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author:("verses, Wim")
1.  SAXS analysis of the tRNA-modifying enzyme complex MnmE/MnmG reveals a novel interaction mode and GTP-induced oligomerization 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(9):5978-5992.
Transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) modifications, especially at the wobble position, are crucial for proper and efficient protein translation. MnmE and MnmG form a protein complex that is implicated in the carboxymethylaminomethyl modification of wobble uridine (cmnm5U34) of certain tRNAs. MnmE is a G protein activated by dimerization (GAD), and active guanosine-5'-triphosphate (GTP) hydrolysis is required for the tRNA modification to occur. Although crystal structures of MnmE and MnmG are available, the structure of the MnmE/MnmG complex (MnmEG) and the nature of the nucleotide-induced conformational changes and their relevance for the tRNA modification reaction remain unknown. In this study, we mainly used small-angle X-ray scattering to characterize these conformational changes in solution and to unravel the mode of interaction between MnmE, MnmG and tRNA. In the nucleotide-free state MnmE and MnmG form an unanticipated asymmetric α2β2 complex. Unexpectedly, GTP binding promotes further oligomerization of the MnmEG complex leading to an α4β2 complex. The transition from the α2β2 to the α4β2 complex is fast, reversible and coupled to GTP binding and hydrolysis. We propose a model in which the nucleotide-induced changes in conformation and oligomerization of MnmEG form an integral part of the tRNA modification reaction cycle.
PMCID: PMC4027165  PMID: 24634441
2.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray crystallographic analysis of putative tRNA-modification enzymes from Pyrococcus furiosus and Thermus thermophilus  
Two orthologous putative tRNA methyltransferases from P. furiosus and T. thermophilus have been expressed, purified and crystallized. X-ray diffraction data were collected to 2.2 and 2.05 Å, respectively.
Methyltransferases form a major class of tRNA-modifying enzymes that are needed for the proper functioning of tRNA. Here, the expression, purification and crystallization of two related putative tRNA methyltransferases from two kingdoms of life are reported. The protein encoded by the gene pf1002 from the archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus was crystallized in the monoclinic space group P21. A complete data set was collected to 2.2 Å resolution. The protein encoded by the gene ttc1157 from the eubacterium Thermus thermophilus was crystallized in the trigonal space group P3221. A complete data set was collected to 2.05 Å resolution.
PMCID: PMC3212469  PMID: 22102250
tRNA; methyltransferases; ttc1157; pf1002
3.  The Universally Conserved Prokaryotic GTPases 
Summary: Members of the large superclass of P-loop GTPases share a core domain with a conserved three-dimensional structure. In eukaryotes, these proteins are implicated in various crucial cellular processes, including translation, membrane trafficking, cell cycle progression, and membrane signaling. As targets of mutation and toxins, GTPases are involved in the pathogenesis of cancer and infectious diseases. In prokaryotes also, it is hard to overestimate the importance of GTPases in cell physiology. Numerous papers have shed new light on the role of bacterial GTPases in cell cycle regulation, ribosome assembly, the stress response, and other cellular processes. Moreover, bacterial GTPases have been identified as high-potential drug targets. A key paper published over 2 decades ago stated that, “It may never again be possible to capture [GTPases] in a family portrait” (H. R. Bourne, D. A. Sanders, and F. McCormick, Nature 348:125-132, 1990) and indeed, the last 20 years have seen a tremendous increase in publications on the subject. Sequence analysis identified 13 bacterial GTPases that are conserved in at least 75% of all bacterial species. We here provide an overview of these 13 protein subfamilies, covering their cellular functions as well as cellular localization and expression levels, three-dimensional structures, biochemical properties, and gene organization. Conserved roles in eukaryotic homologs will be discussed as well. A comprehensive overview summarizing current knowledge on prokaryotic GTPases will aid in further elucidating the function of these important proteins.
PMCID: PMC3165542  PMID: 21885683
4.  Crystal structures of the tRNA:m2G6 methyltransferase Trm14/TrmN from two domains of life 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(11):5149-5161.
Methyltransferases (MTases) form a major class of tRNA-modifying enzymes needed for the proper functioning of tRNA. Recently, RNA MTases from the TrmN/Trm14 family that are present in Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota have been shown to specifically modify tRNAPhe at guanosine 6 in the tRNA acceptor stem. Here, we report the first X-ray crystal structures of the tRNA m2G6 (N2-methylguanosine) MTase TTCTrmN from Thermus thermophilus and its ortholog PfTrm14 from Pyrococcus furiosus. Structures of PfTrm14 were solved in complex with the methyl donor S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM or AdoMet), as well as the reaction product S-adenosyl-homocysteine (SAH or AdoHcy) and the inhibitor sinefungin. TTCTrmN and PfTrm14 consist of an N-terminal THUMP domain fused to a catalytic Rossmann-fold MTase (RFM) domain. These results represent the first crystallographic structure analysis of proteins containing both THUMP and RFM domain, and hence provide further insight in the contribution of the THUMP domain in tRNA recognition and catalysis. Electrostatics and conservation calculations suggest a main tRNA binding surface in a groove between the THUMP domain and the MTase domain. This is further supported by a docking model of TrmN in complex with tRNAPhe of T. thermophilus and via site-directed mutagenesis.
PMCID: PMC3367198  PMID: 22362751
5.  Evaluation of Nucleoside Hydrolase Inhibitors for Treatment of African Trypanosomiasis ▿ †  
In this paper, we present the biochemical and biological evaluation of N-arylmethyl-substituted iminoribitol derivatives as potential chemotherapeutic agents against trypanosomiasis. Previously, a library of 52 compounds was designed and synthesized as potent and selective inhibitors of Trypanosoma vivax inosine-adenosine-guanosine nucleoside hydrolase (IAG-NH). However, when the compounds were tested against bloodstream-form Trypanosoma brucei brucei, only one inhibitor, N-(9-deaza-adenin-9-yl)methyl-1,4-dideoxy-1,4-imino-d-ribitol (UAMC-00363), displayed significant activity (mean 50% inhibitory concentration [IC50] ± standard error, 0.49 ± 0.31 μM). Validation in an in vivo model of African trypanosomiasis showed promising results for this compound. Several experiments were performed to investigate why only UAMC-00363 showed antiparasitic activity. First, the compound library was screened against T. b. brucei IAG-NH and inosine-guanosine nucleoside hydrolase (IG-NH) to confirm the previously demonstrated inhibitory effects of the compounds on T. vivax IAG-NH. Second, to verify the uptake of these compounds by T. b. brucei, their affinities for the nucleoside P1 and nucleoside/nucleobase P2 transporters of T. b. brucei were tested. Only UAMC-00363 displayed significant affinity for the P2 transporter. It was also shown that UAMC-00363 is concentrated in the cell via at least one additional transporter, since P2 knockout mutants of T. b. brucei displayed no resistance to the compound. Consequently, no cross-resistance to the diamidine or the melaminophenyl arsenical classes of trypanocides is expected. Third, three enzymes of the purine salvage pathway of procyclic T. b. brucei (IAG-NH, IG-NH, and methylthioadenosine phosphorylase [MTAP]) were investigated using RNA interference. The findings from all these studies showed that it is probably not sufficient to target only the nucleoside hydrolase activity to block the purine salvage pathway of T. b. brucei and that, therefore, it is possible that UAMC-00363 acts on an additional target.
PMCID: PMC2863631  PMID: 20194690
6.  Characterization of Phenylpyruvate Decarboxylase, Involved in Auxin Production of Azospirillum brasilense▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(21):7626-7633.
Azospirillum brasilense belongs to the plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria with direct growth promotion through the production of the phytohormone indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). A key gene in the production of IAA, annotated as indole-3-pyruvate decarboxylase (ipdC), has been isolated from A. brasilense, and its regulation was reported previously (A. Vande Broek, P. Gysegom, O. Ona, N. Hendrickx, E. Prinsen, J. Van Impe, and J. Vanderleyden, Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 18:311-323, 2005). An ipdC-knockout mutant was found to produce only 10% (wt/vol) of the wild-type IAA production level. In this study, the encoded enzyme is characterized via a biochemical and phylogenetic analysis. Therefore, the recombinant enzyme was expressed and purified via heterologous overexpression in Escherichia coli and subsequent affinity chromatography. The molecular mass of the holoenzyme was determined by size-exclusion chromatography, suggesting a tetrameric structure, which is typical for 2-keto acid decarboxylases. The enzyme shows the highest kcat value for phenylpyruvate. Comparing values for the specificity constant kcat/Km, indole-3-pyruvate is converted 10-fold less efficiently, while no activity could be detected with benzoylformate. The enzyme shows pronounced substrate activation with indole-3-pyruvate and some other aromatic substrates, while for phenylpyruvate it appears to obey classical Michaelis-Menten kinetics. Based on these data, we propose a reclassification of the ipdC gene product of A. brasilense as a phenylpyruvate decarboxylase (EC
PMCID: PMC2168738  PMID: 17766418

Results 1-6 (6)