Cas4 proteins, a core protein family associated with the microbial system of adaptive immunity CRISPR, are predicted to function in the adaptation step of the CRISPR mechanism. Here we show that the Cas4 protein SSO0001 from the archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus has metal-dependent endonuclease and 5' to 3' exonuclease activities against single-stranded DNA, as well as ATP-independent DNA unwinding activity toward double-stranded DNA. The crystal structure of SSO0001 revealed a decameric toroid formed by five dimers with each protomer containing one [4Fe-4S] cluster and one Mn2+ ion bound in the active site located inside the internal tunnel. The conserved RecB motif and four Cys residues are important for DNA binding and cleavage activities, whereas DNA unwinding depends on several residues located near the [4Fe-4S]-cluster. Our results suggest that Cas4 proteins might contribute to the addition of novel CRISPR spacers through the formation of 3'-DNA overhangs and to the degradation of foreign DNA.
CRISPR interference; Cas4; exonuclease; RecB motif; [4Fe-4S] cluster
Cas4 nucleases constitute a core family of CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) associated proteins, but little is known about their structure and activity. Here we report the crystal structure of the Cas4 protein Pcal_0546 from Pyrobaculum calidifontis, which revealed a monomeric protein with a RecB-like fold and one [2Fe-2S] cluster coordinated by four conserved Cys residues. Pcal_0546 exhibits metal-dependent 5′ to 3′ exonuclease activity against ssDNA substrates, whereas the Cas4 protein SSO1391 from Sulfolobus solfataricus can cleave ssDNA in both the 5′ to 3′ and 3′ to 5′ directions. The active site of Pcal_0546 contains a bound metal ion coordinated by the side chains of Asp123, Glu136, His146, and the main chain carbonyl of Ile137. Site-directed mutagenesis of Pcal_0546 and SSO1391 revealed that the residues of RecB motifs II, III and QhXXY are critical for nuclease activity, whereas mutations of the conserved Cys residues resulted in a loss of the iron-sulfur cluster, but had no effect on DNA cleavage. Our results revealed the biochemical diversity of Cas4 nucleases, which can have different oligomeric states, contain [4Fe-4S] or [2Fe-2S] clusters, and cleave single stranded DNA in different directions producing single-stranded DNA overhangs, which are potential intermediates for the synthesis of new CRISPR spacers.
The growth of diffraction-quality single crystals is of primary importance in protein X-ray crystallography. Chemical modification of proteins can alter their surface properties and crystallization behavior. The Midwest Center for Structural Genomics (MCSG) has previously reported how reductive methylation of lysine residues in proteins can improve crystallization of unique proteins that initially failed to produce diffraction-quality crystals. Recently, this approach has been expanded to include ethylation and isopropylation in the MCSG protein crystallization pipeline. Applying standard methods, 180 unique proteins were alkylated and screened using standard crystallization procedures. Crystal structures of 12 new proteins were determined, including the first ethylated and the first isopropylated protein structures. In a few cases, the structures of native and methylated or ethylated states were obtained and the impact of reductive alkylation of lysine residues was assessed. Reductive methylation tends to be more efficient and produces the most alkylated protein structures. Structures of methylated proteins typically have higher resolution limits. A number of well-ordered alkylated lysine residues have been identified, which make both intermolecular and intramolecular contacts. The previous report is updated and complemented with the following new data; a description of a detailed alkylation protocol with results, structural features, and roles of alkylated lysine residues in protein crystals. These contribute to improved crystallization properties of some proteins.
Chemical modification; Lysine reductive alkylation; Methylation; Ethylation; Isopropylation; Protein crystallization
The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains underscores the importance of identifying new drug targets and developing new antimicrobial compounds. Lysine and meso-diaminopimelic acid are essential for protein production and bacterial peptidoglycan cell wall remodeling and are synthesized in bacteria by enzymes encoded within dap operon. Therefore dap enzymes may serve as excellent targets for developing a new class of antimicrobial agents. The dapE-encoded N-succinyl-L,L-diaminopimelic acid desuccinylase (DapE) converts N-succinyl-L,L-diaminopimelic acid to L,L-diaminopimelic acid and succinate. The enzyme is composed of catalytic and dimerization domains, and belongs to the M20 peptidase family. To understand the specific role of each domain of the enzyme we engineered dimerization domain deletion mutants of DapEs from Haemophilus influenzae and Vibrio cholerae, and characterized these proteins structurally and biochemically. No activity was observed for all deletion mutants. Structural comparisons of wild-type, inactive monomeric DapE enzymes with other M20 peptidases suggest that the dimerization domain is essential for DapE enzymatic activity. Structural analysis and molecular dynamics simulations indicate that removal of the dimerization domain increased the flexibility of a conserved active site loop that may provide critical interactions with the substrate.
Microcin C (McC) is heptapeptide-adenylate antibiotic produced by Escherichia coli strains carrying the mccABCDEF gene cluster encoding enzymes, in addition to the heptapeptide structural gene mccA, necessary for McC biosynthesis and self-immunity of the producing cell. The heptapeptide facilitates McC transport into susceptible cells, where it is processed releasing a non-hydrolyzable aminoacyl adenylate that inhibits an essential aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase. The self-immunity gene mccF encodes a specialized serine-peptidase that cleaves an amide bond connecting the peptidyl or aminoacyl moieties of, respectively, intact and processed McC with the nucleotidyl moiety. Most mccF orthologs from organisms other than E. coli are not linked to the McC biosynthesis gene cluster. Here, we show that a protein product of one such gene, MccF from Bacillus anthracis (BaMccF), is able to cleave intact and processed McC and we present a series of structures of this protein. Structural analysis of apo-BaMccF and its AMP-complex reveal specific features of MccF-like peptidases that allow them to interact with substrates containing nucleotidyl moieties. Sequence analyses and phylogenetic reconstructions suggest that several distinct subfamilies form the MccF clade of the large S66 family of bacterial serine peptidases. We show that various representatives of the MccF clade can specifically detoxify non-hydrolyzable aminoacyl adenylates differing in their aminoacyl moieties. We hypothesize that bacterial mccF genes serve as a source of bacterial antibiotic resistance.
MccF; serine peptidase; nucleophilic elbow; catalytic triad (Ser-His-Glu); substrate binding loop
Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPRs) and the associated proteins (Cas) comprise a system of adaptive immunity against viruses and plasmids in prokaryotes. Cas1 is a CRISPR-associated protein that is common to all CRISPR-containing prokaryotes but its function remains obscure. Here we show that the purified Cas1 protein of Escherichia coli (YgbT) exhibits nuclease activity against single-stranded and branched DNAs including Holliday junctions, replication forks, and 5′-flaps. The crystal structure of YgbT and site-directed mutagenesis have revealed the potential active site. Genome-wide screens show that YgbT physically and genetically interacts with key components of DNA repair systems, including recB, recC and ruvB. Consistent with these findings, the ygbT deletion strain showed increased sensitivity to DNA damage and impaired chromosomal segregation. Similar phenotypes were observed in strains with deletion of CRISPR clusters, suggesting that the function of YgbT in repair involves interaction with the CRISPRs. These results show that YgbT belongs to a novel, structurally distinct family of nucleases acting on branched DNAs and suggest that, in addition to antiviral immunity, at least some components of the CRISPR-Cas system have a function in DNA repair.
Cas1; CRISPR; DNA recombination; DNA repair; nuclease; YgbT
Biosynthesis of lysine and meso-diaminopimelic acid in bacteria provides essential components for protein synthesis and construction of the bacterial peptidoglycan cell wall. The dapE operon enzymes synthesize both meso-diaminopimelic acid and lysine and, therefore, represent a potential targets for novel antibacterials. The dapE-encoded N-succinyl-L,L-diaminopimelic acid desuccinylase functions in a late step of the pathway and converts N-succinyl-L,L-diaminopimelic acid (L,L-SDAP) to L,L-diaminopimelic acid and succinate. Deletion of the dapE gene is lethal to Helicobacter pylori and Mycobacterium smegmatis indicating that DapE’s are essential for cell growth and proliferation. Since there are no similar pathways in humans, inhibitors that target DapE may have selective toxicity against only bacteria. A major limitation in developing antimicrobial agents that target DapE has been the lack of structural information. Herein we report the high-resolution X-ray crystal structures of the DapE from Haemophilus influenzae with one and two zinc ions bound in the active site, respectively. These two forms show different activity. Based on these newly determined structures we propose a revised catalytic mechanism of peptide bond cleavage by DapE enzymes. These structures provide important insight into catalytic mechanism of DapE enzymes as well as a structural foundation that is critical for the rational design of DapE inhibitors.
High-throughput structural genomics projects seek to delineate protein structure space by determining the structure of representatives of all major protein families. Generally this is accomplished by processing numerous proteins through standardized protocols, for the most part involving purification of N-terminally His-tagged proteins. Often proteins that fail this approach are abandoned, but in many cases further effort is warranted because of a protein’s intrinsic value. In addition, failure often occurs relatively far into the path to structure determination, and many failed proteins passed the first critical step, expression as a soluble protein. Salvage pathways seek to recoup the investment in this subset of failed proteins through alternative cloning, nested truncations, chemical modification, mutagenesis, screening buffers, ligands and modifying processing steps. To this end we have developed a series of ligation-independent cloning expression vectors that append various cleavable C-terminal tags instead of the conventional N-terminal tags. In an initial set of 16 proteins that failed with an N-terminal appendage, structures were obtained for C-terminally tagged derivatives of five proteins, including an example for which several alternative salvaging steps had failed. The new vectors allow appending C-terminal His6-tag and His6- and MBP-tags, and are cleavable with TEV or with both TEV and TVMV proteases.
LIC; TEV; C-terminal; His-tag; High-throughput; Structural genomics
A semi-automated computational procedure to assist in the identification of bound ligands from unknown electron density has been developed. The atomic surface surrounding the density blob is compared to a library of three-dimensional ligand binding surfaces extracted from the Protein Data Bank (PDB). Ligands corresponding to surfaces which share physicochemical texture and geometric shape similarities are considered for assignment. The method is benchmarked against a set of well represented ligands from the PDB, in which we show that we can identify the correct ligand based on the corresponding binding surface. Finally, we apply the method during model building and refinement stages from structural genomics targets in which unknown density blobs were discovered. A semi-automated computational method is described which aims to assist crystallographers with assigning the identity of a ligand corresponding to unknown electron density. Using shape and physicochemical similarity assessments between the protein surface surrounding the density and a database of known ligand binding surfaces, a plausible list of candidate ligands are identified for consideration. The method is validated against highly observed ligands from the Protein Data Bank and results are shown from its use in a high-throughput structural genomics pipeline.
Electron density assignment; Function annotation; Ligand identification; Ligand assignment; Protein surfaces
The catalytic and structural properties of the H67A and H349A altered dapE-encoded N-succinyl-l,l-diaminopimelic acid desuccinylase (DapE) from H. influenzae were investigated. Based on sequence alignment with CPG2 both H67 and H349 were predicted to be Zn(II) ligands. Catalytic activity was observed for the H67A altered DapE enzyme which exhibited kcat = 1.5 ± 0.5 sec−1 and Km = 1.4 ± 0.3 mM. No catalytic activity was observed for H349A under the experimental conditions used. The EPR and electronic absorption data indicate that the Co(II) ion bound to H349A-DapE is analogous to WT DapE after the addition of a single Co(II) ion. The addition of one equivalent of Co(II) to H67A altered DapE provides spectra that are very different from the first Co(II) binding site of the WT enzyme, but similar to the second binding site. The EPR and electronic absorption data, in conjunction with the kinetic data, are consistent with the assignment of H67 and H349 as active site metal ligands for the DapE from H. influenzae. Furthermore, the data suggest that H67 is a ligand in the first metal binding site while H349 resides in the second metal binding site. A three-dimensional homology structure of the DapE from H. influenzae was generated using the X-ray crystal structure of the DapE from N. meningitidis as a template and superimposed on the structure of AAP. This homology structure confirms the assignment of H67 and H349 as active site ligands. The superimposition of the homology model of DapE with the dizinc(II) structure of AAP indicates that within 4.0 Å of the Zn(II) binding sites of AAP, all of the amino acid residues of DapE are nearly identical.
biomedicine; biosynthesis; electron paramagnetic resonance; enzyme kinetics; homology model; site-directed mutagenesis; structure-function relationship