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1.  Structure of the regulatory domain of the LysR family regulator NMB2055 (MetR-like protein) from Neisseria meningitidis  
The crystal structure of the regulatory domain of NMB2055, a putative MetR regulator, was solved at 2.5 Å resolution.
The crystal structure of the regulatory domain of NMB2055, a putative MetR regulator from Neisseria meningitidis, is reported at 2.5 Å resolution. The structure revealed that there is a disulfide bond inside the predicted effector-binding pocket of the regulatory domain. Mutation of the cysteines (Cys103 and Cys106) that form the disulfide bond to serines resulted in significant changes to the structure of the effector pocket. Taken together with the high degree of conservation of these cysteine residues within MetR-related transcription factors, it is suggested that the Cys103 and Cys106 residues play an important role in the function of MetR regulators.
PMCID: PMC3388910  PMID: 22750853
MetR; Neisseria meningitidis; LysR-type regulator
2.  Adhiron: a stable and versatile peptide display scaffold for molecular recognition applications 
We have designed a novel non-antibody scaffold protein, termed Adhiron, based on a phytocystatin consensus sequence. The Adhiron scaffold shows high thermal stability (Tm ca. 101°C), and is expressed well in Escherichia coli. We have determined the X-ray crystal structure of the Adhiron scaffold to 1.75 Å resolution revealing a compact cystatin-like fold. We have constructed a phage-display library in this scaffold by insertion of two variable peptide regions. The library is of high quality and complexity comprising 1.3 × 1010 clones. To demonstrate library efficacy, we screened against the yeast Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier (SUMO). In selected clones, variable region 1 often contained sequences homologous to the known SUMO interactive motif (V/I-X-V/I-V/I). Four Adhirons were further characterised and displayed low nanomolar affinities and high specificity for yeast SUMO with essentially no cross-reactivity to human SUMO protein isoforms. We have identified binders against >100 target molecules to date including as examples, a fibroblast growth factor (FGF1), platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM-1; CD31), the SH2 domain Grb2 and a 12-aa peptide. Adhirons are highly stable and well expressed allowing highly specific binding reagents to be selected for use in molecular recognition applications.
PMCID: PMC4000234  PMID: 24668773
consensus protein; high specificity binding; non-antibody-binding protein; protein–protein interaction; SUMO
3.  Assay Platform for Clinically Relevant Metallo-β-lactamases 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2013;56(17):6945-6953.
Metallo-β-lactamases (MBLs) are a growing threat to the use of almost all clinically used β-lactam antibiotics. The identification of broad-spectrum MBL inhibitors is hampered by the lack of a suitable screening platform, consisting of appropriate substrates and a set of clinically relevant MBLs. We report procedures for the preparation of a set of clinically relevant metallo-β-lactamases (i.e., NDM-1 (New Delhi MBL), IMP-1 (Imipenemase), SPM-1 (São Paulo MBL), and VIM-2 (Verona integron-encoded MBL)) and the identification of suitable fluorogenic substrates (umbelliferone-derived cephalosporins). The fluorogenic substrates were compared to chromogenic substrates (CENTA, nitrocefin, and imipenem), showing improved sensitivity and kinetic parameters. The efficiency of the fluorogenic substrates was exemplified by inhibitor screening, identifying 4-chloroisoquinolinols as potential pan MBL inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3910272  PMID: 23898798
4.  Structure of New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase 1 (NDM-1) 
Metallo-β-lactamase enzymes confer resistance to a wide variety of commonly used antibiotics; this resistance poses a significant threat to human health where it arises in a pathogenic bacterium. Here, the structure of the novel metallo-β-lactamase NDM-1, which is capable of providing resistance against a broad spectrum of antibacterial agents, has been solved.
Antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens poses a serious threat to human health and the metallo-β-lactamase (MBL) enzymes are responsible for much of this resistance. The recently identified New Delhi MBL 1 (NDM-1) is a novel member of this family that is capable of hydrolysing a wide variety of clinically important antibiotics. Here, the crystal structure of NDM-1 from Klebsiella pneumoniae is reported and its structure and active site are discussed in the context of other recently deposited coordinates of NDM-1.
PMCID: PMC3212353  PMID: 22102018
metallo-β-lactamases; New Delhi MBL 1; antibiotic resistance
5.  S-Adenosyl-S-carboxymethyl-l-homocysteine: a novel cofactor found in the putative tRNA-modifying enzyme CmoA 
The putative methyltransferase CmoA is involved in the nucleoside modification of transfer RNA. X-ray crystallography and mass spectrometry are used to show that it contains a novel SAM derivative, S-adenosyl-S-carboxymethyl-l-homocysteine, in which the donor methyl group is replaced by a carboxymethyl group.
Uridine at position 34 of bacterial transfer RNAs is commonly modified to uridine-5-oxyacetic acid (cmo5U) to increase the decoding capacity. The protein CmoA is involved in the formation of cmo5U and was annotated as an S-adenosyl-l-methionine-dependent (SAM-dependent) methyltransferase on the basis of its sequence homology to other SAM-containing enzymes. However, both the crystal structure of Escherichia coli CmoA at 1.73 Å resolution and mass spectrometry demonstrate that it contains a novel cofactor, S-adenosyl-S-carboxymethyl-l-homocysteine (SCM-SAH), in which the donor methyl group is substituted by a carboxy­methyl group. The carboxyl moiety forms a salt-bridge interaction with Arg199 that is conserved in a large group of CmoA-related proteins but is not conserved in other SAM-containing enzymes. This raises the possibility that a number of enzymes that have previously been annotated as SAM-dependent are in fact SCM-SAH-dependent. Indeed, inspection of electron density for one such enzyme with known X-­ray structure, PDB entry 1im8, suggests that the active site contains SCM-SAH and not SAM.
PMCID: PMC3663124  PMID: 23695253
SCM-SAH; Escherichia coli; putative tRNA-modification enzyme; cmo5U biosynthesis
6.  Structural and Functional Characterization of the Kindlin-1 Pleckstrin Homology Domain* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(52):43246-43261.
Background: Kindlins are essential co-activators with talin of integrins.
Results: Kindlin-1 PH domain is necessary for integrin activation and has low affinity for PtdInsP species partly determined by a salt bridge across its binding pocket.
Conclusion: The PH domain is necessary to kindlins, localizing them to integrins, and displays subtle structural variations having major functional effects.
Significance: Targeting of kindlins partly depends on their PH domains.
Inside-out activation of integrins is mediated via the binding of talin and kindlin to integrin β-subunit cytoplasmic tails. The kindlin FERM domain is interrupted by a pleckstrin homology (PH) domain within its F2 subdomain. Here, we present data confirming the importance of the kindlin-1 PH domain for integrin activation and its x-ray crystal structure at a resolution of 2.1 Å revealing a C-terminal second α-helix integral to the domain but found only in the kindlin protein family. An isoform-specific salt bridge occludes the canonical phosphoinositide binding site, but molecular dynamics simulations display transient switching to an alternative open conformer. Molecular docking reveals that the opening of the pocket would enable potential ligands to bind within it. Although lipid overlay assays suggested the PH domain binds inositol monophosphates, surface plasmon resonance demonstrated weak affinities for inositol 3,4,5-triphosphate (Ins(3,4,5)P3; KD ∼100 μm) and no monophosphate binding. Removing the salt bridge by site-directed mutagenesis increases the PH domain affinity for Ins(3,4,5)P3 as measured by surface plasmon resonance and enables it to bind PtdIns(3,5)P2 on a dot-blot. Structural comparison with other PH domains suggests that the phosphate binding pocket in the kindlin-1 PH domain is more occluded than in kindlins-2 and -3 due to its salt bridge. In addition, the apparent affinity for Ins(3,4,5)P3 is affected by the presence of PO4 ions in the buffer. We suggest the physiological ligand of the kindlin-1 PH domain is most likely not an inositol phosphate but another phosphorylated species.
PMCID: PMC3527912  PMID: 23132860
Cell Adhesion; Cell Biology; Inositol Phosphates; Integrins; Molecular Dynamics; Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR); X-ray Crystallography; Kindlins; Pleckstrin Homology Domains
7.  Streamlining Homogeneous Glycoprotein Production for Biophysical and Structural Applications by Targeted Cell Line Development 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e27829.
Studying the biophysical characteristics of glycosylated proteins and solving their three-dimensional structures requires homogeneous recombinant protein of high quality.We introduce here a new approach to produce glycoproteins in homogenous form with the well-established, glycosylation mutant CHO Lec3.2.8.1 cells. Using preparative cell sorting, stable, high-expressing GFP ‘master’ cell lines were generated that can be converted fast and reliably by targeted integration via Flp recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) to produce any glycoprotein. Small-scale transient transfection of HEK293 cells was used to identify genetically engineered constructs suitable for constructing stable cell lines. Stable cell lines expressing 10 different proteins were established. The system was validated by expression, purification, deglycosylation and crystallization of the heavily glycosylated luminal domains of lysosome-associated membrane proteins (LAMP).
PMCID: PMC3235087  PMID: 22174749
8.  xtalPiMS: A PiMS-based web application for the management and monitoring of crystallization trials 
Journal of Structural Biology  2011;175(2-2):230-235.
A major advance in protein structure determination has been the advent of nanolitre-scale crystallization and (in a high-throughput environment) the development of robotic systems for storing and imaging crystallization trials. Most of these trials are carried out in 96-well (or higher density) plates and managing them is a significant information management challenge. We describe xtalPiMS, a web-based application for the management and monitoring of crystallization trials. xtalPiMS has a user-interface layer based on the standards of the Protein Information Management System (PiMS) and a database layer which links the crystallization trial images to the meta-data associated with a particular crystallization trial. The user interface has been optimized for the efficient monitoring of high-throughput environments with three different automated imagers and work to support a fourth imager is in progress, but it can even be of use without robotics. The database can either be a PiMS database or a legacy database for which a suitable mapping layer has been developed.
PMCID: PMC3477317  PMID: 21605683
Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS); Protein crystallization; Robotic imagers; Java web application; Data management and databases
9.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of mouse RANK and its complex with RANKL 
Mouse RANKL and its receptor RANK have been cloned, expressed and purified. Crystals of RANK alone and in complex with RANKL have been obtained from which diffraction data have been collected to 2.0 and 2.8 Å resolution, respectively.
The interaction between the TNF-family molecule receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) and its receptor RANK induces osteoclast formation, activation and survival in the process of bone remodelling. RANKL–RANK also plays critical roles in T-cell/dendritic cell communication and lymph-node formation and in a variety of pathologic conditions such as tumour-cell migration and bone metastasis. Both the ectodomain of mouse RANKL and the extracellular domain of mouse RANK have been cloned, expressed and purified. Crystals of RANK alone and of RANK in complex with RANKL have been obtained that are suitable for structure determination.
PMCID: PMC2688419  PMID: 19478440
RANK; RANKL; OPG; RANKL–RANK complex; TNF superfamily
10.  Crystal Structures of Penicillin-Binding Protein 3 from Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Comparison of Native and Antibiotic-Bound Forms 
Journal of Molecular Biology  2011;405(1-3):173-184.
We report the first crystal structures of a penicillin-binding protein (PBP), PBP3, from Pseudomonas aeruginosa in native form and covalently linked to two important β-lactam antibiotics, carbenicillin and ceftazidime. Overall, the structures of apo and acyl complexes are very similar; however, variations in the orientation of the amino-terminal membrane-proximal domain relative to that of the carboxy-terminal transpeptidase domain indicate interdomain flexibility. Binding of either carbenicillin or ceftazidime to purified PBP3 increases the thermostability of the enzyme significantly and is associated with local conformational changes, which lead to a narrowing of the substrate-binding cleft. The orientations of the two β-lactams in the active site and the key interactions formed between the ligands and PBP3 are similar despite differences in the two drugs, indicating a degree of flexibility in the binding site. The conserved binding mode of β-lactam-based inhibitors appears to extend to other PBPs, as suggested by a comparison of the PBP3/ceftazidime complex and the Escherichia coli PBP1b/ceftoxamine complex. Since P. aeruginosa is an important human pathogen, the structural data reveal the mode of action of the frontline antibiotic ceftazidime at the molecular level. Improved drugs to combat infections by P. aeruginosa and related Gram-negative bacteria are sought and our study provides templates to assist that process and allows us to discuss new ways of inhibiting PBPs.
PMCID: PMC3025346  PMID: 20974151
PBP, penicillin-binding protein; HMM, high molecular mass; LMM, low molecular mass; PDB, Protein Data Bank; ESRF, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility; anti-bacterial; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; carbenicillin; ceftazidime; enzyme structure
11.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of CrgA, a LysR-type transcriptional regulator from pathogenic Neisseria meningitidis MC58 
The full length and the regulatory domain of the LysR-type transcriptional regulator CrgA have been crystallized. Diffraction data were collected from two crystal forms of full-length CrgA to 3.0 and 3.8 Å resolution, respectively. Crystals of the selenomethionine derivative of the C-terminal regulatory domain of CrgA diffracted to 2.3 Å resolution.
Although LysR-type regulators (LTTRs) represent the largest family of transcriptional regulators in bacteria, the full-length structure of only one annotated LTTR (CbnR) has been deposited in the PDB. CrgA, a LTTR from pathogenic Neisseria meningitidis MC58, which is up-regulated upon bacterial cell contact with human epithelial cells, has been cloned, purified and crystallized. Crystals of full-length CrgA were obtained after buffer screening with a thermal shift assay and concentration with 0.2 M NDSB-256. Data were collected from two crystal forms of full-length CrgA belonging to space groups P212121 and P21, diffracting to 3.0 and 3.8 Å resolution and consistent with the presence of between six and ten and between ten and 20 copies of CrgA in the asymmetric unit, respectively. In addition, diffraction data were collected to 2.3 Å resolution from the selenomethionine derivative of the regulatory domain of CrgA. The crystals belonged to space group P21 and contained two molecules in the asymmetric unit.
PMCID: PMC2531262  PMID: 18765907
CrgA; Neisseria meningitidis; LysR-type regulators
12.  Crystal Structure of a Novel Conformational State of the Flavivirus NS3 Protein: Implications for Polyprotein Processing and Viral Replication▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(24):12895-12906.
The flavivirus genome comprises a single strand of positive-sense RNA, which is translated into a polyprotein and cleaved by a combination of viral and host proteases to yield functional proteins. One of these, nonstructural protein 3 (NS3), is an enzyme with both serine protease and NTPase/helicase activities. NS3 plays a central role in the flavivirus life cycle: the NS3 N-terminal serine protease together with its essential cofactor NS2B is involved in the processing of the polyprotein, whereas the NS3 C-terminal NTPase/helicase is responsible for ATP-dependent RNA strand separation during replication. An unresolved question remains regarding why NS3 appears to encode two apparently disconnected functionalities within one protein. Here we report the 2.75-Å-resolution crystal structure of full-length Murray Valley encephalitis virus NS3 fused with the protease activation peptide of NS2B. The biochemical characterization of this construct suggests that the protease has little influence on the helicase activity and vice versa. This finding is in agreement with the structural data, revealing a single protein with two essentially segregated globular domains. Comparison of the structure with that of dengue virus type 4 NS2B-NS3 reveals a relative orientation of the two domains that is radically different between the two structures. Our analysis suggests that the relative domain-domain orientation in NS3 is highly variable and dictated by a flexible interdomain linker. The possible implications of this conformational flexibility for the function of NS3 are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2786852  PMID: 19793813
13.  Novel structural features in two ZHX homeodomains derived from a systematic study of single and multiple domains 
Zhx1 to 3 (zinc-fingers and homeoboxes) form a set of paralogous genes encoding multi-domain proteins. ZHX proteins consist of two zinc fingers followed by five homeodomains. ZHXs have biological roles in cell cycle control by acting as co-repressors of the transcriptional regulator Nuclear Factor Y. As part of a structural genomics project we have expressed single and multi-domain fragments of the different human ZHX genes for use in structure determination.
A total of 30 single and multiple domain ZHX1-3 constructs selected from bioinformatics protocols were screened for soluble expression in E. coli using high throughput methodologies. Two homeodomains were crystallized leading to structures for ZHX1 HD4 and ZHX2 HD2. ZHX1 HD4, although closest matched to homeodomains from 'homez' and 'engrailed', showed structural differences, notably an additional C-terminal helix (helix V) which wrapped over helix I thereby making extensive contacts. Although ZHX2 HD2-3 was successfully expressed and purified, proteolysis occurred during crystallization yielding crystals of just HD2. The structure of ZHX2 HD2 showed an unusual open conformation with helix I undergoing 'domain-swapping' to form a homodimer.
Although multiple-domain constructs of ZHX1 selected by bioinformatics studies could be expressed solubly, only single homeodomains yielded crystals. The crystal structure of ZHX1 HD4 showed additional hydrophobic interactions relative to many known homeodomains via extensive contacts formed by the novel C-terminal helix V with, in particular, helix I. Additionally, the replacement of some charged covariant residues (which are commonly observed to form salt bridges in non-homeotherms such as the Drosophila 'engrailed' homeodomain), by apolar residues further increases hydrophobic contacts within ZHX1 HD4, and potentially stability, relative to engrailed homeodomain. ZHX1 HD4 helix V points away from the normally observed DNA major groove binding site on homeodomains and thus would not obstruct the putative binding of nucleic acid. In contrast, for ZHX2 HD2 the observed altered conformation involving rearrangement of helix I, relative to the canonical homeodomain fold, disrupts the normal DNA binding site, although protein-protein binding is possible as observed in homodimer formation.
PMCID: PMC2893186  PMID: 20509910
14.  The structure of a reduced form of OxyR from Neisseria meningitidis 
Survival of the human pathogen, Neisseria meningitidis, requires an effective response to oxidative stress resulting from the release of hydrogen peroxide by cells of the human immune system. In N. meningitidis, expression of catalase, which is responsible for detoxifying hydrogen peroxide, is controlled by OxyR, a redox responsive LysR-type regulator. OxyR responds directly to intracellular hydrogen peroxide through the reversible formation of a disulphide bond between C199 and C208 in the regulatory domain of the protein.
We report the first crystal structure of the regulatory domain of an OxyR protein (NMB0173 from N. meningitidis) in the reduced state i.e. with cysteines at positions 199 and 208. The protein was crystallized under reducing conditions and the structure determined to a resolution of 2.4 Å. The overall fold of the Neisseria OxyR shows a high degree of similarity to the structure of a C199S mutant OxyR from E. coli, which cannot form the redox sensitive disulphide. In the neisserial structure, C199 is located at the start of helix α3, separated by 18 Å from C208, which is positioned between helices α3 and α4. In common with other LysR-type regulators, full length OxyR proteins are known to assemble into tetramers. Modelling of the full length neisserial OxyR as a tetramer indicated that C199 and C208 are located close to the dimer-dimer interface in the assembled tetramer. The formation of the C199-C208 disulphide may thus affect the quaternary structure of the protein.
Given the high level of structural similarity between OxyR from N. meningitidis and E. coli, we conclude that the redox response mechanism is likely to be similar in both species, involving the reversible formation of a disulphide between C199-C208. Modelling suggests that disulphide formation would directly affect the interface between regulatory domains in an OxyR tetramer which in turn may lead to an alteration in the spacing/orientation of the DNA-binding domains and hence the interaction of OxyR with its DNA binding sites.
PMCID: PMC2881104  PMID: 20478059
15.  Structures of an alanine racemase from Bacillus anthracis (BA0252) in the presence and absence of (R)-1-aminoethylphosphonic acid (l-Ala-P) 
Structures of BA0252, an alanine racemase from B. anthracis, in the presence and absence of the inhibitor (R)-1-aminoethylphosphonic acid (l-Ala-P) and determined by X-ray crystallography to resolutions of 2.1 and 1.47 Å, respectively, are described.
Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, has been targeted by the Oxford Protein Production Facility to validate high-throughput protocols within the Structural Proteomics in Europe project. As part of this work, the structures of an alanine racemase (BA0252) in the presence and absence of the inhibitor (R)-1-aminoethylphosphonic acid (l-Ala-P) have determined by X-ray crystallo­graphy to resolutions of 2.1 and 1.47 Å, respectively. Difficulties in crystallizing this protein were overcome by the use of reductive methylation. Alanine racemase has attracted much interest as a possible target for anti-anthrax drugs: not only is d-alanine a vital component of the bacterial cell wall, but recent studies also indicate that alanine racemase, which is accessible in the exosporium, plays a key role in inhibition of germination in B. anthracis. These structures confirm the binding mode of l-Ala-P but suggest an unexpected mechanism of inhibition of alanine racemase by this compound and could provide a basis for the design of improved alanine racemase inhibitors with potential as anti-anthrax therapies.
PMCID: PMC2376406  PMID: 18453697
d-alanine; l-alanine; germination; inhibition; pyridoxal 5′-phosphate; reductive methylation
16.  Structure of the cold-shock domain protein from Neisseria meningitidis reveals a strand-exchanged dimer 
The X-ray crystal structure of the cold-shock domain protein from N. meningitidis reveals a strand-exchanged dimer.
The structure of the cold-shock domain protein from Neisseria meningitidis has been solved to 2.6 Å resolution and shown to comprise a dimer formed by the exchange of two β-strands between protein monomers. The overall fold of the monomer closely resembles those of other bacterial cold-shock proteins. The neisserial protein behaved as a monomer in solution and was shown to bind to a hexathymidine oligonucleotide with a stoichiometry of 1:1 and a K d of 1.25 µM.
PMCID: PMC2374261  PMID: 18391418
cold-shock domain proteins; Neisseria meningitidis; domain-exchanged dimers
17.  Expression, purification and crystallization of a lyssavirus matrix (M) protein 
The expression, purification and crystallization of the full-length matrix protein from three lyssaviruses is described.
The matrix (M) proteins of lyssaviruses (family Rhabdoviridae) are crucial to viral morphogenesis as well as in modulating replication and transcription of the viral genome. To date, no high-resolution structural information has been obtained for full-length rhabdovirus M. Here, the cloning, expression and purification of the matrix proteins from three lyssaviruses, Lagos bat virus (LAG), Mokola virus and Thailand dog virus, are described. Crystals have been obtained for the full-length M protein from Lagos bat virus (LAG M). Successful crystallization depended on a number of factors, in particular the addition of an N-terminal SUMO fusion tag to increase protein solubility. Diffraction data have been recorded from crystals of native and selenomethionine-labelled LAG M to 2.75 and 3.0 Å resolution, respectively. Preliminary analysis indicates that these crystals belong to space group P6122 or P6522, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 56.9–57.2, c = 187.9–188.6 Å, consistent with the presence of one molecule per asymmetric unit, and structure determination is currently in progress.
PMCID: PMC2374255  PMID: 18391421
matrix proteins; Rhabdoviridae; lyssaviruses; Lagos bat virus; SUMO tag
18.  Semi-automated microseeding of nanolitre crystallization experiments 
A procedure for microseeding into nanolitre crystallization drops is described with selected successful examples.
A simple semi-automated microseeding procedure for nanolitre crystallization experiments is described. Firstly, a microseed stock solution is made from microcrystals using a Teflon bead. A dilution series of this microseed stock is then prepared and dispensed as 100 nl droplets into 96-well crystallization plates, facilitating the incorporation of seeding into high-throughput crystallization pipelines. This basic microseeding procedure has been modified to include additive-screening and cross-seeding methods. Five examples in which these techniques have been used successfully are described.
PMCID: PMC2373990  PMID: 18097093
crystallization; crystal optimization; microseeding; additives
19.  Structural Plasticity of Eph Receptor A4 Facilitates Cross-Class Ephrin Signaling 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2009;17(10):1386-1397.
The EphA4 tyrosine kinase cell surface receptor regulates an array of physiological processes and is the only currently known class A Eph receptor that binds both A and B class ephrins with high affinity. We have solved the crystal structure of the EphA4 ligand binding domain alone and in complex with (1) ephrinB2 and (2) ephrinA2. This set of structures shows that EphA4 has significant conformational plasticity in its ligand binding face. In vitro binding data demonstrate that it has a higher affinity for class A than class B ligands. Structural analyses, drawing on previously reported Eph receptor structures, show that EphA4 in isolation and in complex with ephrinA2 resembles other class A Eph receptors but on binding ephrinB2 assumes structural hallmarks of the class B Eph receptors. This interactive plasticity reveals EphA4 as a structural chameleon, able to adopt both A and B class Eph receptor conformations, and thus provides a molecular basis for EphA-type cross-class reactivity.
PMCID: PMC2832735  PMID: 19836338
20.  The structure of CrgA from Neisseria meningitidis reveals a new octameric assembly state for LysR transcriptional regulators 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;37(14):4545-4558.
LysR-type transcriptional regulators (LTTRs) form the largest family of bacterial regulators acting as both auto-repressors and activators of target promoters, controlling operons involved in a wide variety of cellular processes. The LTTR, CrgA, from the human pathogen Neisseria meningitidis, is upregulated during bacterial–host cell contact. Here, we report the crystal structures of both regulatory domain and full-length CrgA, the first of a novel subclass of LTTRs that form octameric rings. Non-denaturing mass spectrometry analysis and analytical ultracentrifugation established that the octameric form of CrgA is the predominant species in solution in both the presence and absence of an oligonucleotide encompassing the CrgA-binding sequence. Furthermore, analysis of the isolated CrgA–DNA complex by mass spectrometry showed stabilization of a double octamer species upon DNA binding. Based on the observed structure and the mass spectrometry findings, a model is proposed in which a hexadecameric array of two CrgA oligomers binds to its DNA target site.
PMCID: PMC2724274  PMID: 19474343
21.  The structure of NMB1585, a MarR-family regulator from Neisseria meningitidis  
The structure of the MarR-family regulator NMB1585 from N. meningitidis has been solved using data extending to 2.1 Å resolution.
The structure of the MarR-family transcription factor NMB1585 from Neisseria meningitidis has been solved using data extending to a resolution of 2.1 Å. Overall, the dimeric structure resembles those of other MarR proteins, with each subunit comprising a winged helix–turn–helix (wHtH) domain connected to an α-helical dimerization domain. The spacing of the recognition helices of the wHtH domain indicates that NMB1585 is pre-configured for DNA binding, with a putative inducer pocket that is largely occluded by the side chains of two aromatic residues (Tyr29 and Trp53). NMB1585 was shown to bind to its own promoter region in a gel-shift assay, indicating that the protein acts as an auto-repressor.
PMCID: PMC2650471  PMID: 19255465
MarR; Neisseria meningitidis; transcription factors
22.  Rhabdovirus Matrix Protein Structures Reveal a Novel Mode of Self-Association 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(12):e1000251.
The matrix (M) proteins of rhabdoviruses are multifunctional proteins essential for virus maturation and budding that also regulate the expression of viral and host proteins. We have solved the structures of M from the vesicular stomatitis virus serotype New Jersey (genus: Vesiculovirus) and from Lagos bat virus (genus: Lyssavirus), revealing that both share a common fold despite sharing no identifiable sequence homology. Strikingly, in both structures a stretch of residues from the otherwise-disordered N terminus of a crystallographically adjacent molecule is observed binding to a hydrophobic cavity on the surface of the protein, thereby forming non-covalent linear polymers of M in the crystals. While the overall topology of the interaction is conserved between the two structures, the molecular details of the interactions are completely different. The observed interactions provide a compelling model for the flexible self-assembly of the matrix protein during virion morphogenesis and may also modulate interactions with host proteins.
Author Summary
Rhabdoviruses are of considerable socioeconomic importance. For example, rabies virus causes lethal encephalitis resulting in approximately 50,000 human deaths per year. Rhabdoviruses infect cells and propagate despite having small genomes that encode only five multifunctional proteins. One of these, the matrix protein, plays a structural role in virus assembly in addition to modulating the production of host and virus proteins, promoting viral egress from the host cell and modulating cell death. We have solved the 3-dimensional crystal structures of matrix proteins from two distantly related rhabdoviruses: Lagos bat virus and vesicular stomatitis virus. The two proteins have very similar structures despite having dissimilar amino acid sequences. Surprisingly, for both we observe self-association between a pocket on the main globular domain and one extremity of an adjacent molecule in the crystal. Repetition of this interaction gives rise to non-covalent polymers of matrix proteins, adjacent proteins being tethered by a flexible linker. This provides a compelling molecular mechanism for the self-association of matrix molecules required for virus assembly. While the general mode of polymerization is conserved between the two structures, the precise molecular details of the interactions differ, consistent with these matrix proteins binding different cellular factors during infection.
PMCID: PMC2603668  PMID: 19112510
23.  Glycoprotein Structural Genomics: Solving the Glycosylation Problem 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2007;15(3):267-273.
Glycoproteins present special problems for structural genomic analysis because they often require glycosylation in order to fold correctly, whereas their chemical and conformational heterogeneity generally inhibits crystallization. We show that the “glycosylation problem” can be solved by expressing glycoproteins transiently in mammalian cells in the presence of the N-glycosylation processing inhibitors, kifunensine or swainsonine. This allows the correct folding of the glycoproteins, but leaves them sensitive to enzymes, such as endoglycosidase H, that reduce the N-glycans to single residues, enhancing crystallization. Since the scalability of transient mammalian expression is now comparable to that of bacterial systems, this approach should relieve one of the major bottlenecks in structural genomic analysis.
PMCID: PMC1885966  PMID: 17355862
24.  A versatile ligation-independent cloning method suitable for high-throughput expression screening applications 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(6):e45.
This article describes the construction of a set of versatile expression vectors based on the In-Fusion™ cloning enzyme and their use for high-throughput cloning and expression screening. Modifications to commonly used vectors rendering them compatible with In-Fusion™ has produced a ligation-independent cloning system that is (1) insert sequence independent (2) capable of cloning large PCR fragments (3) efficient over a wide (20-fold) insert concentration range and (4) applicable to expression in multiple hosts. The system enables the precise engineering of (His6-) tagged constructs with no undesirable vector or restriction-site-derived amino acids added to the expressed protein. The use of a multiple host-enabled vector allows rapid screening in both E. coli and eukaryotic hosts (HEK293T cells and insect cell hosts, e.g. Sf9 cells). These high-throughput screening activities have prompted the development and validation of automated protocols for transfection of mammalian cells and Ni-NTA protein purification.
PMCID: PMC1874605  PMID: 17317681
25.  Structure of the PII signal transduction protein of Neisseria meningitidis at 1.85 Å resolution 
The structure of the PII signal transduction protein of N. meningitidis at 1.85 Å resolution is described.
The PII signal transduction proteins GlnB and GlnK are implicated in the regulation of nitrogen assimilation in Escherichia coli and other enteric bacteria. PII-like proteins are widely distributed in bacteria, archaea and plants. In contrast to other bacteria, Neisseria are limited to a single PII protein (NMB 1995), which shows a high level of sequence identity to GlnB and GlnK from Escherichia coli (73 and 62%, respectively). The structure of the PII protein from N. meningitidis (serotype B) has been solved by molecular replacement to a resolution of 1.85 Å. Comparison of the structure with those of other PII proteins shows that the overall fold is tightly conserved across the whole population of related proteins, in particular the positions of the residues implicated in ATP binding. It is proposed that the Neisseria PII protein shares functions with GlnB/GlnK of enteric bacteria.
PMCID: PMC2243107  PMID: 16754965
PII signal transduction proteins; Neisseria meningitidis

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