Strategies for phasing nucleic acid structures by molecular replacement, using both experimental and de novo designed models, are discussed.
Structured RNA molecules are key players in ensuring cellular viability. It is now emerging that, like proteins, the functions of many nucleic acids are dictated by their tertiary folds. At the same time, the number of known crystal structures of nucleic acids is also increasing rapidly. In this context, molecular replacement will become an increasingly useful technique for phasing nucleic acid crystallographic data in the near future. Here, strategies to select, create and refine molecular-replacement search models for nucleic acids are discussed. Using examples taken primarily from research on group II introns, it is shown that nucleic acids are amenable to different and potentially more flexible and sophisticated molecular-replacement searches than proteins. These observations specifically aim to encourage future crystallographic studies on the newly discovered repertoire of noncoding transcripts.
nucleic acid sequence homology; de novo structure design; long noncoding RNA; RNA structure; homology modeling; RCrane
This study uses the Pfam database to show that the sequence redundancy of protein structures deposited in the PDB is increasing. The possible reasons behind this trend are discussed.
High-resolution structural knowledge is key to understanding how proteins function at the molecular level. The number of entries in the Protein Data Bank (PDB), the repository of all publicly available protein structures, continues to increase, with more than 8000 structures released in 2012 alone. The authors of this article have studied how structural coverage of the protein-sequence space has changed over time by monitoring the number of Pfam families that acquired their first representative structure each year from 1976 to 2012. Twenty years ago, for every 100 new PDB entries released, an estimated 20 Pfam families acquired their first structure. By 2012, this decreased to only about five families per 100 structures. The reasons behind the slower pace at which previously uncharacterized families are being structurally covered were investigated. It was found that although more than 50% of current Pfam families are still without a structural representative, this set is enriched in families that are small, functionally uncharacterized or rich in problem features such as intrinsically disordered and transmembrane regions. While these are important constraints, the reasons why it may not yet be time to give up the pursuit of a targeted but more comprehensive structural coverage of the protein-sequence space are discussed.
Pfam families; structural coverage; protein-sequence space
Processing of NMR structures for molecular replacement by AMPLE works well.
AMPLE is a program developed for clustering and truncating ab initio protein structure predictions into search models for molecular replacement. Here, it is shown that its core cluster-and-truncate methods also work well for processing NMR ensembles into search models. Rosetta remodelling helps to extend success to NMR structures bearing low sequence identity or high structural divergence from the target protein. Potential future routes to improved performance are considered and practical, general guidelines on using AMPLE are provided.
molecular replacement; AMPLE; NMR structures; search models
Modeling advances using Rosetta structure prediction to aid in solving difficult molecular-replacement problems are discussed.
Recent work has shown the effectiveness of structure-prediction methods in solving difficult molecular-replacement problems. The Rosetta protein structure modeling suite can aid in the solution of difficult molecular-replacement problems using templates from 15 to 25% sequence identity; Rosetta refinement guided by noisy density has consistently led to solved structures where other methods fail. In this paper, an overview of the use of Rosetta for these difficult molecular-replacement problems is provided and new modeling developments that further improve model quality are described. Several variations to the method are introduced that significantly reduce the time needed to generate a model and the sampling required to improve the starting template. The improvements are benchmarked on a set of nine difficult cases and it is shown that this improved method obtains consistently better models in less running time. Finally, strategies for best using Rosetta to solve difficult molecular-replacement problems are presented and future directions for the role of structure-prediction methods in crystallography are discussed.
structure prediction; molecular replacement; model building
A function for estimating the effective root-mean-square deviation in coordinates between two proteins has been developed that depends on both the sequence identity and the size of the protein and is optimized for use with molecular replacement in Phaser. A top peak translation-function Z-score of over 8 is found to be a reliable metric of when molecular replacement has succeeded.
The estimate of the root-mean-square deviation (r.m.s.d.) in coordinates between the model and the target is an essential parameter for calibrating likelihood functions for molecular replacement (MR). Good estimates of the r.m.s.d. lead to good estimates of the variance term in the likelihood functions, which increases signal to noise and hence success rates in the MR search. Phaser has hitherto used an estimate of the r.m.s.d. that only depends on the sequence identity between the model and target and which was not optimized for the MR likelihood functions. Variance-refinement functionality was added to Phaser to enable determination of the effective r.m.s.d. that optimized the log-likelihood gain (LLG) for a correct MR solution. Variance refinement was subsequently performed on a database of over 21 000 MR problems that sampled a range of sequence identities, protein sizes and protein fold classes. Success was monitored using the translation-function Z-score (TFZ), where a TFZ of 8 or over for the top peak was found to be a reliable indicator that MR had succeeded for these cases with one molecule in the asymmetric unit. Good estimates of the r.m.s.d. are correlated with the sequence identity and the protein size. A new estimate of the r.m.s.d. that uses these two parameters in a function optimized to fit the mean of the refined variance is implemented in Phaser and improves MR outcomes. Perturbing the initial estimate of the r.m.s.d. from the mean of the distribution in steps of standard deviations of the distribution further increases MR success rates.
Phaser; maximum likelihood; molecular replacement
The crystallographic steps towards the structure determination of a complete eukaryotic exosome complex bound to RNA are presented. Phasing of this 11-protein subunit complex was carried out via molecular replacement.
The RNA exosome is an evolutionarily conserved multi-protein complex involved in the 3′ degradation of a variety of RNA transcripts. In the nucleus, the exosome participates in the maturation of structured RNAs, in the surveillance of pre-mRNAs and in the decay of a variety of noncoding transcripts. In the cytoplasm, the exosome degrades mRNAs in constitutive and regulated turnover pathways. Several structures of subcomplexes of eukaryotic exosomes or related prokaryotic exosome-like complexes are known, but how the complete assembly is organized to fulfil processive RNA degradation has been unclear. An atomic snapshot of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae 420 kDa exosome complex bound to an RNA substrate in the pre-cleavage state of a hydrolytic reaction has been determined. Here, the crystallographic steps towards the structural elucidation, which was carried out by molecular replacement, are presented.
exosome; molecular replacement; model building; RNA; nucleases; Rrp44
This article describes an example of molecular replacement in which atomic models are used to interpret electron-density maps determined using single-particle electron-microscopy data.
The anaphase-promoting complex (APC/C) is a large E3 ubiquitin ligase that regulates progression through specific stages of the cell cycle by coordinating the ubiquitin-dependent degradation of cell-cycle regulatory proteins. Depending on the species, the active form of the APC/C consists of 14–15 different proteins that assemble into a 20-subunit complex with a mass of approximately 1.3 MDa. A hybrid approach of single-particle electron microscopy and protein crystallography of individual APC/C subunits has been applied to generate pseudo-atomic models of various functional states of the complex. Three approaches for assigning regions of the EM-derived APC/C density map to specific APC/C subunits are described. This information was used to dock atomic models of APC/C subunits, determined either by protein crystallography or homology modelling, to specific regions of the APC/C EM map, allowing the generation of a pseudo-atomic model corresponding to 80% of the entire complex.
anaphase-promoting complex; single-particle electron microscopy; pseudo-atomic model
Protein fragments suitable for use in molecular replacement can be generated by normal-mode perturbation, analysis of the difference distance matrix of the original versus normal-mode perturbed structures, and SCEDS, a score that measures the sphericity, continuity, equality and density of the resulting fragments.
A method is described for generating protein fragments suitable for use as molecular-replacement (MR) template models. The template model for a protein suspected to undergo a conformational change is perturbed along combinations of low-frequency normal modes of the elastic network model. The unperturbed structure is then compared with each perturbed structure in turn and the structurally invariant regions are identified by analysing the difference distance matrix. These fragments are scored with SCEDS, which is a combined measure of the sphericity of the fragments, the continuity of the fragments with respect to the polypeptide chain, the equality in number of atoms in the fragments and the density of Cα atoms in the triaxial ellipsoid of the fragment extents. The fragment divisions with the highest SCEDS are then used as separate template models for MR. Test cases show that where the protein contains fragments that undergo a change in juxtaposition between template model and target, SCEDS can identify fragments that lead to a lower R factor after ten cycles of all-atom refinement with REFMAC5 than the original template structure. The method has been implemented in the software Phaser.
difference distance matrix; normal-mode analysis
In an effort to better understand the control of the formation of branched fatty acids in Micrococcus luteus, the structure of β-ketoacyl-ACP synthase III, which catalyzes the initial step of fatty-acid biosynthesis, has been determined.
Micrococcus luteus is a Gram-positive bacterium that produces iso- and anteiso-branched alkenes by the head-to-head condensation of fatty-acid thioesters [coenzyme A (CoA) or acyl carrier protein (ACP)]; this activity is of interest for the production of advanced biofuels. In an effort to better understand the control of the formation of branched fatty acids in M. luteus, the structure of FabH (MlFabH) was determined. FabH, or β-ketoacyl-ACP synthase III, catalyzes the initial step of fatty-acid biosynthesis: the condensation of malonyl-ACP with an acyl-CoA. Analysis of the MlFabH structure provides insights into its substrate selectivity with regard to length and branching of the acyl-CoA. The most structurally divergent region of FabH is the L9 loop region located at the dimer interface, which is involved in the formation of the acyl-binding channel and thus limits the substrate-channel size. The residue Phe336, which is positioned near the catalytic triad, appears to play a major role in branched-substrate selectivity. In addition to structural studies of MlFabH, transcriptional studies of M. luteus were also performed, focusing on the increase in the ratio of anteiso:iso-branched alkenes that was observed during the transition from early to late stationary phase. Gene-expression microarray analysis identified two genes involved in leucine and isoleucine metabolism that may explain this transition.
biofuels; β-ketoacyl-ACP synthase III; iso- and anteiso-branched alkenes; microarray
The structure of the Tse3–Tsi3 complex associated with the bacterial type VI secretion system of P. aeruginosa has been solved and refined at 1.9 Å resolution. The structural basis of the recognition of the muramidase effector and its inactivation by its cognate immunity protein is revealed.
The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a bacterial protein-export machine that is capable of delivering virulence effectors between Gram-negative bacteria. The T6SS of Pseudomonas aeruginosa transports two lytic enzymes, Tse1 and Tse3, to degrade cell-wall peptidoglycan in the periplasm of rival bacteria that are competing for niches via amidase and muramidase activities, respectively. Two cognate immunity proteins, Tsi1 and Tsi3, are produced by the bacterium to inactivate the two antibacterial effectors, thereby protecting its siblings from self-intoxication. Recently, Tse1–Tsi1 has been structurally characterized. Here, the structure of the Tse3–Tsi3 complex is reported at 1.9 Å resolution. The results reveal that Tse3 contains a C-terminal catalytic domain that adopts a soluble lytic transglycosylase (SLT) fold in which three calcium-binding sites were surprisingly observed close to the catalytic Glu residue. The electrostatic properties of the substrate-binding groove are also distinctive from those of known structures with a similar fold. All of these features imply that a unique catalytic mechanism is utilized by Tse3 in cleaving glycosidic bonds. Tsi3 comprises a single domain showing a β-sandwich architecture that is reminiscent of the immunoglobulin fold. Three loops of Tsi3 insert deeply into the groove of Tse3 and completely occlude its active site, which forms the structural basis of Tse3 inactivation. This work is the first crystallographic report describing the three-dimensional structure of the Tse3–Tsi3 effector–immunity pair.
muramidases; peptidoglycan; effectors; immunity; calcium binding; interaction
The gD–E317-Fab complex crystal revealed the conformational epitope of human mAb E317 on HSV gD, providing a molecular basis for understanding the viral neutralization mechanism.
Glycoprotein D (gD) of Herpes simplex virus (HSV) binds to a host cell surface receptor, which is required to trigger membrane fusion for virion entry into the host cell. gD has become a validated anti-HSV target for therapeutic antibody development. The highly inhibitory human monoclonal antibody E317 (mAb E317) was previously raised against HSV gD for viral neutralization. To understand the structural basis of antibody neutralization, crystals of the gD ectodomain bound to the E317 Fab domain were obtained. The structure of the complex reveals that E317 interacts with gD mainly through the heavy chain, which covers a large area for epitope recognition on gD, with a flexible N-terminal and C-terminal conformation. The epitope core structure maps to the external surface of gD, corresponding to the binding sites of two receptors, herpesvirus entry mediator (HVEM) and nectin-1, which mediate HSV infection. E317 directly recognizes the gD–nectin-1 interface and occludes the HVEM contact site of gD to block its binding to either receptor. The binding of E317 to gD also prohibits the formation of the N-terminal hairpin of gD for HVEM recognition. The major E317-binding site on gD overlaps with either the nectin-1-binding residues or the neutralizing antigenic sites identified thus far (Tyr38, Asp215, Arg222 and Phe223). The epitopes of gD for E317 binding are highly conserved between two types of human herpesvirus (HSV-1 and HSV-2). This study enables the virus-neutralizing epitopes to be correlated with the receptor-binding regions. The results further strengthen the previously demonstrated therapeutic and diagnostic potential of the E317 antibody.
Herpes simplex virus; glycoprotein D; antibodies; E317
The gene product of M. tuberculosis Rv2969c is shown to be a disulfide oxidase enzyme that has a canonical DsbA-like fold with novel structural and functional characteristics.
The bacterial disulfide machinery is an attractive molecular target for developing new antibacterials because it is required for the production of multiple virulence factors. The archetypal disulfide oxidase proteins in Escherichia coli (Ec) are DsbA and DsbB, which together form a functional unit: DsbA introduces disulfides into folding proteins and DsbB reoxidizes DsbA to maintain it in the active form. In Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), no DsbB homologue is encoded but a functionally similar but structurally divergent protein, MtbVKOR, has been identified. Here, the Mtb protein Rv2969c is investigated and it is shown that it is the DsbA-like partner protein of MtbVKOR. It is found that it has the characteristic redox features of a DsbA-like protein: a highly acidic catalytic cysteine, a highly oxidizing potential and a destabilizing active-site disulfide bond. Rv2969c also has peptide-oxidizing activity and recognizes peptide segments derived from the periplasmic loops of MtbVKOR. Unlike the archetypal EcDsbA enzyme, Rv2969c has little or no activity in disulfide-reducing and disulfide-isomerase assays. The crystal structure of Rv2969c reveals a canonical DsbA fold comprising a thioredoxin domain with an embedded helical domain. However, Rv2969c diverges considerably from other DsbAs, including having an additional C-terminal helix (H8) that may restrain the mobility of the catalytic helix H1. The enzyme is also characterized by a very shallow hydrophobic binding surface and a negative electrostatic surface potential surrounding the catalytic cysteine. The structure of Rv2969c was also used to model the structure of a paralogous DsbA-like domain of the Ser/Thr protein kinase PknE. Together, these results show that Rv2969c is a DsbA-like protein with unique properties and a limited substrate-binding specificity.
DsbA; VKOR; DsbB; antibacterial target; oxidative folding; virulence; thioredoxin
A genetic algorithm has been developed to optimize the phases of the strongest reflections in SIR/SAD data. This is shown to facilitate density modification and model building in several test cases.
Experimental phasing of diffraction data from macromolecular crystals involves deriving phase probability distributions. These distributions are often bimodal, making their weighted average, the centroid phase, improbable, so that electron-density maps computed using centroid phases are often non-interpretable. Density modification brings in information about the characteristics of electron density in protein crystals. In successful cases, this allows a choice between the modes in the phase probability distributions, and the maps can cross the borderline between non-interpretable and interpretable. Based on the suggestions by Vekhter [Vekhter (2005 ▶), Acta Cryst. D61, 899–902], the impact of identifying optimized phases for a small number of strong reflections prior to the density-modification process was investigated while using the centroid phase as a starting point for the remaining reflections. A genetic algorithm was developed that optimizes the quality of such phases using the skewness of the density map as a target function. Phases optimized in this way are then used in density modification. In most of the tests, the resulting maps were of higher quality than maps generated from the original centroid phases. In one of the test cases, the new method sufficiently improved a marginal set of experimental SAD phases to enable successful map interpretation. A computer program, SISA, has been developed to apply this method for phase improvement in macromolecular crystallography.
experimental phasing; density modification; genetic algorithms
Experimental errors in macromolecular crystallography are underestimated as they do not account for the contribution of crystal-to-crystal variations.
Experimental errors as determined by data-processing algorithms in macromolecular crystallography are compared with the direct error estimates obtained by a multiple crystal data-collection protocol. It is found that several-fold error inflation is necessary to account for crystal-to-crystal variation. It is shown that similar error inflation is observed for data collected from multiple sections of the same crystal, indicating non-uniform crystal growth as one of the likely sources of additional data variation. Other potential sources of error inflation include differential X-ray absorption for different reflections and variation of unit-cell parameters. The underestimation of the experimental errors is more severe in lower resolution shells and for reflections characterized by a higher signal-to-noise ratio. These observations partially account for the gap between the expected and the observed R values in macromolecular crystallography.
experimental errors; R values
The crystal structures of the far-red fluorescent proteins eqFP650 and eqFP670 have been solved at 1.8 and 1.6 Å resolution, respectively. This permitted identification of the structural elements responsible for the bathochromic shift in both considered far-red fluorescent proteins.
The crystal structures of the far-red fluorescent proteins (FPs) eqFP650 (λex
max 592/650 nm) and eqFP670 (λex
max 605/670 nm), the successors of the far-red FP Katushka (λex
max 588/635 nm), have been determined at 1.8 and 1.6 Å resolution, respectively. An examination of the structures demonstrated that there are two groups of changes responsible for the bathochromic shift of excitation/emission bands of these proteins relative to their predecessor. The first group of changes resulted in an increase of hydrophilicity at the acylimine site of the chromophore due to the presence of one and three water molecules in eqFP650 and eqFP670, respectively. These water molecules provide connection of the chromophore with the protein scaffold via hydrogen bonds causing an ∼15 nm bathochromic shift of the eqFP650 and eqFP670 emission bands. The second group of changes observed in eqFP670 arises from substitution of both Ser143 and Ser158 by asparagines. Asn143 and Asn158 of eqFP670 are hydrogen bonded with each other, as well as with the protein scaffold and with the p-hydroxyphenyl group of the chromophore, resulting in an additional ∼20 nm bathochromic shift of the eqFP670 emission band as compared to eqFP650. The role of the observed structural changes was verified by mutagenesis.
far-red fluorescent proteins; cell imaging; tissue visualization; Katushka
Dose-dependent atomic B factors are used to determine the average spatial distribution of radiation damage to crystalline thaumatin and urease.
The spatial distribution of radiation damage (assayed by increases in atomic B factors) to thaumatin and urease crystals at temperatures ranging from 25 to 300 K is reported. The nature of the damage changes dramatically at approximately 180 K. Above this temperature the role of solvent diffusion is apparent in thaumatin crystals, as solvent-exposed turns and loops are especially sensitive. In urease, a flap covering the active site is the most sensitive part of the molecule and nearby loops show enhanced sensitivity. Below 180 K sensitivity is correlated with poor local packing, especially in thaumatin. At all temperatures, the component of the damage that is spatially uniform within the unit cell accounts for more than half of the total increase in the atomic B factors and correlates with changes in mosaicity. This component may arise from lattice-level, rather than local, disorder. The effects of primary structure on radiation sensitivity are small compared with those of tertiary structure, local packing, solvent accessibility and crystal contacts.
protein crystallography; radiation damage; temperature dependence
The structure of a tetrameric sponge galectin suggests a basis for glutamate receptor potentiation.
The galectins are a family of proteins that bind with highest affinity to N-acetyllactosamine disaccharides, which are common constituents of asparagine-linked complex glycans. They play important and diverse physiological roles, particularly in the immune system, and are thought to be critical metastatic agents for many types of cancer cells, including gliomas. A recent bioactivity-based screen of marine sponge (Cinachyrella sp.) extract identified an ancestral member of the galectin family based on its unexpected ability to positively modulate mammalian ionotropic glutamate receptor function. To gain insight into the mechanistic basis of this activity, the 2.1 Å resolution X-ray structure of one member of the family, galectin CchG-1, is reported. While the protomer exhibited structural similarity to mammalian prototype galectin, CchG-1 adopts a novel tetrameric arrangement in which a rigid toroidal-shaped ‘donut’ is stabilized in part by the packing of pairs of vicinal disulfide bonds. Twofold symmetry between binding-site pairs provides a basis for a model for interaction with ionotropic glutamate receptors.
galectins; Cinachyrella sp.
The structure of Giardia prolyl-tRNA synthetase cocrystallized with proline and ATP shows evidence for half-of-the-sites activity, leading to a corresponding mixture of reaction substrates and product (prolyl-AMP) in the two active sites of the dimer.
The genome of the human intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia contains only a single aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase gene for each amino acid. The Giardia prolyl-tRNA synthetase gene product was originally misidentified as a dual-specificity Pro/Cys enzyme, in part owing to its unexpectedly high off-target activation of cysteine, but is now believed to be a normal representative of the class of archaeal/eukaryotic prolyl-tRNA synthetases. The 2.2 Å resolution crystal structure of the G. lamblia enzyme presented here is thus the first structure determination of a prolyl-tRNA synthetase from a eukaryote. The relative occupancies of substrate (proline) and product (prolyl-AMP) in the active site are consistent with half-of-the-sites reactivity, as is the observed biphasic thermal denaturation curve for the protein in the presence of proline and MgATP. However, no corresponding induced asymmetry is evident in the structure of the protein. No thermal stabilization is observed in the presence of cysteine and ATP. The implied low affinity for the off-target activation product cysteinyl-AMP suggests that translational fidelity in Giardia is aided by the rapid release of misactivated cysteine.
aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases; protozoa; structural genomics; Giardia lamblia
A joint X-ray/neutron structure of d-xylose isomerase in complex with the inhibitor sorbitol was determined at room temperature at an acidic pH of 5.9. Protonation of the O5 O atom of the sugar was directly observed in the nuclear density maps. Under acidic conditions sorbitol gains a water-mediated interaction with the enzyme active site, which may explain the increased potency of the inhibitor at low pH.
d-Xylose isomerase (XI) converts the aldo-sugars xylose and glucose to their keto analogs xylulose and fructose, but is strongly inhibited by the polyols xylitol and sorbitol, especially at acidic pH. In order to understand the atomic details of polyol binding to the XI active site, a 2.0 Å resolution room-temperature joint X-ray/neutron structure of XI in complex with Ni2+ cofactors and sorbitol inhibitor at pH 5.9 and a room-temperature X-ray structure of XI containing Mg2+ ions and xylitol at the physiological pH of 7.7 were obtained. The protonation of oxygen O5 of the inhibitor, which was found to be deprotonated and negatively charged in previous structures of XI complexed with linear glucose and xylulose, was directly observed. The Ni2+ ions occupying the catalytic metal site (M2) were found at two locations, while Mg2+ in M2 is very mobile and has a high B factor. Under acidic conditions sorbitol gains a water-mediated interaction that connects its O1 hydroxyl to Asp257. This contact is not found in structures at basic pH. The new interaction that is formed may improve the binding of the inhibitor, providing an explanation for the increased affinity of the polyols for XI at low pH.
d-xylose isomerase; joint X-ray/neutron crystallography; protonation; hydration; metalloenzymes
Determination of the orientation of the enterovirus 71 virions in the crystal required the calculation of a locked rotation function that included only icosahedral threefold and fivefold symmetry axes. Otherwise, misleading high rotation-function values were produced by accidental alignment of icosahedral and crystallographic twofold axes.
Enterovirus 71 is a picornavirus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease but may induce fatal neurological illness in infants and young children. Enterovirus 71 crystallized in a body-centered orthorhombic space group with two particles in general orientations in the crystallographic asymmetric unit. Determination of the particle orientations required that the locked rotation function excluded the twofold symmetry axes from the set of icosahedral symmetry operators. This avoided the occurrence of misleading high rotation-function values produced by the alignment of icosahedral and crystallographic twofold axes. Once the orientations and positions of the particles had been established, the structure was solved by molecular replacement and phase extension.
enterovirus 71; viruses; rotation function; molecular replacement
The crystal structure of the 11.14 kDa orphan ORF 1382 from Archaeoglobus fulgidus (AF1382) has been determined by sulfur SAD phasing using data collected from a moderately diffracting crystal and 1.9 Å synchrotron X-rays.
The crystal structure of the 11.14 kDa orphan ORF 1382 from Archaeoglobus fulgidus (AF1382) has been determined by sulfur SAD phasing using a moderately diffracting crystal and 1.9 Å wavelength synchrotron X-rays. AF1382 was selected as a structural genomics target by the Southeast Collaboratory for Structural Genomics (SECSG) since sequence analyses showed that it did not belong to the Pfam-A database and thus could represent a novel fold. The structure was determined by exploiting longer wavelength X-rays and data redundancy to increase the anomalous signal in the data. AF1382 is a 95-residue protein containing five S atoms associated with four methionine residues and a single cysteine residue that yields a calculated Bijvoet ratio (ΔF
anom/F) of 1.39% for 1.9 Å wavelength X-rays. Coupled with an average Bijvoet redundancy of 25 (two 360° data sets), this produced an excellent electron-density map that allowed 69 of the 95 residues to be automatically fitted. The S-SAD model was then manually completed and refined (R = 23.2%, R
free = 26.8%) to 2.3 Å resolution (PDB entry 3o3k). High-resolution data were subsequently collected from a better diffracting crystal using 0.97 Å wavelength synchrotron X-rays and the S-SAD model was refined (R = 17.9%, R
free = 21.4%) to 1.85 Å resolution (PDB entry 3ov8). AF1382 has a winged-helix–turn–helix structure common to many DNA-binding proteins and most closely resembles the N-terminal domain (residues 1–82) of the Rio2 kinase from A. fulgidus, which has been shown to bind DNA, and a number of MarR-family transcriptional regulators, suggesting a similar DNA-binding function for AF1382. The analysis also points out the advantage gained from carrying out data reduction and structure determination on-site while the crystal is still available for further data collection.
AF1382; orphan ORFs; sulfur SAD; Archaeoglobus fulgidus
A new crystal-mounting method has been developed that involves a combination of controlled humid air and polymer glue for crystal coating. This method is particularly useful when applied to fragile protein crystals that are known to be sensitive to subtle changes in their physicochemical environment.
Protein crystals are fragile, and it is sometimes difficult to find conditions suitable for handling and cryocooling the crystals before conducting X-ray diffraction experiments. To overcome this issue, a protein crystal-mounting method has been developed that involves a water-soluble polymer and controlled humid air that can adjust the moisture content of a mounted crystal. By coating crystals with polymer glue and exposing them to controlled humid air, the crystals were stable at room temperature and were cryocooled under optimized humidity. Moreover, the glue-coated crystals reproducibly showed gradual transformations of their lattice constants in response to a change in humidity; thus, using this method, a series of isomorphous crystals can be prepared. This technique is valuable when working on fragile protein crystals, including membrane proteins, and will also be useful for multi-crystal data collection.
cryocrystallography; macromolecular crystallography; crystal mounting
The crystal structure of the AvrBs3–DNA complex is reported.
Transcription activator-like effectors contain a DNA-binding domain organized in tandem repeats. The repeats include two adjacent residues known as the repeat variable di-residue, which recognize a single base pair, establishing a direct code between the dipeptides and the target DNA. This feature suggests this scaffold as an excellent candidate to generate new protein–DNA specificities for biotechnological applications. Here, the crystal structure of AvrBs3 (residues 152–895, molecular mass 82 kDa) in complex with its target DNA sequence is presented, revealing a new mode of interaction with the initial thymine of the target sequence, together with an analysis of both the binding specificity and the thermodynamic properties of AvrBs3. This study quantifies the affinity and the specificity between AvrBs3 and its target DNA. Moreover, in vitro and in vivo analyses reveal that AvrBs3 does not show a strict nucleotide-binding preference for the nucleotide at the zero position of the DNA, widening the number of possible sequences that could be targeted by this scaffold.
gene targeting; protein–DNA interaction; genetics
The high-resolution crystal structures of apo and peptide-bound XIAP BIR2 are presented and compared with BIR3 structures to understand their selectivity. This crystal system can be used to determine the structures of BIR2–inhibitor complexes.
XIAP, a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis family of proteins, is a critical regulator of apoptosis. Inhibition of the BIR domain–caspase interaction is a promising approach towards treating cancer. Previous work has been directed towards inhibiting the BIR3–caspase-9 interaction, which blocks the intrinsic apoptotic pathway; selectively inhibiting the BIR2–caspase-3 interaction would also block the extrinsic pathway. The BIR2 domain of XIAP has successfully been crystallized; peptides and small-molecule inhibitors can be soaked into these crystals, which diffract to high resolution. Here, the BIR2 apo crystal structure and the structures of five BIR2–tetrapeptide complexes are described. The structural flexibility observed on comparing these structures, along with a comparison with XIAP BIR3, affords an understanding of the structural elements that drive selectivity between BIR2 and BIR3 and which can be used to design BIR2-selective inhibitors.
apoptosis; XIAP; BIR domains; caspases; extrinsic pathway; inhibitor of apoptosis; peptide complex; SMAC; AVPI
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is often used in protein crystallography as a low ionic strength precipitant for crystallization and a cryoprotectant for low temperature data collection. Prompted by the discovery of an apparent L-lactate molecule bound in the active site of the E. coli PutA proline dehydrogenase domain crystal structure, we measured the L-lactate concentration of several PEG solutions. Fifty percent (w/v) solutions of PEGs with molecular weight 3000, 4000, and 8000 contain millimolar levels of L-lactate. In contrast, L-lactate was not detected in solutions of PEG monomethyl ethers or PEG 3350. These results help explain why L-lactate was present in the proline dehydrogenase domain crystal structure. This work also has implications for the crystallization of enzymes that bind L-lactate.