Truncation of ribosomal protein L9 in T. thermophilus allows the generation of new crystal forms and the crystallization of ribosome–GTPase complexes.
Crystallographic studies of the ribosome have provided molecular details of protein synthesis. However, the crystallization of functional complexes of ribosomes with GTPase translation factors proved to be elusive for a decade after the first ribosome structures were determined. Analysis of the packing in different 70S ribosome crystal forms revealed that regardless of the species or space group, a contact between ribosomal protein L9 from the large subunit and 16S rRNA in the shoulder of a neighbouring small subunit in the crystal lattice competes with the binding of GTPase elongation factors to this region of 16S rRNA. To prevent the formation of this preferred crystal contact, a mutant strain of Thermus thermophilus, HB8-MRCMSAW1, in which the ribosomal protein L9 gene has been truncated was constructed by homologous recombination. Mutant 70S ribosomes were used to crystallize and solve the structure of the ribosome with EF-G, GDP and fusidic acid in a previously unobserved crystal form. Subsequent work has shown the usefulness of this strain for crystallization of the ribosome with other GTPase factors.
ribosome; GTPase; engineering
The CCP4 template-restraint library defines restraints for biopolymers, their modifications and ligands that are used in macromolecular structure refinement. JLigand is a graphical editor for generating descriptions of new ligands and covalent linkages.
Biological macromolecules are polymers and therefore the restraints for macromolecular refinement can be subdivided into two sets: restraints that are applied to atoms that all belong to the same monomer and restraints that are associated with the covalent bonds between monomers. The CCP4 template-restraint library contains three types of data entries defining template restraints: descriptions of monomers and their modifications, both used for intramonomer restraints, and descriptions of links for intermonomer restraints. The library provides generic descriptions of modifications and links for protein, DNA and RNA chains, and for some post-translational modifications including glycosylation. Structure-specific template restraints can be defined in a user’s additional restraint library. Here, JLigand, a new CCP4 graphical interface to LibCheck and REFMAC that has been developed to manage the user’s library and generate new monomer entries is described, as well as new entries for links and associated modifications.
macromolecular refinement; restraint library; molecular graphics
An introduction to the proceedings of the CCP4 Study Weekend held at the University of Warwick on the 6–7 January 2011.
CCP4 Study Weekend
Two developments in the process of automated protein model building in the Buccaneer software are described: the use of a database of protein fragments in improving the model completeness and the assembly of disconnected chain fragments into complete molecules.
Two developments in the process of automated protein model building in the Buccaneer software are presented. A general-purpose library for protein fragments of arbitrary size is described, with a highly optimized search method allowing the use of a larger database than in previous work. The problem of assembling an autobuilt model into complete chains is discussed. This involves the assembly of disconnected chain fragments into complete molecules and the use of the database of protein fragments in improving the model completeness. Assembly of fragments into molecules is a standard step in existing model-building software, but the methods have not received detailed discussion in the literature.
model building; databases; Buccaneer
ARCIMBOLDO combines the location of small fragments with Phaser and density modification with SHELXE of all possible Phaser solutions. Its uses are explained and illustrated through practical test cases.
Since its release in September 2009, the structure-solution program ARCIMBOLDO, based on the combination of locating small model fragments such as polyalanine α-helices with density modification with the program SHELXE in a multisolution frame, has evolved to incorporate other sources of stereochemical or experimental information. Fragments that are more sophisticated than the ubiquitous main-chain α-helix can be proposed by modelling side chains onto the main chain or extracted from low-homology models, as locally their structure may be similar enough to the unknown one even if the conventional molecular-replacement approach has been unsuccessful. In such cases, the program may test a set of alternative models in parallel against a specified figure of merit and proceed with the selected one(s). Experimental information can be incorporated in three ways: searching within ARCIMBOLDO for an anomalous fragment against anomalous differences or MAD data or finding model fragments when an anomalous substructure has been determined with another program such as SHELXD or is subsequently located in the anomalous Fourier map calculated from the partial fragment phases. Both sources of information may be combined in the expansion process. In all these cases the key is to control the workflow to maximize the chances of success whilst avoiding the creation of an intractable number of parallel processes. A GUI has been implemented to aid the setup of suitable strategies within the various typical scenarios. In the present work, the practical application of ARCIMBOLDO within each of these scenarios is described through the distributed test cases.
ARCIMBOLDO; fragment search; Phaser; density modification; multi-solution phasing; SHELXE
Recent developments of the Situs software suite for multi-scale modeling are reviewed. Typical workflows and conventions encountered during processing of biophysical data from electron microscopy, tomography or small-angle X-ray scattering are described.
Situs is a modular program package for the multi-scale modeling of atomic resolution structures and low-resolution biophysical data from electron microscopy, tomography or small-angle X-ray scattering. This article provides an overview of recent developments in the Situs package, with an emphasis on workflows and conventions that are important for practical applications. The modular design of the programs facilitates scripting in the bash shell that allows specific programs to be combined in creative ways that go beyond the original intent of the developers. Several scripting-enabled functionalities, such as flexible transformations of data type, the use of symmetry constraints or the creation of two-dimensional projection images, are described. The processing of low-resolution biophysical maps in such workflows follows not only first principles but often relies on implicit conventions. Situs conventions related to map formats, resolution, correlation functions and feature detection are reviewed and summarized. The compatibility of the Situs workflow with CCP4 conventions and programs is discussed.
Situs; multi-resolution data
phenix.refine is a program within the PHENIX package that supports crystallographic structure refinement against experimental data with a wide range of upper resolution limits using a large repertoire of model parameterizations. This paper presents an overview of the major phenix.refine features, with extensive literature references for readers interested in more detailed discussions of the methods.
phenix.refine is a program within the PHENIX package that supports crystallographic structure refinement against experimental data with a wide range of upper resolution limits using a large repertoire of model parameterizations. It has several automation features and is also highly flexible. Several hundred parameters enable extensive customizations for complex use cases. Multiple user-defined refinement strategies can be applied to specific parts of the model in a single refinement run. An intuitive graphical user interface is available to guide novice users and to assist advanced users in managing refinement projects. X-ray or neutron diffraction data can be used separately or jointly in refinement. phenix.refine is tightly integrated into the PHENIX suite, where it serves as a critical component in automated model building, final structure refinement, structure validation and deposition to the wwPDB. This paper presents an overview of the major phenix.refine features, with extensive literature references for readers interested in more detailed discussions of the methods.
structure refinement; PHENIX; joint X-ray/neutron refinement; maximum likelihood; TLS; simulated annealing; subatomic resolution; real-space refinement; twinning; NCS
Local structural similarity restraints (LSSR) provide a novel method for exploiting NCS or structural similarity to an external target structure. Two examples are given where BUSTER re-refinement of PDB entries with LSSR produces marked improvements, enabling further structural features to be modelled.
Maximum-likelihood X-ray macromolecular structure refinement in BUSTER has been extended with restraints facilitating the exploitation of structural similarity. The similarity can be between two or more chains within the structure being refined, thus favouring NCS, or to a distinct ‘target’ structure that remains fixed during refinement. The local structural similarity restraints (LSSR) approach considers all distances less than 5.5 Å between pairs of atoms in the chain to be restrained. For each, the difference from the distance between the corresponding atoms in the related chain is found. LSSR applies a restraint penalty on each difference. A functional form that reaches a plateau for large differences is used to avoid the restraints distorting parts of the structure that are not similar. Because LSSR are local, there is no need to separate out domains. Some restraint pruning is still necessary, but this has been automated. LSSR have been available to academic users of BUSTER since 2009 with the easy-to-use -autoncs and -target target.pdb options. The use of LSSR is illustrated in the re-refinement of PDB entries 5rnt, where -target enables the correct ligand-binding structure to be found, and 1osg, where -autoncs contributes to the location of an additional copy of the cyclic peptide ligand.
BUSTER; NCS restraints; target-structure restraints; local structural similarity restraints
Recent developments in PHENIX are reported that allow the use of reference-model torsion restraints, secondary-structure hydrogen-bond restraints and Ramachandran restraints for improved macromolecular refinement in phenix.refine at low resolution.
Traditional methods for macromolecular refinement often have limited success at low resolution (3.0–3.5 Å or worse), producing models that score poorly on crystallographic and geometric validation criteria. To improve low-resolution refinement, knowledge from macromolecular chemistry and homology was used to add three new coordinate-restraint functions to the refinement program phenix.refine. Firstly, a ‘reference-model’ method uses an identical or homologous higher resolution model to add restraints on torsion angles to the geometric target function. Secondly, automatic restraints for common secondary-structure elements in proteins and nucleic acids were implemented that can help to preserve the secondary-structure geometry, which is often distorted at low resolution. Lastly, we have implemented Ramachandran-based restraints on the backbone torsion angles. In this method, a ϕ,ψ term is added to the geometric target function to minimize a modified Ramachandran landscape that smoothly combines favorable peaks identified from nonredundant high-quality data with unfavorable peaks calculated using a clash-based pseudo-energy function. All three methods show improved MolProbity validation statistics, typically complemented by a lowered R
free and a decreased gap between R
work and R
macromolecular crystallography; low resolution; refinement; automation
DEN refinement and automated model building with AutoBuild were used to determine the structure of a putative succinyl-diaminopimelate desuccinylase from C. glutamicum. This difficult case of molecular-replacement phasing shows that the synergism between DEN refinement and AutoBuild outperforms standard refinement protocols.
Phasing by molecular replacement remains difficult for targets that are far from the search model or in situations where the crystal diffracts only weakly or to low resolution. Here, the process of determining and refining the structure of Cgl1109, a putative succinyl-diaminopimelate desuccinylase from Corynebacterium glutamicum, at ∼3 Å resolution is described using a combination of homology modeling with MODELLER, molecular-replacement phasing with Phaser, deformable elastic network (DEN) refinement and automated model building using AutoBuild in a semi-automated fashion, followed by final refinement cycles with phenix.refine and Coot. This difficult molecular-replacement case illustrates the power of including DEN restraints derived from a starting model to guide the movements of the model during refinement. The resulting improved model phases provide better starting points for automated model building and produce more significant difference peaks in anomalous difference Fourier maps to locate anomalous scatterers than does standard refinement. This example also illustrates a current limitation of automated procedures that require manual adjustment of local sequence misalignments between the homology model and the target sequence.
reciprocal-space refinement; DEN refinement; real-space refinement; automated model building; succinyl-diaminopimelate desuccinylase
Low-resolution refinement tools implemented in REFMAC5 are described, including the use of external structural restraints, helical restraints and regularized anisotropic map sharpening.
Two aspects of low-resolution macromolecular crystal structure analysis are considered: (i) the use of reference structures and structural units for provision of structural prior information and (ii) map sharpening in the presence of noise and the effects of Fourier series termination. The generation of interatomic distance restraints by ProSMART and their subsequent application in REFMAC5 is described. It is shown that the use of such external structural information can enhance the reliability of derived atomic models and stabilize refinement. The problem of map sharpening is considered as an inverse deblurring problem and is solved using Tikhonov regularizers. It is demonstrated that this type of map sharpening can automatically produce a map with more structural features whilst maintaining connectivity. Tests show that both of these directions are promising, although more work needs to be performed in order to further exploit structural information and to address the problem of reliable electron-density calculation.
low-resolution refinement; REFMAC5
A review of published tetartohedrally twinned macromolecular structures is presented, together with details of the recent structure determination of triclinic tetartohedrally twinned crystals of human complement factor I.
Tetartohedral crystal twinning is discussed as a particular case of (pseudo)merohedral twinning when the number of twinned domains is four. Tetartohedrally twinned crystals often possess pseudosymmetry, with the rotational part of the pseudosymmetry operators coinciding with the twinning operators. Tetartohedrally twinned structures from the literature are reviewed and the recent structure determination of tetartohedrally twinned triclinic crystals of human complement factor I is discussed.
Coot is a molecular-graphics program designed to assist in the building of protein and other macromolecular models. The current state of ligand tools is presented.
Coot is a molecular-graphics application primarily aimed to assist in model building and validation of biological macromolecules. Recently, tools have been added to work with small molecules. The newly incorporated tools for the manipulation and validation of ligands include interaction with PRODRG, subgraph isomorphism-based tools, representation of ligand chemistry, ligand fitting and analysis, and are described here.
The challenges that arise in nucleic acid model building as a consequence of their simpler and more symmetric super-secondary structures are addressed.
The process of building and refining crystal structures of nucleic acids, although similar to that for proteins, has some peculiarities that give rise to both various complications and various benefits. Although conventional isomorphous replacement phasing techniques are typically used to generate an experimental electron-density map for the purposes of determining novel nucleic acid structures, it is also possible to couple the phasing and model-building steps to permit the solution of complex and novel RNA three-dimensional structures without the need for conventional heavy-atom phasing approaches.
nucleic acids; model building; refinement
Noncrystallographic symmetry is automatically detected and used to achieve higher completeness and greater accuracy of automatically built protein structures at resolutions of 2.3 Å or poorer.
A novel method is presented for the automatic detection of noncrystallographic symmetry (NCS) in macromolecular crystal structure determination which does not require the derivation of molecular masks or the segmentation of density. It was found that throughout structure determination the NCS-related parts may be differently pronounced in the electron density. This often results in the modelling of molecular fragments of variable length and accuracy, especially during automated model-building procedures. These fragments were used to identify NCS relations in order to aid automated model building and refinement. In a number of test cases higher completeness and greater accuracy of the obtained structures were achieved, specifically at a crystallographic resolution of 2.3 Å or poorer. In the best case, the method allowed the building of up to 15% more residues automatically and a tripling of the average length of the built fragments.
noncrystallographic symmetry; automated model building
A likelihood-based metric for scoring the local agreement of a structure model with the observed electron density is described.
The commonly used validation metrics for the local agreement of a structure model with the observed electron density, namely the real-space R (RSR) and the real-space correlation coefficient (RSCC), are reviewed. It is argued that the primary goal of all validation techniques is to verify the accuracy of the model, since precision is an inherent property of the crystal and the data. It is demonstrated that the principal weakness of both of the above metrics is their inability to distinguish the accuracy of the model from its precision. Furthermore, neither of these metrics in their usual implementation indicate the statistical significance of the result. The statistical properties of electron-density maps are reviewed and an improved alternative likelihood-based metric is suggested. This leads naturally to a χ2 significance test of the difference density using the real-space difference density Z score (RSZD). This is a metric purely of the local model accuracy, as required for effective model validation and structure optimization by practising crystallographers prior to submission of a structure model to the PDB. A new real-space observed density Z score (RSZO) is also proposed; this is a metric purely of the model precision, as a substitute for other precision metrics such as the B factor.
difference density; electron density; model accuracy; model precision; real-space R; real-space correlation coefficient; real-space difference density Z score; real-space observed density Z score; structure validation
A simple rule of thumb based on resolution is not adequate to identify the best treatment of atomic displacements in macromolecular structural models. The choice to use isotropic B factors, anisotropic B factors, TLS models or some combination of the three should be validated through statistical analysis of the model refinement.
In choosing and refining any crystallographic structural model, there is tension between the desire to extract the most detailed information possible and the necessity to describe no more than what is justified by the observed data. A more complex model is not necessarily a better model. Thus, it is important to validate the choice of parameters as well as validating their refined values. One recurring task is to choose the best model for describing the displacement of each atom about its mean position. At atomic resolution one has the option of devoting six model parameters (a ‘thermal ellipsoid’) to describe the displacement of each atom. At medium resolution one typically devotes at most one model parameter per atom to describe the same thing (a ‘B factor’). At very low resolution one cannot justify the use of even one parameter per atom. Furthermore, this aspect of the structure may be described better by an explicit model of bulk displacements, the most common of which is the translation/libration/screw (TLS) formalism, rather than by assigning some number of parameters to each atom individually. One can sidestep this choice between atomic displacement parameters and TLS descriptions by including both treatments in the same model, but this is not always statistically justifiable. The choice of which treatment is best for a particular structure refinement at a particular resolution can be guided by general considerations of the ratio of model parameters to the number of observations and by specific statistics such as the Hamilton R-factor ratio test.
atomic displacements; B factors; TLS models; model parameters
The implementation of a validation pipeline, based on community recommendations, for future depositions of X-ray crystal structures in the Protein Data Bank is described.
There is an increasing realisation that the quality of the biomacromolecular structures deposited in the Protein Data Bank (PDB) archive needs to be assessed critically using established and powerful validation methods. The Worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB) organization has convened several Validation Task Forces (VTFs) to advise on the methods and standards that should be used to validate all of the entries already in the PDB as well as all structures that will be deposited in the future. The recommendations of the X-ray VTF are currently being implemented in a software pipeline. Here, ongoing work on this pipeline is briefly described as well as ways in which validation-related information could be presented to users of structural data.
validation; data archives; biomacromolecular structure; PDB
The decision-making algorithms and software used in PDB_REDO to re-refine and rebuild crystallographic protein structures in the PDB are presented and discussed.
Developments of the PDB_REDO procedure that combine re-refinement and rebuilding within a unique decision-making framework to improve structures in the PDB are presented. PDB_REDO uses a variety of existing and custom-built software modules to choose an optimal refinement protocol (e.g. anisotropic, isotropic or overall B-factor refinement, TLS model) and to optimize the geometry versus data-refinement weights. Next, it proceeds to rebuild side chains and peptide planes before a final optimization round. PDB_REDO works fully automatically without the need for intervention by a crystallographic expert. The pipeline was tested on 12 000 PDB entries and the great majority of the test cases improved both in terms of crystallographic criteria such as R
free and in terms of widely accepted geometric validation criteria. It is concluded that PDB_REDO is useful to update the otherwise ‘static’ structures in the PDB to modern crystallographic standards. The publically available PDB_REDO database provides better model statistics and contributes to better refinement and validation targets.
validation; refinement; model building; automation; PDB
The problems encountered during the phasing and structure determination of the packaging enzyme P4 from bacteriophage ϕ13 using the anomalous signal from selenium in a single-wavelength anomalous dispersion experiment (SAD) are described. The oligomeric state of P4 in the virus is a hexamer (with sixfold rotational symmetry) and it crystallizes in space group C2, with four hexamers in the crystallographic asymmetric unit. Current state-of-the-art ab initio phasing software yielded solutions consisting of 96 atoms arranged as sixfold symmetric clusters of Se atoms. However, although these solutions showed high correlation coefficients indicative that the substructure had been solved, the resulting phases produced uninterpretable electron-density maps. Only after further analysis were correct solutions found (also of 96 atoms), leading to the eventual identification of the positions of 120 Se atoms. Here, it is demonstrated how the difficulties in finding a correct phase solution arise from an intricate false-minima problem.
Angiogenin is an unusual member of the pancreatic ribonuclease
superfamily that induces blood vessel formation and is a promising anticancer
target. The three-dimensional structure of murine angiogenin (mAng) has been
determined by X-ray crystallography. Two structures are presented, one a complex
with sulphate ions (1.5 Å-resolution) and the other with phosphate
ions (1.6 Å-resolution). Residues forming the putative B1,
P1 and B2 subsites occupy positions similar to their
hAng counterparts and are likely to play similar roles. The anions occupy the
P1 subsite, sulphate binding conventionally and phosphate
adopting two orientations, one of which is novel. The B1 subsite is
obstructed by Glu116 and Phe119, with the latter assuming a less invasive
position than its hAng counterpart. Hydrophobic interactions between the
C-terminal segment and the main body of the protein are more extensive than in
hAng and may underly the lower enzymatic activity of the murine protein.
Elsewhere, the structure of the H3–B2 loop supports the view that
hAng Asn61 interacts directly with cell surface molecules and does not merely
stabilize adjacent regions of the hAng structure. mAng crystals appear to offer
small-molecule inhibitors a clear route to the active site and may even
withstand a reorientation of the C-terminal segment that provides access to the
cryptic B1 subsite. These features represent considerable advantages
over crystalline hAng and bAng.
The crystal structure of the cytoplasmic domain of Y. pestis YscD is presented at 2.04 Å resolution.
The Yersinia pestis YscD protein is an essential component of the type III secretion system. YscD consists of an N-terminal cytoplasmic domain (residues 1–121), a transmembrane linker (122–142) and a large periplasmic domain (143–419). Both the cytoplasmic and the periplasmic domains are required for the assembly of the type III secretion system. Here, the structure of the YscD cytoplasmic domain solved by SAD phasing is presented. Although the three-dimensional structure is similar to those of forkhead-associated (FHA) domains, comparison with the structures of canonical FHA domains revealed that the cytoplasmic domain of YscD lacks the conserved residues that are required for binding phosphothreonine and is therefore unlikely to function as a true FHA domain.
YscD; Yersinia pestis; type III secretion systems; cytoplasmic domain
Crystal structures of S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine hydrolase from L. luteus in complex with adenosine, cordycepin and adenine are presented.
S-Adenosyl-l-homocysteine hydrolase (SAHase) catalyzes the reversible breakdown of S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine (SAH) to adenosine and homocysteine. SAH is formed in methylation reactions that utilize S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) as a methyl donor. By removing the SAH byproduct, SAHase serves as a major regulator of SAM-dependent biological methylation reactions. Here, the first crystal structure of SAHase of plant origin, that from the legume yellow lupin (LlSAHase), is presented. Structures have been determined at high resolution for three complexes of the enzyme: those with a reaction byproduct/substrate (adenosine), with its nonoxidizable analog (cordycepin) and with a product of inhibitor cleavage (adenine). In all three cases the enzyme has a closed conformation. A sodium cation is found near the active site, coordinated by residues from a conserved loop that hinges domain movement upon reactant binding. An insertion segment that is present in all plant SAHases is located near a substrate-pocket access channel and participates in its formation. In contrast to mammalian and bacterial SAHases, the channel is open when adenosine or cordycepin is bound and is closed in the adenine complex. In contrast to SAHases from other organisms, which are active as tetramers, the plant enzyme functions as a homodimer in solution.
S-Adenosyl-l-homocysteine hydrolase; Lupinus luteus
Adenosine phosphorylase from B. cereus shows a strong preference for adenosine over other 6-oxopurine nucleosides. Mutation of Asp204 to asparagine reduces the efficiency of adenosine cleavage but does not affect inosine cleavage, effectively reversing the substrate specificity. The structures of D204N complexes explain these observations.
Purine nucleoside phosphorylases catalyze the phosphorolytic cleavage of the glycosidic bond of purine (2′-deoxy)nucleosides, generating the corresponding free base and (2′-deoxy)ribose 1-phosphate. Two classes of PNPs have been identified: homotrimers specific for 6-oxopurines and homohexamers that accept both 6-oxopurines and 6-aminopurines. Bacillus cereus adenosine phosphorylase (AdoP) is a hexameric PNP; however, it is highly specific for 6-aminopurines. To investigate the structural basis for the unique substrate specificity of AdoP, the active-site mutant D204N was prepared and kinetically characterized and the structures of the wild-type protein and the D204N mutant complexed with adenosine and sulfate or with inosine and sulfate were determined at high resolution (1.2–1.4 Å). AdoP interacts directly with the preferred substrate through a hydrogen-bond donation from the catalytically important residue Asp204 to N7 of the purine base. Comparison with Escherichia coli PNP revealed a more optimal orientation of Asp204 towards N7 of adenosine and a more closed active site. When inosine is bound, two water molecules are interposed between Asp204 and the N7 and O6 atoms of the nucleoside, thus allowing the enzyme to find alternative but less efficient ways to stabilize the transition state. The mutation of Asp204 to asparagine led to a significant decrease in catalytic efficiency for adenosine without affecting the efficiency of inosine cleavage.
purine nucleoside phosphorylases; substrate specificity; reversal of substrate preference; transition-state stabilization
Approximately half of global radiation damage to thaumatin crystals can be outrun at 260 K if data are collected in less than 1 s.
Global radiation damage to 19 thaumatin crystals has been measured using dose rates from 3 to 680 kGy s−1. At room temperature damage per unit dose appears to be roughly independent of dose rate, suggesting that the timescales for important damage processes are less than ∼1 s. However, at T = 260 K approximately half of the global damage manifested at dose rates of ∼10 kGy s−1 can be outrun by collecting data at 680 kGy s−1. Appreciable sample-to-sample variability in global radiation sensitivity at fixed dose rate is observed. This variability cannot be accounted for by errors in dose calculation, crystal slippage or the size of the data sets in the assay.
radiation damage; dose rate; room temperature; protein crystallography