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Biochemistry  2004;43(28):9234-9242.
Hyaluronan synthase (HAS) utilizes UDP-GlcUA and UDP-GlcNAc in the presence of Mg2+ to form the GAG hyaluronan (HA). The purified HAS from Streptococcus equisimilis (seHAS) shows high fidelity in that it only polymerizes the native substrates, UDP-GlcNAc and UDP-GlcUA. However, other uridinyl nucleotides and UDP-sugars inhibited enzyme activity, including UDP-GalNAc, UDP-Glc, UDP-Gal, UDP-GalUA, UMP, UDP and UTP. Purified seHAS was ~40% more active in 25 mM, compared to 50 mM, PO4 in the presence of either 50 mM NaCl or KCl, and displayed a slight preference for KCl over NaCl. The pH profile was surprisingly broad, with an effective range of pH 6.5–11.5 and the optimum between pH 9 and 10. SeHAS displayed two apparent pKa values at pH 6.6 and 11.8. As the pH was increased from ~6.5, both Km and Vmax increased until pH ~10.5, above which the kinetic constants gradually declined. Nonetheless, the overall catalytic constant (120/sec) was essentially unchanged from pH 6.5 to pH 10.5. The enzyme is temperature labile, but more stable in the presence of substrate and cardiolipin. Purified seHAS requires exogenous cardiolipin for activity and is very sensitive to the fatty acyl composition of the phospholipid. The enzyme was inactive or highly activated by synthetic cardiolipins containing, respectively, C14:0 or C18:1(Δ9) fatty acids. The apparent Ea for HA synthesis is 40 kJ (9.5 kcal/mol) disaccharide. Increasing the viscosity by increasing concentrations of PEG, ethylene glycol, glycerol, or sucrose inhibited seHAS activity. For PEGs, the extent of inhibition was proportional to their molecular mass. PEGs with average masses of 2.7, 11.7, and 20 Kg/mol caused 50% inhibition of Vmax at 21, 6.5, and 3.5 mM, respectively. The apparent Ki values for ethylene glycol, glycerol, and sucrose were, respectively, 4.5, 3.3 and 1.2 mM.
PMCID: PMC1586113  PMID: 15248781
streptococcal; kinetics; pH; viscogens; temperature; divalent cations; CLm cardiolipin; ECM, extracellular matrix; GAG, glycosaminoglycan; HA, hyaluronic acid, hyaluronate, hyaluronan; HAS, HA synthase; seHAS, Streptococcus equisimilis HAS; PBS, phosphate buffered saline; Tris, trishydroxymethylamino methane; TBS, tris-buffered saline; TBST, tris-buffered saline containing 0.05% Tween20
Glycobiology  2004;15(5):529-539.
The membrane-bound hyaluronan synthase (HAS) from Streptococcus equisimilis (seHAS), which is the smallest Class I HAS, has four cysteine residues (positions 226, 262, 281, and 367) that are generally conserved within this family. Although Cys-null seHAS is still active, chemical modification of cysteine residues causes inhibition of wildtype enzyme (Kumari et al., J. Biol. Chem. 277, 13943, 2002). Here we studied the effects of N-ethylmaleimide (NEM) treatment on a panel of seHAS Cys-mutants to examine the structural and functional roles of the four cysteine residues in the activity of the enzyme. We found that Cys226, Cys262, and Cys281 are reactive with NEM, but that Cys367 is not. Substrate protection studies of wildtype seHAS and a variety of Cys-mutants revealed that binding of UDP-GlcUA, UDP-GlcNAc or UDP can protect Cys226 and Cys262 from NEM inhibition. Inhibition of the six double Cys-mutants of seHAS by sodium arsenite, which can crosslink vicinyl sulfhydryl groups, also supported the conclusion that Cys262 and Cys281 are close enough to be crosslinked. Similar results indicated that Cys281 and Cys367 are also very close in the active enzyme. We conclude that three of the four Cys residues in seHAS (Cys262, Cys281, and Cys367 ) are clustered very close together, that these Cys residues and Cys226 are located at the inner surface of the cell membrane, and that Cys226 and Cys262 are located in or near a UDP binding site.
PMCID: PMC1242197  PMID: 15616126
Sulfhydryl reagents; N-ethylmaleimide; enzyme inhibition; Cysteine modification; site directed mutagenesis; DTE, dithioerythritol; HA, hyaluronan or hyaluronic acid; HAS, HA synthase; NEM, N-ethylmaleimide; PBS, phosphate buffered saline; seHAS, Streptococcus equisimilis HAS; spHAS, Streptococcus pyogenes HAS
3.  Clustered Conserved Cysteines in Hyaluronan Synthase Mediate Cooperative Activation by Mg2+ Ions and Severe Inhibitory Effects of Divalent Cations 
Hyaluronan synthase (HAS) uses UDP-GlcUA and UDP-GlcNAc to make hyaluronan (HA). Streptococcus equisimilis HAS (SeHAS) contains four conserved cysteines clustered near the membrane, and requires phospholipids and Mg2+ for activity. Activity of membrane-bound or purified enzyme displayed a sigmoidal saturation profile for Mg2+ with a Hill coefficient of 2. To assess if Cys residues are important for cooperativity we examined the Mg2+ dependence of mutants with various combinations of Cys-to-Ala mutations. All Cys-mutants lost the cooperative response to Mg2+. In the presence of Mg2+, other divalent cations inhibited SeHAS with different potencies (Cu2+~Zn2+ >Co2+ >Ni2+ >Mn2+ >Ba2+ Sr2+ Ca2+). Some divalent metal ions likely inhibit by displacement of Mg2+-UDP-Sugar complexes (e.g. Ca2+, Sr2+ and Ba2+ had apparent Ki values of 2-5 mM). In contrast, Zn2+ and Cu2+ inhibited more potently (apparent Ki ≤ 0.2 mM). Inhibition of Cys-null SeHAS by Cu2+, but not Zn2+, was greatly attenuated compared to wildtype. Double and triple Cys-mutants showed differing sensitivities to Zn2+ or Cu2+. Wildtype SeHAS allowed to make HA prior to exposure to Zn2+ or Cu2+ was protected from inhibition, indicating that access of metal ions to sensitive functional groups was hindered in processively acting HA•HAS complexes. We conclude that clustered Cys residues mediate cooperative interactions with Mg2+ and that transition metal ions inhibit SeHAS very potently by interacting with one or more of these –SH groups.
PMCID: PMC4176928  PMID: 25267933
Streptococcal; Enzyme kinetics; Cooperativity; Mutagenesis; Cysteine cluster
4.  Hyaluronan synthase polymerizing activity and control of product size are discrete enzyme functions that can be uncoupled by mutagenesis of conserved cysteines 
Glycobiology  2012;22(10):1302-1310.
Streptococcus equisimilis hyaluronan (HA) synthase (SeHAS) contains four cysteines (C226, C262, C281 and C367) that are conserved in the mammalian HAS family. Previous studies of single Cys-to-Ser and all possible Cys-to-Ala mutants of SeHAS found that: the Cys-null mutant is active, Cys modification inhibits HAS activity and the conserved cysteines are clustered at the membrane–enzyme interface in substrate-binding sites (Kumari K, Weigel PH. 2005. Identification of a membrane-localized cysteine cluster near the substrate binding sites of the Streptococcus equisimilis hyaluronan synthase. Glycobiology. 15:529–539). We re-examined these Cys mutants using a single technique (size exclusion chromatography–multi-angle laser light scattering) that allows simultaneous assays on the same sample for both HA synthesis activity and HA product size. Among 18 mutants compared with wild type, 4 showed no change in either function and 3 showed changes in both (decreased activity and HA size). Only one of the two functions was altered in 11 other mutants, which showed either decreased polymerizing activity or product size. No mutants made larger HA, 8 made smaller HA and 10 showed no change in HA size. Nine mutants showed no change in activity and nine were less active. The mutants fell into four of nine possible groups in terms of changes in HA size or synthesis rate (i.e. none, increased or decreased). Specific Cys residues were associated with each mutant group and the pattern of effects on both functions. Thus, the four conserved Cys residues, individually and in specific combinations, influence the rate of sugar assembly by HAS and HA product size, but their participation in one function is independent of the other.
PMCID: PMC3425326  PMID: 22745284
active-site cysteines; elongation rate; polymer length; size control; size control model
Analytical biochemistry  2006;352(2):243-251.
SEC-MALLS analyses of E. coli membranes expressing Streptococcus equisimilis hyaluronan synthase (seHAS) demonstrated an inherent artifact (10–100 MDa) that co-eluted with HA, and skewed the apparent weight-average mass of HA to erroneously high values. Briefly heating samples to 65–75°C eliminated this artifact and increased the yield of recovered HA, due to the release of HA chains that were attached to membrane-bound HAS. Inclusion of alkaline phosphatase, which removed UDP produced during the reaction, improved the linearity of HA synthesis - even at high substrate utilization. Surprisingly, addition of EDTA, to chelate Mg+2 ions, did not completely stop the HAS reaction at 30°C or at 4°C. The best conditions for stopping the reaction without altering SEC-MALLS profiles of the product HA were to chill samples on ice in the presence of both EDTA and UDP. Even with excess substrate, the maximum size of product HA decreased as the enzyme concentration increased. Therefore, the maximum HA size made by HAS was determined by extrapolation to zero enzyme concentration. Using the above conditions, membrane-bound seHAS synthesized a cohort of HA products that steadily increased in weight-average molar mass, reaching a final maximal steady-state size of 4–6 MDa within 2–4 hours.
PMCID: PMC1586112  PMID: 16476403
streptococcal; hyaluronan synthase; light scattering; size distribution; membranes; molar mass
6.  Hyaluronan Synthase: The Mechanism of Initiation at the Reducing End and a Pendulum Model for Polysaccharide Translocation to the Cell Exterior 
Hyaluronan (HA) biosynthesis has been studied for over six decades, but our understanding of the biochemical details of how HA synthase (HAS) assembles HA is still incomplete. Class I family members include mammalian and streptococcal HASs, the focus of this review, which add new intracellular sugar-UDPs at the reducing end of growing hyaluronyl-UDP chains. HA-producing cells typically create extracellular HA coats (capsules) and also secrete HA into the surrounding space. Since HAS contains multiple transmembrane domains and is lipid-dependent, we proposed in 1999 that it creates an intraprotein HAS-lipid pore through which a growing HA-UDP chain is translocated continuously across the cell membrane to the exterior. We review here the evidence for a synthase pore-mediated polysaccharide translocation process and describe a possible mechanism (the Pendulum Model) and potential energy sources to drive this ATP-independent process. HA synthases also synthesize chitin oligosaccharides, which are created by cleavage of novel oligo-chitosyl-UDP products. The synthesis of chitin-UDP oligomers by HAS confirms the reducing end mechanism for sugar addition during HA assembly by streptococcal and mammalian Class I enzymes. These new findings indicate the possibility that HA biosynthesis is initiated by the ability of HAS to use chitin-UDP oligomers as self-primers.
PMCID: PMC4581545  PMID: 26472958
7.  Mechanisms of α-defensin bactericidal action 
Biochemistry  2008;47(47):12626-12634.
Mammalian α-defensins all have a conserved triple-stranded β-sheet structure that is constrained by an invariant tridisulfide array, and the peptides exert bactericidal effects by permeabilizing the target cell envelope. Curiously, the disordered, disulfide-null variant of mouse α-defensin cryptdin-4 (Crp4), termed (6C/A)-Crp4, has equal or greater bactericidal activity than the native peptide, providing rationale for comparing the mechanisms by which the peptides interact with and disrupt phospholipid vesicles of defined composition. For both live E. coli ML35 cells and model membranes, disordered (6C/A)-Crp4 induced leakage similar to Crp4 but had less overall membrane-permeabilizing activity. Crp4 induction of fluorophore leakage from electronegative liposomes was strongly dependent on vesicle lipid charge and composition, and the incorporation of cardiolipin into liposomes of low electronegative charge to mimic bacterial membrane composition conferred sensitivity to Crp4- and (6C/A)-Crp4-mediated vesicle lysis. Membrane perturbation studies using biomimetic lipid/polydiacetylene vesicles showed that Crp4 had more pronounced bilayer surface interactions than (6C/A)-Crp4 in low rather than high negatively charged liposomes, correlating directly with measurements of induced leakage. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer experiments provided evidence that Crp4 translocates across highly charged or cardiolipin-containing membranes, in a process coupled with membrane permeabilization, but (6C/A)-Crp4 did not translocate across lipid bilayers and consistently displayed membrane surface association. Thus, despite the greater in vitro bactericidal activity of (6C/A)-Crp4, native, β-sheet containing Crp4 induces membrane permeabilization more effectively than disulfide-null Crp4 by translocating and forming transient membrane defects. (6C/A)-Crp4, on the other hand, appears to induce greater membrane disintegration.
PMCID: PMC2645939  PMID: 18973303
8.  Mitochondrial Outer Membrane Proteins Assist Bid in Bax-mediated Lipidic Pore Formation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(8):2276-2285.
Mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP) is a critical step in apoptosis and is regulated by Bcl-2 family proteins. In vitro systems using cardiolipin-containing liposomes have demonstrated the key features of MOMP induced by Bax and cleaved Bid; however, the nature of the “pores” and how they are formed remain obscure. We found that mitochondrial outer membranes contained very little cardiolipin, far less than that required for liposome permeabilization, despite their responsiveness to Bcl-2 family proteins. Strikingly, the incorporation of isolated mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM) proteins into liposomes lacking cardiolipin conferred responsiveness to cleaved Bid and Bax. Cardiolipin dependence was observed only when permeabilization was induced with cleaved Bid but not with Bid or Bim BH3 peptide or oligomerized Bax. Therefore, we conclude that MOM proteins specifically assist cleaved Bid in Bax-mediated permeabilization. Cryoelectron microscopy of cardiolipin-liposomes revealed that cleaved Bid and Bax produced large round holes with diameters of 25–100 nm, suggestive of lipidic pores. In sum, we propose that activated Bax induces lipidic pore formation and that MOM proteins assist cleaved Bid in this process in the absence of cardiolipin.
PMCID: PMC2669034  PMID: 19244344
9.  Physiochemical characterization of the nisin-membrane interaction with liposomes derived from Listeria monocytogenes. 
Mechanistic information about the bacteriocin nisin was obtained by examining the efflux of 5(6)-carboxy-fluorescein from Listeria monocytogenes-derived liposomes. The initial leakage rate (percentage of efflux per minute) of the entrapped dye was dependent on both nisin and lipid concentrations. At all nisin concentrations tested, 5(6)-carboxyfluorescein efflux plateaued before all of the 5(6)-carboxyfluorescein was released (suggesting that pore formation was transient), but efflux resumed when more nisin was added. Isotherms for the binding of nisin to liposomes constructed on the basis of the Langmuir isotherm gave an apparent binding constant of 6.2 x 10(5)M(-1) at pH 6.0. The critical number of nisin molecules required to induce efflux from liposomes at pH 6.0 was approximately 7,000 molecules per liposome. The pH affected the 5(6)-carboxyfluorescein leakage rates, with higher pH values resulting in higher leakage rates. The increased leakage rate observed at higher pH values was not due to an increase in the binding affinity of the nisin molecules towards the liposomal membrane. Rather, the critical number of nisin molecules required to induce activity was decreased (approximately 1,000 nisin molecules per liposome at pH 7.0). These data are consistent with a poration mechanism in which the ionization state of histidine residues in nisin plays an important role in membrane permeabilization.
PMCID: PMC167801  PMID: 8593036
10.  An improved method of encapsulation of doxorubicin in liposomes: pharmacological, toxicological and therapeutic evaluation. 
British Journal of Cancer  1996;74(1):43-48.
We describe here an improved method of encapsulating doxorubicin in liposomes using phosphatidylcholine, cholesterol and synthetic tetramyristoyl cardiolipin. With this new composition of lipids the entrapment of doxorubicin was found to be > 90%. Cytotoxicity studies using vincristine-resistant HL-60/VCR leukaemia cells showed that liposome-encapsulated doxorubicin reverses multidrug resistance 5-fold compared with conventional doxorubicin and at levels equivalent to that obtained using liposomes with natural cardiolipin. In normal mice, liposome-encapsulated doxorubicin was much less toxic than the conventional drug. A dose of 25 mg kg-1 i.v. of conventional doxorubicin produced 100% mortality in mice by day 14, whereas liposomal doxorubicin exhibited only 10% mortality by day 60. Liposomal doxorubicin demonstrated enhanced anti-tumour activity against murine ascitic L1210 leukaemia compared with conventional doxorubicin. At a dose of 15 mg kg-1, liposomal doxorubicin increased the median life span with 12 of 18 long-term (60 days) survivors compared with only 3 of 18 with conventional drug. Mice injected i.v. with liposomal doxorubicin had plasma levels 44-fold higher than conventional doxorubicin, producing significantly higher (P < 0.02) area under the plasma concentration curve. An altered tissue distribution was also observed with liposomal doxorubicin; cardiac tissue demonstrating at least 2-fold lower levels with liposomal doxorubicin probably accounting for its lower toxicity. This altered pharmacokinetics of liposome-encapsulated doxorubicin, providing enhanced therapeutic advantage and the ability to modulate multidrug resistance, could be useful in a clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC2074597  PMID: 8679456
11.  Proton-Dependent Gating and Proton Uptake by Wzx Support O-Antigen-Subunit Antiport Across the Bacterial Inner Membrane 
mBio  2013;4(5):e00678-13.
Wzx flippases are crucial for bacterial cell surface polysaccharide assembly as they transport undecaprenyl pyrophosphate-linked sugar repeat units from the cytoplasmic to the periplasmic leaflets of the inner membrane (IM) for final assembly. Our recently reported three-dimensional (3D) model structure of Wzx from Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 (WzxPa) displayed a cationic internal vestibule and functionally essential acidic amino acids within transmembrane segment bundles. Herein, we examined the intrinsic transport function of WzxPa following its purification and reconstitution in phospholipid liposomes. WzxPa was capable of mediating anion flux, consistent with its cationic interior. This flux was electrogenic and modified by extraliposomal pH. Mutation of the above-mentioned acidic residues (E61, D269, and D359) reduced proton (H+)-modified anion flux, showing the role of these amino acid side chains in H+-dependent transport. Wzx also mediated acidification of the proteoliposome interior in the presence of an outward anion gradient. These results indicate H+-dependent gating and H+ uptake by WzxPa and allow for the first H+-dependent antiport mechanism to be proposed for lipid-linked oligosaccharide translocation across the bacterial IM.
Many bacterial cell surface polysaccharides that are important for survival and virulence are synthesized at the periplasmic leaflet of the inner membrane (IM) using precursors produced in the cytoplasm. Wzx flippases are responsible for translocation of lipid-linked sugar repeat units across the IM and had been previously suggested to simply facilitate passive substrate diffusion. Through our characterization of purified Wzx in a reconstitution system described herein, we have observed protein-dependent intrinsic transport producing a change in the electrical potential of the system, with H+ identified as the coupling ion. These results provide the first evidence for coupled (i.e., secondary active) transport by these proteins and, in conjunction with structural data, allow for an antiport mechanism to be proposed for the directed transport of lipid-linked sugar substrates across the IM. These findings bring our understanding of lipid-linked polysaccharide transporter proteins more in line with the efflux pumps to which they are evolutionarily related.
PMCID: PMC3774195  PMID: 24023388
12.  Autoreactivity and Exceptional CDR Plasticity (but Not Unusual Polyspecificity) Hinder Elicitation of the Anti-HIV Antibody 4E10 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(9):e1003639.
The broadly-neutralizing anti-HIV antibody 4E10 recognizes an epitope in the membrane-proximal external region of the HIV envelope protein gp41. Previous attempts to elicit 4E10 by vaccination with envelope-derived or reverse-engineered immunogens have failed. It was presumed that the ontogeny of 4E10-equivalent responses was blocked by inherent autoreactivity and exceptional polyreactivity. We generated 4E10 heavy-chain knock-in mice, which displayed significant B cell dysregulation, consistent with recognition of autoantigen/s by 4E10 and the presumption that tolerance mechanisms may hinder the elicitation of 4E10 or 4E10-equivalent responses. Previously proposed candidate 4E10 autoantigens include the mitochondrial lipid cardiolipin and a nuclear splicing factor, 3B3. However, using carefully-controlled assays, 4E10 bound only weakly to cardiolipin-containing liposomes, but also bound negatively-charged, non-cardiolipin-containing liposomes comparably poorly. 4E10/liposome binding was predominantly mediated by electrostatic interactions rather than presumed hydrophobic interactions. The crystal structure of 4E10 free of bound ligands showed a dramatic restructuring of the combining site, occluding the HIV epitope binding site and revealing profound flexibility, but creating an electropositive pocket consistent with non-specific binding of phospholipid headgroups. These results strongly suggested that antigens other than cardiolipin mediate 4E10 autoreactivity. Using a synthetic peptide library spanning the human proteome, we determined that 4E10 displays limited and focused, but unexceptional, polyspecificity. We also identified a novel autoepitope shared by three ER-resident inositol trisphosphate receptors, validated through binding studies and immunohistochemistry. Tissue staining with 4E10 demonstrated reactivity consistent with the type 1 inositol trisphosphate receptor as the most likely candidate autoantigen, but is inconsistent with splicing factor 3B3. These results demonstrate that 4E10 recognition of liposomes competes with MPER recognition and that HIV antigen and autoepitope recognition may be distinct enough to permit eliciting 4E10-like antibodies, evading autoimmunity through directed engineering. However, 4E10 combining site flexibility, exceptional for a highly-matured antibody, may preclude eliciting 4E10 by conventional immunization strategies.
Author Summary
4E10 is an example of an anti-HIV, broadly neutralizing antibody that is uncommon in infected patients and has not been successfully elicited by any vaccine approach attempted. 4E10 has been proposed to neutralize HIV through a mechanism that requires broad recognition of other antigens, including membrane phospholipids. Such a mechanism would also block the generation of 4E10 during B cell development, confounding vaccination strategies. Analysis of B cell development in 4E10 heavy-chain knock-in mice confirmed that 4E10 does recognize self-antigens. However, a previously proposed autoantigen candidate, the mitochondrial lipid cardiolipin, was not consistent with binding studies which showed that while 4E10 does bind liposomes containing cardiolipin, it does so only weakly and nonspecifically, also binding liposomes without cardiolipin. Using a synthetic human peptidome, 4E10 was shown to be polyreactive, binding peptides from various proteins, but only in a limited manner. Three of the top five hits are from types 1, 2 and 3 inositol trisphosphate receptors, with high scoring peptides sharing a conserved sequence motif. Validation of the top hits was performed by binding analyses and staining of tissue sections, which combined to identify the type 1 inositol trisphosphate receptor as the most likely 4E10 physiological autoantigen.
PMCID: PMC3784475  PMID: 24086134
13.  The role of C-terminus carbohydrate-binding domain of Vibrio cholerae haemolysin/cytolysin in the conversion of the pre-pore β-barrel oligomer to a functional diffusion channel 
Background & objectives:
Vibrio cholerae cytolysin/hemolysin (VCC) is a 65 kDa pore-forming toxin (PFT) secreted by O1 El Tor and non-O1 strains. The purified toxin, which contains two C-terminus carbohydrate-binding domains in addition to the cytolytic domain at the core, causes lysis of a wide spectrum of eukaryotic cells at picomolar concentrations, apoptogenesis of intestinal and immune cells and accumulation of fluid in rabbit ligated ileal loop. Therefore, it may potentially complement the action of cholera toxin (CT) in diarrheagenic strains that do not produce CT. We showed earlier that β1-galactosyl-terminated glycoconjugates are strong inhibitors of its pore-forming activity, though carbohydrates are not functional receptors of VCC. Here, we investigate how the 15 kDa C-terminus β-prism lectin domain contributed to pore formation in erthrocytes.
VCC was isolated from the culture supernatant of late log phase grown bacteria and purified to homogeneity by chromatography. The 50 kDa truncated variant was generated by restricted proteolysis. Liposome was prepared by sonication of a suspension of phospholipids and calceine release assay was done by spectrofluorometric monitoring of the released dye trapped in liposome. Formation of β-barrel oligomers in erythrocyte stroma was monitored by scanning electron microscopy.
Proteolytic truncation of the C-terminus β-prism lectin domain decreased hemolytic activity of the toxin by ~800-fold without causing a significant change in pore-forming activity toward synthetic lipid vesicles devoid of incorporated glycoproteins/glycolipids. Truncation at the C-terminus did not impair membrane-binding or assembly to the oligomeric pore.
Interpretation & conclusions:
Our data indicated that the C-terminus domain played a critical role in translocation of the pre-pore oligomeric assembly from the cell surface or lipid-water interface to the hydrocarbon core of the membrane bilayer, signaling the formation of functional diffusion channels.
PMCID: PMC3089043  PMID: 21415486
Haemolysin; Lectin domain; Lipid bilayer; Pore-formation; V. cholerae
14.  Calcium Influx Rescues Adenylate Cyclase-Hemolysin from Rapid Cell Membrane Removal and Enables Phagocyte Permeabilization by Toxin Pores 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(4):e1002580.
Bordetella adenylate cyclase toxin-hemolysin (CyaA) penetrates the cytoplasmic membrane of phagocytes and employs two distinct conformers to exert its multiple activities. One conformer forms cation-selective pores that permeabilize phagocyte membrane for efflux of cytosolic potassium. The other conformer conducts extracellular calcium ions across cytoplasmic membrane of cells, relocates into lipid rafts, translocates the adenylate cyclase enzyme (AC) domain into cells and converts cytosolic ATP to cAMP. We show that the calcium-conducting activity of CyaA controls the path and kinetics of endocytic removal of toxin pores from phagocyte membrane. The enzymatically inactive but calcium-conducting CyaA-AC− toxoid was endocytosed via a clathrin-dependent pathway. In contrast, a doubly mutated (E570K+E581P) toxoid, unable to conduct Ca2+ into cells, was rapidly internalized by membrane macropinocytosis, unless rescued by Ca2+ influx promoted in trans by ionomycin or intact toxoid. Moreover, a fully pore-forming CyaA-ΔAC hemolysin failed to permeabilize phagocytes, unless endocytic removal of its pores from cell membrane was decelerated through Ca2+ influx promoted by molecules locked in a Ca2+-conducting conformation by the 3D1 antibody. Inhibition of endocytosis also enabled the native B. pertussis-produced CyaA to induce lysis of J774A.1 macrophages at concentrations starting from 100 ng/ml. Hence, by mediating calcium influx into cells, the translocating conformer of CyaA controls the removal of bystander toxin pores from phagocyte membrane. This triggers a positive feedback loop of exacerbated cell permeabilization, where the efflux of cellular potassium yields further decreased toxin pore removal from cell membrane and this further enhances cell permeabilization and potassium efflux.
Author Summary
The adenylate cyclase toxin (CyaA) of pathogenic Bordetellae eliminates the first line of host innate immune defense by inhibiting the oxidative burst and complement-mediated opsonophagocytic killing of bacteria. The toxin penetrates myeloid phagocytes, such as neutrophil, macrophage or dendritic cells, and subverts their signaling by catalyzing a rapid and massive conversion of intracellular ATP to the key signaling molecule cAMP. In parallel, the toxin forms cation-selective pores and permeabilizes the cytoplasmic membrane of phagocytes. This so-called ‘hemolysin’ activity synergizes with the enzymatic AC activity of CyaA in promoting apoptotic or necrotic cell death, depending on the toxin dose. Moreover, the pore-forming activity promotes activation of NALP3 inflammasome and release of interleukin IL-1β. We show here that the capacity of CyaA to permeabilize phagocytes depends on its ability to mediate influx of extracellular calcium ions into cells. This enables bystander CyaA pores to escape rapid macropinocytic removal from cell membrane and exacerbate the permeabilization of cells. These observations set a new paradigm for the mechanism of action of pore-forming RTX leukotoxins on phagocytes.
PMCID: PMC3320606  PMID: 22496638
15.  Evaluation of the cardiolipin biosynthetic pathway and its interactions in the diabetic heart 
Life sciences  2013;93(8):313-322.
We have previously reported alterations in cardiolipin content and inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM) proteomic make-up specifically in interfibrillar mitochondria (IFM) in the type 1 diabetic heart; however, the mechanism underlying this alteration is unknown. The goal of this study was to determine how the cardiolipin biosynthetic pathway and cardiolipin-IMM protein interactions are impacted by type 1 diabetes mellitus.
Main methods
Male FVB mice were made diabetic by multiple low-dose streptozotocin injections and sacrificed five weeks post-diabetic onset. Messenger RNA was measured and cardiac mitochondrial subpopulations were isolated. Further mitochondrial functional experimentation included evaluating the protein expression of the enzymes directly responsible for cardiolipin biosynthesis, as well as ATP synthase activity. Interactions between cardiolipin and ATP synthase subunits were also examined.
Key findings
Western blot analysis revealed a significant decrease in cardiolipin synthase (CRLS) protein content in diabetic IFM, with a concomitant decrease in its activity. ATP synthase activity was also significantly decreased. We identified two novel direct interactions between two subunits of the ATP synthase F0 complex (ATP5F1 and ATP5H), both of which were significantly decreased in diabetic IFM.
Overall, these results indicate that type 1 diabetes mellitus negatively impacts the cardiolipin biosynthetic pathway specifically at CRLS, contributing to decreased cardiolipin content and loss of interactions with key ATP synthase F0 complex constituents in the IFM.
PMCID: PMC3805107  PMID: 23872101
diabetes mellitus; mitochondria; inner mitochondria membrane; cardiolipin; ATP synthase
16.  N-acylated Peptides Derived from Human Lactoferricin Perturb Organization of Cardiolipin and Phosphatidylethanolamine in Cell Membranes and Induce Defects in Escherichia coli Cell Division 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90228.
Two types of recently described antibacterial peptides derived from human lactoferricin, either nonacylated or N-acylated, were studied for their different interaction with membranes of Escherichia coli in vivo and in model systems. Electron microscopy revealed striking effects on the bacterial membrane as both peptide types induced formation of large membrane blebs. Electron and fluorescence microscopy, however demonstrated that only the N-acylated peptides partially induced the generation of oversized cells, which might reflect defects in cell-division. Further a different distribution of cardiolipin domains on the E. coli membrane was shown only in the presence of the N-acylated peptides. The lipid was distributed over the whole bacterial cell surface, whereas cardiolipin in untreated and nonacylated peptide-treated cells was mainly located at the septum and poles. Studies with bacterial membrane mimics, such as cardiolipin or phosphatidylethanolamine revealed that both types of peptides interacted with the negatively charged lipid cardiolipin. The nonacylated peptides however induced segregation of cardiolipin into peptide-enriched and peptide-poor lipid domains, while the N-acylated peptides promoted formation of many small heterogeneous domains. Only N-acylated peptides caused additional severe effects on the main phase transition of liposomes composed of pure phosphatidylethanolamine, while both peptide types inhibited the lamellar to hexagonal phase transition. Lipid mixtures of phosphatidylethanolamine and cardiolipin revealed anionic clustering by all peptide types. However additional strong perturbation of the neutral lipids was only seen with the N-acylated peptides. Nuclear magnetic resonance demonstrated different conformational arrangement of the N-acylated peptide in anionic and zwitterionic micelles revealing possible mechanistic differences in their action on different membrane lipids. We hypothesized that both peptides kill bacteria by interacting with bacterial membrane lipids but only N-acylated peptides interact with both charged cardiolipin and zwitterionic phosphatidylethanolamine resulting in remodeling of the natural phospholipid domains in the E. coli membrane that leads to defects in cell division.
PMCID: PMC3940911  PMID: 24595074
17.  Expression of monolysocardiolipin acyltransferase activity is regulated in concert with the level of cardiolipin and cardiolipin biosynthesis in the mammalian heart 
BMC Biochemistry  2002;3:9.
Monolysocardiolipin acyltransferase (MLCL AT) catalyzes the acylation of monolysocardiolipin to cardiolipin in mammalian tissues. We previously reported that cardiac cardiolipin levels, MLCL AT and cardiolipin synthase activities were all elevated in rats made hyperthyroid by thyroxine treatment. In this study, we examined if cardiac mitochondrial MLCL AT activity was dependent upon the biosynthesis and level of cardiolipin in the heart. Rat heart mitochondrial MLCL AT activity was determined under conditions in which the levels of cardiac cardiolipin and cardiolipin synthase activity were either reduced or unaltered using four different disease models in the rat. In addition, these parameters were examined in a murine model of cardiac cell differentiation.
In rats made hypothyroid by treatment with 6-n-propyl-2-thiouracil in the drinking water for 34 days, cardiac cardiolipin content was decreased 29% (p < 0.025) and this was associated with a 32% decrease (p < 0.025) in cardiolipin synthase and a 35% reduction (p < 0.025) in MLCL AT activities. Streptozotocin-induced diabetes or hyperinsulinemia in rats did not affect cardiac cardiolipin content nor MLCL AT and cardiolipin synthase activities. Finally, cardiolipin content, MLCL AT and cardiolipin synthase activities were unaltered during murine P19 teratocarcinoma cell differentiation into cardiac myocytes. In all models, phospholipase A2 activities were unaltered compared with controls.
We propose a general model in which the expression of MLCL AT activity is regulated in concert with the biosynthesis and level of cardiolipin in the heart.
PMCID: PMC113744  PMID: 12019031
18.  Bacterial Secretins Form Constitutively Open Pores Akin to General Porins 
Journal of Bacteriology  2014;196(1):121-128.
Proteins called secretins form large multimeric complexes that are essential for macromolecular transit across the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Evidence suggests that the channels formed by some secretin complexes are not tightly closed, but their permeability properties have not been well characterized. Here, we used cell-free synthesis coupled with spontaneous insertion into liposomes to investigate the permeability of the secretin PulD. Leakage assays using preloaded liposomes indicated that PulD allows the efflux of small fluorescent molecules with a permeation cutoff similar to that of general porins. Other secretins were also found to form similar pores. To define the polypeptide region involved in determining the pore size, we analyzed a collection of PulD variants and studied the roles of gates 1 and 2, which were previously reported to affect the pore size of filamentous phage f1 secretin pIV, in assembly and pore formation. Liposome leakage and a novel in vivo assay showed that replacement of the conserved proline residue at position 443 in PulD by leucine increased the apparent size of the pore. The in vitro approach described here could be used to study the pore properties of membrane proteins whose production in vivo is toxic.
PMCID: PMC3911138  PMID: 24142256
19.  Enhanced bactericidal potency of nanoliposomes by modification of the fusion activity between liposomes and bacterium 
Pseudomonas aeruginosa represents a good model of antibiotic resistance. These organisms have an outer membrane with a low level of permeability to drugs that is often combined with multidrug efflux pumps, enzymatic inactivation of the drug, or alteration of its molecular target. The acute and growing problem of antibiotic resistance of Pseudomonas to conventional antibiotics made it imperative to develop new liposome formulations to overcome these mechanisms, and investigate the fusion between liposome and bacterium.
The rigidity, stability and charge properties of phospholipid vesicles were modified by varying the cholesterol, 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE), and negatively charged lipids 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol sodium salt (DMPG), 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phopho-L-serine sodium salt (DMPS), 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphate monosodium salt (DMPA), nature phosphatidylserine sodium salt from brain and nature phosphatidylinositol sodium salt from soybean concentrations in liposomes. Liposomal fusion with intact bacteria was monitored using a lipid-mixing assay.
It was discovered that the fluid liposomes-bacterium fusion is not dependent on liposomal size and lamellarity. A similar degree of fusion was observed for liposomes with a particle size from 100 to 800 nm. The fluidity of liposomes is an essential pre-request for liposomes fusion with bacteria. Fusion was almost completely inhibited by incorporation of cholesterol into fluid liposomes. The increase in the amount of negative charges in fluid liposomes reduces fluid liposomes-bacteria fusion when tested without calcium cations due to electric repulsion, but addition of calcium cations brings the fusion level of fluid liposomes to similar or higher levels. Among the negative phospholipids examined, DMPA gave the highest degree of fusion, DMPS and DMPG had intermediate fusion levels, and PI resulted in the lowest degree of fusion. Furthermore, the fluid liposomal encapsulated tobramycin was prepared, and the bactericidal effect occurred more quickly when bacteria were cultured with liposomal encapsulated tobramycin.
The bactericidal potency of fluid liposomes is dramatically enhanced with respect to fusion ability when the fusogenic lipid, DOPE, is included. Regardless of changes in liposome composition, fluid liposomes-bacterium fusion is universally enhanced by calcium ions. The information obtained in this study will increase our understanding of fluid liposomal action mechanisms, and help in optimizing the new generation of fluid liposomal formulations for the treatment of pulmonary bacterial infections.
PMCID: PMC3700910  PMID: 23847417
liposomes; fusion; bacteria; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; lipid composition
20.  Tic20 forms a channel independent of Tic110 in chloroplasts 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:133.
The Tic complex (Translocon at the inner envelope membrane of chloroplasts) mediates the translocation of nuclear encoded chloroplast proteins across the inner envelope membrane. Tic110 forms one prominent protein translocation channel. Additionally, Tic20, another subunit of the complex, was proposed to form a protein import channel - either together with or independent of Tic110. However, no experimental evidence for Tic20 channel activity has been provided so far.
We performed a comprehensive biochemical and electrophysiological study to characterize Tic20 in more detail and to gain a deeper insight into its potential role in protein import into chloroplasts. Firstly, we compared transcript and protein levels of Tic20 and Tic110 in both Pisum sativum and Arabidopsis thaliana. We found the Tic20 protein to be generally less abundant, which was particularly pronounced in Arabidopsis. Secondly, we demonstrated that Tic20 forms a complex larger than 700 kilodalton in the inner envelope membrane, which is clearly separate from Tic110, migrating as a dimer at about 250 kilodalton. Thirdly, we defined the topology of Tic20 in the inner envelope, and found its N- and C-termini to be oriented towards the stromal side. Finally, we successfully reconstituted overexpressed and purified full-length Tic20 into liposomes. Using these Tic20-proteoliposomes, we could demonstrate for the first time that Tic20 can independently form a cation selective channel in vitro.
The presented data provide first biochemical evidence to the notion that Tic20 can act as a channel protein within the chloroplast import translocon complex. However, the very low abundance of Tic20 in the inner envelope membranes indicates that it cannot form a major protein translocation channel. Furthermore, the independent complex formation of Tic20 and Tic110 argues against a joint channel formation. Thus, based on the observed channel activity of Tic20 in proteoliposomes, we speculate that the chloroplast inner envelope contains multiple (at least two) translocation channels: Tic110 as the general translocation pore, whereas Tic20 could be responsible for translocation of a special subset of proteins.
PMCID: PMC3203047  PMID: 21961525
21.  SecAAA trimer is fully functional as SecAA dimer in the membrane: Existence of higher oligomers? 
SecA is an essential ATPase in bacterial Sec-dependent protein translocation pathway, and equilibrates between monomers and dimers in solution. The question of whether SecA functions as monomers or dimers in membranes during the protein translocation is controversial. We previously constructed a tail-to-head SecAA tandem dimer, and showed it is fully functional by complementation in vivo and protein translocation in vitro, indicating that SecA can function at least as a dimer in the membrane without dissociating into monomers. In this study, we further constructed genetically a tail-to-head SecAAA trimer, which is functional in complementing a temperature-sensitive secA mutant. The purified SecAAA trimer per protomer is fully active as SecAA tandem dimers in ATPase activity, in protein translocation in vitro and in ion channel activities in the oocytes. With these functional tail-to-head trimer SecAAA and tandem SecAA, we examined their surface topology in the presence of liposomes using AFM. As expected, the soluble SecAAA without lipids are larger than SecAA. However, the ring/pore structures of SecAAA trimers were, surprisingly, almost identical to the SecA 2-monomers and SecAA dimers, raising the intriguing possibility that the SecA may exist and function as hexamer ring-structures in membranes. Cross-linking with formaldehyde showed that SecA, SecAA and SecAAA could form larger oligomers, including the hexamers. The molecular modeling simulation shows that both tail-to-head and tail-to-tail hexamers in the membranes are possible.
PMCID: PMC4036620  PMID: 24704204
22.  Dynamic phospholipid interaction of β2e subunit regulates the gating of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels 
The Journal of General Physiology  2015;145(6):529-541.
Membrane targeting of the β2e subunit is dynamically regulated by M1 muscarinic receptor signaling to promote fast inactivation of CaV2.2.
High voltage-activated Ca2+ (CaV) channels are protein complexes containing pore-forming α1 and auxiliary β and α2δ subunits. The subcellular localization and membrane interactions of the β subunits play a crucial role in regulating CaV channel inactivation and its lipid sensitivity. Here, we investigated the effects of membrane phosphoinositide (PI) turnover on CaV2.2 channel function. The β2 isoform β2e associates with the membrane through electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions. Using chimeric β subunits and liposome-binding assays, we determined that interaction between the N-terminal 23 amino acids of β2e and anionic phospholipids was sufficient for β2e membrane targeting. Binding of the β2e subunit N terminus to liposomes was significantly increased by inclusion of 1% phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) in the liposomes, suggesting that, in addition to phosphatidylserine, PIs are responsible for β2e targeting to the plasma membrane. Membrane binding of the β2e subunit slowed CaV2.2 current inactivation. When membrane phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate and PIP2 were depleted by rapamycin-induced translocation of pseudojanin to the membrane, however, channel opening was decreased and fast inactivation of CaV2.2(β2e) currents was enhanced. Activation of the M1 muscarinic receptor elicited transient and reversible translocation of β2e subunits from membrane to cytosol, but not that of β2a or β3, resulting in fast inactivation of CaV2.2 channels with β2e. These results suggest that membrane targeting of the β2e subunit, which is mediated by nonspecific electrostatic insertion, is dynamically regulated by receptor stimulation, and that the reversible association of β2e with membrane PIs results in functional changes in CaV channel gating. The phospholipid–protein interaction observed here provides structural insight into mechanisms of membrane–protein association and the role of phospholipids in ion channel regulation.
PMCID: PMC4442786  PMID: 25964431
23.  Production and partial purification of membrane proteins using a liposome-supplemented wheat cell-free translation system 
BMC Biotechnology  2011;11:35.
Recently, some groups have reported on cell-free synthesis of functional membrane proteins (MPs) in the presence of exogenous liposomes (liposomes). Previously, we reported synthesis of a functional AtPPT1 plant phosphate transporter that was associated with liposomes during translation. However, it is unclear whether or not lipid/MP complex formation is common to all types of MPs in the wheat cell-free system.
AtPPT1 was synthesized using a wheat cell-free system with or without liposomes. AtPPT1 synthesized with liposomes showed high transport activity, but the activity of AtPPT1 synthesized without liposomes was less than 10% activity of that with liposomes. To test whether co-translational association with liposomes is observed in the synthesis of other MPs, we used 40 mammalian MPs having one to 14 transmembrane domains (TMDs) and five soluble proteins as a control. The association rate of all 40 MPs into liposomes was more than 40% (mean value: 59%), while that of the five soluble proteins was less than 20% (mean value: 12%). There were no significant differences in association rate among MPs regardless of the number of TMDs and synthesis yield. These results indicate that the wheat cell-free system is a highly productive method for lipid/MP complex formation and is suitable for large-scale preparation. The liposome association of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-fusion MPs were also tested and recovered as lipid/MP complex after floatation by Accudenz density gradient ultracentrifugation (DGU). Employment of GFP-MPs revealed optimal condition for Accudenz floatation. Using the optimized Accudenz DGU condition, P2RX4/lipid complexes were partially purified and detected as a major band by Coomassie Brilliant Blue (CBB)-staining after SDS-PAGE.
Formation of lipid/AtPPT1 complex during the cell-free synthesis reaction is critical for synthesis of a functional MP. The lipid/MP complex during the translation was observed in all 40 MPs tested. At least 29 MPs, as judged by their higher productivity compared to GFP, might be suitable for a large-scale preparation. MPs synthesized by this method form lipid/MP complexes, which could be readily partially purified by Accudenz DGU. Wheat cell-free protein synthesis in the presence of liposomes will be a useful method for preparation of variety type of MPs.
PMCID: PMC3090341  PMID: 21481249
24.  Peroxidase Activity and Structural Transitions of Cytochrome c Bound to Cardiolipin-Containing Membranes 
Biochemistry  2006;45(15):4998-5009.
During apoptosis, cytochrome c (cyt c) is released from intermembrane space of mitochondria into the cytosol where it triggers caspase-dependent machinery. We discovered that cyt c plays another critical role in early apoptosis as a cardiolipin (CL)-specific oxygenase to produce CL hydroperoxides required for release of pro-apoptotic factors. We quantitatively characterized the activation of peroxidase activity of cyt c by CL and hydrogen peroxide. At low ionic strength and high CL/cyt c ratios, peroxidase activity of CL/cyt c complex was increased >50 times. This catalytic activity correlated with partial unfolding of cyt c monitored by Trp59 fluorescence and absorbance at 695 nm (Fe-S(Met80) band). The peroxidase activity increase preceded the loss of protein tertiary structure. Monounsaturated tetraoleoyl-CL (TOCL) induced peroxidase activity and unfolding of cyt c more effectively than saturated tetramyristoyl-CL (TMCL). TOCL/cyt c complex was found more resistant to dissociation by high salt concentration. These findings suggest that electrostatic CL/cyt c interactions are central to the initiation of the peroxidase activity, while hydrophobic interactions are involved when cyt c’s tertiary structure is lost. In the presence of CL, cyt c peroxidase activity is activated at lower H2O2 concentrations than for isolated cyt c molecules. This suggests that redistribution of CL in the mitochondrial membranes combined with increased production of H2O2 can switch on the peroxidase activity of cyt c and CL oxidation in mitochondria - a required step in execution of apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC2527545  PMID: 16605268
cytochrome c; cardiolipin; apoptosis; peroxidase activity
25.  Membrane Interaction of the Glycosyltransferase MurG: a Special Role for Cardiolipin 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(13):3773-3779.
MurG is a peripheral membrane protein that is one of the key enzymes in peptidoglycan biosynthesis. The crystal structure of Escherichia coli MurG (S. Ha, D. Walker, Y. Shi, and S. Walker, Protein Sci. 9:1045-1052, 2000) contains a hydrophobic patch surrounded by basic residues that may represent a membrane association site. To allow investigation of the membrane interaction of MurG on a molecular level, we expressed and purified MurG from E. coli in the absence of detergent. Surprisingly, we found that lipid vesicles copurify with MurG. Freeze fracture electron microscopy of whole cells and lysates suggested that these vesicles are derived from vesicular intracellular membranes that are formed during overexpression. This is the first study which shows that overexpression of a peripheral membrane protein results in formation of additional membranes within the cell. The cardiolipin content of cells overexpressing MurG was increased from 1 ± 1 to 7 ± 1 mol% compared to nonoverexpressing cells. The lipids that copurify with MurG were even further enriched in cardiolipin (13 ± 4 mol%). MurG activity measurements of lipid I, its natural substrate, incorporated in pure lipid vesicles showed that the MurG activity is higher for vesicles containing cardiolipin than for vesicles with phosphatidylglycerol. These findings support the suggestion that MurG interacts with phospholipids of the bacterial membrane. In addition, the results show a special role for cardiolipin in the MurG-membrane interaction.
PMCID: PMC161595  PMID: 12813070

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