) of Escherichia coli dihydroorotase (DHOase) with diminished activity grown in the presence of l-dihydroorotate (l-DHO) are tetragonal, with a monomer in the asymmetric unit. These crystals are extremely unstable and disintegrate shortly after formation, which is followed by the growth of orthorhombic crystals from the remnants of the tetragonal crystals or at new nucleation sites. Orthorhombic crystals, for which a structure has previously been reported [Thoden et al. (2001 ▶), Biochemistry, 40, 6989–6997; Lee et al. (2005 ▶), J. Mol. Biol. 348, 523–533], contain a dimer of DHOase in the asymmetric unit; the active site of one monomer contains the substrate N-carbamyl-l-aspartate (l-CA-asp) and the active site of the other monomer contains the product of the reaction, l-DHO. In the subunit with l-­DHO in the active site, a surface loop (residues 105–115) is ‘open’. In the other subunit, with l-CA-asp in the active site, the loop folds inwards, forming specific hydrogen bonds from the loop to the l-CA-asp. The tetragonal crystal form can be stabilized by crystallization in the presence of the inhibitor 5-fluoroorotate (FOA), a product (l-DHO) mimic. Crystals of the complex of T109S DHOase with FOA are tetragonal, space group P41212, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 72.6, c = 176.1 Å. The structure has been refined to R and R free values of 0.218 and 0.257, despite severe anisotropy of the diffraction. In this structure, the flexible loops are both in the ‘open’ conformation, which is consistent with FOA, like l-­DHO, binding at both sites. The behaviour of the T109S mutant crystals of DHOase in the presence of l-DHO is explained by initial binding of l-DHO to both subunits, followed by slow conversion to l-CA-asp, with consequent movement of the flexible loop and dissolution of the crystals. Orthorhombic crystals are then able to grow in the presence of l-DHO and l-CA-asp.
PMCID: PMC2330171  PMID: 17329804
dihydroorotase; conformational change; loop movement; catalytic state; crystal contacts; crystal instability
5.  Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of a nucleoside kinase from the hyperthermophile Methanocaldococcus jannaschii  
Nucleoside kinase from the hyperthermophilic archaeon M. jannaschii is a member of the PFK-B family which belongs to the ribokinase superfamily. Here, its expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis are described.
Methanocaldococcus jannaschii nucleoside kinase (MjNK) is an ATP-dependent non-allosteric phosphotransferase that shows high catalytic activity for guanosine, inosine and cytidine. MjNK is a member of the phosphofructokinase B family, but participates in the biosynthesis of nucleoside monophosphates rather than in glycolysis. MjNK was crystallized as the apoenzyme as well as in complex with an ATP analogue and Mg2+. The latter crystal form was also soaked with fructose-6-phosphate. Synchrotron-radiation data were collected to 1.70 Å for the apoenzyme crystals and 1.93 Å for the complex crystals. All crystals exhibit orthorhombic symmetry; however, the apoenzyme crystals contain one monomer per asymmetric unit whereas the complex crystals contain a dimer.
PMCID: PMC1952333  PMID: 16511104
Methanocaldococcus jannaschii; phosphofructokinase B family; ribokinase superfamily; nucleoside kinases; hyperthermophiles; archaea
6.  Structure of anabolic ornithine carbamoyltransferase from Campylobacter jejuni at 2.7 Å resolution 
The crystal structure of C. jejuni anabolic ornithine transcarbamoylase has been determined at a resolution of 2.7 Å in an unliganded state.
Anabolic ornithine transcarbamoylase (aOTC) catalyzes the reaction between carbamoyl phosphate (CP) and l-ornithine (ORN) to form l-citrulline and phosphate in the urea cycle and l-arginine biosynthesis. The crystal structure of unliganded aOTC from Campylobacter jejuni (Cje aOTC) was determined at 2.7 Å resolution and refined to an R work of 20.3% and an R free of 24.0%. Cje aOTC is a trimer that forms a head-to-head pseudohexamer in the asymmetric unit. Each monomer is composed of an N-terminal CP-binding domain and a C-­terminal ORN-binding domain joined by two interdomain helices. The Cje aOTC structure presents an open conformation of the enzyme with a relatively flexible orientation of the ORN-binding domain respective to the CP-binding domain. The conformation of the B2–H3 loop (residues 68–78), which is involved in binding CP in an adjacent subunit of the trimer, differs from that seen in homologous proteins with CP bound. The loop containing the ORN-binding motif (DxxxSMG, residues 223–230) has a conformation that is different from those observed in unliganded OTC structures from other species, but is similar to those in structures with bound ORN analogs. The major differences in tertiary structure between Cje aOTC and human aOTC are described.
PMCID: PMC3433189  PMID: 22949186
Campylobacter jejuni; anabolic ornithine transcarbamoylases; carbamoyl phosphate; l-ornithine; l-citrulline; arginine biosynthesis; biocatalysis
7.  Assembly of the aspartate transcarbamoylase holoenzyme from transcriptionally independent catalytic and regulatory cistrons. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1984;157(3):891-898.
The cistrons encoding the regulatory and catalytic polypeptides of aspartate transcarbamoylase (EC from Escherichia coli K-12 have been cloned separately on plasmids from different incompatability groups. The catalytic cistron (pyrB) was carried by pACYC184 and expressed from its own promoter, whereas the regulatory cistron was expressed from the lac po of pBH20. The catalytic polypeptide chains assembled into enzymatically active trimers (c3) in vivo when expressed in the absence of regulatory subunits. Similarly, the regulatory polypeptide chains assembled into regulatory dimers (r2) in vivo in the absence of catalytic subunits. When cellular extracts containing regulatory dimers and catalytic trimers synthesized in separate cells were combined in vitro, partial spontaneous holoenzyme assembly occurred. When pyrB and pyrI were expressed from transcriptionally independent cistrons in the same cell, all detectable catalytic polypeptides were incorporated into the functional aspartate transcarbamoylase holoenzyme, 2(c3):3(r2). Thus, it is clear that the in vivo assembly of ATCase holoenzyme is a direct, spontaneous process involving the association of preformed regulatory subunits (r2) and catalytic subunits (c3). This procedure provides a general method for the construction of hybrid aspartate transcarbamoylase in vivo and may be applicable to other oligomeric enzymes constructed from different polypeptides.
PMCID: PMC215343  PMID: 6365893
8.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of aspartate transcarbamoylase from the parasitic protist Trypanosoma cruzi  
Aspartate transcarbamoylase, the second enzyme of the de novo pyrimidine-biosynthetic pathway, from T. cruzi has been purified and crystallized for X-ray structure analysis.
Aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase), the second enzyme of the de novo pyrimidine-biosynthetic pathway, catalyzes the production of carbamoyl aspartate from carbamoyl phosphate and l-aspartate. In contrast to Escherichia coli ATCase and eukaryotic CAD multifunctional fusion enzymes, Trypanosoma cruzi ATCase lacks regulatory subunits and is not part of the multifunctional fusion enzyme. Recombinant T. cruzi ATCase expressed in E. coli was purified and crystallized in a ligand-free form and in a complex with carbamoyl phosphate at 277 K by the sitting-drop vapour-diffusion technique using polyethylene glycol 3350 as a precipitant. Ligand-free crystals (space group P1, unit-cell parameters a = 78.42, b = 79.28, c = 92.02 Å, α = 69.56, β = 82.90, γ = 63.25°) diffracted X-rays to 2.8 Å resolution, while those cocrystallized with carbamoyl phosphate (space group P21, unit-cell parameters a = 88.41, b = 158.38, c = 89.00 Å, β = 119.66°) diffracted to 1.6 Å resolution. The presence of two homotrimers in the asymmetric unit (38 kDa × 6) gives V M values of 2.3 and 2.5 Å3 Da−1 for the P1 and P21 crystal forms, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2795605  PMID: 19724137
aspartate transcarbamoylase; Trypanosoma cruzi; Chagas disease; drug targets
9.  The mononuclear metal center of type-I dihydroorotase from aquifex aeolicus 
BMC Biochemistry  2013;14:36.
Dihydroorotase (DHO) is a zinc metalloenzyme, although the number of active site zinc ions has been controversial. E. coli DHO was initially thought to have a mononuclear metal center, but the subsequent X-ray structure clearly showed two zinc ions, α and β, at the catalytic site. Aquifex aeolicus DHO, is a dodecamer comprised of six DHO and six aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATC) subunits. The isolated DHO monomer, which lacks catalytic activity, has an intact α-site and conserved β-site ligands, but the geometry of the second metal binding site is completely disrupted. However, the putative β-site is restored when the complex with ATC is formed and DHO activity is regained. Nevertheless, the X-ray structure of the complex revealed a single zinc ion at the active site. The structure of DHO from the pathogenic organism, S. aureus showed that it also has a single active site metal ion.
Zinc analysis showed that the enzyme has one zinc/DHO subunit and the addition of excess metal ion did not stimulate catalytic activity, nor alter the kinetic parameters. The metal free apoenzyme was inactive, but the full activity was restored upon the addition of one equivalent of Zn2+ or Co2+. Moreover, deletion of the β-site by replacing the His180 and His232 with alanine had no effect on catalysis in the presence or absence of excess zinc. The 2.2 Å structure of the double mutant confirmed that the β-site was eliminated but that the active site remained otherwise intact.
Thus, kinetically competent A. aeolicus DHO has a mononuclear metal center. In contrast, elimination of the putative second metal binding site in amidohydrolyases with a binuclear metal center, resulted in the abolition of catalytic activity. The number of active site metal ions may be a consideration in the design of inhibitors that selectively target either the mononuclear or binuclear enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3880350  PMID: 24314009
Aspartate transcarbamoylase; Carbamoyl phosphate synthetase; CAD; Dihydrorotase; Metalloenzymes; Pyrimidine biosynthesis; Thermophile; Zinc ligands
10.  Monoclinic crystal form of Aspergillus niger α-­amylase in complex with maltose at 1.8 Å resolution 
Two new crystal structures of A. niger α-amylase are reported, one of which reveals two hitherto unobserved maltose-binding sites.
Aspergillus niger α-amylase catalyses the hydrolysis of α-1,4-glucosidic bonds in starch. It shows 100% sequence identity to the A. oryzae homologue (also called TAKA-amylase), three crystal structures of which have been published to date. Two of them belong to the orthorhombic space group P212121 with one molecule per asymmetric unit and one belongs to the monoclinic space group P21 with three molecules per asymmetric unit. Here, the purification, crystallization and structure determination of A. niger α-amylase crystallized in the monoclinic space group P21 with two molecules per asymmetric unit in complex with maltose at 1.8 Å resolution is reported. Furthermore, a novel 1.6 Å resolution orthorhombic crystal form (space group P21212) of the native enzyme is presented. Four maltose molecules are observed in the maltose–α-amylase complex. Three of these occupy active-site subsites −2 and −1, +1 and +2 and the hitherto unobserved subsites +4 (Asp233, Gly234) and +5 (Asp235). The fourth maltose molecule binds at the distant binding sites d1 (Tyr382) and d2 (Trp385), also previously unobserved. Furthermore, it is shown that the active-site groove permits different binding modes of sugar units at subsites +1 and +2. This flexibility of the active-site cleft close to the catalytic centre might be needed for a productive binding of substrate chains and/or release of products.
PMCID: PMC2242925  PMID: 16880540
α-amylase; Aspergillus niger; maltose; Aspergillus oryzae; TAKA-amylase
11.  Purification, crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of protein MJ1225 from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii, a putative archaeal homologue of γ-AMPK 
A preliminary crystallographic analysis at 2.3 Å resolution of protein MJ1225 from M. jannaschii, a putative archaeal homolog of γ-AMPK, is described.
In mammals, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a heterotrimeric protein composed of a catalytic serine/threonine kinase subunit (α) and two regulatory subunits (β and γ). The γ subunit senses the intracellular energy status by competitively binding AMP and ATP and is thought to be responsible for allosteric regulation of the whole complex. This work describes the purification and preliminary crystallographic analysis of protein MJ1225 from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii, an archaeal homologue of γ-AMPK. The purified protein was crystallized using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. Diffraction data for MJ1225 were collected to 2.3 Å resolution using synchrotron radiation. The crystals belonged to space group H32, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 108.95, c = 148.08 Å, α = β = 90.00, γ = 120.00°. Preliminary analysis of the X-ray data indicated that there was one molecule per asymmetric unit.
PMCID: PMC2720341  PMID: 19652347
MJ1225; γ-AMPK; CBS domains; archaea; Methanocaldococcus jannaschii
12.  Cloning, expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of the human RuvBL1–RuvBL2 complex 
A truncated variant of the human RuvBL1–RuvBL2 complex was cloned, expressed, purified and crystallised. Synchrotron diffraction data to 4 Å resolution were used to carry out a preliminary crystallographic analysis of the complex.
The complex of RuvBL1 and its homologue RuvBL2, two evolutionarily highly conserved eukaryotic proteins belonging to the AAA+ (ATPase associated with diverse cellular activities) family of ATPases, was co-expressed in Escherichia coli. For crystallization purposes, the flexible domains II of RuvBL1 and RuvBL2 were truncated. The truncated RuvBL1–RuvBL2 complex was crystallized using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method at 293 K. The crystals were hexagonal-shaped plates and belonged to either the orthorhombic space group C2221, with unit-cell parameters a = 111.4, b = 188.0, c = 243.4 Å and six monomers in the asymmetric unit, or the monoclinic space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 109.2, b = 243.4, c = 109.3 Å, β = 118.7° and 12 monomers in the asymmetric unit. The crystal structure could be solved by molecular replacement in both possible space groups and the solutions obtained showed that the complex forms a dodecamer.
PMCID: PMC2531268  PMID: 18765919
RuvBL1; RuvBL2; ATPases
13.  Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of the CBS-domain pair from the Methanococcus jannaschii protein MJ0100 
The C-terminal domain of the Methanococcus jannaschii protein MJ0100 includes a CBS-domain pair and has been overexpressed, purified and crystallized. Crystals of selenomethionine-substituted (SeMet) protein were also grown.
CBS domains are small protein motifs consisting of a three-stranded β-sheet and two α-helices that are present in proteins of all kingdoms of life and in proteins with completely different functions. Several genetic diseases in humans have been associated with mutations in their sequence, which has made them promising targets for rational drug design. The C-terminal domain of the Methanococcus jannaschii protein MJ0100 includes a CBS-domain pair and has been overexpressed, purified and crystallized. Crystals of selenomethionine-substituted (SeMet) protein were also grown. The space group of both the native and SeMet crystals was determined to be orthorhombic P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 80.9, b = 119.5, c = 173.3 Å. Preliminary analysis of the X-ray data indicated that there were eight molecules per asymmetric unit in both cases.
PMCID: PMC2564890  PMID: 18931440
CBS domains; Methanococcus jannaschii
14.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction studies on the human Plk1 Polo-box domain in complex with an unphosphorylated and a phosphorylated target peptide from Cdc25C 
Crystals of the human Plk1 Polo-box domain in complex with a Cdc25C target peptide in an unphosphorylated and a phosphorylated state have been obtained in orthorhombic and monoclinic forms that diffract to 2.1 and 2.85 Å, respectively, using synchrotron radiation.
Polo-like kinase (Plk1) is crucial for cell-cycle progression via mitosis. Members of the Polo-like kinase family are characterized by the presence of a C-terminal domain termed the Polo-box domain (PBD) in addition to the N-terminal kinase domain. The PBD of Plk1 was cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli. Crystallization experiments of the protein in complex with an unphosphorylated and a phosphorylated target peptide from Cdc25C yield crystals suitable for X-­ray diffraction analysis. Crystals of the PBD in complex with the phosphorylated peptide belong to the orthorhombic space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 38.23, b = 67.35, c = 88.25 Å, α = γ = β = 90°, and contain one molecule per asymmetric unit. Crystals of the PBD in complex with the unphosphorylated peptide belong to the monoclinic space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 40.18, b = 49.17, c = 56.23 Å, α = γ = 90, β = 109.48°, and contain one molecule per asymmetric unit. The crystals diffracted to resolution limits of 2.1 and 2.85 Å using synchrotron radiation at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the Swiss Light Source (SLS), respectively.
PMCID: PMC2222578  PMID: 16582488
Polo-like kinase; Polo-box domain; Cdc25C
15.  Crystallization and preliminary structure determination of the membrane-bound complex cytochrome c nitrite reductase from Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough 
The cytochrome c nitrite reductase complex from D. vulgaris Hildenborough has been crystallized. The preliminary crystallographic structure reveals a 2:1 NrfA:NrfH complex stoichiometry.
The cytochrome c nitrite reductase (cNiR) isolated from Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough is a membrane-bound complex formed of NrfA and NrfH subunits. The catalytic subunit NrfA is a soluble pentahaem cytochrome c that forms a physiological dimer of about 120 kDa. The electron-donor subunit NrfH is a membrane-anchored tetrahaem cytochrome c of about 18 kDa molecular weight and belongs to the NapC/NirT family of quinol dehydrogenases, for which no structures are known. Crystals of the native cNiR membrane complex, solubilized with dodecylmaltoside detergent (DDM), were obtained using PEG 4K as precipitant. Anomalous diffraction data were measured at the Swiss Light Source to 2.3 Å resolution. Crystals belong to the orthorhombic space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 79.5, b = 256.7, c = 578.2 Å. Molecular-replacement and MAD methods were combined to solve the structure. The data presented reveal that D. vulgaris cNiR contains one NrfH subunit per NrfA dimer.
PMCID: PMC2243080  PMID: 16754983
cytochrome c nitrite reductase; membrane-bound NrfHA complex; NapC/NirT family; multi-haem protein
16.  A case of structure determination using pseudosymmetry 
When properly applied, pseudosymmetry can be used to improve crystallographic phases through averaging and to facilitate crystal structure determination.
Here, a case is presented of an unusual structure determination which was facilitated by the use of pseudosymmetry. Group A streptococcus uses cysteine protease Mac-1 (also known as IdeS) to evade the host immune system. Native Mac-1 was crystallized in the orthorhombic space group P21212. Surprisingly, crystals of the inactive C94A mutant of Mac-1 displayed monoclinic symmetry with space group P21, despite the use of native orthorhombic Mac-1 microcrystals for seeding. Attempts to solve the structure of the C94A mutant by MAD phasing in the monoclinic space group did not produce an interpretable map. The native Patterson map of the C94A mutant showed two strong peaks along the (1 0 1) diagonal, indicating possible translational pseudosymmetry in space group P21. Interestingly, one-third of the monoclinic reflections obeyed pseudo-orthorhombic P21212 symmetry similar to that of the wild-type crystals and could be indexed and processed in this space group. The pseudo-orthorhombic and monoclinic unit cells were related by the following vector operations: a m = b o − c o, b m = a o and c m = −2c o − b o. The pseudo-orthorhombic subset of data produced good SAD phases, leading to structure determination with one monomer in the asymmetric unit. Subsequently, the structure of the Mac-1 mutant in the monoclinic form was determined by molecular replacement, which showed six molecules forming three translationally related dimers aligned along the (1 0 1) diagonal. Knowing the geometric relationship between the pseudo-orthorhombic and the monoclinic unit cells, all six molecules can be generated in the monoclinic unit cell directly without the use of molecular replacement. The current case provides a successful example of the use of pseudosymmetry as a powerful phase-averaging method for structure determination by anomalous diffraction techniques. In particular, a structure can be solved in a higher pseudosymmetry subcell in which an NCS operator becomes a crystallographic operator. The geometrical relationships between the subcell and parental cell can be used to generate a complete molecular representation of the parental asymmetric unit for refinement.
PMCID: PMC2789005  PMID: 19966420
pseudosymmetry; structure determination; cysteine proteases; Mac-1
17.  Effect of Trimerization Motifs on Quaternary Structure, Antigenicity, and Immunogenicity of a Non-cleavable HIV-1 gp140 Envelope Glycoprotein 
Virology  2009;395(1):33-44.
The external domains of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (gp120 and the gp41 ectodomain, collectively known as gp140) contain all known viral neutralization epitopes. Various strategies have been used to create soluble trimers of the envelope to mimic the structure of the native viral protein, including mutation of the gp120-gp41 cleavage site, introduction of disulfide bonds, and fusion to heterologous trimerization motifs. We compared the effects on quaternary structure, antigenicity, and immunogenicity of three such motifs: T4 fibritin, a GCN4 variant, and the E. coli aspartate transcarbamoylase catalytic subunit. Fusion of each motif to the C-terminus of a non-cleavable JRCSF gp140(-) envelope protein led to enhanced trimerization but had limited effects on the antigenic profile and CD4 binding ability of the trimers. Immunization of rabbits provided no evidence that the trimerized gp140(-) constructs induced significantly improved neutralizing antibodies to several HIV-1 pseudoviruses, compared to gp140 lacking a trimerization motif. However, modest differences in both binding specificity and neutralizing antibody responses were observed among the various immunogens.
PMCID: PMC2801758  PMID: 19815247
Vaccine; HIV-1; Envelope; trimerization motifs; ATCase; T4 fibritin; GCN; CD4; monoclonal antibody; immunization; neutralizing antibody
18.  A Chimeric Protein of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Envelope Glycoprotein gp140 and Escherichia coli Aspartate Transcarbamoylase 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(9):4508-4516.
The envelope glycoproteins of the human immunodeficiency virus and the related simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) mediate viral entry into host cells by fusing viral and target cell membranes. We have reported expression, purification, and characterization of gp140 (also called gp160e), the soluble, trimeric ectodomain of the SIV envelope glycoprotein, gp160 (B. Chen et al., J. Biol. Chem. 275:34946-34953, 2000). We have now expressed and purified chimeric proteins of SIV gp140 and its variants with the catalytic subunit (C) of Escherichia coli aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase). The fusion proteins (SIV gp140-ATC) bind viral receptor CD4 and a number of monoclonal antibodies specific for SIV gp140. The chimeric molecule also has ATCase activity, which requires trimerization of the ATCase C chains. Thus, the fusion protein is trimeric. When ATCase regulatory subunit dimers (R2) are added, the fusion protein assembles into dimers of trimers as expected from the structure of C6R6 ATCase. Negative-stain electron microscopy reveals spikey features of both SIV gp140 and SIV gp140-ATC. The production of the fusion proteins may enhance the possibilities for structure determination of the envelope glycoprotein either by electron cryomicroscopy or X-ray crystallography.
PMCID: PMC387710  PMID: 15078931
19.  Preliminary crystallographic analysis of the N-­terminal domain of FILIA, a protein essential for embryogenesis 
The preliminary crystallographic analysis of the N-terminal domain of FILIA is described in this paper. FILIA is a component of subcortical maternal complex, which plays critical roles in embryogenesis.
FILIA is a component of the subcortical maternal complex that is essential for early stage embryogenesis. Its 6×His-tagged N-terminal domain was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. Two types of crystals formed under different crystallization conditions during screening. Orthorhombic crystals appeared in a solution containing 1.4 M ammonium sulfate, 0.1 M Tris pH 8.2 and 12% glycerol, while tetragonal crystals were obtained using 15% PEG 4000 mixed with 0.1 M HEPES pH 7.5 and 15% 2-propanol. High-quality diffraction data were collected from the two crystal forms to resolutions of 1.8 and 2.2 Å, respectively, using synchrotron radiation. The Matthews coefficients indicated that the P212121 and P41212 crystals contained two molecules and one molecule per asymmetric unit, respectively. A selenomethionine-substituted sample failed to crystallize under the native conditions, but another ortho­rhombic crystal form was obtained under different conditions and anomalous diffraction data were collected.
PMCID: PMC2935241  PMID: 20823540
FILIA; embryogenesis
20.  Structural Analysis of Protein Folding by the Long-chain Archaeal Chaperone FKBP26 
Journal of molecular biology  2011;407(3):450-464.
In the cell, protein folding is mediated by folding catalysts and chaperones. The two functions are often linked, especially when the catalytic module forms part of a multidomain protein, as in Methanococcus jannaschii peptidyl-prolyl cis/trans isomerase (PPIase) FKBP26. Here we show that FKBP26 chaperone activity requires both a 50-residue insertion in the catalytic FKBP domain, also called ‘Insert-in-Flap’ or IF domain, and also an 80-residue C-terminal domain. We determined FKBP26 structures from four crystal forms and analyzed chaperone domains in light of their ability to mediate protein-protein interactions. FKBP26 is a crescent-shaped homodimer. We reason that folding proteins are bound inside the large crescent cleft, thus enabling their access to inward-facing PPIase catalytic sites and ipsilateral chaperone domain surfaces. As these chaperone surfaces participate extensively in crystal lattice contacts, we speculate that the observed lattice contacts reflect a proclivity for protein associations and represent substrate interactions by FKBP26 chaperone domains. Finally, we find that FKBP26 is an exceptionally flexible molecule, suggesting a mechanism for non-specific substrate recognition.
PMCID: PMC3099347  PMID: 21262232
crystal structure; FKBP; PPIase; prolyl isomerase; protein-protein interactions
21.  Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of Enterococcus casseliflavus aminoglycoside-2′′-phosphotransferase-IVa 
Aminoglycoside-2′′-phosphotransferase-IVa [APH(2′′)-IVa] is an enzyme that is responsible for high-level gentamicin resistance in E. casseliflavus isolates. Three different crystals of wild-type substrate-free APH(2′′)-IVa have been prepared and preliminary X-ray diffraction experiments have been undertaken on all three crystal forms.
The deactivation of aminoglycoside antibiotics by chemical modification is one of the major sources of bacterial resistance to this family of therapeutic compounds, which includes the clinically relevant drugs streptomycin, kanamycin and gentamicin. The aminoglycoside phosphotransferases (APHs) form one such family of enzymes responsible for this resistance. The gene encoding one of these enzymes, aminoglycoside-2′′-phosphotransferase-IVa [APH(2′′)-IVa] from Enterococcus casseliflavus, has been cloned and the protein (comprising 306 amino-acid residues) has been expressed in Escherichia coli and purified. The enzyme was crystallized in three substrate-free forms. Two of the crystal forms belonged to the orthorhombic space group P212121 with similar unit-cell parameters, although one of the crystal forms had a unit-cell volume that was approximately 13% smaller than the other and a very low solvent content of around 38%. The third crystal form belonged to the monoclinic space group P21 and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis was consistent with the presence of two molecules in the asymmetric unit. The orthorhombic crystal forms of apo APH(2′′)-IVa both diffracted to 2.2 Å resolution and the monoclinic crystal form diffracted to 2.4 Å resolution; synchrotron diffraction data were collected from these crystals at SSRL (Stanford, California, USA). Structure determination by molecular replacement using the structure of the related enzyme APH(2′′)-IIa is proceeding.
PMCID: PMC2805544  PMID: 20057078
aminoglycoside-2′′-phosphotransferase-IVa; Enterococcus casseliflavus; antibiotic resistance
22.  Pseudo-merohedral twinning and noncrystallographic symmetry in orthorhombic crystals of SIVmac239 Nef core domain bound to different-length TCRζ fragments 
P212121 crystals of SIV Nef core domain bound to a peptide fragment of the T-cell receptor ζ subunit exhibited noncrystallographic symmetry and nearly perfect pseudo-merohedral twinning simulating tetragonal symmetry. For a different peptide fragment, nontwinned tetragonal crystals were observed but diffracted to lower resolution. The structure was determined after assignment of the top molecular-replacement solutions to various twin or NCS domains followed by refinement under the appropriate twin law.
HIV/SIV Nef mediates many cellular processes through interactions with various cytoplasmic and membrane-associated host proteins, including the signalling ζ subunit of the T-­cell receptor (TCRζ). Here, the crystallization strategy, methods and refinement procedures used to solve the structures of the core domain of the SIVmac239 isolate of Nef (Nefcore) in complex with two different TCRζ fragments are described. The structure of SIVmac239 Nefcore bound to the longer TCRζ polypeptide (Leu51–Asp93) was determined to 3.7 Å resolution (R work = 28.7%) in the tetragonal space group P43212. The structure of SIVmac239 Nefcore in complex with the shorter TCRζ polypeptide (Ala63–Arg80) was determined to 2.05 Å resolution (R work = 17.0%), but only after the detection of nearly perfect pseudo-merohedral crystal twinning and proper assignment of the orthorhombic space group P212121. The reduction in crystal space-group symmetry induced by the truncated TCRζ polypeptide appears to be caused by the rearrangement of crystal-contact hydrogen-bonding networks and the substitution of crystallographic symmetry operations by similar noncrystallographic symmetry (NCS) operations. The combination of NCS rotations that were nearly parallel to the twin operation (k, h, −l) and a and b unit-cell parameters that were nearly identical predisposed the P212121 crystal form to pseudo-merohedral twinning.
PMCID: PMC2815668  PMID: 20124696
pseudo-merohedral twinning; noncrystallographic symmetry; pseudosymmetry; human immunodeficiency virus; Nef; T-cell receptor
23.  Cloning, purification and preliminary X-ray crystallographic analysis of a hypothetical protein, MJ0754, from Methanococcus jannaschii DSM 2661 
In this study, two forms of MJ0754 from the archaeon M. jannaschii were overexpressed and crystallized. The crystal of MJ0754 belonged to the hexagonal space group P61 and diffracted to 3.1 Å resolution, while the crystal of MJ0754t belonged to the orthogonal space group C2221 and diffracted to 1.3 Å resolution using synchrotron radiation.
The protein encoded by the MJ0754 gene from the archaeon Methanococcus jannaschii DSM 2661 is an unknown hypothetical protein. Two recombinant proteins, MJ0754 (residues 1–185) and MJ0754t (a truncated form of MJ0754, residues 11–185), were cloned from MJ0754, overexpressed as His-tag fusion proteins and purified. The crystals were found to grow under two different conditions and to have two different shapes. The crystal of MJ0754 belonged to space group P61, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 127.015, c = 48.929 Å, a calculated Matthews coefficient of 2.85 Å3 Da−1 and two molecules per asymmetric unit. The crystal of MJ0754t belonged to space group C2221, with unit-cell parameters a = 51.915, b = 79.122, c = 93.869 Å, a calculated Matthews coefficient of 2.41 Å3 Da−1 and one molecule per asymmetric unit. The SeMet-labelled P61 crystal diffracted to a resolution of 3.1 Å, while the native C2221 crystal diffracted to 1.3 Å resolution.
PMCID: PMC2765902  PMID: 19851023
MJ0754; Methanococcus jannaschii; hypothetical proteins; ferritin-like diiron-carboxylate proteins
24.  In vivo formation of hybrid aspartate transcarbamoylases from native subunits of divergent members of the family Enterobacteriaceae. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1986;167(1):285-290.
The genes encoding the catalytic (pyrB) and regulatory (pyrI) polypeptides of aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase, EC from several members of the family Enterobacteriaceae appear to be organized as bicistronic operons. The pyrBI gene regions from several enteric sources were cloned into selected plasmid vectors and expressed in Escherichia coli. Subsequently, the catalytic cistrons were subcloned and expressed independently from the regulatory cistrons from several of these sources. The regulatory cistron of E. coli was cloned separately and expressed from lac promoter-operator vectors. By utilizing plasmids from different incompatibility groups, it was possible to express catalytic and regulatory cistrons from different bacterial sources in the same cell. In all cases examined, the regulatory and catalytic polypeptides spontaneously assembled to form stable functional hybrid holoenzymes. This hybrid enzyme formation indicates that the r:c domains of interaction, as well as the dodecameric architecture, are conserved within the Enterobacteriaceae. The catalytic subunits of the hybrid ATCases originated from native enzymes possessing varied responses to allosteric effectors (CTP inhibition, CTP activation, or very slight responses; and ATP activation or no ATP response). However, each of the hybrid ATCases formed with regulatory subunits from E. coli demonstrated ATP activation and CTP inhibition, which suggests that the allosteric control characteristics are determined by the regulatory subunits.
PMCID: PMC212873  PMID: 3722124
25.  Crystallographic snapshots of the complete catalytic cycle of the unregulated aspartate transcarbamoylase from Bacillus subtilis 
Journal of molecular biology  2011;411(1):190-200.
Here we report high-resolution X-ray structures of Bacillus subtilis aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase), an enzyme that catalyzes one of the first reactions in pyrimidine nucleotide biosynthesis. Structures of the enzyme have been determined in the absence of ligands, in the presence of the substrate, carbamoyl phosphate, and in the presence of the bisubstrate/transition state analog N-phosphonacetyl-L-aspartate. Combining the structural data with in silico docking and electrostatic calculations, we have been able to visualize each step in the catalytic cycle of ATCase, from the ordered binding of the substrates, to the formation and decomposition of the tetrahedral intermediate, to the ordered release of the products from the active site. Analysis of the conformational changes associated with these steps provides a rationale for the lack of cooperativity in trimeric ATCases that do not possess regulatory subunits.
PMCID: PMC3211067  PMID: 21663747
pyrimidine nucleotide biosynthesis; transferase enzymes; catalytic cycle; X-ray crystal-lography

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