The Collaborative Computational Project for Electron cryo-Microscopy (CCP-EM) is a new initiative for the structural biology community, following the success of CCP4 for macromolecular crystallography. Progress in supporting the users and developers of cryoEM software is reported.
The Collaborative Computational Project for Electron cryo-Microscopy (CCP-EM) has recently been established. The aims of the project are threefold: to build a coherent cryoEM community which will provide support for individual scientists and will act as a focal point for liaising with other communities, to support practising scientists in their use of cryoEM software and finally to support software developers in producing and disseminating robust and user-friendly programs. The project is closely modelled on CCP4 for macromolecular crystallography, and areas of common interest such as model fitting, underlying software libraries and tools for building program packages are being exploited. Nevertheless, cryoEM includes a number of techniques covering a large range of resolutions and a distinct project is required. In this article, progress so far is reported and future plans are discussed.
CCP-EM; Collaborative Computational Project for Electron cryo-Microscopy
This review provides a brief update on the use of cryo-electron microscopy for integrated structural biology, along with an overview of the plans for the UK national facility for electron microscopy being built at the Diamond synchrotron.
Three-dimensional electron microscopy is an enormously powerful tool for structural biologists. It is now able to provide an understanding of the molecular machinery of cells, disease processes and the actions of pathogenic organisms from atomic detail through to the cellular context. However, cutting-edge research in this field requires very substantial resources for equipment, infrastructure and expertise. Here, a brief overview is provided of the plans for a UK national three-dimensional electron-microscopy facility for integrated structural biology to enable internationally leading research on the machinery of life. State-of-the-art equipment operated with expert support will be provided, optimized for both atomic-level single-particle analysis of purified macromolecules and complexes and for tomography of cell sections. The access to and organization of the facility will be modelled on the highly successful macromolecular crystallography (MX) synchrotron beamlines, and will be embedded at the Diamond Light Source, facilitating the development of user-friendly workflows providing near-real-time experimental feedback.
three-dimensional electron microscopy
A description is given of new tools to facilitate model building and refinement into electron cryo-microscopy reconstructions.
The recent rapid development of single-particle electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) now allows structures to be solved by this method at resolutions close to 3 Å. Here, a number of tools to facilitate the interpretation of EM reconstructions with stereochemically reasonable all-atom models are described. The BALBES database has been repurposed as a tool for identifying protein folds from density maps. Modifications to Coot, including new Jiggle Fit and morphing tools and improved handling of nucleic acids, enhance its functionality for interpreting EM maps. REFMAC has been modified for optimal fitting of atomic models into EM maps. As external structural information can enhance the reliability of the derived atomic models, stabilize refinement and reduce overfitting, ProSMART has been extended to generate interatomic distance restraints from nucleic acid reference structures, and a new tool, LIBG, has been developed to generate nucleic acid base-pair and parallel-plane restraints. Furthermore, restraint generation has been integrated with visualization and editing in Coot, and these restraints have been applied to both real-space refinement in Coot and reciprocal-space refinement in REFMAC.
model building; refinement; electron cryo-microscopy reconstructions; LIBG
This report describes the working of the program CcpNmr Analysis for both NMR chemical shift assignment and structure determination of biological macromolecules.
CcpNmr Analysis provides a streamlined pipeline for both NMR chemical shift assignment and structure determination of biological macromolecules. In addition, it encompasses tools to analyse the many additional experiments that make NMR such a pivotal technique for research into complex biological questions. This report describes how CcpNmr Analysis can seamlessly link together all of the tasks in the NMR structure-determination process. It details each of the stages from generating NMR restraints [distance, dihedral, hydrogen bonds and residual dipolar couplings (RDCs)], exporting these to and subsequently re-importing them from structure-calculation software (such as the programs CYANA or ARIA) and analysing and validating the results obtained from the structure calculation to, ultimately, the streamlined deposition of the completed assignments and the refined ensemble of structures into the PDBe repository. Until recently, such solution-structure determination by NMR has been quite a laborious task, requiring multiple stages and programs. However, with the new enhancements to CcpNmr Analysis described here, this process is now much more intuitive and efficient and less error-prone.
NMR; processing; structure calculation; analysis; CcpNmr; talin
The current computational techniques available for biomolecular simulation are described, and the successes and limitations of each with reference to the experimental biophysical methods that they complement are presented.
Despite huge advances in the computational techniques available for simulating biomolecules at the quantum-mechanical, atomistic and coarse-grained levels, there is still a widespread perception amongst the experimental community that these calculations are highly specialist and are not generally applicable by researchers outside the theoretical community. In this article, the successes and limitations of biomolecular simulation and the further developments that are likely in the near future are discussed. A brief overview is also provided of the experimental biophysical methods that are commonly used to probe biomolecular structure and dynamics, and the accuracy of the information that can be obtained from each is compared with that from modelling. It is concluded that progress towards an accurate spatial and temporal model of biomacromolecules requires a combination of all of these biophysical techniques, both experimental and computational.
biomolecular simulation; computational techniques
High-resolution crystal structures of the designed calcium sensor CatchER revealed snapshots of calcium and gadolinium ions binding within the designed site in agreement with its fast kinetics.
Calcium ions, which are important signaling molecules, can be detected in the endoplasmic reticulum by an engineered mutant of green fluorescent protein (GFP) designated CatchER with a fast off-rate. High resolution (1.78–1.20 Å) crystal structures were analyzed for CatchER in the apo form and in complexes with calcium or gadolinium to probe the binding site for metal ions. While CatchER exhibits a 1:1 binding stoichiometry in solution, two positions were observed for each of the metal ions bound within the hand-like site formed by the carboxylate side chains of the mutated residues S147E, S202D, Q204E, F223E and T225E that may be responsible for its fast kinetic properties. Comparison of the structures of CatchER, wild-type GFP and enhanced GFP confirmed that different conformations of Thr203 and Glu222 are associated with the two forms of Tyr66 of the chromophore which are responsible for the absorbance wavelengths of the different proteins. Calcium binding to CatchER may shift the equilibrium for conformational population of the Glu222 side chain and lead to further changes in its optical properties.
calcium sensors; green fluorescent protein; metal-binding sites in proteins
The crystal structures of complexes of M. truncatula nodulin 13 with four cytokinins, trans-zeatin, N
6-isopentenyladenine, kinetin and N
6-benzyladenine, show an unusual mode of dimerization of this PR-10-fold plant protein. The cytokinin-binding mode in the internal cavity of the protein is the same in each complex and resembles the pattern found in the cytokinin receptor protein.
Nodulation is an extraordinary symbiotic interaction between leguminous plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria (rhizobia) that assimilate atmospheric nitrogen (in root nodules) and convert it into compounds suitable for the plant host. A class of plant hormones called cytokinins are involved in the nodulation process. In the model legume Medicago truncatula, nodulin 13 (MtN13), which belongs to the pathogenesis-related proteins of class 10 (PR-10), is expressed in the outer cortex of the nodules. In general, PR-10 proteins are small and monomeric and have a characteristic fold with an internal hydrophobic cavity formed between a seven-stranded antiparallel β-sheet and a C-terminal α-helix. Previously, some PR-10 proteins not related to nodulation were found to bind cytokinins such as trans-zeatin. Here, four crystal structures of the MtN13 protein are reported in complexes with several cytokinins, namely trans-zeatin, N
6-isopentenyladenine, kinetin and N
6-benzyladenine. All four phytohormones are bound in the hydrophobic cavity in the same manner and have excellent definition in the electron-density maps. The binding of the cytokinins appears to be strong and specific and is reinforced by several hydrogen bonds. Although the binding stoichiometry is 1:1, the complex is actually dimeric, with a cytokinin molecule bound in each subunit. The ligand-binding site in each cavity is formed with the participation of a loop element from the other subunit, which plugs the only entrance to the cavity. Interestingly, a homodimer of MtN13 is also formed in solution, as confirmed by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS).
cytokinins; nodulin 13; Medicago truncatula; dimerization
X-ray free-electron laser crystallography relies on the collection of still-shot diffraction patterns. New methods are developed for optimal modeling of the crystals’ orientations and mosaic block properties.
X-ray diffraction patterns from still crystals are inherently difficult to process because the crystal orientation is not uniquely determined by measuring the Bragg spot positions. Only one of the three rotational degrees of freedom is directly coupled to spot positions; the other two rotations move Bragg spots in and out of the reflecting condition but do not change the direction of the diffracted rays. This hinders the ability to recover accurate structure factors from experiments that are dependent on single-shot exposures, such as femtosecond diffract-and-destroy protocols at X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs). Here, additional methods are introduced to optimally model the diffraction. The best orientation is obtained by requiring, for the brightest observed spots, that each reciprocal-lattice point be placed into the exact reflecting condition implied by Bragg’s law with a minimal rotation. This approach reduces the experimental uncertainties in noisy XFEL data, improving the crystallographic R factors and sharpening anomalous differences that are near the level of the noise.
X-ray free-electron lasers; single-shot exposures
The maximum-likelihood free-kick target, which calculates model error estimates from the work set and a randomly displaced model, proved superior in the accuracy and consistency of refinement of crystal structures compared with the maximum-likelihood cross-validation target, which calculates error estimates from the test set and the unperturbed model.
The refinement of a molecular model is a computational procedure by which the atomic model is fitted to the diffraction data. The commonly used target in the refinement of macromolecular structures is the maximum-likelihood (ML) function, which relies on the assessment of model errors. The current ML functions rely on cross-validation. They utilize phase-error estimates that are calculated from a small fraction of diffraction data, called the test set, that are not used to fit the model. An approach has been developed that uses the work set to calculate the phase-error estimates in the ML refinement from simulating the model errors via the random displacement of atomic coordinates. It is called ML free-kick refinement as it uses the ML formulation of the target function and is based on the idea of freeing the model from the model bias imposed by the chemical energy restraints used in refinement. This approach for the calculation of error estimates is superior to the cross-validation approach: it reduces the phase error and increases the accuracy of molecular models, is more robust, provides clearer maps and may use a smaller portion of data for the test set for the calculation of R
free or may leave it out completely.
free-kick refinement; Rfree; maximum likelihood; cross-validation
Crystal structures of the wild type and the N253A mutant of trehalose synthase from D. radiodurans in complex with the inhibitor Tris have been determined at 2.7 and 2.21 Å resolution, respectively, and they display a closed conformation for catalysis of the intramolecular isomerization.
Trehalose synthase catalyzes the simple conversion of the inexpensive maltose into trehalose with a side reaction of hydrolysis. Here, the crystal structures of the wild type and the N253A mutant of Deinococcus radiodurans trehalose synthase (DrTS) in complex with the inhibitor Tris are reported. DrTS consists of a catalytic (β/α)8 barrel, subdomain B, a C-terminal β domain and two TS-unique subdomains (S7 and S8). The C-terminal domain and S8 contribute the majority of the dimeric interface. DrTS shares high structural homology with sucrose hydrolase, amylosucrase and sucrose isomerase in complex with sucrose, in particular a virtually identical active-site architecture and a similar substrate-induced rotation of subdomain B. The inhibitor Tris was bound and mimics a sugar at the −1 subsite. A maltose was modelled into the active site, and subsequent mutational analysis suggested that Tyr213, Glu320 and Glu324 are essential within the +1 subsite for the TS activity. In addition, the interaction networks between subdomains B and S7 seal the active-site entrance. Disruption of such networks through the replacement of Arg148 and Asn253 with alanine resulted in a decrease in isomerase activity by 8–9-fold and an increased hydrolase activity by 1.5–1.8-fold. The N253A structure showed a small pore created for water entry. Therefore, our DrTS-Tris may represent a substrate-induced closed conformation that will facilitate intramolecular isomerization and minimize disaccharide hydrolysis.
trehalose synthase; intramolecular isomerization; glycoside hydrolase family 13; conformational change; enzyme mechanism
Crystal structures of P. vivax serine hydroxymethyltransferase (PvSHMT) in complex with l-serine and with d-serine and 5-formyltetrahydrofolate provide better understanding of ligand binding and the catalytic mechanism. Features that are important for controlling the activity and specificity of PvSHMT such as stereoselectivity and redox status are addressed.
Plasmodium parasites, the causative agent of malaria, rely heavily on de novo folate biosynthesis, and the enzymes in this pathway have therefore been explored extensively for antimalarial development. Serine hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT) from Plasmodium spp., an enzyme involved in folate recycling and dTMP synthesis, has been shown to catalyze the conversion of l- and d-serine to glycine (Gly) in a THF-dependent reaction, the mechanism of which is not yet fully understood. Here, the crystal structures of P. vivax SHMT (PvSHMT) in a binary complex with l-serine and in a ternary complex with d-serine (d-Ser) and (6R)-5-formyltetrahydrofolate (5FTHF) provide clues to the mechanism underlying the control of enzyme activity. 5FTHF in the ternary-complex structure was found in the 6R form, thus differing from the previously reported structures of SHMT–Gly–(6S)-5FTHF from other organisms. This suggested that the presence of d-Ser in the active site can alter the folate-binding specificity. Investigation of binding in the presence of d-Ser and the (6R)- or (6S)-5FTHF enantiomers indicated that both forms of 5FTHF can bind to the enzyme but that only (6S)-5FTHF gives rise to a quinonoid intermediate. Likewise, a large surface area with a highly positively charged electrostatic potential surrounding the PvSHMT folate pocket suggested a preference for a polyglutamated folate substrate similar to the mammalian SHMTs. Furthermore, as in P. falciparum SHMT, a redox switch created from a cysteine pair (Cys125–Cys364) was observed. Overall, these results assert the importance of features such as stereoselectivity and redox status for control of the activity and specificity of PvSHMT.
Plasmodium vivax; serine hydroxymethyltransferase; antimalarial targets; d-serine; (6R)-5-formyltetrahydrofolate; redox switch
The structure of internodal myelin in the rodent central and peripheral nervous systems has been determined using neutron diffraction. The kinetics of water exchange in these tissues is also described.
Rapid nerve conduction in the central and peripheral nervous systems (CNS and PNS, respectively) of higher vertebrates is brought about by the ensheathment of axons with myelin, a lipid-rich, multilamellar assembly of membranes. The ability of myelin to electrically insulate depends on the regular stacking of these plasma membranes and on the presence of a number of specialized membrane-protein assemblies in the sheath, including the radial component, Schmidt–Lanterman incisures and the axo–glial junctions of the paranodal loops. The disruption of this fine-structure is the basis for many demyelinating neuropathies in the CNS and PNS. Understanding the processes that govern myelin biogenesis, maintenance and destabilization requires knowledge of myelin structure; however, the tight packing of internodal myelin and the complexity of its junctional specializations make myelin a challenging target for comprehensive structural analysis. This paper describes an examination of myelin from the CNS and PNS using neutron diffraction. This investigation revealed the dimensions of the bilayers and aqueous spaces of myelin, asymmetry between the cytoplasmic and extracellular leaflets of the membrane, and the distribution of water and exchangeable hydrogen in internodal multilamellar myelin. It also uncovered differences between CNS and PNS myelin in their water-exchange kinetics.
neutron scattering; myelin
The variable C-terminal tail of manganese peroxidases, a group of enzymes involved in lignin degradation, is implicated in their catalytic and stability properties, as shown by new crystal structures, molecular-simulation and directed-mutagenesis data. Based on this structural–functional evaluation, short and long/extralong manganese peroxidase subfamilies have been accepted; the latter are characterized by exceptional stability, while it is shown for the first time that the former are able to oxidize other substrates at the same site where manganese(II) is oxidized.
The genome of Ceriporiopsis subvermispora includes 13 manganese peroxidase (MnP) genes representative of the three subfamilies described in ligninolytic fungi, which share an Mn2+-oxidation site and have varying lengths of the C-terminal tail. Short, long and extralong MnPs were heterologously expressed and biochemically characterized, and the first structure of an extralong MnP was solved. Its C-terminal tail surrounds the haem-propionate access channel, contributing to Mn2+ oxidation by the internal propionate, but prevents the oxidation of 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonate) (ABTS), which is only oxidized by short MnPs and by shortened-tail variants from site-directed mutagenesis. The tail, which is anchored by numerous contacts, not only affects the catalytic properties of long/extralong MnPs but is also associated with their high acidic stability. Cd2+ binds at the Mn2+-oxidation site and competitively inhibits oxidation of both Mn2+ and ABTS. Moreover, mutations blocking the haem-propionate channel prevent substrate oxidation. This agrees with molecular simulations that position ABTS at an electron-transfer distance from the haem propionates of an in silico shortened-tail form, while it cannot reach this position in the extralong MnP crystal structure. Only small differences exist between the long and the extralong MnPs, which do not justify their classification as two different subfamilies, but they significantly differ from the short MnPs, with the presence/absence of the C-terminal tail extension being implicated in these differences.
Ceriporiopsis subvermispora; manganese peroxidase; C-terminal tail
The enzyme–adenylate structure of a bacterial ATP-dependent DNA ligase (ADL), which does not have any additional DNA-binding domains, is similar to minimal viral ADLs that comprise only the core catalytic domains. The bacterial ADL also lacks the unstructured loops which are involved in DNA binding in the viral ADLs, implying that it must instead use short well structured motifs of the core domains to engage its substrate.
DNA ligases are a structurally diverse class of enzymes which share a common catalytic core and seal breaks in the phosphodiester backbone of double-stranded DNA via an adenylated intermediate. Here, the structure and activity of a recombinantly produced ATP-dependent DNA ligase from the bacterium Psychromonas sp. strain SP041 is described. This minimal-type ligase, like its close homologues, is able to ligate singly nicked double-stranded DNA with high efficiency and to join cohesive-ended and blunt-ended substrates to a more limited extent. The 1.65 Å resolution crystal structure of the enzyme–adenylate complex reveals no unstructured loops or segments, and suggests that this enzyme binds the DNA without requiring full encirclement of the DNA duplex. This is in contrast to previously characterized minimal DNA ligases from viruses, which use flexible loop regions for DNA interaction. The Psychromonas sp. enzyme is the first structure available for the minimal type of bacterial DNA ligases and is the smallest DNA ligase to be crystallized to date.
ATP-dependent DNA ligase; Psychromonas sp. strain SP041
The current and the attainable coverage by X-ray structures of proteins and their functions on the scale of the ‘protein universe’ are estimated. A detailed analysis of the coverage across nearly 2000 proteomes from all superkingdoms of life and functional annotations is performed, with particular focus on the human proteome and the family of GPCR proteins.
Structural genomics programs have developed and applied structure-determination pipelines to a wide range of protein targets, facilitating the visualization of macromolecular interactions and the understanding of their molecular and biochemical functions. The fundamental question of whether three-dimensional structures of all proteins and all functional annotations can be determined using X-ray crystallography is investigated. A first-of-its-kind large-scale analysis of crystallization propensity for all proteins encoded in 1953 fully sequenced genomes was performed. It is shown that current X-ray crystallographic knowhow combined with homology modeling can provide structures for 25% of modeling families (protein clusters for which structural models can be obtained through homology modeling), with at least one structural model produced for each Gene Ontology functional annotation. The coverage varies between superkingdoms, with 19% for eukaryotes, 35% for bacteria and 49% for archaea, and with those of viruses following the coverage values of their hosts. It is shown that the crystallization propensities of proteomes from the taxonomic superkingdoms are distinct. The use of knowledge-based target selection is shown to substantially increase the ability to produce X-ray structures. It is demonstrated that the human proteome has one of the highest attainable coverage values among eukaryotes, and GPCR membrane proteins suitable for X-ray structure determination were determined.
crystallization propensity; proteome coverage; fDETECT
X-ray and solution structures of the human RyR2 N-terminal region were obtained under near-physiological conditions. The structure exhibits a unique network of interactions between its three domains, revealing an important stabilizing role of the central helix.
Human ryanodine receptor 2 (hRyR2) mediates calcium release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, enabling cardiomyocyte contraction. The N-terminal region of hRyR2 (amino acids 1–606) is the target of >30 arrhythmogenic mutations and contains a binding site for phosphoprotein phosphatase 1. Here, the solution and crystal structures determined under near-physiological conditions, as well as a homology model of the hRyR2 N-terminal region, are presented. The N-terminus is held together by a unique network of interactions among its three domains, A, B and C, in which the central helix (amino acids 410–437) plays a prominent stabilizing role. Importantly, the anion-binding site reported for the mouse RyR2 N-terminal region is notably absent from the human RyR2. The structure concurs with the differential stability of arrhythmogenic mutations in the central helix (R420W, I419F and I419F/R420W) which are owing to disparities in the propensity of mutated residues to form energetically favourable or unfavourable contacts. In solution, the N-terminus adopts a globular shape with a prominent tail that is likely to involve residues 545–606, which are unresolved in the crystal structure. Docking the N-terminal domains into cryo-electron microscopy maps of the closed and open RyR1 conformations reveals Cα atom movements of up to 8 Å upon channel gating, and predicts the location of the leucine–isoleucine zipper segment and the interaction site for spinophilin and phosphoprotein phosphatase 1 on the RyR surface.
human ryanodine receptor 2; X-ray and SAXS structure; arrhythmogenic mutations; molecular modelling; phosphoprotein phosphatase I binding site
The structures of the ascomycetous B. aclada laccase and its L499M T1-site mutant have been solved at 1.7 Å resolution. The mutant enzyme shows a 140 mV lower redox potential of the type 1 copper and altered kinetic behaviour. The wild type and the mutant have very similar structures, which makes it possible to relate the changes in the redox potential to the L499M mutation
Laccases are members of a large family of multicopper oxidases that catalyze the oxidation of a wide range of organic and inorganic substrates accompanied by the reduction of dioxygen to water. These enzymes contain four Cu atoms per molecule organized into three sites: T1, T2 and T3. In all laccases, the T1 copper ion is coordinated by two histidines and one cysteine in the equatorial plane and is covered by the side chains of hydrophobic residues in the axial positions. The redox potential of the T1 copper ion influences the enzymatic reaction and is determined by the nature of the axial ligands and the structure of the second coordination sphere. In this work, the laccase from the ascomycete Botrytis aclada was studied, which contains conserved Ile491 and nonconserved Leu499 residues in the axial positions. The three-dimensional structures of the wild-type enzyme and the L499M mutant were determined by X-ray crystallography at 1.7 Å resolution. Crystals suitable for X-ray analysis could only be grown after deglycosylation. Both structures did not contain the T2 copper ion. The catalytic properties of the enzyme were characterized and the redox potentials of both enzyme forms were determined: E
0 = 720 and 580 mV for the wild-type enzyme and the mutant, respectively. Since the structures of the wild-type and mutant forms are very similar, the change in the redox potential can be related to the L499M mutation in the T1 site of the enzyme.
laccase; Botrytis aclada; T1-site mutant; redox potential
Nuclease A (NucA) is an extracellular nuclease secreted from S. agalactiae and is required for full virulence during infection. Crystal structures and biochemical characterization of NucA mutants reveal possible roles for surface residues in DNA substrate binding and catalysis. These results may serve as a foundation for the design of targeted antibacterial therapeutic compounds.
The group B pathogen Streptococcus agalactiae commonly populates the human gut and urogenital tract, and is a major cause of infection-based mortality in neonatal infants and in elderly or immunocompromised adults. Nuclease A (GBS_NucA), a secreted DNA/RNA nuclease, serves as a virulence factor for S. agalactiae, facilitating bacterial evasion of the human innate immune response. GBS_NucA efficiently degrades the DNA matrix component of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), which attempt to kill and clear invading bacteria during the early stages of infection. In order to better understand the mechanisms of DNA substrate binding and catalysis of GBS_NucA, the high-resolution structure of a catalytically inactive mutant (H148G) was solved by X-ray crystallography. Several mutants on the surface of GBS_NucA which might influence DNA substrate binding and catalysis were generated and evaluated using an imidazole chemical rescue technique. While several of these mutants severely inhibited nuclease activity, two mutants (K146R and Q183A) exhibited significantly increased activity. These structural and biochemical studies have greatly increased our understanding of the mechanism of action of GBS_NucA in bacterial virulence and may serve as a foundation for the structure-based drug design of antibacterial compounds targeted to S. agalactiae.
nuclease A; virulence factors; Streptococcus agalactiae
The present work illustrates that small-angle neutron scattering, deuteration and contrast variation, combined with in vitro particle reconstruction, constitutes a very efficient approach to determine subunit architectures in large, symmetric protein complexes. In the case of the 468 kDa heterododecameric TET peptidase machine, it was demonstrated that the assembly of the 12 subunits is a highly controlled process and represents a way to optimize the catalytic efficiency of the enzyme.
The specific self-association of proteins into oligomeric complexes is a common phenomenon in biological systems to optimize and regulate their function. However, de novo structure determination of these important complexes is often very challenging for atomic-resolution techniques. Furthermore, in the case of homo-oligomeric complexes, or complexes with very similar building blocks, the respective positions of subunits and their assembly pathways are difficult to determine using many structural biology techniques. Here, an elegant and powerful approach based on small-angle neutron scattering is applied, in combination with deuterium labelling and contrast variation, to elucidate the oligomeric organization of the quaternary structure and the assembly pathways of 468 kDa, hetero-oligomeric and symmetric Pyrococcus horikoshii TET2–TET3 aminopeptidase complexes. The results reveal that the topology of the PhTET2 and PhTET3 dimeric building blocks within the complexes is not casual but rather suggests that their quaternary arrangement optimizes the catalytic efficiency towards peptide substrates. This approach bears important potential for the determination of quaternary structures and assembly pathways of large oligomeric and symmetric complexes in biological systems.
TET; small-angle neutron scattering
H. pylori Csd4 (HP1075), together with other peptidoglycan hydrolases, plays an important role in determining the helical cell shape. Its crystal structure has been determined in three different forms.
Helicobacter pylori infection causes a variety of gastrointestinal diseases, including peptic ulcers and gastric cancer. Its colonization of the gastric mucosa of the human stomach is a prerequisite for survival in the stomach. Colonization depends on its motility, which is facilitated by the helical shape of the bacterium. In H. pylori, cross-linking relaxation or trimming of peptidoglycan muropeptides affects the helical cell shape. Csd4 has been identified as one of the cell shape-determining peptidoglycan hydrolases in H. pylori. It is a Zn2+-dependent d,l-carboxypeptidase that cleaves the bond between the γ-d-Glu and the mDAP of the non-cross-linked muramyltripeptide (muramyl-l-Ala-γ-d-Glu-mDAP) of the peptidoglycan to produce the muramyldipeptide (muramyl-l-Ala-γ-d-Glu) and mDAP. Here, the crystal structure of H. pylori Csd4 (HP1075 in strain 26695) is reported in three different states: the ligand-unbound form, the substrate-bound form and the product-bound form. H. pylori Csd4 consists of three domains: an N-terminal d,l-carboxypeptidase domain with a typical carboxypeptidase fold, a central β-barrel domain with a novel fold and a C-terminal immunoglobulin-like domain. The d,l-carboxypeptidase domain recognizes the substrate by interacting primarily with the terminal mDAP moiety of the muramyltripeptide. It undergoes a significant structural change upon binding either mDAP or the mDAP-containing muramyltripeptide. It it also shown that Csd5, another cell-shape determinant in H. pylori, is capable of interacting not only with H. pylori Csd4 but also with the dipeptide product of the reaction catalyzed by Csd4.
csd4; csd5; HP1075; d,l-carboxypeptidase; Helicobacter pylori; peptidoglycan; meso-diaminopimelate; pgp1; cell shape
The implantation of animal organs is one approach to overcoming the shortage of human donor organs for medical transplantation. Although readily available, non-primate tissues are subject to hyperacute rejection wherein human anti-Galα(1–3)Gal antibodies react with haptens present on the transplanted cells’ surfaces. The understanding of this interaction on a molecular level will further the development of a strategy for the prevention of hyperacute rejection in xenotransplantation. The Galα(1–3)Gal hapten (‘xenograft antigen’) has been cocrystallized with the Gal-specific B4 isolectin of Griffonia simplicifolia lectin-1. Crystals were analyzed by cryocrystallography and were found to diffract to moderately high resolution on a rotating-anode X-ray source. They belong to the P21212 space group, with unit-cell parameters a = 111.0, b = 51.3, c = 76.9Å, and contain two molecules per asymmetric unit.
The crystal structure of the antitumoral and cell-penetrating polypeptide crotamine from C. durissus terrificus venom is reported.
The crystal structure of the myotoxic, cell-penetrating, basic polypeptide crotamine isolated from the venom of Crotalus durissus terrificus has been determined by single-wavelength anomalous dispersion techniques and refined at 1.7 Å resolution. The structure reveals distinct cationic and hydrophobic surface regions that are located on opposite sides of the molecule. This surface-charge distribution indicates its possible mode of interaction with negatively charged phospholipids and other molecular targets to account for its diverse pharmacological activities. Although the sequence identity between crotamine and human β-defensins is low, the three-dimensional structures of these functionally related peptides are similar. Since crotamine is a leading member of a large family of myotoxic peptides, its structure will provide a basis for the design of novel cell-penetrating molecules.
crotamine; snake venoms; natural cell-penetrating polypeptides
The crystallographic analysis of fully liganded Hb ζ2β2
s trapped in a tense conformation is reported.
A variant Hb ζ2β2
s that is formed from sickle hemoglobin (Hb S; α2β2
s) by exchanging adult α-globin with embryonic ζ-globin subunits shows promise as a therapeutic agent for sickle-cell disease (SCD). Hb ζ2β2
s inhibits the polymerization of deoxygenated Hb S in vitro and reverses characteristic features of SCD in vivo in mouse models of the disorder. When compared with either Hb S or with normal human adult Hb A (α2β2), Hb ζ2β2
s exhibits atypical properties that include a high oxygen affinity, reduced cooperativity, a weak Bohr effect and blunted 2,3-diphosphoglycerate allostery. Here, the 1.95 Å resolution crystal structure of human Hb ζ2β2
s that was expressed in complex transgenic knockout mice and purified from their erythrocytes is presented. When fully liganded with carbon monoxide, Hb ζ2β2
s displays a central water cavity, a ζ1–βs2 (or ζ2–βs1) interface, intersubunit salt-bridge/hydrogen-bond interactions, C-terminal βHis146 salt-bridge interactions, and a β-cleft, that are highly unusual for a relaxed hemoglobin structure and are more typical of a tense conformation. These quaternary tense-like features contrast with the tertiary relaxed-like conformations of the ζ1βs1 dimer and the CD and FG corners, as well as the overall structures of the heme cavities. This crystallographic study provides insights into the altered oxygen-transport properties of Hb ζ2β2
s and, moreover, decouples tertiary- and quaternary-structural events that are critical to Hb ligand binding and allosteric function.
hemoglobin; tense state; relaxed state; Bohr effect; 2,3-disphosphoglycerate; cooperativity; allostery
Differences in OxyR regulated expression of oxidative stress genes between Escherichia coli and Porphyromonas gingivalis are explained by very minor differences in structure and amino-acid sequence of the respective oxidized and reduced OxyR regulatory domains. These differences affect OxyR quaternary structures and are predicted from model building of full length OxyR–DNA complexes to confer distinct modes of DNA binding on this transcriptional regulator.
OxyR transcriptionally regulates Escherichia coli oxidative stress response genes through a reversibly reducible cysteine disulfide biosensor of cellular redox status. Structural changes induced by redox changes in these cysteines are conformationally transmitted to the dimer subunit interfaces, which alters dimer and tetramer interactions with DNA. In contrast to E. coli OxyR regulatory-domain structures, crystal structures of Porphyromonas gingivalis OxyR regulatory domains show minimal differences in dimer configuration on changes in cysteine disulfide redox status. This locked configuration of the P. gingivalis OxyR regulatory-domain dimer closely resembles the oxidized (activating) form of the E. coli OxyR regulatory-domain dimer. It correlates with the observed constitutive activation of some oxidative stress genes in P. gingivalis and is attributable to a single amino-acid insertion in P. gingivalis OxyR relative to E. coli OxyR. Modelling of full-length P. gingivalis, E. coli and Neisseria meningitidis OxyR–DNA complexes predicts different modes of DNA binding for the reduced and oxidized forms of each.
OxyR; Porphyromonas gingivalis; regulatory domain
X-ray crystallographic structures of four p53 core-domain variants were determined in order to gain insights into the mechanisms by which certain second-site suppressor mutations rescue the function of a significant number of cancer mutations of the tumor suppressor protein p53.
To gain insights into the mechanisms by which certain second-site suppressor mutations rescue the function of a significant number of cancer mutations of the tumor suppressor protein p53, X-ray crystallographic structures of four p53 core-domain variants were determined. These include an oncogenic mutant, V157F, two single-site suppressor mutants, N235K and N239Y, and the rescued cancer mutant V157F/N235K/N239Y. The V157F mutation substitutes a smaller hydrophobic valine with a larger hydrophobic phenylalanine within strand S4 of the hydrophobic core. The structure of this cancer mutant shows no gross structural changes in the overall fold of the p53 core domain, only minor rearrangements of side chains within the hydrophobic core of the protein. Based on biochemical analysis, these small local perturbations induce instability in the protein, increasing the free energy by 3.6 kcal mol−1 (15.1 kJ mol−1). Further biochemical evidence shows that each suppressor mutation, N235K or N239Y, acts individually to restore thermodynamic stability to V157F and that both together are more effective than either alone. All rescued mutants were found to have wild-type DNA-binding activity when assessed at a permissive temperature, thus pointing to thermodynamic stability as the critical underlying variable. Interestingly, thermodynamic analysis shows that while N239Y demonstrates stabilization of the wild-type p53 core domain, N235K does not. These observations suggest distinct structural mechanisms of rescue. A new salt bridge between Lys235 and Glu198, found in both the N235K and rescued cancer mutant structures, suggests a rescue mechanism that relies on stabilizing the β-sandwich scaffold. On the other hand, the substitution N239Y creates an advantageous hydrophobic contact between the aromatic ring of this tyrosine and the adjacent Leu137. Surprisingly, the rescued cancer mutant shows much larger structural deviations than the cancer mutant alone when compared with wild-type p53. These suppressor mutations appear to rescue p53 function by creating novel intradomain interactions that stabilize the core domain, allowing compensation for the destabilizing V157F mutation.
p53; cancer mutation; suppressor mutation; rescue