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1.  The Atomic Structure of the Phage Tuc2009 Baseplate Tripod Suggests that Host Recognition Involves Two Different Carbohydrate Binding Modules 
mBio  2016;7(1):e01781-15.
The Gram-positive bacterium Lactococcus lactis, used for the production of cheeses and other fermented dairy products, falls victim frequently to fortuitous infection by tailed phages. The accompanying risk of dairy fermentation failures in industrial facilities has prompted in-depth investigations of these phages. Lactococcal phage Tuc2009 possesses extensive genomic homology to phage TP901-1. However, striking differences in the baseplate-encoding genes stimulated our interest in solving the structure of this host’s adhesion device. We report here the X-ray structures of phage Tuc2009 receptor binding protein (RBP) and of a “tripod” assembly of three baseplate components, BppU, BppA, and BppL (the RBP). These structures made it possible to generate a realistic atomic model of the complete Tuc2009 baseplate that consists of an 84-protein complex: 18 BppU, 12 BppA, and 54 BppL proteins. The RBP head domain possesses a different fold than those of phages p2, TP901-1, and 1358, while the so-called “stem” and “neck” domains share structural features with their equivalents in phage TP901-1. The BppA module interacts strongly with the BppU N-terminal domain. Unlike other characterized lactococcal phages, Tuc2009 baseplate harbors two different carbohydrate recognition sites: one in the bona fide RBP head domain and the other in BppA. These findings represent a major step forward in deciphering the molecular mechanism by which Tuc2009 recognizes its saccharidic receptor(s) on its host.
Understanding how siphophages infect Lactococcus lactis is of commercial importance as they cause milk fermentation failures in the dairy industry. In addition, such knowledge is crucial in a general sense in order to understand how viruses recognize their host through protein-glycan interactions. We report here the lactococcal phage Tuc2009 receptor binding protein (RBP) structure as well as that of its baseplate. The RBP head domain has a different fold than those of phages p2, TP901-1, and 1358, while the so-called “stem” and “neck” share the fold characteristics also found in the equivalent baseplate proteins of phage TP901-1. The baseplate structure contains, in contrast to other characterized lactococcal phages, two different carbohydrate binding modules that may bind different motifs of the host’s surface polysaccharide.
PMCID: PMC4742702  PMID: 26814179
2.  Structural insight into how the human helicase subunit MCM2 may act as a histone chaperone together with ASF1 at the replication fork 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(3):1905-1917.
MCM2 is a subunit of the replicative helicase machinery shown to interact with histones H3 and H4 during the replication process through its N-terminal domain. During replication, this interaction has been proposed to assist disassembly and assembly of nucleosomes on DNA. However, how this interaction participates in crosstalk with histone chaperones at the replication fork remains to be elucidated. Here, we solved the crystal structure of the ternary complex between the histone-binding domain of Mcm2 and the histones H3-H4 at 2.9 Å resolution. Histones H3 and H4 assemble as a tetramer in the crystal structure, but MCM2 interacts only with a single molecule of H3-H4. The latter interaction exploits binding surfaces that contact either DNA or H2B when H3-H4 dimers are incorporated in the nucleosome core particle. Upon binding of the ternary complex with the histone chaperone ASF1, the histone tetramer dissociates and both MCM2 and ASF1 interact simultaneously with the histones forming a 1:1:1:1 heteromeric complex. Thermodynamic analysis of the quaternary complex together with structural modeling support that ASF1 and MCM2 could form a chaperoning module for histones H3 and H4 protecting them from promiscuous interactions. This suggests an additional function for MCM2 outside its helicase function as a proper histone chaperone connected to the replication pathway.
PMCID: PMC4330383  PMID: 25618846
3.  Hug1 is an intrinsically disordered protein that inhibits ribonucleotide reductase activity by directly binding Rnr2 subunit 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(21):13174-13185.
Rad53 is a conserved protein kinase with a central role in DNA damage response and nucleotide metabolism. We observed that the expression of a dominant-lethal form of RAD53 leads to significant expression changes for at least 16 genes, including the RNR3 and the HUG1 genes, both of which are involved in the control of nucleotide metabolism. We established by multiple biophysical and biochemical approaches that Hug1 is an intrinsically disordered protein that directly binds to the small RNR subunit Rnr2. We characterized the surface of interaction involved in Hug1 binding to Rnr2, and we thus defined a new binding region to Rnr2. Moreover, we show that Hug1 is deleterious to cell growth in the context of reduced RNR activity. This inhibitory effect of Hug1 on RNR activity depends on the binding of Hug1 to Rnr2. We propose a model in which Hug1 modulates Rnr2–Rnr1 association by binding Rnr2. We show that Hug1 accumulates under various physiological conditions of high RNR induction. Hence, both the regulation and the mode of action of Hug1 are different from those of the small protein inhibitors Dif1 and Sml1, and Hug1 can be considered as a regulator for fine-tuning of RNR activity.
PMCID: PMC4245953  PMID: 25378334
4.  Elevated CO2 and/or ozone modify lignification in the wood of poplars (Populus tremula x alba) 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2012;63(11):4291-4301.
Trees will have to cope with increasing levels of CO2 and ozone in the atmosphere. The purpose of this work was to assess whether the lignification process could be altered in the wood of poplars under elevated CO2 and/or ozone. Young poplars were exposed either to charcoal-filtered air (control), to elevated CO2 (800 μl l−1), to ozone (200 nl l−1) or to a combination of elevated CO2 and ozone in controlled chambers. Lignification was analysed at different levels: biosynthesis pathway activities (enzyme and transcript), lignin content, and capacity to incorporate new assimilates by using 13C labelling. Elevated CO2 and ozone had opposite effects on many parameters (growth, biomass, cambial activity, wood cell wall thickness) except on lignin content which was increased by elevated CO2 and/or ozone. However, this increased lignification was due to different response mechanisms. Under elevated CO2, carbon supply to the stem and effective lignin synthesis were enhanced, leading to increased lignin content, although there was a reduction in the level of some enzyme and transcript involved in the lignin pathway. Ozone treatment induced a reduction in carbon supply and effective lignin synthesis as well as transcripts from all steps of the lignin pathway and some corresponding enzyme activities. However, lignin content was increased under ozone probably due to variations in other major components of the cell wall. Both mechanisms seemed to coexist under combined treatment and resulted in a high increase in lignin content.
PMCID: PMC3398455  PMID: 22553285
13C labelling; elevated CO2; lignin; ozone; poplar; wood
5.  Cellulose and lignin biosynthesis is altered by ozone in wood of hybrid poplar (Populus tremula×alba) 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;62(10):3575-3586.
Wood formation in trees is a dynamic process that is strongly affected by environmental factors. However, the impact of ozone on wood is poorly documented. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of ozone on wood formation by focusing on the two major wood components, cellulose and lignin, and analysing any anatomical modifications. Young hybrid poplars (Populus tremula×alba) were cultivated under different ozone concentrations (50, 100, 200, and 300 nl l−1). As upright poplars usually develop tension wood in a non-set pattern, the trees were bent in order to induce tension wood formation on the upper side of the stem and normal or opposite wood on the lower side. Biosynthesis of cellulose and lignin (enzymes and RNA levels), together with cambial growth, decreased in response to ozone exposure. The cellulose to lignin ratio was reduced, suggesting that cellulose biosynthesis was more affected than that of lignin. Tension wood was generally more altered than opposite wood, especially at the anatomical level. Tension wood may be more susceptible to reduced carbon allocation to the stems under ozone exposure. These results suggested a coordinated regulation of cellulose and lignin deposition to sustain mechanical strength under ozone. The modifications of the cellulose to lignin ratio and wood anatomy could allow the tree to maintain radial growth while minimizing carbon cost.
PMCID: PMC3130179  PMID: 21357770
Cellulose; lignin; ozone; poplar; tension wood

Results 1-5 (5)