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1.  Dystroglycan Binding to α-Neurexin Competes with Neurexophilin-1 and Neuroligin in the Brain* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2014;289(40):27585-27603.
Background: Extracellular matrix dystroglycan has essential functions at the neuromuscular junction and at inhibitory synapses in the brain.
Results: Brain dystroglycan competes with neurexophilin-1 and neuroligins for binding to presynaptic α-neurexins.
Conclusion: Competition between α-neurexin ligands in combination with alternative splicing determines formation of important trans-synaptic complexes.
Significance: This is the first analysis of binding interference in α-neurexin multiplexes.
α-Neurexins (α-Nrxn) are mostly presynaptic cell surface molecules essential for neurotransmission that are linked to neuro-developmental disorders as autism or schizophrenia. Several interaction partners of α-Nrxn are identified that depend on alternative splicing, including neuroligins (Nlgn) and dystroglycan (αDAG). The trans-synaptic complex with Nlgn1 was extensively characterized and shown to partially mediate α-Nrxn function. However, the interactions of α-Nrxn with αDAG, neurexophilins (Nxph1) and Nlgn2, ligands that occur specifically at inhibitory synapses, are incompletely understood. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we demonstrate the exact binding epitopes of αDAG and Nxph1 on Nrxn1α and show that their binding is mutually exclusive. Identification of an unusual cysteine bridge pattern and complex type glycans in Nxph1 ensure binding to the second laminin/neurexin/sex hormone binding (LNS2) domain of Nrxn1α, but this association does not interfere with Nlgn binding at LNS6. αDAG, in contrast, interacts with both LNS2 and LNS6 domains without inserts in splice sites SS#2 or SS#4 mostly via LARGE (like-acetylglucosaminyltransferase)-dependent glycans attached to the mucin region. Unexpectedly, binding of αDAG at LNS2 prevents interaction of Nlgn at LNS6 with or without splice insert in SS#4, presumably by sterically hindering each other in the u-form conformation of α-Nrxn. Thus, expression of αDAG and Nxph1 together with alternative splicing in Nrxn1α may prevent or facilitate formation of distinct trans-synaptic Nrxn·Nlgn complexes, revealing an unanticipated way to contribute to the identity of synaptic subpopulations.
PMCID: PMC4183798  PMID: 25157101
Adhesion; Autism; Disulfide; Glycomics; Molecular Modeling; Site-directed Mutagenesis
2.  MALDI Q-TOF CID MS for Diagnostic Ion Screening of Human Milk Oligosaccharide Samples 
Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) represent the bioactive components of human milk, influencing the infant’s gastrointestinal microflora and immune system. Structurally, they represent a highly complex class of analyte, where the main core oligosaccharide structures are built from galactose and N-acetylglucosamine, linked by 1–3 or 1–4 glycosidic linkages and potentially modified with fucose and sialic acid residues. The core structures can be linear or branched. Additional structural complexity in samples can be induced by endogenous exoglycosidase activity or chemical procedures during the sample preparation. Here, we show that using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) quadrupole-time-of-flight (Q-TOF) collision-induced dissociation (CID) as a fast screening method, diagnostic structural information about single oligosaccharide components present in a complex mixture can be obtained. According to sequencing data on 14 out of 22 parent ions detected in a single high molecular weight oligosaccharide chromatographic fraction, 20 different oligosaccharide structure types, corresponding to over 30 isomeric oligosaccharide structures and over 100 possible HMO isomers when biosynthetic linkage variations were taken into account, were postulated. For MS/MS data analysis, we used the de novo sequencing approach using diagnostic ion analysis on reduced oligosaccharides by following known biosynthetic rules. Using this approach, de novo characterization has been achieved also for the structures, which could not have been predicted.
PMCID: PMC4013645  PMID: 24743894
human milk oligosaccharides; MALDI Q-TOF (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization quadrupole-time-of-flight); MS (mass spectrometry); CID (collision-induced dissociation); diagnostic ion MS; de novo sequencing
3.  A New Mint1 Isoform, but Not the Conventional Mint1, Interacts with the Small GTPase Rab6 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64149.
Small GTPases of the Rab family are important regulators of a large variety of different cellular functions such as membrane organization and vesicle trafficking. They have been shown to play a role in several human diseases. One prominent member, Rab6, is thought to be involved in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease, the most prevalent mental disorder worldwide. Previous studies have shown that Rab6 impairs the processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), which is cleaved to β-amyloid in brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Additionally, all three members of the Mint adaptor family are implied to participate in the amyloidogenic pathway. Here, we report the identification of a new Mint1 isoform in a yeast two-hybrid screening, Mint1 826, which lacks an eleven amino acid (aa) sequence in the conserved C-terminal region. Mint1 826, but not the conventional Mint1, interacts with Rab6 via the PTB domain. This interaction is nucleotide-dependent, Rab6-specific and influences the subcellular localization of Mint1 826. We were able to detect and sequence a corresponding proteolytic peptide derived from cellular Mint1 826 by mass spectrometry proving the absence of aa 495–505 and could show that the deletion does not influence the ability of this adaptor protein to interact with APP. Taking into account that APP interacts and co-localizes with Mint1 826 and is transported in Rab6 positive vesicles, our data suggest that Mint1 826 bridges APP to the small GTPase at distinct cellular sorting points, establishing Mint1 826 as an important player in regulation of APP trafficking and processing.
PMCID: PMC3667844  PMID: 23737971
4.  A new male sex-pheromone and novel cuticular cues for chemical communication in Drosophila 
Current biology : CB  2009;19(15):1245-1254.
In many insect species, cuticular hydrocarbons serve as pheromones that can mediate complex social behaviors. In Drosophila melanogaster, several hydrocarbons including the male sex pheromone 11-cis-vaccenyl acetate (cVA) and female-specific 7,11-dienes influence courtship behavior and can function as cues for short-term memory associated with the mating experience. Behavioral and physiological studies suggest that other unidentified chemical communication cues are likely to exist. To more fully characterize the hydrocarbon profile of the D. melanogaster cuticle, we applied direct ultraviolet laser desorption/ionization orthogonal time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UV-LDI-o-TOF MS) and analyzed the surface of intact fruit flies at a spatial resolution of approximately 200 μm.
We report the chemical and spatial characterization of 28 species of cuticular hydrocarbons, including a new major class of oxygen-containing compounds. Using UV-LDI MS, pheromones previously shown to be expressed exclusively by one sex, e.g. cVA, 7,11-heptacosadiene, and 7,11-nonacosadiene, appear to be found on both male and female flies. In males, cVA co-localizes at the tip of the ejaculatory bulb with a second acetylated hydrocarbon named CH503. We describe the chemical structure of CH503 as 3-O-acetyl-1,3-dihydroxy-octacosa-11,19-diene and show one behavioral role for this compound as a long-lived inhibitor of male courtship. Like cVA, CH503 is transferred from males to females during mating. Unlike cVA, CH503 remains on the surface of females for at least 10 days.
Oxygenated hydrocarbons comprise one major previously undescribed class of compounds on the Drosophila cuticular surface. In addition to cVA, a newly-discovered long chain acetate, CH503, serves as a mediator of courtship-related chemical communication.
PMCID: PMC2726907  PMID: 19615904
5.  New Insights into the Glycosylation of the Surface Layer Protein SgsE from Geobacillus stearothermophilus NRS 2004/3a▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(22):7914-7921.
The surface of Geobacillus stearothermophilus NRS 2004/3a cells is covered by an oblique surface layer (S-layer) composed of glycoprotein subunits. To this S-layer glycoprotein, elongated glycan chains are attached that are composed of [→2)-α-l-Rhap-(1→3)-β-l-Rhap-(1→2)-α-L-Rhap-(1→] repeating units, with a 2-O-methyl modification of the terminal trisaccharide at the nonreducing end of the glycan chain and a core saccharide as linker to the S-layer protein. On sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels, four bands appear, of which three represent glycosylated S-layer proteins. In the present study, nanoelectrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MS) and infrared matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization orthogonal time-of-flight mass spectrometry were adapted for analysis of this high-molecular-mass and water-insoluble S-layer glycoprotein to refine insights into its glycosylation pattern. This is a prerequisite for artificial fine-tuning of S-layer glycans for nanobiotechnological applications. Optimized MS techniques allowed (i) determination of the average masses of three glycoprotein species to be 101.66 kDa, 108.68 kDa, and 115.73 kDa, (ii) assignment of nanoheterogeneity to the S-layer glycans, with the most prevalent variation between 12 and 18 trisaccharide repeating units, and the possibility of extension of the already-known →3)-α-l-Rhap-(1→3)-α-l-Rhap-(1→ core by one additional rhamnose residue, and (iii) identification of a third glycosylation site on the S-layer protein, at position threonine-590, in addition to the known sites threonine-620 and serine-794. The current interpretation of the S-layer glycoprotein banding pattern is that in the 101.66-kDa glycoprotein species only one glycosylation site is occupied, in the 108.68-kDa glycoprotein species two glycosylation sites are occupied, and in the 115.73-kDa glycoprotein species three glycosylation sites are occupied, while the 94.46-kDa band represents nonglycosylated S-layer protein.
PMCID: PMC1636307  PMID: 16963578

Results 1-5 (5)