We demonstrate that it is feasible to determine high-resolution protein structures by electron crystallography of three-dimensional crystals in an electron cryo-microscope (CryoEM). Lysozyme microcrystals were frozen on an electron microscopy grid, and electron diffraction data collected to 1.7 Å resolution. We developed a data collection protocol to collect a full-tilt series in electron diffraction to atomic resolution. A single tilt series contains up to 90 individual diffraction patterns collected from a single crystal with tilt angle increment of 0.1–1° and a total accumulated electron dose less than 10 electrons per angstrom squared. We indexed the data from three crystals and used them for structure determination of lysozyme by molecular replacement followed by crystallographic refinement to 2.9 Å resolution. This proof of principle paves the way for the implementation of a new technique, which we name ‘MicroED’, that may have wide applicability in structural biology.
X-ray crystallography has been used to work out the atomic structure of a large number of proteins. In a typical X-ray crystallography experiment, a beam of X-rays is directed at a protein crystal, which scatters some of the X-ray photons to produce a diffraction pattern. The crystal is then rotated through a small angle and another diffraction pattern is recorded. Finally, after this process has been repeated enough times, it is possible to work backwards from the diffraction patterns to figure out the structure of the protein.
The crystals used for X-ray crystallography must be large to withstand the damage caused by repeated exposure to the X-ray beam. However, some proteins do not form crystals at all, and others only form small crystals. It is possible to overcome this problem by using extremely short pulses of X-rays, but this requires a very large number of small crystals and ultrashort X-ray pulses are only available at a handful of research centers around the world. There is, therefore, a need for other approaches that can determine the structure of proteins that only form small crystals.
Electron crystallography is similar to X-ray crystallography in that a protein crystal scatters a beam to produce a diffraction pattern. However, the interactions between the electrons in the beam and the crystal are much stronger than those between the X-ray photons and the crystal. This means that meaningful amounts of data can be collected from much smaller crystals. However, it is normally only possible to collect one diffraction pattern from each crystal because of beam induced damage. Researchers have developed methods to merge the diffraction patterns produced by hundreds of small crystals, but to date these techniques have only worked with very thin two-dimensional crystals that contain only one layer of the protein of interest.
Now Shi et al. report a new approach to electron crystallography that works with very small three-dimensional crystals. Called MicroED, this technique involves placing the crystal in a transmission electron cryo-microscope, which is a fairly standard piece of equipment in many laboratories. The normal ‘low-dose’ electron beam in one of these microscopes would normally damage the crystal after a single diffraction pattern had been collected. However, Shi et al. realized that it was possible to obtain diffraction patterns without severely damaging the crystal if they dramatically reduced the normal low-dose electron beam. By reducing the electron dose by a factor of 200, it was possible to collect up to 90 diffraction patterns from the same, very small, three-dimensional crystal, and then—similar to what happens in X-ray crystallography—work backwards to figure out the structure of the protein. Shi et al. demonstrated the feasibility of the MicroED approach by using it to determine the structure of lysozyme, which is widely used as a test protein in crystallography, with a resolution of 2.9 Å. This proof-of principle study paves the way for crystallographers to study protein that cannot be studied with existing techniques.
electron crystallography; electron diffraction; electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM); microED; protein structure; microcrystals; None
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.
Wild-type and variant crystals of a recombinant enzyme β-d-glucan glucohydrolase from barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) were obtained by macroseeding and cross-seeding with microcrystals obtained from native plant protein. Crystals grew to dimensions of up to 500 × 250 × 375 μm at 277 K in the hanging-drops by vapour-diffusion. Further, the conditions are described that yielded the wild-type crystals with dimensions of 80 × 40 × 60 μm by self-nucleation vapour-diffusion in sitting-drops at 281 K. The wild-type and recombinant crystals prepared by seeding techniques achived full size within 5–14 days, while the wild-type crystals grown by self-nucleation appeared after 30 days and reached their maximum size after another two months. Both the wild-type and recombinant variant crystals, the latter altered in the key catalytic and substrate-binding residues Glu220, Trp434 and Arg158/Glu161 belonged to the P43212 tetragonal space group, i.e., the space group of the native microcrystals was retained in the newly grown recombinant crystals. The crystals diffracted beyond 1.57–1.95 Å and the cell dimensions were between a = b = 99.2–100.8 Å and c = 183.2–183.6 Å. With one molecule in the asymmetric unit, the calculated Matthews coefficients were between 3.4–3.5 Å3·Da−1 and the solvent contents varied between 63.4% and 64.5%. The macroseeding and cross-seeding techniques are advantageous, where a limited amount of variant proteins precludes screening of crystallisation conditions, or where variant proteins could not be crystallized.
macro- and cross-seeding; wild-type and mutant protein; X-ray diffraction
Electron crystallography relies on electron cryomicroscopy of two-dimensional (2D) crystals and is particularly well suited for studying the structure of membrane proteins in their native lipid bilayer environment. To obtain 2D crystals from purified membrane proteins, the detergent in a protein-lipid-detergent ternary mixture must be removed, generally by dialysis, under conditions favoring reconstitution into proteoliposomes and formation of well-ordered lattices. To identify these conditions a wide range of parameters such as pH, lipid composition, lipid-to-protein ratio, ionic strength and ligands must be screened in a procedure involving four steps: crystallization, specimen preparation for electron microscopy, image acquisition, and evaluation. Traditionally, these steps have been carried out manually and, as a result, the scope of 2D crystallization trials has been limited. We have therefore developed an automated pipeline to screen the formation of 2D crystals. We employed a 96-well dialysis block for reconstitution of the target protein over a wide range of conditions designed to promote crystallization. A 96-position magnetic platform and a liquid handling robot were used to prepare negatively stained specimens in parallel. Robotic grid insertion into the electron microscope and computerized image acquisition ensures rapid evaluation of the crystallization screen. To date, 38 2D crystallization screens have been conducted for 15 different membrane proteins, totaling over 3000 individual crystallization experiments. Three of these proteins have yielded diffracting 2D crystals. Our automated pipeline outperforms traditional 2D crystallization methods in terms of throughput and reproducibility.
Automation; dialysis; electron crystallography; high-throughput; membrane protein; two-dimensional (2D) crystals
Streak-seeding markedly improved the stability, crystal-growth rate and diffraction quality of dilated-cardiomyopathy-associated mutant metavinculin crystals.
Metavinculin is an alternatively spliced isoform of vinculin that has a 68-residue insert in its tail domain (1134 total residues) and is exclusively expressed in cardiac and smooth muscle tissue, where it plays important roles in myocyte adhesion complexes. Mutations in the metavinculin-specific insert are associated with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in man. Crystals of a DCM-associated mutant of full-length selenomethionine-labeled metavinculin grown by hanging-drop vapor diffusion diffracted poorly and were highly sensitive to radiation, preventing the collection of a complete X-ray diffraction data set at the highest possible resolution. Streak-seeding markedly improved the stability, crystal-growth rate and diffraction quality of DCM-associated mutant metavinculin crystals, allowing complete data collection to 3.9 Å resolution. These crystals belonged to space group P43212, with two molecules in the asymmetric unit and unit-cell parameters a = b = 170, c = 211 Å, α = β = γ = 90°.
Tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase from the hyperthermophilic archaeon A. pernix K1 was cloned, purified and crystallized. The crystals belonged to the tetragonal space group P43212, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 66.1, c = 196.2 Å, and diffracted to beyond 2.15 Å resolution at 100 K.
Hyperthermophilic archaeal tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase from Aeropyrum pernix K1 was cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli. The expressed protein was purified by Cibacron Blue affinity chromatography following heat treatment at 363 K. Crystals suitable for X-ray diffraction studies were obtained under optimized crystallization conditions in the presence of 1.5 M ammonium sulfate using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. The crystals belonged to the tetragonal space group P43212, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 66.1, c = 196.2 Å, and diffracted to beyond 2.15 Å resolution at 100 K.
aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase; tyrosine tRNA; Aeropyrum pernix K1
Mice with spontaneous mutations in the Sharpin gene develop chronic proliferative dermatitis that is characterized by eosinophilic inflammation of the skin and other organs with increased expression of type 2 cytokines and dysregulated development of lymphoid tissues. The mutant mice share phenotypic features with human hypereosinophilic syndromes. The biological function of SHARPIN and how its absence leads to such a complex inflammatory phenotype in mice are poorly understood. However, recent studies identified SHARPIN as a novel modulator of immune and inflammatory responses. The emerging mechanistic model suggests that SHARPIN functions as an important adaptor component of the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex that modulates activation of NF-κB signaling pathway, thereby regulating cell survival and apoptosis, cytokine production and development of lymphoid tissues. In this review, we will summarize the current understanding of the ubiquitin-dependent regulatory mechanisms involved in NF-κB signaling, and incorporate the recently obtained molecular insights of SHARPIN into this pathway. Recent studies identified SHARPIN as an inhibitor of β1-integrin activation and signaling, and this may be another mechanism by which SHARPIN regulates inflammation. Furthermore, the disrupted lymphoid organogenesis in SHARPIN-deficient mice suggests that SHARPIN-mediated NF-κB regulation is important for de novo development of lymphoid tissues.
Sharpin; immune system; inflammation; chronic dermatitis; NF-κB; ubiquitination; lymphoid organogenesis; eosinophilic dermatitis; scaly skin disease
NFκB is an inducible transcriptional factor controlled by two principal signaling cascades and plays pivotal roles in diverse physiological processes including inflammation, apoptosis, oncogenesis, immunity, and development. Activation of NFκB signaling was detected in skin of SHAPRIN-deficient mice and can be diminished by an NFκB inhibitor. However, in vitro studies demonstrated that SHARPIN activates NFκB signaling by forming a linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex with RNF31 (HOIP) and RBCK1 (HOIL1). The inconsistency between in vivo and in vitro findings about SHARPIN's function on NFκB activation could be partially due to SHARPIN's potential interactions with downstream molecules of NFκB pathway. In this study, 17 anti-flag immunoprecipitated proteins, including TRAF2, were identified by mass spectrum analysis among Sharpin-Flag transfected mouse fibroblasts, B lymphocytes, and BALB/c LN stroma 12 cells suggesting their interaction with SHARPIN. Interaction between SHARPIN and TRAF2 confirmed previous yeast two hybridization reports that SHARPIN was one TRAF2's partners. Furthermore, luciferase-based NFκB reporter assays demonstrated that SHARPIN negatively associates with NFκB activation, which can be partly compensated by over-expression of TRAF2. These data suggested that other than activating NFκB signaling by forming ubiquitin ligase complex with RNF31 and RBCK1, SHARPIN may also negatively associate with NFκB activation via interactions with other NFκB members, such as TRAF2.
Single crystals of recombinant S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine hydrolase from L. luteus in complex with adenosine diffract X-rays to 1.17 Å resolution at 100 K. The crystals are tetragonal, space group P43212, and contain one copy of the dimeric enzyme in the asymmetric unit.
By degrading S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine, which is a byproduct of S-adenosyl-l-methionine-dependent methylation reactions, S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine hydrolase (SAHase) acts as a regulator of cellular methylation processes. S-Adenosyl-l-homocysteine hydrolase from the leguminose plant yellow lupin (Lupinus luteus), LlSAHase, which is composed of 485 amino acids and has a molecular weight of 55 kDa, has been cloned, expressed in Escherichia coli and purified. Crystals of LlSAHase in complex with adenosine were obtained by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method using 20%(w/v) PEG 4000 and 10%(v/v) 2-propanol as precipitants in 0.1 M Tris–HCl buffer pH 8.0. The crystals were tetragonal, space group P43212, with unit-cell parameters a = 122.4, c = 126.5 Å and contained two protein molecules in the asymmetric unit, corresponding to the functional dimeric form of the enzyme. Atomic resolution (1.17 Å) X-ray diffraction data have been collected using synchrotron radiation.
S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine hydrolase; Lupinus luteus
The cloning, purification and crystallization of the C-terminal domain of human hPrp22 are reported. This communication also contains data for the preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis.
The Homo sapiens DExD/H-box protein hPrp22 is a crucial component of the eukaryotic pre-mRNA splicing machinery. Within the splicing cycle, it is involved in the ligation of exons and generation of the lariat and it additionally catalyzes the release of mature mRNA from the spliceosomal U5 snRNP. The yeast homologue of this protein, yPrp22, shows ATP-dependent RNA-helicase activity and is capable of unwinding RNA/RNA duplex molecules. A truncated construct coding for residues 950–1183 of human Prp22, comprising the structurally and functionally uncharacterized C-terminal domain, was cloned into an Escherichia coli expression vector. The protein was subsequently overproduced, purified and crystallized. The crystals obtained diffracted to 2.1 Å resolution, belonged to the tetragonal space group P41212 or P43212, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 78.2, c = 88.4 Å, and contained one molecule in the asymmetric unit.
Prp22; DUF1605; DExD/H-box RNA helicases; splicing; unwinding; spliceosome
The crystallization and results of multiwavelength anomalous diffraction studies of a recombinant C3-inhibitory fragment of Efb from S. aureus are reported.
Staphylococcus aureus secretes a number of small proteins that effectively attenuate the human innate immune response. Among these, the staphylococcal complement-inhibitor protein (SCIN) disrupts the function of the complement component 3 (C3) convertase that is initiated through either the classical or the alternative pathway and thereby prevents amplification of the complement response on the bacterial surface. Recent studies have shown that SCIN may affect the activities of the C3 convertase by binding in an equimolar fashion to C3b, which is itself an integral although non-enzymatic component of the convertase. In order to better understand the nature of the C3b–SCIN interaction, the hanging-drop vapor-diffusion technique was used to crystallize human C3b in the presence of a recombinant form of SCIN. These crystals diffracted synchrotron X-rays to approximately 6 Å Bragg spacing and grew in a primitive tetragonal space group (P41212 or P43212; unit-cell parameters a = b = 128.03, c = 468.59 Å). Cell-content analysis of these crystals was consistent with the presence of either two 1:1 complexes or a single 2:2 assembly in the asymmetric unit, both of which correspond to a solvent content of 51.9%. By making use of these crystals, solution of the C3b–SCIN structure should further our understanding of complement inhibition and immune evasion by this pathogen.
Staphylococcus aureus; SCIN; complement component C3b
The ecto-enzymatic domain of rat E-NTPDase1 CD39 was expressed and purified and diffraction-quality crystals of the enzyme were obtained.
CD39 is a prototype member of the ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase family that hydrolyzes extracellular nucleoside diphosphates and triphosphates in the presence of divalent cations. Here, the expression, purification and crystallization of the ecto-enzymatic domain of rat CD39, sCD39, are described. The 67 kDa secreted soluble glycoprotein was recombinantly overexpressed in a glycosylation mutant CHO line, Lec.184.108.40.206, and purified from conditioned media. Diffraction-quality crystals of sCD39 were produced by the vapor-diffusion method using PEG 3350 and ammonium dihydrogen phosphate as precipitants. The enzyme crystallized in a primitive trigonal form in space group P32, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 118.1, c = 81.6 Å and with two sCD39 copies in the asymmetric unit. Several low- to medium-resolution diffraction data sets were collected using an in-house X-ray source. Analysis of the intensity statistics showed that the crystals were invariably merohedrally twinned with a high twin fraction. For initial phasing, a molecular-replacement search was performed against the complete 3.2 Å data set using a maximum-likelihood molecular-replacement method as implemented in Phaser. The initial model of the two sCD39 monomers was placed into the P32 lattice and rigid-body refined and position-minimized with PHENIX.
CD39; ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolases
Background: SHARPIN is a subunit of the E3 ligase complex LUBAC and the gene that is mutated in chronic proliferative dermatitis mice.
Results: The N-terminal portion of SHARPIN adopts the PH superfold and mediates homodimerization.
Conclusion: The PH superfold can be used as a protein dimerization module.
Significance: This study highlights the versatility of the PH superfold and its function as a protein interaction module.
SHARPIN (SHANK-associated RH domain interacting protein) is part of a large multi-protein E3 ubiquitin ligase complex called LUBAC (linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex), which catalyzes the formation of linear ubiquitin chains and regulates immune and apoptopic signaling pathways. The C-terminal half of SHARPIN contains ubiquitin-like domain and Npl4-zinc finger domains that mediate the interaction with the LUBAC subunit HOIP and ubiquitin, respectively. In contrast, the N-terminal region does not show any homology with known protein interaction domains but has been suggested to be responsible for self-association of SHARPIN, presumably via a coiled-coil region. We have determined the crystal structure of the N-terminal portion of SHARPIN, which adopts the highly conserved pleckstrin homology superfold that is often used as a scaffold to create protein interaction modules. We show that in SHARPIN, this domain does not appear to be used as a ligand recognition domain because it lacks many of the surface properties that are present in other pleckstrin homology fold-based interaction modules. Instead, it acts as a dimerization module extending the functional applications of this superfold.
Protein Structure; Protein-Protein Interactions; Signal Transduction; Ubiquitin Ligase; Ubiquitination; X-ray Crystallography
ϕ29 bacteriophage scaffolding protein (gp7) has been overproduced in E. coli, purified, crystallized and characterized by X-ray diffraction. Two distinct crystal forms were obtained and a diffraction data set was collected to 1.8 Å resolution.
The Bacillus subtilis bacteriophage ϕ29 scaffolding protein (gp7) has been crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method at 293 K. Two new distinct crystal forms that both differed from a previously crystallized and solved scaffolding protein were grown under the same conditions. Form I belongs to the primitive tetragonal space group P41212, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 77.13, c = 37.12 Å. Form II crystals exhibit an orthorhombic crystal form, with space group C222 and unit-cell parameters a = 107.50, b = 107. 80, c = 37.34 Å. Complete data sets have been collected to 1.78 and 1.80 Å for forms I and II, respectively, at 100 K using Cu Kα X-rays from a rotating-anode generator. Calculation of a V
M value of 2.46 Å3 Da−1 for form I suggests the presence of one molecule in the asymmetric unit, corresponding to a solvent content of 50.90%, whereas form II has a V
M of 4.80 Å3 Da−1 with a solvent content of 48.76% and two molecules in the asymmetric unit. The structures of both crystal forms are being determined by the molecular-replacement method using the coordinates of the published crystal structure of gp7.
scaffolding protein; bacteriophage ϕ29
A water-soluble mutant of the outer membrane lipoprotein NlpE has been overexpressed, purified and crystallized. Diffraction data from two crystal forms obtained under two different conditions were collected to 2.8 and 3.0 Å resolution and processed in space groups P43212 and C2, respectively.
The outer membrane lipoprotein NlpE functions in stress response by activating the Cpx signal transduction pathway. The nonlipidated Cys1Ala mutant of NlpE with a C-terminal His tag from Escherichia coli was constructed, overexpressed and purified. Crystals of NlpE were grown in two distinct forms by the sitting-drop vapour-diffusion method at 298 K. The tetragonal crystals diffracted to 2.8 Å resolution and belong to space group P43212. The monoclinic crystals diffracted to 3.0 Å resolution and belong to space group C2. Initial phases were obtained from a tetragonal crystal of selenomethionylated protein by the MAD method.
Cpx pathway; NlpE; outer membrane lipoproteins; periplasm; stress response
The cloning, overexpression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray crystallographic analysis of the transcriptional repressor SirR (staphylococcal iron regulator) from M. tuberculosis are reported.
SirR, a metal-dependent transcriptional repressor from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Rv2788), was cloned in pQE30 expression vector with an N-terminal His6 tag for heterologous overexpression in Escherichia coli M15 (pREP4) cells and purified to homogeneity using chromatographic procedures. The purified protein was crystallized using the sitting-drop vapour-diffusion technique. The crystals belonged to the tetragonal space group P41212/P43212, with unit-cell parameters a = 105.21, b = 105.21, c = 144.85 Å. The X-ray diffraction data were processed to a maximum resolution of 2.5 Å. The Matthews coefficient suggests the presence of two (V
M = 4.01 Å3 Da−1) to four (V
M = 2.0 Å3 Da−1) molecules in the asymmetric unit. Calculation of the self-rotation function shows a crystallographic fourfold symmetry axis along the z axis (χ = 90°) and also a twofold symmetry axis around the z axis (χ = 180°).
SirR; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; transcriptional repressors; tuberculosis
Preliminary X-ray analysis of the proliferation-associated protein Ebp1 from Homo sapiens is provided.
ErbB-3-binding protein 1 (Ebp1) is a member of the family of proliferation-associated 2G4 proteins (PA2G4s) and plays a role in cellular growth and differentiation. Ligand-induced activation of the transmembrane receptor ErbB3 leads to dissociation of Ebp1 from the receptor in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. The non-associated protein is involved in transcriptional and translational regulation in the cell. Here, the overexpression, purification, crystallization and preliminary crystallographic studies of Ebp1 from Homo sapiens are reported. Initially observed crystals were improved by serial seeding to single crystals suitable for data collection. The optimized crystals belong to the tetragonal space group P41212 or P43212 and diffracted to a resolution of 1.6 Å.
ErbB-3-binding protein 1; proliferation-associated proteins
The two C-terminal domains of the cellulase ctCel9D-Cel44A from C. thermocellum cellulosome have been crystallized in tetragonal space group P43212 and X-ray diffraction data have been collected to 2.1 and 2.8 Å from native and seleno-l-methionine-derivative crystals, respectively.
Clostridium thermocellum produces a highly organized multi-enzyme complex of cellulases and hemicellulases for the hydrolysis of plant cell-wall polysaccharides, which is termed the cellulosome. The bifunctional multi-modular cellulase ctCel9D-Cel44A is one of the largest components of the C. thermocellum cellulosome. The enzyme contains two internal catalytic domains belonging to glycoside hydrolase families 9 and 44. The C-terminus of this cellulase, comprising a polycystic kidney-disease module (PKD) and a carbohydrate-binding module (CBM44), has been crystallized. The crystals belong to the tetragonal space group P43212, containing a single molecule in the asymmetric unit. Native and seleno-l-methionine-derivative crystals diffracted to 2.1 and 2.8 Å, respectively.
cellulase; carbohydrate-binding module; glycoside hydrolase; Clostridium thermocellum
Crystallization of isoquinoline 1-oxidoreductase from B. diminuta was achieved using two different crystallization buffers. Streak-seeding and cross-linking were essential to obtain well diffracting crystals. Suitable cryo-conditions were found and a structure solution was obtained by molecular replacement.
Isoquinoline 1-oxidoreductase (IOR) from Brevundimonas diminuta is a mononuclear molybdoenzyme of the xanthine-dehydrogenase family of proteins and catalyzes the conversion of isoquinoline to isoquinoline-1-one. Its primary sequence and behaviour, specifically in its substrate specificity and lipophilicity, differ from other members of the family. A crystal structure of the enzyme is expected to provide an explanation for these differences. This paper describes the crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction experiments as well as an optimized purification protocol for IOR. Crystallization of IOR was achieved using two different crystallization buffers. Streak-seeding and cross-linking were essential to obtain well diffracting crystals. Suitable cryo-conditions were found and a structure solution was obtained by molecular replacement. However, phases need to be improved in order to obtain a more interpretable electron-density map.
isoquinoline 1-oxidoreductase; xanthine oxidase/xanthine dehydrogenase; oxidoreductases; molybdenum enzymes; molybdopterin; Brevundimonas diminuta
The first crystallographic study of an isolated WW domain is reported. Single crystals of the WW4 domain of the Nedd4-2 ubiquitin–protein ligase contain a high solvent content of 74% and diffract X-rays to 2.5 Å resolution.
Ubiquitin-mediated protein modification via covalent attachment of ubiquitin has emerged as one of the most common regulatory processes in all eukaryotes. Nedd4-2, closely related to neuronal precursor cell-expressed developmentally down-regulated 4 (Nedd4), is a multimodular ubiquitin–protein ligase comprised of four WW domains and a Hect domain. The WW domains recognize the proline-rich motifs on the multi-subunit amiloride-sensitive epithelial sodium channel (ENaC). To gain insights into the binding of the WW domain to proline-rich peptides, a protein fragment (78 amino acids) containing the fourth WW domain (WW4) of the Nedd4-2 protein was purified and crystallized and X-ray diffraction data were collected. A data set was obtained to 2.5 Å resolution from a cryocooled single crystal at a synchrotron source. The crystals belong to the tetragonal space group P41212 (or P43212), with unit-cell parameters a = b = 113.43, c = 103.21 Å. Analysis of the self-rotation function suggests the presence of four WW4 molecules in the asymmetric unit, with a high unit-cell solvent content of 74%.
Nedd4-2 ubiquitin–protein ligase; WW4 domain
Well diffracting decamer crystals of the hepatitis delta virus RNA-editing site were prepared, but exhibited merohedral twinning and base averaging owing to duplex symmetry. A longer asymmetric construct that includes additional flanking RNA sequences has been crystallized that does not appear to exhibit these defects.
RNA editing by mammalian ADAR1 (Adenosine Deaminase Acting on RNA) is required for the life cycle of the hepatitis delta virus (HDV). Editing extends the single viral open reading frame to yield two protein products of alternate length. ADARs are believed to recognize double-stranded RNA substrates via a ‘structure-based’ readout mechanism. Crystals of 10-mer duplexes representing the HDV RNA-editing site diffracted to 1.35 Å resolution, but suffered from merohedral twinning and averaging of the base registry. Expansion of the construct to include two flanking 3 × 1 internal loops yielded crystals in the primitive tetragonal space group P41212 or P43212. X-ray diffraction data were collected to 2.8 Å resolution, revealing a unit cell with parameters a = 62.5, c = 63.5 Å. The crystallization and X-ray analysis of multiple forms of the HDV RNA-editing substrate, encounters with common RNA crystal-growth defects and a strategy to overcome these problems are reported.
adenosine deaminase acting on RNA; twinning; RNA; bulged loop; internal loop
Two sample-scanning features have been implemented for the macromolecular crystallography beamlines at APS sector 23: automated diffraction-based rastering employing multiple polygon-shaped two-dimensional grids overlaid on a sample to locate and center small and invisible crystals or to find the best-diffracting regions in a larger crystal, and automated data collection along a three-dimensional vector to mitigate the effects of radiation damage.
Automated scanning capabilities have been added to the data acquisition software, JBluIce-EPICS, at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Cancer Institute Collaborative Access Team (GM/CA CAT) at the Advanced Photon Source. A ‘raster’ feature enables sample centering via diffraction scanning over two-dimensional grids of simple rectangular or complex polygonal shape. The feature is used to locate crystals that are optically invisible owing to their small size or are visually obfuscated owing to properties of the sample mount. The raster feature is also used to identify the best-diffracting regions of large inhomogeneous crystals. Low-dose diffraction images taken at grid positions are automatically processed in real time to provide a quick quality ranking of potential data-collection sites. A ‘vector collect’ feature mitigates the effects of radiation damage by scanning the sample along a user-defined three-dimensional vector during data collection to maximize the use of the crystal volume and the quality of the collected data. These features are integrated into the JBluIce-EPICS data acquisition software developed at GM/CA CAT where they are used in combination with a robust mini-beam of rapidly changeable diameter from 5 µm to 20 µm. The powerful software–hardware combination is being applied to challenging problems in structural biology.
macromolecular crystallography; beamline automation; data acquisition; high-throughput crystallography; crystal centering; radiation damage; rastering
Partial proteolysis of the avian reovirus cell-attachment protein σC yields a major homotrimeric C-terminal fragment that presumably contains the receptor-binding domain. This fragment has been crystallized in the presence and absence of zinc sulfate and cadmium sulfate. One of the crystal forms diffracts synchrotron X-rays to 2.2–2.3 Å.
Avian reovirus fibre, a homotrimer of the σC protein, is responsible for primary host-cell attachment. Using the protease trypsin, a C-terminal σC fragment containing amino acids 156–326 has been generated which was subsequently purified and crystallized. Two different crystal forms were obtained, one grown in the absence of divalent cations and belonging to space group P6322 (unit-cell parameters a = 75.6, c = 243.1 Å) and one grown in the presence of either zinc or cadmium sulfate and belonging to space group P321 (unit-cell parameters a = 74.7, c = 74.5 Å and a = 73.1, c = 69.9 Å for the ZnII- and CdII-grown crystals, respectively). The first crystal form diffracted synchrotron radiation to 3.0 Å resolution and the second form to 2.2–2.3 Å. Its closest related structure, the C-terminal fragment of mammalian reovirus fibre, has only 18% sequence identity and molecular-replacement attempts were unsuccessful. Therefore, a search is under way for suitable heavy-atom derivatives and attempts are being made to grow protein crystals containing selenomethionine instead of methionine.
avian reovirus fibre; σC
Crystals of the complex between the Fab fragment of a human anti-interferon α therapeutic antibody and human interferon α-2A have been obtained and diffracted to 3.0 Å resolution.
Recombinant human interferon α-2A (rhIFN-α-2A) has been crystallized in complex with the recombinantly produced Fab fragment of a therapeutic monoclonal antibody (MEDI545; IgG1/κ) which targets several human interferon α subtypes. This constitutes the first reported crystals of a human type I interferon bound to an antibody. The orthorhombic crystals belonged to either space group I222 or I212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 134.82, b = 153.26, c = 163.49 Å. The diffraction of the crystals extended to 3.0 Å resolution. The asymmetric unit contained two Fab–rhIFN-α-2A complexes. This corresponded to a crystal volume per protein weight (V
M) of 3.02 Å3 Da−1 and a solvent content of 59.3%. The corresponding three-dimensional structure is expected to shed light on the mechanism of action of MEDI545 and the molecular basis of its specificity.
interferon α-2A; antibodies; Fab fragments
The application of microseed matrix screening to the crystallization of related antibodies in complex with IL-13 is described. Both self-seeding or cross-seeding helped promote nucleation and increase the hit rate.
The application of microseed matrix screening to the crystallization of antibody–antigen complexes is described for a set of antibodies that include mouse anti-IL-13 antibody C836, its humanized version H2L6 and an affinity-matured variant of H2L6, M1295. The Fab fragments of these antibodies were crystallized in complex with the antigen human IL-13. The initial crystallization screening for each of the three complexes included 192 conditions. Only one hit was observed for H2L6 and none were observed for the other two complexes. Matrix self-microseeding using these microcrystals yielded multiple hits under various conditions that were further optimized to grow diffraction-quality H2L6 crystals. The same H2L6 seeds were also successfully used to promote crystallization of the other two complexes. The M1295 crystals appeared to be isomorphous to those of H2L6, whereas the C836 crystals were in a different crystal form. These results are consistent with the concept that the conditions that are best for crystal growth may be different from those that favor nucleation. Microseed matrix screening using either a self-seeding or cross-seeding approach proved to be a fast, robust and reliable method not only for the refinement of crystallization conditions but also to promote crystal nucleation and increase the hit rate.
crystallization; microseed matrix screening; antibody–antigen complexes