The crystal structure of the Taz2 zinc-finger domain of the human p300 transcriptional coactivator was determined using the anomalous diffraction signal of the bound Zn ions. Crystal contacts suggested a possible novel mode of Taz2–peptide ligand interactions.
CBP and its paralog p300 are histone acetyl transferases that regulate gene expression by interacting with multiple transcription factors via specialized domains. The structure of a segment of human p300 protein (residues 1723–1836) corresponding to the extended zinc-binding Taz2 domain has been investigated. The crystal structure was solved by the SAD approach utilizing the anomalous diffraction signal of the bound Zn ions. The structure comprises an atypical helical bundle stabilized by three Zn ions and closely resembles the solution structures determined previously for shorter peptides. Residues 1813–1834 from the current construct form a helical extension of the C-terminal helix and make extensive crystal-contact interactions with the peptide-binding site of Taz2, providing additional insights into the mechanism of the recognition of diverse transactivation domains (TADs) by Taz2. On the basis of these results and molecular modeling, a hypothetical model of the binding of phosphorylated p53 TAD1 to Taz2 has been proposed.
zinc-finger proteins; anomalous diffraction; protein recognition; transcription regulation
The crystal structures of the cytoplasmic domain of the putative zinc transporter CzrB in the apo- and zinc-bound forms reported herein are consistent with the protein functioning in vivo as a homodimer. NMR, X-ray scattering and size exclusion chromatography provide support for dimer formation. Full-length variants of CzrB in the apo and zinc-loaded states were generated by homology modelling with the Zn2+ / H+ antiporter YiiP. The model suggests a way in which zinc binding to the cytoplasmic fragment creates a docking site to which a metallochaperone can bind for delivery and transport of its zinc cargo. Since the cytoplasmic domain may exist in the cell as an independent, soluble protein a proposal is advanced that it functions as a metallochaperone and that it regulates the zinc-transporting activity of the full-length protein. The latter requires that zinc binding becomes uncoupled from the creation of a metallochaperone-docking site on CzrB.
function; high-resolution; membrane protein; metal chaperone; X-ray structure; YiiP
Zinc is involved in virtually all aspects of cellular and molecular biology as a catalytic, structural, and regulatory cofactor in over 1000 proteins. Zinc binding to proteins requires an adequate supply of zinc and intact molecular mechanisms for redistributing zinc ions to make them available at the right time and location. Several dozen gene products participate in this process, in which interactions between zinc and sulfur donors determine the mobility of zinc and establish coupling between cellular redox state and zinc availability. Specifically, the redox properties of metallothionein and its apoprotein thionein are critical for buffering zinc ions and for controlling fluctuations in the range of picomolar concentrations of “free” zinc ions in cellular signaling. Metallothionein and other proteins with sulfur coordination environments are sensitive to redox perturbations and can render cells susceptible to injury when oxidative stress compromises the cellular redox and zinc buffering capacity in chronic diseases. The implications of these fundamental principles for zinc metabolism in type 2 diabetes are briefly discussed.
It is demonstrated that anomalous diffraction based on the signal from a cobalt ion measured on a conventional monochromatic X-ray source can be used to determine the structure of a protein with a novel fold (M. lini avirulence protein AvrL567-A). The approach could be applicable to many metal-binding proteins, particularly when synchrotron radiation is not readily available.
Metal-binding sites are ubiquitous in proteins and can be readily utilized for phasing. It is shown that a protein crystal structure can be solved using single-wavelength anomalous diffraction based on the anomalous signal of a cobalt ion measured on a conventional monochromatic X-ray source. The unique absorption edge of cobalt (1.61 Å) is compatible with the Cu Kα wavelength (1.54 Å) commonly available in macromolecular crystallography laboratories. This approach was applied to the determination of the structure of Melampsora lini avirulence protein AvrL567-A, a protein with a novel fold from the fungal pathogen flax rust that induces plant disease resistance in flax plants. This approach using cobalt ions may be applicable to all cobalt-binding proteins and may be advantageous when synchrotron radiation is not readily available.
AvrL567-A; cobalt; plant disease resistance; single-wavelength anomalous diffraction
The chemical properties of zinc make it an ideal metal to study the role of coordination strain in enzymatic rate enhancement. The zinc ion and the protein residues that are bound directly to the zinc ion represent a functional charge/dipole complex, and polarization of this complex, which translates to coordination distortion, may tune electrophilicity, and hence, reactivity. Conserved protein residues outside of the charge/dipole complex, such as second-shell residues, may play a role in supporting the electronic strain produced as a consequence of functional polarization. To test the correlation between charge/dipole polarity and ligand binding affinity, structure-function studies were carried out on the di-zinc aminopeptidase from Vibrio proteolyticus. Alanine substitutions of S228 and M180 resulted in catalytically diminished enzymes whose crystal structures show very little change in the positions of the metal ions and the protein residues. However, more detailed inspections of the crystal structures show small positional changes that account for differences in the zinc ion coordination geometry. Measurements of the binding affinity of leucine phosphonic acid, a transition state analogue, and leucine, a product, show a correlation between coordination geometry and ligand binding affinity. These results suggest that the coordination number and polarity may tune the electrophilicity of zinc. This may have provided the evolving enzyme with the ability to discriminate between reaction coordinate species.
Over 100 amino acid replacements in human Cu, Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) are known to cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a gain-of-function neurodegenerative disease that destroys motor neurons. Supposing that aggregates of partially-folded states are primarily responsible for toxicity, the role of the structurally-important zinc ion in defining the folding free energy surface of dimeric SOD was determined by comparing the thermodynamic and kinetic folding properties of the zinc-free and zinc-bound forms of the protein. The presence of zinc was found to decrease the free energies of a peptide model of the unfolded monomer, a stable variant of the folded monomeric intermediate and the folded dimeric species. The unfolded state binds zinc weakly with a micromolar dissociation constant, and the folded monomeric intermediate and the native dimeric form both bind zinc tightly, with sub-nanomolar dissociation constants. Coupled with the strong driving force for the subunit association reaction, the shift in the populations towards more well-folded states in the presence of zinc decreases the steady-state populations of higher-energy states in SOD under expected in vivo zinc concentrations (∼nanomolar). The significant decrease in the population of partially-folded states is expected to diminish their potential for aggregation and account for the known protective effect of zinc. The ∼100-fold increase in the rate of folding of SOD in the presence of micromolar concentrations of zinc demonstrates a significant role for a pre-organized zinc-binding loop in the transition state ensemble for the rate-limiting monomer folding reaction in this β-barrel protein.
ALS; beta-barrel dimer; metal binding; protein folding; thermodynamics and kinetics
Churchill is a zinc-containing protein that is involved in neural induction during embryogenesis. At the time of its discovery, it was thought on the basis of sequence alignment to contain two zinc fingers of the C4 type. Further, binding of an N-terminal GST-Churchill fusion protein to a particular DNA sequence was demonstrated by immunoprecipitation selection assay, suggesting that Churchill may function as a transcriptional regulator by sequence-specific DNA binding. We show by NMR solution structure determination that, far from containing canonical C4 zinc fingers, the protein contains three bound zinc ions in novel coordination sites, including an unusual binuclear zinc cluster. The secondary structure of Churchill is also unusual, consisting of a highly solvent exposed single-layer β-sheet. Hydrogen-deuterium exchange and backbone relaxation measurements reveals that Churchill is unusually dynamic on a number of time scales, with the exception of regions surrounding the zinc coordinating sites, which serve to stabilize the otherwise unstructured N-terminus and the single-layer β-sheet. No binding of Churchill to the previously-identified DNA sequence could be detected, and extensive searches using DNA sequence selection techniques could find no other DNA sequence that was bound by Churchill. Since the N-terminal amino acids of Churchill form part of the zinc-binding motif, the addition of a fusion protein at the N-terminus causes loss of zinc and unfolding of Churchill. This observation most likely explains the published DNA-binding results, which would arise due to non-specific interaction of the unfolded protein in the immunoprecipitation selection assay. Since Churchill does not appear to bind DNA, we suggest that it may function in embryogenesis as a protein-interaction factor.
Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) of intact, noncovalently-bound protein-ligand complexes can yield structural information on the site of ligand binding. Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FT-ICR) top-down MS of the 29 kDa carbonic anhydrase-zinc complex and adenylate kinase bound to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) with collisionally activated dissociation (CAD) and/or electron capture dissociation (ECD) generates product ions that retain the ligand and their identities are consistent with the solution phase structure. Increasing gas phase protein charging from electrospray ionization (ESI) by the addition of supercharging reagents, such as m-nitrobenzyl alcohol and sulfolane, to the protein analyte solution improves the capability of MS/MS to generate holo-product ions. Top-down proteomics for protein sequencing can be enhanced by increasing analyte charging.
electrospray ionization; noncovalent complexes; supercharging; protein-ligand binding; adenylate kinase; carbonic anhydrase
5-Amino-2,4,6-tribromoisophthalic acid is used as a phasing tool for protein structure determination by MAD phasing. It is the second representative of a novel class of compounds for heavy-atom derivatization that combine heavy atoms with amino and carboxyl groups for binding to proteins.
Experimental phasing is an essential technique for the solution of macromolecular structures. Since many heavy-atom ion soaks suffer from nonspecific binding, a novel class of compounds has been developed that combines heavy atoms with functional groups for binding to proteins. The phasing tool 5-amino-2,4,6-tribromoisophthalic acid (B3C) contains three functional groups (two carboxylate groups and one amino group) that interact with proteins via hydrogen bonds. Three Br atoms suitable for anomalous dispersion phasing are arranged in an equilateral triangle and are thus readily identified in the heavy-atom substructure. B3C was incorporated into proteinase K and a multiwavelength anomalous dispersion (MAD) experiment at the Br K edge was successfully carried out. Radiation damage to the bromine–carbon bond was investigated. A comparison with the phasing tool I3C that contains three I atoms for single-wavelength anomalous dispersion (SAD) phasing was also carried out.
multi-wavelength anomalous dispersion; experimental phasing; heavy-atom derivatives
Anomalous diffraction signals can be very weak and sensitive to radiation damage. Here, in application to a poorly diffracting (d
min of 3.5 Å) and relatively large structure (1456 ordered residues), it is shown that data merged from multiple crystals can support SAD structure determination when no single data set is adequate.
Multiwavelength anomalous diffraction (MAD) and single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (SAD) are the two most commonly used methods for de novo determination of macromolecular structures. Both methods rely on the accurate extraction of anomalous signals; however, because of factors such as poor intrinsic order, radiation damage, inadequate anomalous scatterers, poor diffraction quality and other noise-causing factors, the anomalous signal from a single crystal is not always good enough for structure solution. In this study, procedures for extracting more accurate anomalous signals by merging data from multiple crystals are devised and tested. SAD phasing tests were made with a relatively large (1456 ordered residues) poorly diffracting (d
min = 3.5 Å) selenomethionyl protein (20 Se). It is quantified that the anomalous signal, success in substructure determination and accuracy of phases and electron-density maps all improve with an increase in the number of crystals used in merging. Structure solutions are possible when no single crystal can support structural analysis. It is proposed that such multi-crystal strategies may be broadly useful when only weak anomalous signals are available.
anomalous scattering; MAD; multiple crystals; phase determination; SAD
It is shown that the anisotropy of anomalous scattering (AAS) is a significant and ubiquitous effect in data sets collected at an absorption edge and that its exploitation can substantially enhance the phasing power of single- or multi-wavelength anomalous diffraction. The improvements in the phases are typically of the same order of magnitude as those obtained in a conventional approach by adding a second-wavelength data set to a SAD experiment.
The X-ray polarization anisotropy of anomalous scattering in crystals of brominated nucleic acids and selenated proteins is shown to have significant effects on the diffraction data collected at an absorption edge. For conventionally collected single- or multi-wavelength anomalous diffraction data, the main manifestation of the anisotropy of anomalous scattering is the breakage of the equivalence between symmetry-related reflections, inducing intensity differences between them that can be exploited to yield extra phase information in the structure-solution process. A new formalism for describing the anisotropy of anomalous scattering which allows these effects to be incorporated into the general scheme of experimental phasing methods using an extended Harker construction is introduced. This requires a paradigm shift in the data-processing strategy, since the usual separation of the data-merging and phasing steps is abandoned. The data are kept unmerged down to the Harker construction, where the symmetry-breaking is explicitly modelled and refined and becomes a source of supplementary phase information. These ideas have been implemented in the phasing program SHARP. Refinements using actual data show that exploitation of the anisotropy of anomalous scattering can deliver substantial extra phasing power compared with conventional approaches using the same raw data. Examples are given that show improvements in the phases which are typically of the same order of magnitude as those obtained in a conventional approach by adding a second-wavelength data set to a SAD experiment. It is argued that such gains, which come essentially for free, i.e. without the collection of new data, are highly significant, since radiation damage can frequently preclude the collection of a second-wavelength data set. Finally, further developments in synchrotron instrumentation and in the design of data-collection strategies that could help to maximize these gains are outlined.
anisotropy of anomalous scattering; phasing; SAD; MAD; polarized resonant diffraction
A significant role of zinc-binding motifs on metal mobility in Escherichia coli was explored using a chimeric metal-binding green fluorescent protein (GFP) as an intracellular zinc indicator. Investigation was initiated by co-transformation and co-expression of two chimeric genes encoding the chimeric GFP carrying hexahistidine (His6GFP) and the zinc-binding motif fused to outer membrane protein A (OmpA) in E. coli strain TG1. The presence of these two genes was confirmed by restriction endonucleases analysis. Co-expression of the two recombinant proteins exhibited cellular fluorescence activity and enhanced metal-binding capability of the engineered cells. Incorporation of the zinc-binding motif onto the membrane resulted in 60-fold more binding capability to zinc ions than those of the control cells. The high affinity to metal ions of the bacterial surface influenced influx of metal ions to the cells. This may affect the essential ions for triggering important cell metabolism. A declining of fluorescent intensity of GFP has been detected on the cell expressed of zinc binding motif. Meanwhile, balancing of metal homeostasis due to the presence of cytoplasmic chimeric His6GFP enhanced the fluorescent emission. These findings provide the first evidence of real-time monitoring of intracellular mobility of zinc by autofluorescent proteins.
chimeric green fluorescent protein; zinc ions; co-transformation; co-expression; metal mobility
The structure of a β-lactamase-like protein from B. melitensis was solved independently using two data sets with anomalous signal. Anomalous Fourier maps could confirm the identity of two metal ions in the active site. AMP-bound and GMP-bound structures provide hints to the possible function of the protein.
The crystal structure of a β-lactamase-like protein from Brucella melitensis was initially solved by SAD phasing from an in-house data set collected on a crystal soaked with iodide. A high-resolution data set was collected at a synchroton at the Se edge wavelength, which also provided an independent source of phasing using a small anomalous signal from metal ions in the active site. Comparisons of anomalous peak heights at various wavelengths allowed the identification of the active-site metal ions as manganese. In the native data set a partially occupied GMP could be identified. When co-crystallized with AMPPNP or GMPPNP, clear density for the hydrolyzed analogs was observed, providing hints to the function of the protein.
Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Disease; iodide; SAD phasing; anomalous diffraction; Brucella melitensis; lactamase; Phn
Zinc is indispensable to all forms of life as it is an essential component of many different proteins involved in a wide range of biological processes. Not differently from other metals, zinc in proteins can play different roles that depend on the features of the metal-binding site. In this work, we describe zinc sites in proteins with known structure by means of three-dimensional templates that can be automatically extracted from PDB files and consist of the protein structure around the metal, including the zinc ligands and the residues in close spatial proximity to the ligands. This definition is devised to intrinsically capture the features of the local protein environment that can affect metal function, and corresponds to what we call a minimal functional site (MFS). We used MFSs to classify all zinc sites whose structures are available in the PDB and combined this classification with functional annotation as available in the literature. We classified 77% of zinc sites into ten clusters, each grouping zinc sites with structures that are highly similar, and an additional 16% into seven pseudo-clusters, each grouping zinc sites with structures that are only broadly similar. Sites where zinc plays a structural role are predominant in eight clusters and in two pseudo-clusters, while sites where zinc plays a catalytic role are predominant in two clusters and in five pseudo-clusters. We also analyzed the amino acid composition of the coordination sphere of zinc as a function of its role in the protein, highlighting trends and exceptions. In a period when the number of known zinc proteins is expected to grow further with the increasing awareness of the cellular mechanisms of zinc homeostasis, this classification represents a valuable basis for structure-function studies of zinc proteins, with broad applications in biochemistry, molecular pharmacology and de novo protein design.
The crystal structures of two proteins, a putative pyrazinamidase/nicotinamidase from the dental pathogen Streptococcus mutans (SmPncA) and the human caspase-6 (Casp6), were solved by de novo arsenic single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (As-SAD) phasing method. Arsenic (As), an uncommonly used element in SAD phasing, was covalently introduced into proteins by cacodylic acid, the buffering agent in the crystallization reservoirs. In SmPncA, the only cysteine was bound to dimethylarsinoyl, which is a pentavalent arsenic group (As (V)). This arsenic atom and a protein-bound zinc atom both generated anomalous signals. The predominant contribution, however, was from the As anomalous signals, which were sufficient to phase the SmPncA structure alone. In Casp6, four cysteines were found to bind cacodyl, a trivalent arsenic group (As (III)), in the presence of the reducing agent, dithiothreitol (DTT), and arsenic atoms were the only anomalous scatterers for SAD phasing. Analyses and discussion of these two As-SAD phasing examples and comparison of As with other traditional heavy atoms that generate anomalous signals, together with a few arsenic-based de novo phasing cases reported previously strongly suggest that As is an ideal anomalous scatterer for SAD phasing in protein crystallography.
The crystal structure of FeoA from Stenotrophomonas maltophilia has been determined to a resolution of 1.7 Å using an Se single-wavelength anomalous dispersion (Se-SAD) approach and revealed a unique dimer cross-linked by two zinc ions and six chloride ions.
Iron is vital to the majority of prokaryotes, with ferrous iron believed to be the preferred form for iron uptake owing to its much better solubility. The major route for bacterial ferrous iron uptake is found to be via an Feo (ferrous iron-transport) system comprising the three proteins FeoA, FeoB and FeoC. Although the structure and function of FeoB have received much attention recently, the roles played by FeoA and FeoC have been little investigated to date. Here, the tertiary structure of FeoA from Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (Sm), a vital opportunistic pathogen in immunodepressed hosts, is reported. The crystal structure of SmFeoA has been determined to a resolution of 1.7 Å using an Se single-wavelength anomalous dispersion (Se-SAD) approach. Although SmFeoA bears low sequence identity to eukaryotic proteins, its structure is found to adopt a eukaryotic SH3-domain-like fold. It also bears weak similarity to the C-terminal SH3 domain of bacterial DtxR (diphtheria toxin regulator), with some unique characteristics. Intriguingly, SmFeoA is found to adopt a unique dimer cross-linked by two zinc ions and six anions (chloride ions). Since FeoB has been found to contain a G-protein-like domain with low GTPase activity, FeoA may interact with FeoB through the SH3–G-protein domain interaction to act as a ferrous iron-transport activating factor.
FeoA; ferrous iron transport; zinc binding; prokaryotic SH3 domain; Stenotrophomonus maltophilia
Successful examples of ultraviolet radiation-damage-induced phasing with anomalous scattering from selenomethionine protein crystals have been demonstrated.
Currently, selenium is the most widely used phasing vehicle for experimental phasing, either by single anomalous scattering or multiple-wavelength anomalous dispersion (MAD) procedures. The use of the single isomorphous replacement anomalous scattering (SIRAS) phasing procedure with selenomethionine containing proteins is not so commonly used, as it requires isomorphous native data. Here it is demonstrated that isomorphous differences can be measured from intensity changes measured from a selenium labelled protein crystal before and after UV exposure. These can be coupled with the anomalous signal from the dataset collected at the selenium absorption edge to obtain SIRAS phases in a UV-RIPAS phasing experiment. The phasing procedure for two selenomethionine proteins, the feruloyl esterase module of xylanase 10B from Clostridium thermocellum and the Mycobacterium tuberculosis chorismate synthase, have been investigated using datasets collected near the absorption edge of selenium before and after UV radiation. The utility of UV radiation in measuring radiation damage data for isomorphous differences is highlighted and it is shown that, after such measurements, the UV-RIPAS procedure yields comparable phase sets with those obtained from the conventional MAD procedure. The results presented are encouraging for the development of alternative phasing approaches for selenomethionine proteins in difficult cases.
UV-RIPAS; SeMet; experimental phasing; radiation damage
The crystal structure of the stand-alone RAM domain from T. thermophilus HB8 has been determined at 2.4 Å resolution. The structure revealed that five dimers are arranged to form a ring.
The stand-alone RAM (regulation of amino-acid metabolism) domain protein SraA from Thermus thermophilus HB8 (TTHA0845) was crystallized in the presence of zinc ions. The X-ray crystal structure was determined using a multiple-wavelength anomalous dispersion technique and was refined at 2.4 Å resolution to a final R factor of 25.0%. The monomeric structure is a βαββαβ fold and it dimerizes mainly through interactions between the antiparallel β-sheets. Furthermore, five SraA dimers form a ring with external and internal diameters of 70 and 20 Å, respectively. This decameric structure is unique compared with the octameric and dodecameric structures found for other stand-alone RAM-domain proteins and the C-terminal RAM domains of Lrp/AsnC-family proteins.
demi-FFRP; feast/famine regulatory protein; Lrp/AsnC family; RAM domain; Thermus thermophilus
Lewis Y (Ley) is a blood group-related carbohydrate that is expressed at high surface densities on the majority of epithelial carcinomas and is a promising target for antibody-based immunotherapy. A humanized Ley-specific antibody (hu3S193) has shown encouraging safety, pharmacokinetic and tumor-targeting properties in recently completed Phase I clinical trials.
We report the three-dimensional structures for both the free (unliganded) and bound (Ley tetrasaccharide) hu3S193 Fab from the same crystal grown in the presence of divalent zinc ions. There is no evidence of significant conformational changes occurring in either the Ley carbohydrate antigen or the hu3S193 binding site, which suggests a rigid fit binding mechanism. In the crystal, the hu3S193 Fab molecules are coordinated at their protein-protein interface by two zinc ions and in solution aggregation of Fab can be initiated by zinc, but not magnesium ions. Dynamic light scattering revealed that zinc ions could initiate a sharp transition from hu3S193 Fab monomers to large multimeric aggregates in solution.
Zinc ions can mediate interactions between hu3S193 Fab in crystals and in solution. Whether metallic ion mediated aggregation of antibody occurs in vivo is not known, but the present results suggest that similar clustering mechanisms could occur when hu3S193 binds to Ley on cells, particularly given the high surface densities of antigen on the target tumor cells.
The observation of light metal ions in nucleic acids crystals
is generally a fortuitous event. Sodium ions in particular are notoriously
difficult to detect because their X-ray scattering contributions
are virtually identical to those of water and Na+…O distances
are only slightly shorter than strong hydrogen bonds between well-ordered
water molecules. We demonstrate here that replacement of Na+ by
K+, Rb+ or Cs+ and
precise measurements of anomalous differences in intensities provide
a particularly sensitive method for detecting alkali metal ion-binding
sites in nucleic acid crystals. Not only can alkali metal ions be
readily located in such structures, but the presence of Rb+ or
Cs+ also allows structure determination by the
single wavelength anomalous diffraction technique. Besides allowing identification
of high occupancy binding sites, the combination of high resolution
and anomalous diffraction data established here can also pinpoint binding
sites that feature only partial occupancy. Conversely, high resolution
of the data alone does not necessarily allow differentiation between
water and partially ordered metal ions, as demonstrated with the
crystal structure of a DNA duplex determined to a resolution of
By Energy Dispersive X-ray fluorescence we have determined that calf thymus poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase binds two zinc ions per enzyme molecule. Using 65Zn (II) for detection of zinc binding proteins and polypeptides on western blots, we found that the zinc binding sites are localized in a 29 kd N-terminal fragment which is included in the DNA binding domain. Metal depletion and restoration experiments proved that zinc is essential for the binding of this fragment to DNA as tested by Southwestern assay. These results correlate with the existence of two putative zinc finger motifs present in the N-terminal part of the human enzyme. Poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase fingers could be involved in the recognition of DNA strand breaks and therefore in enzyme activation.
The automation of protein structure determination is an essential component for high-throughput structural analysis in protein X-ray crystallography and is a key element in structural genomics. This highly challenging undertaking relies at present on the availability of high-quality native and derivatized protein crystals diffracting to high or moderate resolution, respectively. Obtaining such crystals often requires significant effort. The present study demonstrates that phases obtained at low resolution (>3.0 Å) from crystals of SeMet-labeled protein can be successfully used for automated structure determination. The crystal structure of acetate CoA-transferase α-subunit was solved using 3.4 Å multiwavelength anomalous dispersion data collected from a crystal containing SeMet-substituted protein and 1.9 Å data collected from a native protein crystal.
Transition row metal ions are both essential and toxic to microorganisms. Zinc in excess has significant toxicity to bacteria, and host release of Zn(II) at mucosal surfaces is an important innate defence mechanism. However, the molecular mechanisms by which Zn(II) affords protection have not been defined. We show that in Streptococcus pneumoniae extracellular Zn(II) inhibits the acquisition of the essential metal Mn(II) by competing for binding to the solute binding protein PsaA. We show that, although Mn(II) is the high-affinity substrate for PsaA, Zn(II) can still bind, albeit with a difference in affinity of nearly two orders of magnitude. Despite the difference in metal ion affinities, high-resolution structures of PsaA in complex with Mn(II) or Zn(II) showed almost no difference. However, Zn(II)-PsaA is significantly more thermally stable than Mn(II)-PsaA, suggesting that Zn(II) binding may be irreversible. In vitro growth analyses show that extracellular Zn(II) is able to inhibit Mn(II) intracellular accumulation with little effect on intracellular Zn(II). The phenotype of S. pneumoniae grown at high Zn(II):Mn(II) ratios, i.e. induced Mn(II) starvation, closely mimicked a ΔpsaA mutant, which is unable to accumulate Mn(II). S. pneumoniae infection in vivo elicits massive elevation of the Zn(II):Mn(II) ratio and, in vitro, these Zn(II):Mn(II) ratios inhibited growth due to Mn(II) starvation, resulting in heightened sensitivity to oxidative stress and polymorphonuclear leucocyte killing. These results demonstrate that microbial susceptibility to Zn(II) toxicity is mediated by extracellular cation competition and that this can be harnessed by the innate immune response.
Dietary zinc deficiency is a global health problem affecting almost two billion people. Infectious diseases associated with zinc deficiency include respiratory infections caused by bacteria, and notably, Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is responsible for more than 1 million deaths annually. The association between zinc and immunity is well known, but the mechanism by which zinc provides protection against infectious diseases has remained a mystery. Previously, we found that manganese was essential for S. pneumoniae growth and its ability to cause disease. Intriguingly, we also observed that zinc could bind to the manganese transport protein. Therefore, we sought to determine if zinc could inhibit manganese transport, and to observe what the effects would be on S. pneumoniae. We found that zinc prevented manganese uptake. This slowed bacterial growth and rendered it hypersensitive to immune cell killing. We also observed that, during S. pneumoniae infection in mice, zinc released by the host increased to concentrations that could compete for manganese uptake. Our study provides direct evidence for how zinc is toxic to bacteria by preventing manganese uptake. Furthermore, we show how this could be harnessed by the immune system, thereby providing a scientific basis for the protective effect of zinc against infectious diseases.
The psychrophilic alkaline metalloprotease (PAP) produced by a Pseudomonas bacterium isolated in Antarctica belongs to the clan of metzincins, for which a zinc ion is essential for catalytic activity. Binding studies in the crystalline state have been performed by X-ray crystallography in order to improve the understanding of the role of the zinc and calcium ions bound to this protease. Cocrystallization and soaking experiments with EDTA in a concentration range from 1 to 85 mM have resulted in five three-dimensional structures with a distinct number of metal ions occupying the ion-binding sites. Evolution of the structural changes observed in the vicinity of each cation-binding site has been studied as a function of the concentration of EDTA, as well as of time, in the presence of the chelator. Among others, we have found that the catalytic zinc ion was the first ion to be chelated, ahead of a weakly bound calcium ion (Ca 700) exclusive to the psychrophilic enzyme. Upon removal of the catalytic zinc ion, the side chains of the active-site residues His-173, His-179 and Tyr-209 shifted ∼4, 1.0, and 1.6 Å, respectively. Our studies confirm and also explain the sensitivity of PAP toward moderate EDTA concentrations and propose distinct roles for the calcium ions. A new crystal form of native PAP validates our previous predictions regarding the adaptation of this enzyme to cold environments as well as the proteolytic domain calcium ion being exclusive for PAP independent of crystallization conditions.
SAD data can be used in Phaser to solve novel structures, supplement molecular-replacement phase information or identify anomalous scatterers from a final refined model.
Phaser is a program that implements likelihood-based methods to solve macromolecular crystal structures, currently by molecular replacement or single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (SAD). SAD phasing is based on a likelihood target derived from the joint probability distribution of observed and calculated pairs of Friedel-related structure factors. This target combines information from the total structure factor (primarily non-anomalous scattering) and the difference between the Friedel mates (anomalous scattering). Phasing starts from a substructure, which is usually but not necessarily a set of anomalous scatterers. The substructure can also be a protein model, such as one obtained by molecular replacement. Additional atoms are found using a log-likelihood gradient map, which shows the sites where the addition of scattering from a particular atom type would improve the likelihood score. An automated completion algorithm adds new sites, choosing optionally among different atom types, adds anisotropic B-factor parameters if appropriate and deletes atoms that refine to low occupancy. Log-likelihood gradient maps can also identify which atoms in a refined protein structure are anomalous scatterers, such as metal or halide ions. These maps are more sensitive than conventional model-phased anomalous difference Fouriers and the iterative completion algorithm is able to find a significantly larger number of convincing sites.
SAD phasing; likelihood; molecular replacement