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1.  New ligation independent cloning vectors for expression of recombinant proteins with a self-cleaving CPD/6xHis-tag 
BMC Biotechnology  2017;17:1.
Recombinant protein purification is a crucial step for biochemistry and structural biology fields. Rapid robust purification methods utilize various peptide or protein tags fused to the target protein for affinity purification using corresponding matrices and to enhance solubility. However, affinity/solubility-tags often need to be removed in order to conduct functional and structural studies, adding complexities to purification protocols.
In this work, the Vibrio cholerae MARTX toxin Cysteine Protease Domain (CPD) was inserted in a ligation-independent cloning (LIC) vector to create a C-terminal 6xHis-tagged inducible autoprocessing enzyme tag, called “the CPD-tag”. The pCPD and alternative pCPD/ccdB cloning vectors allow for easy insertion of DNA and expression of the target protein fused to the CPD-tag, which is removed at the end of the purification step by addition of the inexpensive small molecule inositol hexakisphosphate to induce CPD autoprocessing. This process is demonstrated using a small bacterial membrane localization domain and for high yield purification of the eukaryotic small GTPase KRas. Subsequently, pCPD was tested with 40 proteins or sub-domains selected from a high throughput crystallization pipeline.
pCPD vectors are easily used LIC compatible vectors for expression of recombinant proteins with a C-terminal CPD/6xHis-tag. Although intended only as a strategy for rapid tag removal, this pilot study revealed the CPD-tag may also increase expression and solubility of some recombinant proteins.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12896-016-0323-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5216533  PMID: 28056928
Self-cleavable tag; Protein purification; Cysteine Protein Domain; Ligation-independent cloning (LIC); InsP6
2.  Substrate induced allosteric change in the quaternary structure of the spermidine N-acetyltransferase SpeG 
Journal of molecular biology  2015;427(22):3538-3553.
The spermidine N-acetyltransferase SpeG is a dodecameric enzyme that catalyzes the transfer of an acetyl group from acetyl-coenzyme A to polyamines such as spermidine and spermine. SpeG has an allosteric polyamine-binding site and acetylating polyamines regulates their intracellular concentrations. The structures of SpeG from Vibrio cholerae in complexes with polyamines and cofactor have been characterized earlier. Here, we present the dodecameric structure of SpeG from V. cholerae in a ligand-free form in three different conformational states: open, intermediate and closed. All structures were crystallized in C2 space group symmetry and contain 6 monomers in the asymmetric unit cell. Two hexamers related by crystallographic twofold symmetry form the SpeG dodecamer. The open and intermediate states have a unique open dodecameric ring. This SpeG dodecamer is asymmetric except for the one twofold axis and is unlike any known dodecameric structure. Using a fluorescence thermal shift assay, size exclusion chromatography with multi-angle light scattering, small angle X-ray scattering analysis, negative stain electron microscopy, and structural analysis we demonstrate that this unique open dodecameric state exists in solution. Our combined results indicate that polyamines trigger conformational changes and induce the symmetric closed dodecameric state of the protein when they bind to their allosteric sites.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4629997  PMID: 26410587
dodecameric enzyme; asymmetric structure; allosteric site; spermidine/spermine; GNAT acetyltransferase
3.  Common Genetic Polymorphisms Influence Blood Biomarker Measurements in COPD 
PLoS Genetics  2016;12(8):e1006011.
Implementing precision medicine for complex diseases such as chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) will require extensive use of biomarkers and an in-depth understanding of how genetic, epigenetic, and environmental variations contribute to phenotypic diversity and disease progression. A meta-analysis from two large cohorts of current and former smokers with and without COPD [SPIROMICS (N = 750); COPDGene (N = 590)] was used to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with measurement of 88 blood proteins (protein quantitative trait loci; pQTLs). PQTLs consistently replicated between the two cohorts. Features of pQTLs were compared to previously reported expression QTLs (eQTLs). Inference of causal relations of pQTL genotypes, biomarker measurements, and four clinical COPD phenotypes (airflow obstruction, emphysema, exacerbation history, and chronic bronchitis) were explored using conditional independence tests. We identified 527 highly significant (p < 8 X 10−10) pQTLs in 38 (43%) of blood proteins tested. Most pQTL SNPs were novel with low overlap to eQTL SNPs. The pQTL SNPs explained >10% of measured variation in 13 protein biomarkers, with a single SNP (rs7041; p = 10−392) explaining 71%-75% of the measured variation in vitamin D binding protein (gene = GC). Some of these pQTLs [e.g., pQTLs for VDBP, sRAGE (gene = AGER), surfactant protein D (gene = SFTPD), and TNFRSF10C] have been previously associated with COPD phenotypes. Most pQTLs were local (cis), but distant (trans) pQTL SNPs in the ABO blood group locus were the top pQTL SNPs for five proteins. The inclusion of pQTL SNPs improved the clinical predictive value for the established association of sRAGE and emphysema, and the explanation of variance (R2) for emphysema improved from 0.3 to 0.4 when the pQTL SNP was included in the model along with clinical covariates. Causal modeling provided insight into specific pQTL-disease relationships for airflow obstruction and emphysema. In conclusion, given the frequency of highly significant local pQTLs, the large amount of variance potentially explained by pQTL, and the differences observed between pQTLs and eQTLs SNPs, we recommend that protein biomarker-disease association studies take into account the potential effect of common local SNPs and that pQTLs be integrated along with eQTLs to uncover disease mechanisms. Large-scale blood biomarker studies would also benefit from close attention to the ABO blood group.
Author Summary
Precision medicine is an emerging approach that takes into account variability in genes, gene and protein expression, environment and lifestyle. Recent advances in high-throughput genome-wide genotyping, genomics, and proteomics coupled with the creation of large, highly-phenotyped clinical cohorts now allows for integration of these molecular data sets at the individual level. Here we use genome-wide genotyping and blood measurements of 88 biomarkers in 1,340 subjects from two large NIH-supported clinical cohorts of smokers (SPIROMICS and COPDGene) to identify more than 300 novel DNA variants that influence measurement of blood protein levels (pQTLs). We find that many DNA variants explain a large portion of the variability of measured protein expression in blood. Furthermore, we show that integration of DNA variants with blood biomarker levels can improve the ability of predictive models to reflect the relationship between biomarker and disease features (e.g., emphysema) within chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
PMCID: PMC4988780  PMID: 27532455
4.  The Relationship of Mucus Concentration (Hydration) to Mucus Osmotic Pressure and Transport in Chronic Bronchitis 
Rationale: Chronic bronchitis (CB) is characterized by persistent cough and sputum production. Studies were performed to test whether mucus hyperconcentration and increased partial osmotic pressure, in part caused by abnormal purine nucleotide regulation of ion transport, contribute to the pathogenesis of CB.
Objectives: We tested the hypothesis that CB is characterized by mucus hyperconcentration, increased mucus partial osmotic pressures, and reduced mucus clearance.
Methods: We measured in subjects with CB as compared with normal and asymptomatic smoking control subjects indices of mucus concentration (hydration; i.e., percentage solids) and sputum adenine nucleotide/nucleoside concentrations. In addition, sputum partial osmotic pressures and mucus transport rates were measured in subjects with CB.
Measurements and Results: CB secretions were hyperconcentrated as indexed by an increase in percentage solids and total mucins, in part reflecting decreased extracellular nucleotide/nucleoside concentrations. CB mucus generated concentration-dependent increases in partial osmotic pressures into ranges predicted to reduce mucus transport. Mucociliary clearance (MCC) in subjects with CB was negatively correlated with mucus concentration (percentage solids). As a test of relationships between mucus concentration and disease, mucus concentrations and MCC were compared with FEV1, and both were significantly correlated.
Conclusions: Abnormal regulation of airway surface hydration may slow MCC in CB and contribute to disease pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4532825  PMID: 25909230
COPD; mucociliary clearance; mucus hyperconcentration
5.  A novel polyamine allosteric site of SpeG from Vibrio cholerae is revealed by its dodecameric structure 
Journal of molecular biology  2015;427(6 0 0):1316-1334.
Spermidine N-acetyltransferase, encoded by the gene speG, catalyzes the initial step in the degradation of polyamines and is a critical enzyme for determining the polyamine concentrations in bacteria. In Escherichia coli, studies have shown that SpeG is the enzyme responsible for acetylating spermidine under stress conditions and for preventing spermidine toxicity. Not all bacteria contain speG, and many bacterial pathogens have developed strategies to either acquire or silence it for pathogenesis. Here, we present thorough kinetic analyses combined with structural characterization of the VCA0947 SpeG enzyme from the important human pathogen Vibrio cholerae. Our studies revealed the unexpected presence of a previously unknown allosteric site and an unusual dodecameric structure for a member of the Gcn5-related N-acetyltransferase (GNAT) superfamily. We show that SpeG forms dodecamers in solution and in crystals and describe its three-dimensional structure in several ligand-free and liganded structures. Importantly, these structural data define the first view of a polyamine bound in an allosteric site of an N-acetyltransferase. Kinetic characterization of SpeG from V. cholerae showed that it acetylates spermidine and spermine. The behavior of this enzyme is complex and exhibits sigmoidal curves and substrate inhibition. We performed a detailed non-linear regression kinetic analysis to simultaneously fit families of substrate saturation curves to uncover a simple kinetic mechanism that explains the apparent complexity of this enzyme. Our results provide a fundamental understanding of the bacterial SpeG enzyme, which will be key towards understanding the regulation of polyamine levels in bacteria during pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4355314  PMID: 25623305
spermidine/spermine; dodecamer; allosteric enzyme; GNAT; acetyltransferase
6.  Fluorescence-based thermal shift data on multidrug regulator AcrR from Salmonella entericasubsp. entrica serovar Typhimurium str. LT2 
Data in Brief  2016;7:537-539.
The fluorescence-based thermal shift (FTS) data presented here include Table S1 and Fig. S1, and are supplemental to our original research article describing detailed structural, FTS, and fluorescence polarization analyses of the Salmonella entericasubsp. entrica serovar Typhimurium str. LT2 multidrug transcriptional regulator AcrR (StAcrR) (doi:10.1016/j.jsb.2016.01.008) (Manjasetty et al., 2015 [1]). Table S1 contains chemical formulas, a Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number (CAS no.), FTS rank (a ligand with the highest rank) has the largest difference in the melting temperature (ΔTm), and uses as drug molecules against various pathological conditions of sixteen small-molecule ligands that increase thermal stability of StAcrR. Thermal stability of human enolase 1, a negative control protein, was not affected in the presence of various concentrations of the top six StAcrR binders (Fig. S1).
PMCID: PMC4796704  PMID: 27054155
Fluorescence-based thermal shift analysis; Infectious diseases; Transcriptional regulator; TetR; AcrR; Salmonella enterica; High-throughout screening
7.  Structural Genomics Support for Infectious Disease Drug Design 
ACS Infectious Diseases  2015;1(3):127-129.
PMCID: PMC4426352  PMID: 25984568
8.  Small angle X-ray scattering data and structure factor fitting for the study of the quaternary structure of the spermidine N-acetyltransferase SpeG 
Data in Brief  2015;6:47-52.
Here we describe the treatment of the small-angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) data used during SpeG quaternary structure study as part of the research article “Substrate induced allosteric change in the quaternary structure of the spermidine N-acetyltransferase SpeG” published in Journal of Molecular Biology [1]. These data were collected on two separate area detectors as separate dilution series of the SpeG and the SpeG with spermine samples along with data from their companion buffers. The data were radially integrated, corrected for incident beam variation, and scaled to absolute units. After subtraction of volume-fraction scaled buffer scattering and division by the SpeG concentration, multiple scattering curves free of an inter-molecular structure factor were derived from the dilution series. Rather than extrapolating to infinite dilution, the structure factor contribution was estimated by fitting to the full set of data provided by dividing the scattering curves of a dilution series by the curve from the most dilute sample in that series.
PMCID: PMC4688414  PMID: 26793756
9.  Obesity and People with Disabilities: The Implications for Health Care Expenditures 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2013;21(12):E798-E804.
This study estimates additional average health care expenditures for overweight and obesity for adults with disabilities vs. without.
Design and Methods
Descriptive and multivariate methods were used to estimate additional health expenditures by service type, age group, and payer using 2004–2007 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data.
In 2007, 37% of community-dwelling Americans with disabilities were obese vs. 27% of the total population. People with disabilities had almost three times ($2,459) the additional average obesity cost of people without disabilities ($889). Prescription drug expenditures for obese people with disabilities were three times as high and outpatient expenditures were 74% higher. People with disabilities in the 45- to 64-year age group had the highest obesity expenditures. Medicare had the highest additional average obesity expenditures among payers. Among people with prescription drug expenditures, obese people with disabilities had nine times the prevalence of diabetes as normal weight people with disabilities. Overweight people with and without disabilities had lower expenditures than normal-weight people with and without disabilities.
Obesity results in substantial additional health care expenditures for people with disabilities. These additional expenditures pose a serious current and future problem, given the potential for higher obesity prevalence in the coming decade.
PMCID: PMC4494729  PMID: 23804319
10.  Crystal structures of putative phosphoglycerate kinases from B. anthracis> and C. jejuni 
Phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK) is indispensable during glycolysis for anaerobic glucose degradation and energy generation. Here we present comprehensive structure analysis of two putative PGKs from Bacillus anthracis str. Sterne and Campylobacter jejuni in the context of their structural homologs. They are the first PGKs from pathogenic bacteria reported in the Protein Data Bank. The crystal structure of PGK from Bacillus anthracis str. Sterne (BaPGK) has been determined at 1.68 Å while the structure of PGK from Campylobacter jejuni (CjPGK) has been determined at 2.14 A resolution. The proteins’ monomers are composed of two domains, each containing a Rossmann fold, hinged together by a helix which can be used to adjust the relative position between two domains. It is also shown that apo-forms, of both BaPGK and CjPGK adopt open conformations as compared to the substrate and ATP bound forms of PGK from other species.
PMCID: PMC4485498  PMID: 22403005
Carbohydrate degradation; Glycolysis; PGK; Phosphoglycerate kinase; Pathogenic organism; Anthrax; Gastroenteritis; Guillain-Barré syndrome; Rossmann fold; Bacillus anthracis; Campylobacter jejuni
11.  Potential for Reduction of Streptogramin A Resistance Revealed by Structural Analysis of Acetyltransferase VatA 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2014;58(12):7083-7092.
Combinations of group A and B streptogramins (i.e., dalfopristin and quinupristin) are “last-resort” antibiotics for the treatment of infections caused by Gram-positive pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium. Resistance to streptogramins has arisen via multiple mechanisms, including the deactivation of the group A component by the large family of virginiamycin O-acetyltransferase (Vat) enzymes. Despite the structural elucidation performed for the VatD acetyltransferase, which provided a general molecular framework for activity, a detailed characterization of the essential catalytic and antibiotic substrate-binding determinants in Vat enzymes is still lacking. We have determined the crystal structure of S. aureus VatA in apo, virginiamycin M1- and acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA)-bound forms and provide an extensive mutagenesis and functional analysis of the structural determinants required for catalysis and streptogramin A recognition. Based on an updated genomic survey across the Vat enzyme family, we identified key conserved residues critical for VatA activity that are not part of the O-acetylation catalytic apparatus. Exploiting such constraints of the Vat active site may lead to the development of streptogramin A compounds that evade inactivation by Vat enzymes while retaining binding to their ribosomal target.
PMCID: PMC4249515  PMID: 25223995
12.  Targeting Human Central Nervous System Protein Kinases: An Isoform Selective p38αMAPK Inhibitor That Attenuates Disease Progression in Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Models 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2015;6(4):666-680.
The first kinase inhibitor drug approval in 2001 initiated a remarkable decade of tyrosine kinase inhibitor drugs for oncology indications, but a void exists for serine/threonine protein kinase inhibitor drugs and central nervous system indications. Stress kinases are of special interest in neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders due to their involvement in synaptic dysfunction and complex disease susceptibility. Clinical and preclinical evidence implicates the stress related kinase p38αMAPK as a potential neurotherapeutic target, but isoform selective p38αMAPK inhibitor candidates are lacking and the mixed kinase inhibitor drugs that are promising in peripheral tissue disease indications have limitations for neurologic indications. Therefore, pursuit of the neurotherapeutic hypothesis requires kinase isoform selective inhibitors with appropriate neuropharmacology features. Synaptic dysfunction disorders offer a potential for enhanced pharmacological efficacy due to stress-induced activation of p38αMAPK in both neurons and glia, the interacting cellular components of the synaptic pathophysiological axis, to be modulated. We report a novel isoform selective p38αMAPK inhibitor, MW01-18-150SRM (=MW150), that is efficacious in suppression of hippocampal-dependent associative and spatial memory deficits in two distinct synaptic dysfunction mouse models. A synthetic scheme for biocompatible product and positive outcomes from pharmacological screens are presented. The high-resolution crystallographic structure of the p38αMAPK/MW150 complex documents active site binding, reveals a potential low energy conformation of the bound inhibitor, and suggests a structural explanation for MW150’s exquisite target selectivity. As far as we are aware, MW150 is without precedent as an isoform selective p38MAPK inhibitor or as a kinase inhibitor capable of modulating in vivo stress related behavior.
PMCID: PMC4404319  PMID: 25676389
Signal transduction; cognitive dysfunction; protein kinase; crystallography; chemical synthesis; pharmacology
13.  Structural and functional analysis of betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase from Staphylococcus aureus  
The purified putative betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase SACOL2628 from the early methicillin-resistant S. aureus COL has betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase activity and is structurally similar to aldehyde dehydrogenases.
When exposed to high osmolarity, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) restores its growth and establishes a new steady state by accumulating the osmoprotectant metabolite betaine. Effective osmoregulation has also been implicated in the acquirement of a profound antibiotic resistance by MRSA. Betaine can be obtained from the bacterial habitat or produced intracellularly from choline via the toxic betaine aldehyde (BA) employing the choline dehydrogenase and betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase (BADH) enzymes. Here, it is shown that the putative betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase SACOL2628 from the early MRSA isolate COL (SaBADH) utilizes betaine aldehyde as the primary substrate and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) as the cofactor. Surface plasmon resonance experiments revealed that the affinity of NAD+, NADH and BA for SaBADH is affected by temperature, pH and buffer composition. Five crystal structures of the wild type and three structures of the Gly234Ser mutant of SaBADH in the apo and holo forms provide details of the molecular mechanisms of activity and substrate specificity/inhibition of this enzyme.
PMCID: PMC4427200  PMID: 25945581
betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase; Staphylococcus aureus; structural genomics; high-throughput approach; infectious diseases
14.  Targeting human central nervous system protein kinases: an isoform selective p38αMAPK inhibitor that attenuates disease progression in Alzheimer’s Disease mouse models 
ACS chemical neuroscience  2015;6(4):666-680.
The first kinase inhibitor drug approval in 2001 initiated a remarkable decade of tyrosine kinase inhibitor drugs for oncology indications, but a void exists for serine/threonine protein kinase inhibitor drugs and central nervous system indications. Stress kinases are of special interest in neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders due to their involvement in synaptic dysfunction and complex disease susceptibility. Clinical and preclinical evidence implicates the stress related kinase p38αMAPK as a potential neurotherapeutic target, but isoform selective p38αMAPK inhibitor candidates are lacking and the mixed kinase inhibitor drugs that are promising in peripheral tissue disease indications have limitations for neurologic indications. Therefore, pursuit of the neurotherapeutic hypothesis requires kinase isoform selective inhibitors with appropriate neuropharmacology features. Synaptic dysfunction disorders offer a potential for enhanced pharmacological efficacy due to stress-induced activation of p38αMAPK in both neurons and glia, the interacting cellular components of the synaptic pathophysiological axis to be modulated. We report a novel isoform selective p38αMAPK inhibitor, MW01-18-150SRM (= MW150), that is efficacious in suppression of hippocampal-dependent associative and spatial memory deficits in two distinct synaptic dysfunction mouse models. A synthetic scheme for biocompatible product and positive outcomes from pharmacological screens are presented. The high-resolution crystallographic structure of the p38αMAPK:MW150 complex documents active site binding, reveals a potential low energy conformation of the bound inhibitor, and suggests a structural explanation for MW150’s exquisite target selectivity. As far as we are aware, MW150 is without precedent as an isoform selective p38MAPK inhibitor or as a kinase inhibitor capable of modulating in vivo stress related behavior.
PMCID: PMC4404319  PMID: 25676389
signal transduction; cognitive dysfunction; protein kinase; crystallography; chemical synthesis; pharmacology
15.  Transparent conductor-embedding nanocones for selective emitters: optical and electrical improvements of Si solar cells 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:9256.
Periodical nanocone-arrays were employed in an emitter region for high efficient Si solar cells. Conventional wet-etching process was performed to form the nanocone-arrays for a large area, which spontaneously provides the graded doping features for a selective emitter. This enables to lower the electrical contact resistance and enhances the carrier collection due to the high electric field distribution through a nanocone. Optically, the convex-shaped nanocones efficiently reduce light-reflection and the incident light is effectively focused into Si via nanocone structure, resulting in an extremely improved the carrier collection performances. This nanocone-arrayed selective emitter simultaneously satisfies optical and electrical improvement. We report the record high efficiency of 16.3% for the periodically nanoscale patterned emitter Si solar cell.
PMCID: PMC4365400  PMID: 25787933
16.  The structure of bradyzoite-specific enolase from Toxoplasma gondii reveals insights into its dual cytoplasmic and nuclear functions 
The second crystal structure of a parasite protein preferentially enriched in the brain cyst of T. gondii has been solved at 2.75 Å resolution. Bradyzoite enolase 1 is reported to have differential functions as a glycolytic enzyme and a transcriptional regulator in bradyzoites.
In addition to catalyzing a central step in glycolysis, enolase assumes a remarkably diverse set of secondary functions in different organisms, including transcription regulation as documented for the oncogene c-Myc promoter-binding protein 1. The apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii differentially expresses two nuclear-localized, plant-like enolases: enolase 1 (TgENO1) in the latent bradyzoite cyst stage and enolase 2 (TgENO2) in the rapidly replicative tachyzoite stage. A 2.75 Å resolution crystal structure of bradyzoite enolase 1, the second structure to be reported of a bradyzoite-specific protein in Toxoplasma, captures an open conformational state and reveals that distinctive plant-like insertions are located on surface loops. The enolase 1 structure reveals that a unique residue, Glu164, in catalytic loop 2 may account for the lower activity of this cyst-stage isozyme. Recombinant TgENO1 specifically binds to a TTTTCT DNA motif present in the cyst matrix antigen 1 (TgMAG1) gene promoter as demonstrated by gel retardation. Furthermore, direct physical interactions of both nuclear TgENO1 and TgENO2 with the TgMAG1 gene promoter are demonstrated in vivo using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays. Structural and biochemical studies reveal that T. gondii enolase functions are multifaceted, including the coordination of gene regulation in parasitic stage development. Enolase 1 provides a potential lead in the design of drugs against Toxoplasma brain cysts.
PMCID: PMC4356359  PMID: 25760592
moonlighting protein; brain parasite; central nervous system; chronic infection; differentiation
17.  The E. coli sirtuin CobB shows no preference for enzymatic and nonenzymatic lysine acetylation substrate sites 
MicrobiologyOpen  2014;4(1):66-83.
Nε-lysine acetylation is an abundant posttranslational modification of thousands of proteins involved in diverse cellular processes. In the model bacterium Escherichia coli, the ε-amino group of a lysine residue can be acetylated either catalytically by acetyl-coenzyme A (acCoA) and lysine acetyltransferases, or nonenzymatically by acetyl phosphate (acP). It is well known that catalytic acCoA-dependent Nε-lysine acetylation can be reversed by deacetylases. Here, we provide genetic, mass spectrometric, structural and immunological evidence that CobB, a deacetylase of the sirtuin family of NAD+-dependent deacetylases, can reverse acetylation regardless of acetyl donor or acetylation mechanism. We analyzed 69 lysines on 51 proteins that we had previously detected as robustly, reproducibly, and significantly more acetylated in a cobB mutant than in its wild-type parent. Functional and pathway enrichment analyses supported the hypothesis that CobB regulates protein function in diverse and often essential cellular processes, most notably translation. Combined mass spectrometry, bioinformatics, and protein structural data provided evidence that the accessibility and three-dimensional microenvironment of the target acetyllysine help determine CobB specificity. Finally, we provide evidence that CobB is the predominate deacetylase in E. coli.
PMCID: PMC4335977  PMID: 25417765
Acetyl phosphate; bacteria; crystallography; deacetylase; mass spectrometry; posttranslational modification
18.  Crystal Structures of Type I Dehydroquinate Dehydratase in Complex with Quinate and Shikimate Suggest a Novel Mechanism of Schiff Base Formation 
Biochemistry  2014;53(5):872-880.
A component of the shikimate biosynthetic pathway, dehydroquinate dehydratase (DHQD) catalyzes the dehydration of 3-dehydroquniate (DHQ) to 3-dehydroshikimate. In the type I DHQD reaction mechanism a lysine forms a Schiff base intermediate with DHQ. The Schiff base acts as an electron sink to facilitate the catalytic dehydration. To address the mechanism of Schiff base formation, we determined structures of the Salmonella enterica wild-type DHQD in complex with the substrate analogue quinate and the product analogue shikimate. In addition, we determined the structure of the K170M mutant (Lys170 being the Schiff base forming residue) in complex with quinate. Combined with nuclear magnetic resonance and isothermal titration calorimetry data that revealed altered binding of the analogue to the K170M mutant, these structures suggest a model of Schiff base formation characterized by the dynamic interplay of opposing forces acting on either side of the substrate. On the side distant from the substrate 3-carbonyl group, closure of the enzyme’s β8−α8 loop is proposed to guide DHQ into the proximity of the Schiff base-forming Lys170. On the 3-carbonyl side of the substrate, Lys170 sterically alters the position of DHQ’s reactive ketone, aligning it at an angle conducive for nucleophilic attack. This study of a type I DHQD reveals the interplay between the enzyme and substrate required for the correct orientation of a functional group constrained within a cyclic substrate.
PMCID: PMC3985847  PMID: 24437575
19.  Structure-Based Mutational Studies of Substrate Inhibition of Betaine Aldehyde Dehydrogenase BetB from Staphylococcus aureus 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(13):3992-4002.
Inhibition of enzyme activity by high concentrations of substrate and/or cofactor is a general phenomenon demonstrated in many enzymes, including aldehyde dehydrogenases. Here we show that the uncharacterized protein BetB (SA2613) from Staphylococcus aureus is a highly specific betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase, which exhibits substrate inhibition at concentrations of betaine aldehyde as low as 0.15 mM. In contrast, the aldehyde dehydrogenase YdcW from Escherichia coli, which is also active against betaine aldehyde, shows no inhibition by this substrate. Using the crystal structures of BetB and YdcW, we performed a structure-based mutational analysis of BetB and introduced the YdcW residues into the BetB active site. From a total of 32 mutations, those in five residues located in the substrate binding pocket (Val288, Ser290, His448, Tyr450, and Trp456) greatly reduced the substrate inhibition of BetB, whereas the double mutant protein H448F/Y450L demonstrated a complete loss of substrate inhibition. Substrate inhibition was also reduced by mutations of the semiconserved Gly234 (to Ser, Thr, or Ala) located in the BetB NAD+ binding site, suggesting some cooperativity between the cofactor and substrate binding sites. Substrate docking analysis of the BetB and YdcW active sites revealed that the wild-type BetB can bind betaine aldehyde in both productive and nonproductive conformations, whereas only the productive binding mode can be modeled in the active sites of YdcW and the BetB mutant proteins with reduced substrate inhibition. Thus, our results suggest that the molecular mechanism of substrate inhibition of BetB is associated with the nonproductive binding of betaine aldehyde.
PMCID: PMC4054205  PMID: 24747910
20.  Incident light adjustable solar cell by periodic nanolens architecture 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6879.
Could nanostructures act as lenses to focus incident light for efficient utilization of photovoltaics? Is it possible, in order to avoid serious recombination loss, to realize periodic nanostructures in solar cells without direct etching in a light absorbing semiconductor? Here we propose and demonstrate a promising architecture to shape nanolenses on a planar semiconductor. Optically transparent and electrically conductive nanolenses simultaneously provide the optical benefit of modulating the incident light and the electrical advantage of supporting carrier transportation. A transparent indium-tin-oxide (ITO) nanolens was designed to focus the incident light-spectrum in focal lengths overlapping to a strong electric field region for high carrier collection efficiency. The ITO nanolens effectively broadens near-zero reflection and provides high tolerance to the incident light angles. We present a record high light-conversion efficiency of 16.0% for a periodic nanostructured Si solar cell.
PMCID: PMC4220283  PMID: 25371099
21.  On the Follow-Up of Genome-Wide Association Studies: An Overall Test for the Most Promising S.N.P.’s 
Genetic epidemiology  2011;35(5):303-309.
Even in large-scale genome-wide association studies, only a fraction of the true associations are detected at the genome-wide significance level. When few or no associations reach the significance threshold, one strategy is to follow-up on the most promising candidates, i.e. the single nucleotide polymorphisms with the smallest association-test p-values, by genotyping them in additional studies. In this communication, we propose an overall test for genome-wide association studies that analyzes the SNP’s with the most promising p-values simultaneously and thereby allows an early assessment of whether the follow- up of the selected SNP’s is likely promising. We theoretically derive the properties of the proposed overall test under the null hypothesis and assess its power based on simulation studies. An application to a GWAS for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease suggests that there are true association signals among the top SNPs and that an additional follow-up study is promising.
PMCID: PMC4096304  PMID: 21374717
genome wide association studies; snps association tests; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; statistical genetics; multiple testing
22.  Structure of the LdcB LD-Carboxypeptidase Reveals the Molecular Basis of Peptidoglycan Recognition 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2014;22(7):949-960.
Peptidoglycan surrounds the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane to protect the cell against osmolysis. The biosynthesis of peptidoglycan, made of glycan strands crosslinked by short peptides, is the target of antibiotics like β-lactams and glycopeptides. Nascent peptidoglycan contains pentapeptides that are trimmed by carboxypeptidases to tetra- and tripeptides. The well-characterized DD-carboxypeptidases hydrolyze the terminal D-alanine from the stem pentapeptide to produce a tetrapeptide. However, few LD-carboxypeptidases that produce tripeptides have been identified, and nothing is known about substrate specificity in these enzymes. We report biochemical properties and crystal structures of the LD-carboxypeptidases LdcB from Streptococcus pneumoniae, Bacillus anthracis, and Bacillus subtilis. The enzymes are active against bacterial cell wall tetrapeptides and adopt a zinc-carboxypeptidase fold characteristic of the LAS superfamily. We have also solved the structure of S. pneumoniae LdcB with a product mimic, elucidating the residues essential for peptidoglycan recognition and the conformational changes that occur on ligand binding.
•A peptidoglycan, peptide stem-trimming carboxypeptidase, LdcB, has been characterized•The crystal structure of LdcB has been solved with a peptidoglycan mimic bound•The LdcB structure undergoes significant conformational change on binding ligand•The exquisite substrate specificity of LdcB has also been demonstrated in vitro
Peptidoglyan is an essential layer surrounding the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane that is matured and trimmed by carboxypeptidases. Hoyland et al. describe the structure of one such carboxypeptidase in the presence of a product mimic, explaining the molecular specificity of the enzyme family.
PMCID: PMC4087270  PMID: 24909784
23.  Targeting DXP synthase in human pathogens: enzyme inhibition and antimicrobial activity of butylacetylphosphonate 
The Journal of antibiotics  2013;67(1):77-83.
The unique methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential in most bacterial pathogens. The first enzyme in this pathway, 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate (DXP) synthase, catalyzes a distinct thiamin diphosphate (ThDP)-dependent reaction to form DXP from D-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (D-GAP) and pyruvate and represents a potential anti-infective drug target. We have previously demonstrated that the unnatural bisubstrate analog, butylacetylphosphonate (BAP), exhibits selective inhibition of Escherichia coli DXP synthase over mammalian ThDP-dependent enzymes. Here, we report the selective inhibition by BAP against recombinant DXP synthase homologs from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Yersinia pestis, and Salmonella enterica. We also demonstrate antimicrobial activity of BAP against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive strains (including E. coli, S. enterica, Bacillus anthracis), and several clinically isolated pathogens. Our results suggest a mechanism of action involving inhibition of DXP synthase and show that BAP acts synergistically with established antimicrobial agents, highlighting a potential strategy to combat emerging resistance in bacterial pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3946878  PMID: 24169798
DXP synthase; isoprenoid biosynthesis; selective inhibitor; thiamin diphosphate
24.  Virtual High-Throughput Ligand Screening 
In Structural Genomics projects, virtual high-throughput ligand screening can be utilized to provide important functional details for newly determined protein structures. Using a variety of publicly available software tools, it is possible to computationally model, predict, and evaluate how different ligands interact with a given protein. At the Center for Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases (CSGID) a series of protein analysis, docking and molecular dynamics software is scripted into a single hierarchical pipeline allowing for an exhaustive investigation of protein-ligand interactions. The ability to conduct accurate computational predictions of protein-ligand binding is a vital component in improving both the efficiency and economics of drug discovery. Computational simulations can minimize experimental efforts, the slowest and most cost prohibitive aspect of identifying new therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC4073479  PMID: 24590723
Protein; Ligand; High-throughput screening; Docking; Molecular modeling
25.  Structural, Kinetic and Proteomic Characterization of Acetyl Phosphate-Dependent Bacterial Protein Acetylation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94816.
The emerging view of Nε-lysine acetylation in eukaryotes is of a relatively abundant post-translational modification (PTM) that has a major impact on the function, structure, stability and/or location of thousands of proteins involved in diverse cellular processes. This PTM is typically considered to arise by the donation of the acetyl group from acetyl-coenzyme A (acCoA) to the ε-amino group of a lysine residue that is reversibly catalyzed by lysine acetyltransferases and deacetylases. Here, we provide genetic, mass spectrometric, biochemical and structural evidence that Nε-lysine acetylation is an equally abundant and important PTM in bacteria. Applying a recently developed, label-free and global mass spectrometric approach to an isogenic set of mutants, we detected acetylation of thousands of lysine residues on hundreds of Escherichia coli proteins that participate in diverse and often essential cellular processes, including translation, transcription and central metabolism. Many of these acetylations were regulated in an acetyl phosphate (acP)-dependent manner, providing compelling evidence for a recently reported mechanism of bacterial Nε-lysine acetylation. These mass spectrometric data, coupled with observations made by crystallography, biochemistry, and additional mass spectrometry showed that this acP-dependent acetylation is both non-enzymatic and specific, with specificity determined by the accessibility, reactivity and three-dimensional microenvironment of the target lysine. Crystallographic evidence shows acP can bind to proteins in active sites and cofactor binding sites, but also potentially anywhere molecules with a phosphate moiety could bind. Finally, we provide evidence that acP-dependent acetylation can impact the function of critical enzymes, including glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, triosephosphate isomerase, and RNA polymerase.
PMCID: PMC3995681  PMID: 24756028

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