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author:("nardin, Marco")
1.  The H2A/H2B-like histone-fold domain proteins at the crossroad between chromatin and different DNA metabolisms 
Transcription  2013;4(3):114-119.
Core histones are the building block of chromatin and among the most highly conserved proteins in eukaryotes. The related “deviant” histones share the histone-fold domain, and serve various roles in DNA metabolism. We provide here a structural and functional outlook of H2A/H2B-like deviant histones in transcription, replication and remodeling.
PMCID: PMC4042584  PMID: 23756340
chromatin; transcription factors; nucleosome; histone-fold; posttranslational modifications; H2A/H2B; NF-Y; NC2; TAF4/12; chromatin remodeling complex
2.  The Escherichia coli Lpt Transenvelope Protein Complex for Lipopolysaccharide Export Is Assembled via Conserved Structurally Homologous Domains 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(5):1100-1108.
Lipopolysaccharide is a major glycolipid component in the outer leaflet of the outer membrane (OM), a peculiar permeability barrier of Gram-negative bacteria that prevents many toxic compounds from entering the cell. Lipopolysaccharide transport (Lpt) across the periplasmic space and its assembly at the Escherichia coli cell surface are carried out by a transenvelope complex of seven essential Lpt proteins spanning the inner membrane (LptBCFG), the periplasm (LptA), and the OM (LptDE), which appears to operate as a unique machinery. LptC is an essential inner membrane-anchored protein with a large periplasm-protruding domain. LptC binds the inner membrane LptBFG ABC transporter and interacts with the periplasmic protein LptA. However, its role in lipopolysaccharide transport is unclear. Here we show that LptC lacking the transmembrane region is viable and can bind the LptBFG inner membrane complex; thus, the essential LptC functions are located in the periplasmic domain. In addition, we characterize two previously described inactive single mutations at two conserved glycines (G56V and G153R, respectively) of the LptC periplasmic domain, showing that neither mutant is able to assemble the transenvelope machinery. However, while LptCG56V failed to copurify any Lpt component, LptCG153R was able to interact with the inner membrane protein complex LptBFG. Overall, our data further support the model whereby the bridge connecting the inner and outer membranes would be based on the conserved structurally homologous jellyroll domain shared by five out of the seven Lpt components.
PMCID: PMC3571315  PMID: 23292770
3.  Structure and Haem-Distal Site Plasticity in Methanosarcina acetivorans Protoglobin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66144.
Protoglobin from Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A (MaPgb), a strictly anaerobic methanogenic Archaea, is a dimeric haem-protein whose biological role is still unknown. As other globins, protoglobin can bind O2, CO and NO reversibly in vitro, but it displays specific functional and structural properties within members of the hemoglobin superfamily. CO binding to and dissociation from the haem occurs through biphasic kinetics, which arise from binding to (and dissociation from) two distinct tertiary states in a ligation-dependent equilibrium. From the structural viewpoint, protoglobin-specific loops and a N-terminal extension of 20 residues completely bury the haem within the protein matrix. Thus, access of small ligand molecules to the haem is granted by two apolar tunnels, not common to other globins, which reach the haem distal site from locations at the B/G and B/E helix interfaces. Here, the roles played by residues Trp(60)B9, Tyr(61)B10 and Phe(93)E11 in ligand recognition and stabilization are analyzed, through crystallographic investigations on the ferric protein and on selected mutants. Specifically, protein structures are reported for protoglobin complexes with cyanide, with azide (also in the presence of Xenon), and with more bulky ligands, such as imidazole and nicotinamide. Values of the rate constant for cyanide dissociation from ferric MaPgb-cyanide complexes have been correlated to hydrogen bonds provided by Trp(60)B9 and Tyr(61)B10 that stabilize the haem-Fe(III)-bound cyanide. We show that protoglobin can strikingly reshape, in a ligand-dependent way, the haem distal site, where Phe(93)E11 acts as ligand sensor and controls accessibility to the haem through the tunnel system by modifying the conformation of Trp(60)B9.
PMCID: PMC3680402  PMID: 23776624
4.  CO Rebinding Kinetics and Molecular Dynamics Simulations Highlight Dynamic Regulation of Internal Cavities in Human Cytoglobin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e49770.
Cytoglobin (Cygb) was recently discovered in the human genome and localized in different tissues. It was suggested to play tissue-specific protective roles, spanning from scavenging of reactive oxygen species in neurons to supplying oxygen to enzymes in fibroblasts. To shed light on the functioning of such versatile machinery, we have studied the processes supporting transport of gaseous heme ligands in Cygb. Carbon monoxide rebinding shows a complex kinetic pattern with several distinct reaction intermediates, reflecting rebinding from temporary docking sites, second order recombination, and formation (and dissociation) of a bis-histidyl heme hexacoordinated reaction intermediate. Ligand exit to the solvent occurs through distinct pathways, some of which exploit temporary docking sites. The remarkable change in energetic barriers, linked to heme bis-histidyl hexacoordination by HisE7, may be responsible for active regulation of the flux of reactants and products to and from the reaction site on the distal side of the heme. A substantial change in both protein dynamics and inner cavities is observed upon transition from the CO-liganded to the pentacoordinated and bis-histidyl hexacoordinated species, which could be exploited as a signalling state. These findings are consistent with the expected versatility of the molecular activity of this protein.
PMCID: PMC3537629  PMID: 23308092
5.  Identification of the Molecular Site of Ivabradine Binding to HCN4 Channels 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53132.
Ivabradine is a specific heart rate-reducing agent approved as a treatment of chronic stable angina. Its mode of action involves a selective and specific block of HCN channels, the molecular components of sinoatrial "funny" (f)-channels. Different studies suggest that the binding site of ivabradine is located in the inner vestibule of HCN channels, but the molecular details of ivabradine binding are unknown. We thus sought to investigate by mutagenesis and in silico analysis which residues of the HCN4 channel, the HCN isoform expressed in the sinoatrial node, are involved in the binding of ivabradine. Using homology modeling, we verified the presence of an inner cavity below the channel pore and identified residues lining the cavity; these residues were replaced with alanine (or valine) either alone or in combination, and WT and mutant channels were expressed in HEK293 cells. Comparison of the block efficiency of mutant vs WT channels, measured by patch-clamp, revealed that residues Y506, F509 and I510 are involved in ivabradine binding. For each mutant channel, docking simulations correctly explain the reduced block efficiency in terms of proportionally reduced affinity for ivabradine binding. In summary our study shows that ivabradine occupies a cavity below the channel pore, and identifies specific residues facing this cavity that interact and stabilize the ivabradine molecule. This study provides an interpretation of known properties of f/HCN4 channel block by ivabradine such as the “open channel block”, the current-dependence of block and the property of "trapping" of drug molecules in the closed configuration.
PMCID: PMC3537762  PMID: 23308150
6.  Ligation Tunes Protein Reactivity in an Ancient Haemoglobin: Kinetic Evidence for an Allosteric Mechanism in Methanosarcina acetivorans Protoglobin 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33614.
Protoglobin from Methanosarcina acetivorans (MaPgb) is a dimeric globin with peculiar structural properties such as a completely buried haem and two orthogonal tunnels connecting the distal cavity to the solvent. CO binding to and dissociation from MaPgb occur through a biphasic kinetics. We show that the heterogenous kinetics arises from binding to (and dissociation from) two tertiary conformations in ligation-dependent equilibrium. Ligation favours the species with high binding rate (and low dissociation rate). The equilibrium is shifted towards the species with low binding (and high dissociation) rates for the unliganded molecules. A quantitative model is proposed to describe the observed carbonylation kinetics.
PMCID: PMC3313925  PMID: 22479420
7.  High Resolution Crystal Structures of the Cerebratulus lacteus Mini-Hb in the Unligated and Carbomonoxy States 
The nerve tissue mini-hemoglobin from Cerebratulus lacteus (CerHb) displays an essential globin fold hosting a protein matrix tunnel held to allow traffic of small ligands to and from the heme. CerHb heme pocket hosts the distal TyrB10/GlnE7 pair, normally linked to low rates of O2 dissociation and ultra-high O2 affinity. However, CerHb affinity for O2 is similar to that of mammalian myoglobins, due to a dynamic equilibrium between high and low affinity states driven by the ability of ThrE11 to orient the TyrB10 OH group relative to the heme ligand. We present here the high resolution crystal structures of CerHb in the unligated and carbomonoxy states. Although CO binds to the heme with an orientation different from the O2 ligand, the overall binding schemes for CO and O2 are essentially the same, both ligands being stabilized through a network of hydrogen bonds based on TyrB10, GlnE7, and ThrE11. No dramatic protein structural changes are needed to support binding of the ligands, which can freely reach the heme distal site through the apolar tunnel. A lack of main conformational changes between the heme-unligated and -ligated states grants stability to the folded mini-Hb and is a prerequisite for fast ligand diffusion to/from the heme.
PMCID: PMC3430218  PMID: 22942687
nerve globin; crystal structure; heme reactivity; carbon monoxide; protein matrix tunnel
8.  Globin-like proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans: in vivo localization, ligand binding and structural properties 
BMC Biochemistry  2010;11:17.
The genome of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans contains more than 30 putative globin genes that all are transcribed. Although their translated amino acid sequences fit the globin fold, a variety of amino-acid substitutions and extensions generate a wide structural diversity among the putative globins. No information is available on the physicochemical properties and the in vivo expression.
We expressed the globins in a bacterial system, characterized the purified proteins by optical and resonance Raman spectroscopy, measured the kinetics and equilibria of O2 binding and determined the crystal structure of GLB-1* (CysGH2 → Ser mutant). Furthermore, we studied the expression patterns of glb-1 (ZK637.13) and glb-26 (T22C1.2) in the worms using green fluorescent protein technology and measured alterations of their transcript abundances under hypoxic conditions.GLB-1* displays the classical three-over-three α-helical sandwich of vertebrate globins, assembled in a homodimer associated through facing E- and F-helices. Within the heme pocket the dioxygen molecule is stabilized by a hydrogen bonded network including TyrB10 and GlnE7.GLB-1 exhibits high ligand affinity, which is, however, lower than in other globins with the same distal TyrB10-GlnE7 amino-acid pair. In the absence of external ligands, the heme ferrous iron of GLB-26 is strongly hexacoordinated with HisE7, which could explain its extremely low affinity for CO. This globin oxidizes instantly to the ferric form in the presence of oxygen and is therefore incapable of reversible oxygen binding.
The presented data indicate that GLB-1 and GLB-26 belong to two functionally-different globin classes.
PMCID: PMC2867796  PMID: 20361867
9.  Specific Recognition of ZNF217 and Other Zinc Finger Proteins at a Surface Groove of C-Terminal Binding Proteins▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(21):8159-8172.
Numerous transcription factors recruit C-terminal binding protein (CtBP) corepressors. We show that the large zinc finger protein ZNF217 contacts CtBP. ZNF217 is encoded by an oncogene frequently amplified in tumors. ZNF217 contains a typical Pro-X-Asp-Leu-Ser (PXDLS) motif that binds in CtBP's PXDLS-binding cleft. However, ZNF217 also contains a second motif, Arg-Arg-Thr (RRT), that binds a separate surface on CtBP. The crystal structure of CtBP bound to an RRTGAPPAL peptide shows that it contacts a surface crevice distinct from the PXDLS binding cleft. Interestingly, both PXDLS and RRT motifs are also found in other zinc finger proteins, such as RIZ. Finally, we show that ZNF217 represses several promoters, including one from a known CtBP target gene, and mutations preventing ZNF217's contact with CtBP reduce repression. These results identify a new CtBP interaction motif and establish ZNF217 as a transcriptional repressor protein that functions, at least in part, by associating with CtBP.
PMCID: PMC1636751  PMID: 16940172
10.  Role of the C-Terminal Binding Protein PXDLS Motif Binding Cleft in Protein Interactions and Transcriptional Repression▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(21):8202-8213.
C-terminal binding proteins (CtBPs) are multifunctional proteins that can mediate gene repression. CtBPs contain a cleft that binds Pro-X-Asp-Leu-Ser (PXDLS) motifs. PXDLS motifs occur in numerous transcription factors and in effectors of gene repression, such as certain histone deacetylases. CtBPs have been depicted as bridging proteins that self-associate and link PXDLS-containing transcription factors to PXDLS-containing chromatin-modifying enzymes. CtBPs also recruit effectors that do not contain recognizable PXDLS motifs. We have investigated the importance of the PXDLS binding cleft to CtBP's interactions with various partner proteins and to its ability to repress transcription. We used CtBP cleft mutant and cleft-filled fusion derivatives to distinguish between partner proteins that bind in the cleft and elsewhere on the CtBP surface. Functional assays demonstrate that CtBP mutants that carry defective clefts retain repression activity when fused to heterologous DNA-binding domains. This result suggests that the cleft is not essential for recruiting effectors. In contrast, when tested in the absence of a fused DNA-binding domain, disruption of the cleft abrogates repression activity. These results demonstrate that the PXDLS binding cleft is functionally important but suggest that it is primarily required for localization of the CtBP complex to promoter-bound transcription factors.
PMCID: PMC1636740  PMID: 16940173
11.  Remarkably similar antigen receptors among a subset of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2004;113(7):1008-1016.
Studies of B cell antigen receptors (BCRs) expressed by leukemic lymphocytes from patients with B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) suggest that B lymphocytes with some level of BCR structural restriction become transformed. While analyzing rearranged VHDJH and VLJL genes of 25 non–IgM-producing B-CLL cases, we found five IgG+ cases that display strikingly similar BCRs (use of the same H- and L-chain V gene segments with unique, shared heavy chain third complementarity-determining region [HCDR3] and light chain third complementarity-determining region [LCDR3] motifs). These H- and L-chain characteristics were not identified in other B-CLL cases or in normal B lymphocytes whose sequences are available in the public databases. Three-dimensional modeling studies suggest that these BCRs could bind the same antigenic epitope. The structural features of the B-CLL BCRs resemble those of mAb’s reactive with carbohydrate determinants of bacterial capsules or viral coats and with certain autoantigens. These findings suggest that the B lymphocytes that gave rise to these IgG+ B-CLL cells were selected for this unique BCR structure. This selection could have occurred because the precursors of the B-CLL cells were chosen for their antigen-binding capabilities by antigen(s) of restricted nature and structure, or because the precursors derived from a B cell subpopulation with limited BCR heterogeneity, or both.
PMCID: PMC379317  PMID: 15057307

Results 1-11 (11)