Biliverdin reductase (BVR) from Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 and its selenomethionine derivative were overexpressed and purified. X-ray diffraction data from an SeMet BVR microcrystal were collected to 3.0 Å resolution on microfocus beamline BL32XU at SPring-8.
Biliverdin reductase (BVR) catalyzes the conversion of biliverdin IX α to bilirubin IX α with concomitant oxidation of an NADH or NADPH cofactor. This enzyme also binds DNA and enhances the transcription of specific genes. Recombinant cyanobacterial BVR was overexpressed in Escherichia coli, purified and crystallized. A native data set was collected to 2.34 Å resolution on beamline BL38B1 at SPring-8. An SeMet data set was collected from a microcrystal (300 × 10 × 10 µm) on the RIKEN targeted protein beamline BL32XU and diffraction spots were obtained to 3.0 Å resolution. The native BVR crystal belonged to space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 58.8, b = 88.4, c = 132.6 Å. Assuming that two molecules are present in the asymmetric unit, V
M (the Matthews coefficient) was calculated to be 2.37 Å3 Da−1 and the solvent content was estimated to be 48.1%. The structure of cyanobacterial BVR may provide insights into the mechanisms of its enzymatic and physiological functions.
bilirubin; biliverdin; microcrystals; microfocus beamline
Optical trapping has successfully been applied to select and mount microcrystals for subsequent X-ray diffraction experiments.
X-ray crystallography is the method of choice to deduce atomic resolution structural information from macromolecules. In recent years, significant investments in structural genomics initiatives have been undertaken to automate all steps in X-ray crystallography from protein expression to structure solution. Robotic systems are widely used to prepare crystallization screens and change samples on synchrotron beamlines for macromolecular crystallography. The only remaining manual handling step is the transfer of the crystal from the mother liquor onto the crystal holder. Manual mounting is relatively straightforward for crystals with dimensions of >25 µm; however, this step is nontrivial for smaller crystals. The mounting of microcrystals is becoming increasingly important as advances in microfocus synchrotron beamlines now allow data collection from crystals with dimensions of only a few micrometres. To make optimal usage of these beamlines, new approaches have to be taken to facilitate and automate this last manual handling step. Optical tweezers, which are routinely used for the manipulation of micrometre-sized objects, have successfully been applied to sort and mount macromolecular crystals on newly designed crystal holders. Diffraction data from CPV type 1 polyhedrin microcrystals mounted with laser tweezers are presented.
laser tweezers; optical trapping; microcrystals; crystal manipulation; sample holders
A powerful and easy-to-use workflow environment has been developed at the ESRF for combining experiment control with online data analysis on synchrotron beamlines. This tool provides the possibility of automating complex experiments without the need for expertise in instrumentation control and programming, but rather by accessing defined beamline services.
The automation of beam delivery, sample handling and data analysis, together with increasing photon flux, diminishing focal spot size and the appearance of fast-readout detectors on synchrotron beamlines, have changed the way that many macromolecular crystallography experiments are planned and executed. Screening for the best diffracting crystal, or even the best diffracting part of a selected crystal, has been enabled by the development of microfocus beams, precise goniometers and fast-readout detectors that all require rapid feedback from the initial processing of images in order to be effective. All of these advances require the coupling of data feedback to the experimental control system and depend on immediate online data-analysis results during the experiment. To facilitate this, a Data Analysis WorkBench (DAWB) for the flexible creation of complex automated protocols has been developed. Here, example workflows designed and implemented using DAWB are presented for enhanced multi-step crystal characterizations, experiments involving crystal reorientation with kappa goniometers, crystal-burning experiments for empirically determining the radiation sensitivity of a crystal system and the application of mesh scans to find the best location of a crystal to obtain the highest diffraction quality. Beamline users interact with the prepared workflows through a specific brick within the beamline-control GUI MXCuBE.
workflows; automation; data processing; macromolecular crystallography; experimental protocols; characterization; reorientation; radiation damage
IREM-1 (immune receptor expressed on myeloid cells 1) is an inhibitory receptor of the immunoglobulin superfamily involved in the functional regulation of myeloid cells. It contains an extracellular region comprising one IgV-like domain. The extracellular IgV-like domain, believed to be involved in target-cell recognition, has been expressed in E. coli, folded in vitro and crystallized.
IREM-1 is an inhibitory receptor involved in the functional regulation of myeloid cells. The expression, in vitro folding, purification, crystallization and X-ray data collection of the Ig-V like domain of IREM-1 are reported. X-ray data were collected from a microcrystal (300 × 10 × 10 µm) at 100 K and a diffraction pattern was obtained to 2.6 Å resolution on microfocus beamline ID23-2 at the ESRF. The crystal belongs to space group P3121, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 54.23, c = 72.02 Å, α = γ = 90, β = 120°. Assuming the presence of one molecule per asymmetric unit, V
M (the Matthews coefficient) was calculated to be 1.96 Å3 Da−1 and the solvent content was estimated to be 37.27%. Determination of the IREM-1 structure will provide insights into its structural requirements for ligand discrimination and binding.
high-throughput crystallization; ID23-2, inhibitory receptors; myeloid cells; immunoreceptors; refolding
Nematode polyprotein allergens (NPAs) are an unusual class of lipid-binding proteins found only in nematodes. They are synthesized as large, tandemly repetitive polyproteins that are post-translationally cleaved into multiple copies of small lipid binding proteins with virtually identical fatty acid and retinol (Vitamin A)-binding characteristics. They are probably central to transport and distribution of small hydrophobic compounds between the tissues of nematodes, and may play key roles in nutrient scavenging, immunomodulation, and IgE antibody-based responses in infection. In some species the repeating units are diverse in amino acid sequence, but, in ascarid and filarial nematodes, many of the units are identical or near-identical. ABA-1A is the most common repeating unit of the NPA of Ascaris suum, and is closely similar to that of Ascaris lumbricoides, the large intestinal roundworm of humans. Immune responses to NPAs have been associated with naturally-acquired resistance to infection in humans, and the immune repertoire to them is under strict genetic control.
The solution structure of ABA-1A was determined by protein nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The protein adopts a novel seven-helical fold comprising a long central helix that participates in two hollow four-helical bundles on either side. Discrete hydrophobic ligand-binding pockets are found in the N-terminal and C-terminal bundles, and the amino acid sidechains affected by ligand (fatty acid) binding were identified. Recombinant ABA-1A contains tightly-bound ligand(s) of bacterial culture origin in one of its binding sites.
This is the first mature, post-translationally processed, unit of a naturally-occurring tandemly-repetitive polyprotein to be structurally characterized from any source, and it belongs to a new structural class. NPAs have no counterparts in vertebrates, so represent potential targets for drug or immunological intervention. The nature of the (as yet) unidentified bacterial ligand(s) may be pertinent to this, as will our characterization of the unusual binding sites.
Parasitic nematode worms cause serious health problems in humans and other animals. They can induce allergic-type immune responses, which can be harmful but may at the same time protect against the infections. Allergens are proteins that trigger allergic reactions and these parasites produce a type that is confined to nematodes, the nematode polyprotein allergens (NPAs). These are synthesized as large precursor proteins comprising repeating units of similar amino acid sequence that are subsequently cleaved into multiple copies of the allergen protein. NPAs bind small lipids such as fatty acids and retinol (Vitamin A) and probably transport these sensitive and insoluble compounds between the tissues of the worms. Nematodes cannot synthesize these lipids, so NPAs may also be crucial for extracting nutrients from their hosts. They may also be involved in altering immune responses by controlling the lipids by which the immune and inflammatory cells communicate. We describe the molecular structure of one unit of an NPA, the well-known ABA-1 allergen of Ascaris, and find its structure to be of a type not previously found for lipid-binding proteins, and we describe the unusual sites where lipids bind within this structure.
The key features of the functionality facilitating proprietary use of the ESRF’s structural biology beamlines are described, as are the major advantages, in terms of beamline evolution, of the interaction of the ESRF with the pharmaceutical industry.
The ESRF has worked with, and provided services for, the pharmaceutical industry since the construction of its first protein crystallography beamline in the mid-1990s. In more recent times, industrial clients have benefited from a portfolio of beamlines which offer a wide range of functionality and beam characteristics, including tunability, microfocus and micro-aperture. Included in this portfolio is a small-angle X-ray scattering beamline dedicated to the study of biological molecules in solution. The high demands on throughput and efficiency made by the ESRF’s industrial clients have been a major driving force in the evolution of the ESRF’s macromolecular crystallography resources, which now include remote access, the automation of crystal screening and data collection, and a beamline database allowing sample tracking, experiment reporting and real-time at-a-distance monitoring of experiments. This paper describes the key features of the functionality put in place on the ESRF structural biology beamlines and outlines the major advantages of the interaction of the ESRF with the pharmaceutical industry.
synchrotron MX beamlines; proprietary access; service data collection; automation
Na-FAR-1, a fatty acid- and retinol-binding protein, was expressed in bacteria, purified and crystallized. Crystals grew in two different morphologies under the same conditions.
Na-FAR-1 is an unusual α-helix-rich fatty acid- and retinol-binding protein from Necator americanus, a blood-feeding intestinal parasitic nematode of humans. It belongs to the FAR protein family, which is unique to nematodes; no structural information is available to date for FAR proteins from parasites. Crystals were obtained with two different morphologies that corresponded to different space groups. Crystal form 1 exhibited space group P432 (unit-cell parameters a = b = c = 120.80 Å, α = β = γ = 90°) and diffracted to 2.5 Å resolution, whereas crystal form 2 exhibited space group F23 (unit-cell parameters a = b = c = 240.38 Å, α = β = γ = 90°) and diffracted to 3.2 Å resolution. Crystal form 2 showed signs of significant twinning.
fatty acid- and retinol-binding proteins; parasitic nematodes; Necator americanus; Na-FAR-1
Beamline ID23-2, the first dedicated and highly automated high-throughput monochromatic macromolecular crystallography microfocus beamline, is described.
The first phase of the ESRF beamline ID23 to be constructed was ID23-1, a tunable MAD-capable beamline which opened to users in early 2004. The second phase of the beamline to be constructed is ID23-2, a monochromatic microfocus beamline dedicated to macromolecular crystallography experiments. Beamline ID23-2 makes use of well characterized optical elements: a single-bounce silicon (111) monochromator and two mirrors in Kirkpatrick–Baez geometry to focus the X-ray beam. A major design goal of the ID23-2 beamline is to provide a reliable, easy-to-use and routine microfocus beam. ID23-2 started operation in November 2005, as the first beamline dedicated to microfocus macromolecular crystallography. The beamline has taken the standard automated ESRF macromolecular crystallography environment (both hardware and software), allowing users of ID23-2 to be rapidly familiar with the microfocus environment. This paper describes the beamline design, the special considerations taken into account given the microfocus beam, and summarizes the results of the first years of the beamline operation.
macromolecular crystallography; automation; microfocus
A recombinant cysteine protease inhibitor from the human nematode parasite A. lumbricoides has been overexpressed in E. coli, purified and crystallized. Diffraction data were collected to 2.1 Å resolution.
The cysteine protease inhibitor from Ascaris lumbricoides, a roundworm that lives in the human intestine, may be involved in the suppression of human immune responses. Here, the molecular cloning, protein expression and purification, preliminary crystallization and crystallographic characterization of the cysteine protease inhibitor from A. lumbricoides are reported. The rod-shaped crystal belonged to space group C2, with unit-cell parameters a = 99.40, b = 37.52, c = 62.92 Å, β = 118.26°. The crystal diffracted to 2.1 Å resolution and contained two molecules in the asymmetric unit.
cysteine protease inhibitors; nematode parasites; Ascaris lumbricoides
Autotaxin, a four-domain ∼100 kDa mammalian glycoprotein, was expressed in stably transfected mammalian cells, purified from the medium and crystallized. Diffraction data from micrometre-thick crystal plates were collected on various European synchrotron beamlines and are presented and analysed.
Autotaxin (ATX or ENPP2) is a secreted glycosylated mammalian enzyme that exhibits lysophospholipase D activity, hydrolyzing lysophosphatidylcholine to the signalling lipid lysophosphatidic acid. ATX is an ∼100 kDa multi-domain protein encompassing two N-terminal somatomedin B-like domains, a central catalytic phosphodiesterase domain and a C-terminal nuclease-like domain. Protocols for the efficient expression of ATX from stably transfected mammalian HEK293 cells in amounts sufficient for crystallographic studies are reported. Purification resulted in protein that crystallized readily, but various attempts to grow crystals suitable in size for routine crystallographic structure determination were not successful. However, the available micrometre-thick plates diffracted X-rays beyond 2.0 Å resolution and allowed the collection of complete diffraction data to about 2.6 Å resolution. The problems encountered and the current advantages and limitations of diffraction data collection from thin crystal plates are discussed.
microcrystals; mammalian cell expression; autotaxin; ENPP2
Specific recognition and binding of the ribonucleic acid 5′ termini (mRNA 5′ cap) by the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) is a key, rate limiting step in translation initiation. Contrary to mammalian and yeast eIF4Es that discriminate in favor of 7-methylguanosine cap, three out of five eIF4E isoforms from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as well as eIF4Es from the parasites Schistosome mansoni and Ascaris suum, exhibit dual binding specificity for both 7-methylguanosine-and N2,N2,7-trimethylguanosine cap. To address the problem of the differences in the mechanism of the cap recognition by those highly homologic proteins, we carried out molecular dynamics simulations in water of three factors, IFE-3 and IFE-5 isoforms from C. elegans and murine eIF4E, in the apo form as well as in the complexes with 7-methyl-GDP and N2,N2,7-trimethyl-GDP. The results clearly pointed to a dynamical mechanism of discrimination between each type of the cap, viz. differences in mobility of the loops located at the entrance into the protein binding pockets during the cap association and dissociation. Additionally, our data showed that the hydrogen bond involving the N2-amino group of 7-methylguanosine and the carboxylate of glutamic acid was not stable. The dynamic mechanism proposed here differs from a typical, static one in that the differences in the protein-ligand binding specificity cannot be ascribed to formation and/or disruption of well defined stabilizing contacts.
Caenorhabditis elegans; Cap recognition; eIF4E isoforms; Molecular dynamics; mRNA 5′ cap
The BL-17A macromolecular crystallography beamline at the Photon Factory was updated to improve the accuracy of diffraction experiments conducted using tiny crystals.
BL-17A is a macromolecular crystallography beamline dedicated to diffraction experiments conducted using micro-crystals and structure determination studies using a lower energy X-ray beam. In these experiments, highly accurate diffraction intensity measurements are definitively important. Since this beamline was constructed, the beamline apparatus has been improved in several ways to enable the collection of accurate diffraction data. The stability of the beam intensities at the sample position was recently improved by modifying the monochromator. The diffractometer has also been improved. A new detector table was installed to prevent distortions in the diffractometer’s base during the repositioning of the diffractometer detector. A new pinhole system and an on-axis viewing system were installed to improve the X-ray beam profile at the sample position and the centering of tiny crystal samples.
macromolecular crystallography; beamline
Data obtained from alignments of nucleotide sequences of mitochondrial (mt) DNA molecules of the nematode worms Ascaris suum and Caenorhabditis elegans indicate that in six of the mt-protein genes of A. suum and three of the mt-protein genes of C. elegans TTG is used as the translation initiation codon. Also, GTT seems to be the translation initiation codon of the A. suum COIII gene. All of the five remaining A. suum mt-protein genes appear to begin with ATT and the remaining nine C. elegans mt-protein genes appear to begin with either ATT or ATA. Therefore, in contrast to all other metazoan mtDNAs sequenced so far, it is likely that none of the nematode mt-protein genes use the standard ATG translation initiation codon. Some A. suum and C. elegans mt-protein genes end in T or TA, suggesting that, as found in other metazoan mitochondria, 3'-terminal polyadenylation is occasionally necessary to generate complete translation termination codons in transcripts of nematode mt-protein genes.
Liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was used to discover peptides in extracts of the large parasitic nematode Ascaris suum. This required the assembly of a new database of known and predicted peptides. In addition to those already sequenced, peptides were either previously predicted to be processed from precursor proteins identified in an A. suum library of expressed sequence tags (ESTs), or newly predicted from a library of A. suum genome survey sequences (GSSs). The predicted MS/MS fragmentation patterns of this collection of real and putative peptides were compared with the actual fragmentation patterns found in the MS/MS spectra of peptides fractionated by MS; this enabled individual peptides to be sequenced. Many previously identified peptides were found, and 21 novel peptides were discovered. Thus, this approach is very useful, despite the fact that the available GSS database is still preliminary, having only 1X coverage.
Neuropeptide; liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry; nematode; Ascaris suum; genomic survey sequences; peptide prediction
The collection of absorption and Raman spectroscopic data correlated with X-ray diffraction data allows investigators to understand the atomic structure as well as the electronic and vibrational characteristics of their samples, to identify transiently formed intermediates and to explore mechanistic questions. Raman spectroscopy instrumentation at beamline X26-C at the NSLS is currently available to the general user population.
Three-dimensional structures derived from X-ray diffraction of protein crystals provide a wealth of information. Features and interactions important for the function of macromolecules can be deduced and catalytic mechanisms postulated. Still, many questions can remain, for example regarding metal oxidation states and the interpretation of ‘mystery density’, i.e. ambiguous or unknown features within the electron density maps, especially at ∼2 Å resolutions typical of most macromolecular structures. Beamline X26-C at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), provides researchers with the opportunity to not only determine the atomic structure of their samples but also to explore the electronic and vibrational characteristics of the sample before, during and after X-ray diffraction data collection. When samples are maintained under cryo-conditions, an opportunity to promote and follow photochemical reactions in situ as a function of X-ray exposure is also provided. Plans are in place to further expand the capabilities at beamline X26-C and to develop beamlines at NSLS-II, currently under construction at BNL, which will provide users access to a wide array of complementary spectroscopic methods in addition to high-quality X-ray diffraction data.
Raman; single-crystal spectroscopy; X-ray diffraction
AAC(6′)-Im is an N-acetyltransferase enzyme responsible for aminoglycoside resistance in E. faecium and E. coli isolates. Crystals of the kanamycin complex of this enzyme have been prepared and preliminary X-ray diffraction experiments have been undertaken.
Bacterial resistance to the aminoglycoside antibiotics is primarily the result of enzymatic deactivation of the drugs. The aminoglycoside N-acetyltransferases (AACs) are a large family of bacterial enzymes that are responsible for coenzyme-A-facilitated acetylation of aminoglycosides. The gene encoding one of these enzymes, AAC(6′)-Im, has been cloned and the protein (comprising 178 amino-acid residues) was expressed in Escherichia coli, purified and crystallized as the kanamycin complex. Synchrotron diffraction data to approximately 2.0 Å resolution were collected from a crystal of this complex on beamline BL12-2 at SSRL (Stanford, California, USA). The crystals belonged to the hexagonal space group P65, with approximate unit-cell parameters a = 107.75, c = 37.33 Å, and contained one molecule in the asymmetric unit. Structure determination is under way using molecular replacement.
N-acetyltransferases; AAC(6′)-Im; aminoglycoside resistance
A ‘mini-beam’ apparatus has been developed that conditions the size of an X-ray beam to 5 µm. The design of the apparatus and the characterization of the focal size and flux are presented.
The high-brilliance X-ray beams from undulator sources at third-generation synchrotron facilities are excellent tools for solving crystal structures of important and challenging biological macromolecules and complexes. However, many of the most important structural targets yield crystals that are too small or too inhomogeneous for a ‘standard’ beam from an undulator source, ∼25–50 µm (FWHM) in the vertical and 50–100 µm in the horizontal direction. Although many synchrotron facilities have microfocus beamlines for other applications, this capability for macromolecular crystallography was pioneered at ID-13 of the ESRF. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences and National Cancer Institute Collaborative Access Team (GM/CA-CAT) dual canted undulator beamlines at the APS deliver high-intensity focused beams with a minimum focal size of 20 µm × 65 µm at the sample position. To meet growing user demand for beams to study samples of 10 µm or less, a ‘mini-beam’ apparatus was developed that conditions the focused beam to either 5 µm or 10 µm (FWHM) diameter with high intensity. The mini-beam has a symmetric Gaussian shape in both the horizontal and vertical directions, and reduces the vertical divergence of the focused beam by 25%. Significant reduction in background was achieved by implementation of both forward- and back-scatter guards. A unique triple-collimator apparatus, which has been in routine use on both undulator beamlines since February 2008, allows users to rapidly interchange the focused beam and conditioned mini-beams of two sizes with a single mouse click. The device and the beam are stable over many hours of routine operation. The rapid-exchange capability has greatly facilitated sample screening and resulted in several structures that could not have been obtained with the larger focused beam.
mini-beam; microbeam; microdiffraction; macromolecular crystallography
An X-ray mini-beam of 8 × 6 µm cross-section was used to collect diffraction data from protein microcrystals with volumes as small as 150–300 µm3. The benefits of the mini-beam for experiments with small crystals and with large inhomogeneous crystals are investigated.
A simple apparatus for achieving beam sizes in the range 5–10 µm on a synchrotron beamline was implemented in combination with a small 125 × 25 µm focus. The resulting beam had sufficient flux for crystallographic data collection from samples smaller than 10 × 10 × 10 µm. Sample data were collected representing three different scenarios: (i) a complete 2.0 Å data set from a single strongly diffracting microcrystal, (ii) a complete and redundant 1.94 Å data set obtained by merging data from six microcrystals and (iii) a complete 2.24 Å data set from a needle-shaped crystal with less than 12 × 10 µm cross-section and average diffracting power. The resulting data were of high quality, leading to well refined structures with good electron-density maps. The signal-to-noise ratios for data collected from small crystals with the mini-beam were significantly higher than for equivalent data collected from the same crystal with a 125 × 25 µm beam. Relative to this large beam, use of the mini-beam also resulted in lower refined crystal mosaicities. The mini-beam proved to be advantageous for inhomogeneous large crystals, where better ordered regions could be selected by the smaller beam.
mini-beam; microbeam; microcrystals; microdiffraction; high mosaicity; inhomogeneous crystal; signal-to-noise; crystal segment; beam divergence; streaky spots
A comparison of X-ray diffraction and radiographic techniques for the location and characterization of protein crystals is demonstrated on membrane protein crystals mounted within lipid cubic phase material.
The focus in macromolecular crystallography is moving towards even more challenging target proteins that often crystallize on much smaller scales and are frequently mounted in opaque or highly refractive materials. It is therefore essential that X-ray beamline technology develops in parallel to accommodate such difficult samples. In this paper, the use of X-ray microradiography and microtomography is reported as a tool for crystal visualization, location and characterization on the macromolecular crystallography beamlines at the Diamond Light Source. The technique is particularly useful for microcrystals and for crystals mounted in opaque materials such as lipid cubic phase. X-ray diffraction raster scanning can be used in combination with radiography to allow informed decision-making at the beamline prior to diffraction data collection. It is demonstrated that the X-ray dose required for a full tomography measurement is similar to that for a diffraction grid-scan, but for sample location and shape estimation alone just a few radiographic projections may be required.
membrane proteins; lipid cubic phase; microradiography; microtomography
The C-terminal domain protein of the PB2 subunit of influenza A virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase was expressed and crystallized and diffraction data were obtained from the crystals.
The C-terminal domain protein (amino-acid residues 535–759) of the PB2 subunit of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase from the highly pathogenic influenza A virus was expressed as a soluble protein in Escherichia coli and crystallized using sodium formate as a precipitant. Data sets were collected from crystals of native and selenomethionine-substituted protein on the KEK NW12 beamline at the Photon Factory and the crystals diffracted to a maximum resolution of 2.44 Å for the SeMet-derivative crystal. The native crystals were found to belong to space group P3221, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 52.5, c = 156.3 Å. The Matthews value (V
M) was 2.7 Å3 Da−1, assuming the presence of one molecule in the asymmetric unit. The SeMet-derivative crystals were found to belong to the same space group, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 52.6, c = 156.4 Å. Attempts are being made to solve the structure by multi-wavelength anomalous dispersion phasing.
influenza A virus; RNA-dependent RNA polymerase; PB2
The mitochondria of the nematode Ascaris suum have tRNAs with unusual secondary structures that lack either the T-arm or D-arm found in most other organisms. Of the twenty-two tRNA species present in the mitochondria of A.suum, twenty lack the entire T-arm and two serine tRNAs lack the D-arm. To understand how such unusual tRNAs work in the nematode mitochondrial translation system, we analyzed post-transcriptional modifications of 11 mitochondrial tRNA species purified from A.suum, 10 of which lacked a T-arm and one of which lacked a D-arm. The most characteristic feature of nematode mitochondrial tRNAs lacking a T-arm was the presence of 1-methyladenosine at position 9 (m1A9). Synthesis of T-armless tRNAs with or without the modified nucleoside showed that T-armless tRNAs without the modification had much lower aminoacylation and EF-Tu-binding activities than native tRNAs. The addition of a single methyl group to A9 of these tRNAs was sufficient to restore nearly native levels of aminoacylation and EF-Tu-binding activity as well as tertiary structure, suggesting that m1A9 is a key residue for the activity of T-armless tRNAs. Thus, m1A9 is indispensable for the structure and function of T-armless tRNAs of nematode mitochondrial origin.
SPring-8 BL41XU provides a high-flux X-ray beam of size 10–50 µm, and enables high-quality diffraction data to be obtained from various types of protein crystals. Details of this beamline and an upgrade project are described.
SPring-8 BL41XU is a high-flux macromolecular crystallography beamline using an in-vacuum undulator as a light source. The X-rays are monochromated by a liquid-nitrogen-cooling Si double-crystal monochromator, and focused by Kirkpatrick–Baez mirror optics. The focused beam size at the sample is 80 µm (H) × 22 µm (V) with a photon flux of 1.1 × 1013 photons s−1. A pinhole aperture is used to collimate the beam in the range 10–50 µm. This high-flux beam with variable size provides opportunities not only for micro-crystallography but also for data collection effectively making use of crystal volume. The beamline also provides high-energy X-rays covering 20.6–35.4 keV which allows ultra-high-resolution data to be obtained and anomalous diffraction using the K-edge of Xe and I. Upgrade of BL41XU for more rapid and accurate data collection is proceeding. Here, details of BL41XU are given and an outline of the upgrade project is documented.
macromolecular crystallography; micro-crystallography; high-flux beam; high-energy beam; SPring-8
The MiNaXS (P03) beamline of the new third-generation synchrotron radiation source PETRA III (DESY, Germany) has been designed to perform small-, ultra-small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering in both transmission and grazing-incidence geometries. The high photon flux available at the beamline enables time-resolved investigations of kinetic phenomena with a time resolution below 100 ms. The microfocus endstation started user operation in May 2011.
The P03 beamline, also called the microfocus and nanofocus X-ray scattering (MiNaXS) beamline, exploits the excellent photon beam properties of the low-emittance source PETRA III to provide a microfocused/nanofocused beam with ultra-high intensity for time-resolved X-ray scattering experiments. The beamline has been designed to perform X-ray scattering in both transmission and reflection geometries. The microfocus endstation started user operation in May 2011 ▶. An overview of the beamline status and of some representative results highlighting the performance of the microfocus endstation at MiNaXS are given.
X-ray scattering; microfocus; kinetic studies; nanocomposites
The instrumentation and methods available for collecting almost simultaneous single-crystal electronic absorption correlated with X-ray diffraction data at NSLS beamline X26-C are reviewed, as well as a very brief outline of its Raman spectroscopy capability.
The research philosophy and new capabilities installed at NSLS beamline X26-C to support electronic absorption and Raman spectroscopies coupled with X-ray diffraction are reviewed. This beamline is dedicated full time to multidisciplinary studies with goals that include revealing the relationship between the electronic and atomic structures in macromolecules. The beamline instrumentation has been fully integrated such that optical absorption spectra and X-ray diffraction images are interlaced. Therefore, optical changes induced by X-ray exposure can be correlated with X-ray diffraction data collection. The installation of Raman spectroscopy into the beamline is also briefly reviewed. Data are now routinely generated almost simultaneously from three complementary types of experiments from the same sample. The beamline is available now to the NSLS general user population.
metalloenzymes; cofactors; electronic absorption spectroscopy; Raman spectroscopy
The nematode intestine is a major organ responsible for nutrient digestion and absorption; it is also involved in many other processes, such as reproduction, innate immunity, stress responses, and aging. The importance of the intestine as a target for the control of parasitic nematodes has been demonstrated. However, the lack of detailed knowledge on the molecular and cellular functions of the intestine and the level of its conservation across nematodes has impeded breakthroughs in this application.
Methods and Findings
As part of an extensive effort to investigate various transcribed genomes from Ascaris suum and Haemonchus contortus, we generated a large collection of intestinal sequences from parasitic nematodes by identifying 3,121 A. suum and 1,755 H. contortus genes expressed in the adult intestine through the generation of expressed sequence tags. Cross-species comparisons to the intestine of the free-living C. elegans revealed substantial diversification in the adult intestinal transcriptomes among these species, suggesting lineage- or species-specific adaptations during nematode evolution. In contrast, significant conservation of the intestinal gene repertories was also evident, despite the evolutionary distance of ∼350 million years separating them. A group of 241 intestinal protein families (IntFam-241), each containing members from all three species, was identified based on sequence similarities. These conserved proteins accounted for ∼20% of the sampled intestinal transcriptomes from the three nematodes and are proposed to represent conserved core functions in the nematode intestine. Functional characterizations of the IntFam-241 suggested important roles in molecular functions such as protein kinases and proteases, and biological pathways of carbohydrate metabolism, energy metabolism, and translation. Conservation in the core protein families was further explored by extrapolating observable RNA interference phenotypes in C. elegans to their parasitic counterparts.
Our study has provided novel insights into the nematode intestine and lays foundations for further comparative studies on biology, parasitism, and evolution within the phylum Nematoda.
Biological properties of the nematode intestine warrant in-depth investigation, the results of which can be utilized in the control of parasitic nematodes that infect humans, livestock, and plants. Both the importance of intestinal antigens from Haemonchus contortus in immunity and the damage to H. contortus intestine by anthelmintic fenbendazole have highlighted the versatility of the intestine as an emerging target. However, biological information regarding fundamental intestinal cell functions and mechanisms is currently limited. Conserved intestinal genes across nematode pathogens could offer molecular targets for broad parasite control. Furthermore, qualitative and quantitative comparisons on intestinal gene expression among species and lineages can identify basic adaptations relative to a critical selective force, the nutrient acquisition. This study begins to identify intestinal cell characteristics that are conserved across representatives of two clades of nematodes (V and III) and further clarifies diversities that likely reflect species- or lineage-specific adaptations. Results consistent with functional data on digestive enzymes from H. contortus and RNAi in Caenorhabditis elegans, as examples, support the potential for the comparative genomics approach to produce practical applications. This study provides a platform on which extensive investigation of intestinal genes and a more comprehensive understanding of the Nematoda can be gained.