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1.  Computational modeling of RNA 3D structures, with the aid of experimental restraints 
RNA Biology  2014;11(5):522-536.
In addition to mRNAs whose primary function is transmission of genetic information from DNA to proteins, numerous other classes of RNA molecules exist, which are involved in a variety of functions, such as catalyzing biochemical reactions or performing regulatory roles. In analogy to proteins, the function of RNAs depends on their structure and dynamics, which are largely determined by the ribonucleotide sequence. Experimental determination of high-resolution RNA structures is both laborious and difficult, and therefore, the majority of known RNAs remain structurally uncharacterized. To address this problem, computational structure prediction methods were developed that simulate either the physical process of RNA structure formation (“Greek science” approach) or utilize information derived from known structures of other RNA molecules (“Babylonian science” approach). All computational methods suffer from various limitations that make them generally unreliable for structure prediction of long RNA sequences. However, in many cases, the limitations of computational and experimental methods can be overcome by combining these two complementary approaches with each other. In this work, we review computational approaches for RNA structure prediction, with emphasis on implementations (particular programs) that can utilize restraints derived from experimental analyses. We also list experimental approaches, whose results can be relatively easily used by computational methods. Finally, we describe case studies where computational and experimental analyses were successfully combined to determine RNA structures that would remain out of reach for each of these approaches applied separately.
doi:10.4161/rna.28826
PMCID: PMC4152360  PMID: 24785264
RNA structure; RNA structure prediction; macromolecular modeling; bioinformatics; chemical probing
2.  RNA Bricks—a database of RNA 3D motifs and their interactions 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(Database issue):D123-D131.
The RNA Bricks database (http://iimcb.genesilico.pl/rnabricks), stores information about recurrent RNA 3D motifs and their interactions, found in experimentally determined RNA structures and in RNA–protein complexes. In contrast to other similar tools (RNA 3D Motif Atlas, RNA Frabase, Rloom) RNA motifs, i.e. ‘RNA bricks’ are presented in the molecular environment, in which they were determined, including RNA, protein, metal ions, water molecules and ligands. All nucleotide residues in RNA bricks are annotated with structural quality scores that describe real-space correlation coefficients with the electron density data (if available), backbone geometry and possible steric conflicts, which can be used to identify poorly modeled residues. The database is also equipped with an algorithm for 3D motif search and comparison. The algorithm compares spatial positions of backbone atoms of the user-provided query structure and of stored RNA motifs, without relying on sequence or secondary structure information. This enables the identification of local structural similarities among evolutionarily related and unrelated RNA molecules. Besides, the search utility enables searching ‘RNA bricks’ according to sequence similarity, and makes it possible to identify motifs with modified ribonucleotide residues at specific positions.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt1084
PMCID: PMC3965019  PMID: 24220091
3.  A toolbox for developing bioinformatics software 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2011;13(2):244-257.
Creating useful software is a major activity of many scientists, including bioinformaticians. Nevertheless, software development in an academic setting is often unsystematic, which can lead to problems associated with maintenance and long-term availibility. Unfortunately, well-documented software development methodology is difficult to adopt, and technical measures that directly improve bioinformatic programming have not been described comprehensively. We have examined 22 software projects and have identified a set of practices for software development in an academic environment. We found them useful to plan a project, support the involvement of experts (e.g. experimentalists), and to promote higher quality and maintainability of the resulting programs. This article describes 12 techniques that facilitate a quick start into software engineering. We describe 3 of the 22 projects in detail and give many examples to illustrate the usage of particular techniques. We expect this toolbox to be useful for many bioinformatics programming projects and to the training of scientific programmers.
doi:10.1093/bib/bbr035
PMCID: PMC3294241  PMID: 21803787
software development; programming; project management; software quality
4.  Rational engineering of sequence specificity in R.MwoI restriction endonuclease 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(17):8579-8592.
R.MwoI is a Type II restriction endonucleases enzyme (REase), which specifically recognizes a palindromic interrupted DNA sequence 5′-GCNNNNNNNGC-3′ (where N indicates any nucleotide), and hydrolyzes the phosphodiester bond in the DNA between the 7th and 8th base in both strands. R.MwoI exhibits remote sequence similarity to R.BglI, a REase with known structure, which recognizes an interrupted palindromic target 5′-GCCNNNNNGGC-3′. A homology model of R.MwoI in complex with DNA was constructed and used to predict functionally important amino acid residues that were subsequently targeted by mutagenesis. The model, together with the supporting experimental data, revealed regions important for recognition of the common bases in DNA sequences recognized by R.BglI and R.MwoI. Based on the bioinformatics analysis, we designed substitutions of the S310 residue in R.MwoI to arginine or glutamic acid, which led to enzyme variants with altered sequence selectivity compared with the wild-type enzyme. The S310R variant of R.MwoI preferred the 5′-GCCNNNNNGGC-3′ sequence as a target, similarly to R.BglI, whereas the S310E variant preferentially cleaved a subset of the MwoI sites, depending on the identity of the 3rd and 9th nucleotide residues. Our results represent a case study of a REase sequence specificity alteration by a single amino acid substitution, based on a theoretical model in the absence of a crystal structure.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks570
PMCID: PMC3458533  PMID: 22735699
5.  Databases and Bioinformatics Tools for the Study of DNA Repair 
DNA is continuously exposed to many different damaging agents such as environmental chemicals, UV light, ionizing radiation, and reactive cellular metabolites. DNA lesions can result in different phenotypical consequences ranging from a number of diseases, including cancer, to cellular malfunction, cell death, or aging. To counteract the deleterious effects of DNA damage, cells have developed various repair systems, including biochemical pathways responsible for the removal of single-strand lesions such as base excision repair (BER) and nucleotide excision repair (NER) or specialized polymerases temporarily taking over lesion-arrested DNA polymerases during the S phase in translesion synthesis (TLS). There are also other mechanisms of DNA repair such as homologous recombination repair (HRR), nonhomologous end-joining repair (NHEJ), or DNA damage response system (DDR). This paper reviews bioinformatics resources specialized in disseminating information about DNA repair pathways, proteins involved in repair mechanisms, damaging agents, and DNA lesions.
doi:10.4061/2011/475718
PMCID: PMC3200286  PMID: 22091405
6.  Structural basis for the methylation of A1408 in 16S rRNA by a panaminoglycoside resistance methyltransferase NpmA from a clinical isolate and analysis of the NpmA interactions with the 30S ribosomal subunit 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(5):1903-1918.
NpmA, a methyltransferase that confers resistance to aminoglycosides was identified in an Escherichia coli clinical isolate. It belongs to the kanamycin–apramycin methyltransferase (Kam) family and specifically methylates the 16S rRNA at the N1 position of A1408. We determined the structures of apo-NpmA and its complexes with S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) and S-adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) at 2.4, 2.7 and 1.68 Å, respectively. We generated a number of NpmA variants with alanine substitutions and studied their ability to bind the cofactor, to methylate A1408 in the 30S subunit, and to confer resistance to kanamycin in vivo. Residues D30, W107 and W197 were found to be essential. We have also analyzed the interactions between NpmA and the 30S subunit by footprinting experiments and computational docking. Helices 24, 42 and 44 were found to be the main NpmA-binding site. Both experimental and theoretical analyses suggest that NpmA flips out the target nucleotide A1408 to carry out the methylation. NpmA is plasmid-encoded and can be transferred between pathogenic bacteria; therefore it poses a threat to the successful use of aminoglycosides in clinical practice. The results presented here will assist in the development of specific NpmA inhibitors that could restore the potential of aminoglycoside antibiotics.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq1033
PMCID: PMC3061052  PMID: 21062819
7.  Structural basis for the methylation of G1405 in 16S rRNA by aminoglycoside resistance methyltransferase Sgm from an antibiotic producer: a diversity of active sites in m7G methyltransferases 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(12):4120-4132.
Sgm (Sisomicin-gentamicin methyltransferase) from antibiotic-producing bacterium Micromonospora zionensis is an enzyme that confers resistance to aminoglycosides like gentamicin and sisomicin by specifically methylating G1405 in bacterial 16S rRNA. Sgm belongs to the aminoglycoside resistance methyltransferase (Arm) family of enzymes that have been recently found to spread by horizontal gene transfer among disease-causing bacteria. Structural characterization of Arm enzymes is the key to understand their mechanism of action and to develop inhibitors that would block their activity. Here we report the structure of Sgm in complex with cofactors S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) and S-adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) at 2.0 and 2.1 Å resolution, respectively, and results of mutagenesis and rRNA footprinting, and protein-substrate docking. We propose the mechanism of methylation of G1405 by Sgm and compare it with other m7G methyltransferases, revealing a surprising diversity of active sites and binding modes for the same basic reaction of RNA modification. This analysis can serve as a stepping stone towards developing drugs that would specifically block the activity of Arm methyltransferases and thereby re-sensitize pathogenic bacteria to aminoglycoside antibiotics.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq122
PMCID: PMC2896518  PMID: 20194115
8.  MODOMICS: a database of RNA modification pathways. 2008 update 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(Database issue):D118-D121.
MODOMICS, a database devoted to the systems biology of RNA modification, has been subjected to substantial improvements. It provides comprehensive information on the chemical structure of modified nucleosides, pathways of their biosynthesis, sequences of RNAs containing these modifications and RNA-modifying enzymes. MODOMICS also provides cross-references to other databases and to literature. In addition to the previously available manually curated tRNA sequences from a few model organisms, we have now included additional tRNAs and rRNAs, and all RNAs with 3D structures in the Nucleic Acid Database, in which modified nucleosides are present. In total, 3460 modified bases in RNA sequences of different organisms have been annotated. New RNA-modifying enzymes have been also added. The current collection of enzymes includes mainly proteins for the model organisms Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and is currently being expanded to include proteins from other organisms, in particular Archaea and Homo sapiens. For enzymes with known structures, links are provided to the corresponding Protein Data Bank entries, while for many others homology models have been created. Many new options for database searching and querying have been included. MODOMICS can be accessed at http://genesilico.pl/modomics.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkn710
PMCID: PMC2686465  PMID: 18854352
9.  Crystal structure of Bacillus subtilis TrmB, the tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(6):1925-1934.
The structure of Bacillus subtilis TrmB (BsTrmB), the tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase, was determined at a resolution of 2.1 Å. This is the first structure of a member of the TrmB family to be determined by X-ray crystallography. It reveals a unique variant of the Rossmann-fold methyltransferase (RFM) structure, with the N-terminal helix folded on the opposite site of the catalytic domain. The architecture of the active site and a computational docking model of BsTrmB in complex with the methyl group donor S-adenosyl-l-methionine and the tRNA substrate provide an explanation for results from mutagenesis studies of an orthologous enzyme from Escherichia coli (EcTrmB). However, unlike EcTrmB, BsTrmB is shown here to be dimeric both in the crystal and in solution. The dimer interface has a hydrophobic core and buries a potassium ion and five water molecules. The evolutionary analysis of the putative interface residues in the TrmB family suggests that homodimerization may be a specific feature of TrmBs from Bacilli, which may represent an early stage of evolution to an obligatory dimer.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl116
PMCID: PMC1447647  PMID: 16600901
10.  Reassignment of specificities of two cap methyltransferase domains in the reovirus lambda2 protein 
Genome Biology  2001;2(9):research0038.1-research0038.6.
Background
The reovirus λ2 protein catalyzes mRNA capping, that is, addition of a guanosine to the 5' end of each transcript in a 5'-to-5' orientation, as well as transfer of a methyl group from S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet) to the N7 atom of the added guanosyl moiety and subsequently to the ribose 2'-O atom of the first template-encoded nucleotide. The structure of the human reovirus core has been solved at 3.6 Å resolution, revealing a series of domains that include a putative guanylyltransferase domain and two putative methyltransferase (MTase) domains. It has been suggested that the order of domains in the λ2 protein corresponds to the order of reactions in the pathway and that the m7G (cap 0) and the 2'-O-ribose (cap 1) MTase activities may be exerted by the MTase 1 and the MTase 2 domains, respectively.
Results
We show that the reovirus MTase 1 domain shares a putative active site with the structurally characterized 2'-O-ribose MTases, including vaccinia virus cap 1 MTase, whereas the MTase 2 domain is structurally similar to glycine N-MTase.
Conclusions
On the basis of our analysis of the structural details we propose that the previously suggested functional assignments of the MTase 1 and MTase 2 domains should be swapped.
PMCID: PMC56899  PMID: 11574057
11.  NPDock: a web server for protein–nucleic acid docking 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(Web Server issue):W425-W430.
Protein–RNA and protein–DNA interactions play fundamental roles in many biological processes. A detailed understanding of these interactions requires knowledge about protein–nucleic acid complex structures. Because the experimental determination of these complexes is time-consuming and perhaps futile in some instances, we have focused on computational docking methods starting from the separate structures. Docking methods are widely employed to study protein–protein interactions; however, only a few methods have been made available to model protein–nucleic acid complexes. Here, we describe NPDock (Nucleic acid–Protein Docking); a novel web server for predicting complexes of protein–nucleic acid structures which implements a computational workflow that includes docking, scoring of poses, clustering of the best-scored models and refinement of the most promising solutions. The NPDock server provides a user-friendly interface and 3D visualization of the results. The smallest set of input data consists of a protein structure and a DNA or RNA structure in PDB format. Advanced options are available to control specific details of the docking process and obtain intermediate results. The web server is available at http://genesilico.pl/NPDock.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkv493
PMCID: PMC4489298  PMID: 25977296
12.  Magnesium-binding architectures in RNA crystal structures: validation, binding preferences, classification and motif detection 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(7):3789-3801.
The ubiquitous presence of magnesium ions in RNA has long been recognized as a key factor governing RNA folding, and is crucial for many diverse functions of RNA molecules. In this work, Mg2+-binding architectures in RNA were systematically studied using a database of RNA crystal structures from the Protein Data Bank (PDB). Due to the abundance of poorly modeled or incorrectly identified Mg2+ ions, the set of all sites was comprehensively validated and filtered to identify a benchmark dataset of 15 334 ‘reliable’ RNA-bound Mg2+ sites. The normalized frequencies by which specific RNA atoms coordinate Mg2+ were derived for both the inner and outer coordination spheres. A hierarchical classification system of Mg2+ sites in RNA structures was designed and applied to the benchmark dataset, yielding a set of 41 types of inner-sphere and 95 types of outer-sphere coordinating patterns. This classification system has also been applied to describe six previously reported Mg2+-binding motifs and detect them in new RNA structures. Investigation of the most populous site types resulted in the identification of seven novel Mg2+-binding motifs, and all RNA structures in the PDB were screened for the presence of these motifs.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkv225
PMCID: PMC4402538  PMID: 25800744
13.  Brickworx builds recurrent RNA and DNA structural motifs into medium- and low-resolution electron-density maps 
A computer program that builds crystal structure models of nucleic acid molecules is presented. It can be accessed at http://iimcb.genesilico.pl/brickworx.
Brickworx is a computer program that builds crystal structure models of nucleic acid molecules using recurrent motifs including double-stranded helices. In a first step, the program searches for electron-density peaks that may correspond to phosphate groups; it may also take into account phosphate-group positions provided by the user. Subsequently, comparing the three-dimensional patterns of the P atoms with a database of nucleic acid fragments, it finds the matching positions of the double-stranded helical motifs (A-RNA or B-DNA) in the unit cell. If the target structure is RNA, the helical fragments are further extended with recurrent RNA motifs from a fragment library that contains single-stranded segments. Finally, the matched motifs are merged and refined in real space to find the most likely conformations, including a fit of the sequence to the electron-density map. The Brickworx program is available for download and as a web server at http://iimcb.genesilico.pl/brickworx.
doi:10.1107/S1399004715000383
PMCID: PMC4356372  PMID: 25760616
Brickworx; model building; nucleic acids
14.  Sequence-specific cleavage of dsRNA by Mini-III RNase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(5):2864-2873.
Ribonucleases (RNases) play a critical role in RNA processing and degradation by hydrolyzing phosphodiester bonds (exo- or endonucleolytically). Many RNases that cut RNA internally exhibit substrate specificity, but their target sites are usually limited to one or a few specific nucleotides in single-stranded RNA and often in a context of a particular three-dimensional structure of the substrate. Thus far, no RNase counterparts of restriction enzymes have been identified which could cleave double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) in a sequence-specific manner. Here, we present evidence for a sequence-dependent cleavage of long dsRNA by RNase Mini-III from Bacillus subtilis (BsMiniIII). Analysis of the sites cleaved by this enzyme in limited digest of bacteriophage Φ6 dsRNA led to the identification of a consensus target sequence. We defined nucleotide residues within the preferred cleavage site that affected the efficiency of the cleavage and were essential for the discrimination of cleavable versus non-cleavable dsRNA sequences. We have also determined that the loop α5b-α6, a distinctive structural element in Mini-III RNases, is crucial for the specific cleavage, but not for dsRNA binding. Our results suggest that BsMiniIII may serve as a prototype of a sequence-specific dsRNase that could possibly be used for targeted cleavage of dsRNA.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkv009
PMCID: PMC4357697  PMID: 25634891
15.  Functional and Bioinformatics Analysis of Two Campylobacter jejuni Homologs of the Thiol-Disulfide Oxidoreductase, DsbA 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106247.
Background
Bacterial Dsb enzymes are involved in the oxidative folding of many proteins, through the formation of disulfide bonds between their cysteine residues. The Dsb protein network has been well characterized in cells of the model microorganism Escherichia coli. To gain insight into the functioning of the Dsb system in epsilon-Proteobacteria, where it plays an important role in the colonization process, we studied two homologs of the main Escherichia coli Dsb oxidase (EcDsbA) that are present in the cells of the enteric pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, the most frequently reported bacterial cause of human enteritis in the world.
Methods and Results
Phylogenetic analysis suggests the horizontal transfer of the epsilon-Proteobacterial DsbAs from a common ancestor to gamma-Proteobacteria, which then gave rise to the DsbL lineage. Phenotype and enzymatic assays suggest that the two C. jejuni DsbAs play different roles in bacterial cells and have divergent substrate spectra. CjDsbA1 is essential for the motility and autoagglutination phenotypes, while CjDsbA2 has no impact on those processes. CjDsbA1 plays a critical role in the oxidative folding that ensures the activity of alkaline phosphatase CjPhoX, whereas CjDsbA2 is crucial for the activity of arylsulfotransferase CjAstA, encoded within the dsbA2-dsbB-astA operon.
Conclusions
Our results show that CjDsbA1 is the primary thiol-oxidoreductase affecting life processes associated with bacterial spread and host colonization, as well as ensuring the oxidative folding of particular protein substrates. In contrast, CjDsbA2 activity does not affect the same processes and so far its oxidative folding activity has been demonstrated for one substrate, arylsulfotransferase CjAstA. The results suggest the cooperation between CjDsbA2 and CjDsbB. In the case of the CjDsbA1, this cooperation is not exclusive and there is probably another protein to be identified in C. jejuni cells that acts to re-oxidize CjDsbA1. Altogether the data presented here constitute the considerable insight to the Epsilonproteobacterial Dsb systems, which have been poorly understood so far.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106247
PMCID: PMC4152235  PMID: 25181355
16.  ClaRNA: a classifier of contacts in RNA 3D structures based on a comparative analysis of various classification schemes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(19):e151.
The understanding of folding and function of RNA molecules depends on the identification and classification of interactions between ribonucleotide residues. We developed a new method named ClaRNA for computational classification of contacts in RNA 3D structures. Unique features of the program are the ability to identify imperfect contacts and to process coarse-grained models. Each doublet of spatially close ribonucleotide residues in a query structure is compared to clusters of reference doublets obtained by analysis of a large number of experimentally determined RNA structures, and assigned a score that describes its similarity to one or more known types of contacts, including pairing, stacking, base–phosphate and base–ribose interactions. The accuracy of ClaRNA is 0.997 for canonical base pairs, 0.983 for non-canonical pairs and 0.961 for stacking interactions. The generalized squared correlation coefficient (GC2) for ClaRNA is 0.969 for canonical base pairs, 0.638 for non-canonical pairs and 0.824 for stacking interactions. The classifier can be easily extended to include new types of spatial relationships between pairs or larger assemblies of nucleotide residues. ClaRNA is freely available via a web server that includes an extensive set of tools for processing and visualizing structural information about RNA molecules.
doi:10.1093/nar/gku765
PMCID: PMC4231730  PMID: 25159614
17.  Novel Highly Thermostable Endolysin from Thermus scotoductus MAT2119 Bacteriophage Ph2119 with Amino Acid Sequence Similarity to Eukaryotic Peptidoglycan Recognition Proteins 
In this study, we present the discovery and characterization of a highly thermostable endolysin from bacteriophage Ph2119 infecting Thermus strain MAT2119 isolated from geothermal areas in Iceland. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene affiliated the strain with the species Thermus scotoductus. Bioinformatics analysis has allowed identification in the genome of phage 2119 of an open reading frame (468 bp in length) coding for a 155-amino-acid basic protein with an Mr of 17,555. Ph2119 endolysin does not resemble any known thermophilic phage lytic enzymes. Instead, it has conserved amino acid residues (His30, Tyr58, His132, and Cys140) that form a Zn2+ binding site characteristic of T3 and T7 lysozymes, as well as eukaryotic peptidoglycan recognition proteins, which directly bind to, but also may destroy, bacterial peptidoglycan. The purified enzyme shows high lytic activity toward thermophiles, i.e., T. scotoductus (100%), Thermus thermophilus (100%), and Thermus flavus (99%), and also, to a lesser extent, toward mesophilic Gram-negative bacteria, i.e., Escherichia coli (34%), Serratia marcescens (28%), Pseudomonas fluorescens (13%), and Salmonella enterica serovar Panama (10%). The enzyme has shown no activity against a number of Gram-positive bacteria analyzed, with the exception of Deinococcus radiodurans (25%) and Bacillus cereus (15%). Ph2119 endolysin was found to be highly thermostable: it retains approximately 87% of its lytic activity after 6 h of incubation at 95°C. The optimum temperature range for the enzyme activity is 50°C to 78°C. The enzyme exhibits lytic activity in the pH range of 6 to 10 (maximum at pH 7.5 to 8.0) and is also active in the presence of up to 500 mM NaCl.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03074-13
PMCID: PMC3911187  PMID: 24271162
18.  Structural basis of the methylation specificity of R.DpnI 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(13):8745-8754.
R.DpnI consists of N-terminal catalytic and C-terminal winged helix domains that are separately specific for the Gm6ATC sequences in Dam-methylated DNA. Here we present a crystal structure of R.DpnI with oligoduplexes bound to the catalytic and winged helix domains and identify the catalytic domain residues that are involved in interactions with the substrate methyl groups. We show that these methyl groups in the Gm6ATC target sequence are positioned very close to each other. We further show that the presence of the two methyl groups requires a deviation from B-DNA conformation to avoid steric conflict. The methylation compatible DNA conformation is complementary with binding sites of both R.DpnI domains. This indirect readout of methylation adds to the specificity mediated by direct favorable interactions with the methyl groups and solvation/desolvation effects. We also present hydrogen/deuterium exchange data that support ‘crosstalk’ between the two domains in the identification of methylated DNA, which should further enhance R.DpnI methylation specificity.
doi:10.1093/nar/gku546
PMCID: PMC4117772  PMID: 24966351
19.  Female-specific gene expression in dioecious liverwort Pellia endiviifolia is developmentally regulated and connected to archegonia production 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:168.
Background
In flowering plants a number of genes have been identified which control the transition from a vegetative to generative phase of life cycle. In bryophytes representing basal lineage of land plants, there is little data regarding the mechanisms that control this transition. Two species from bryophytes - moss Physcomitrella patens and liverwort Marchantia polymorpha are under advanced molecular and genetic research. The goal of our study was to identify genes connected to female gametophyte development and archegonia production in the dioecious liverwort Pellia endiviifolia species B, which is representative of the most basal lineage of the simple thalloid liverworts.
Results
The utility of the RDA-cDNA technique allowed us to identify three genes specifically expressed in the female individuals of P.endiviifolia: PenB_CYSP coding for cysteine protease, PenB_MT2 and PenB_MT3 coding for Mysterious Transcripts1 and 2 containing ORFs of 143 and 177 amino acid residues in length, respectively. The exon-intron structure of all three genes has been characterized and pre-mRNA processing was investigated. Interestingly, five mRNA isoforms are produced from the PenB_MT2 gene, which result from alternative splicing within the second and third exon. All observed splicing events take place within the 5′UTR and do not interfere with the coding sequence. All three genes are exclusively expressed in the female individuals, regardless of whether they were cultured in vitro or were collected from a natural habitat. Moreover we observed ten-fold increased transcripts level for all three genes in the archegonial tissue in comparison to the vegetative parts of the same female thalli grown in natural habitat suggesting their connection to archegonia development.
Conclusions
We have identified three genes which are specifically expressed in P.endiviifolia sp B female gametophytes. Moreover, their expression is connected to the female sex-organ differentiation and is developmentally regulated. The contribution of the identified genes may be crucial for successful liverwort sexual reproduction.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-168
PMCID: PMC4074843  PMID: 24939387
Liverwort; Pellia; Archegonia development; Sexual reproduction; Dioecious gametophytes; Gene expression
20.  Structural and degradative aspects of ornithine decarboxylase antizyme inhibitor 2 
FEBS Open Bio  2014;4:510-521.
Highlights
•AZIN2, unlike ornithine decarboxylase, exists as a monomer in solution.•Conserved residues among AZIN2 orthologs are critical for the binding to antizymes (AZs).•Substitution of the conserved residues affects the ability of AZIN2 to modulate polyamine levels.•AZIN2 and AZs are extremely labile proteins, which mutually stabilize each other.•Other proteolytic systems, besides the 26S proteasome, might be involved in AZIN2 degradation.
Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) is the key enzyme in the polyamine biosynthetic pathway. ODC levels are controlled by polyamines through the induction of antizymes (AZs), small proteins that inhibit ODC and target it to proteasomal degradation without ubiquitination. Antizyme inhibitors (AZIN1 and AZIN2) are proteins homologous to ODC that bind to AZs and counteract their negative effect on ODC. Whereas ODC and AZIN1 are well-characterized proteins, little is known on the structure and stability of AZIN2, the lastly discovered member of this regulatory circuit. In this work we first analyzed structural aspects of AZIN2 by combining biochemical and computational approaches. We demonstrated that AZIN2, in contrast to ODC, does not form homodimers, although the predicted tertiary structure of the AZIN2 monomer was similar to that of ODC. Furthermore, we identified conserved residues in the antizyme-binding element, whose substitution drastically affected the capacity of AZIN2 to bind AZ1. On the other hand, we also found that AZIN2 is much more labile than ODC, but it is highly stabilized by its binding to AZs. Interestingly, the administration of the proteasome inhibitor MG132 caused differential effects on the three AZ-binding proteins, having no effect on ODC, preventing the degradation of AZIN1, but unexpectedly increasing the degradation of AZIN2. Inhibitors of the lysosomal function partially prevented the effect of MG132 on AZIN2. These results suggest that the degradation of AZIN2 could be also mediated by an alternative route to that of proteasome. These findings provide new relevant information on this unique regulatory mechanism of polyamine metabolism.
doi:10.1016/j.fob.2014.05.004
PMCID: PMC4066113  PMID: 24967154
AZ, antizyme; AZBE, antizyme-binding element; AZIN, antizyme inhibitor; ERGIC, endoplasmic reticulum-Golgi intermediate compartment; ODC, ornithine decarboxylase; GDT_TS, global distance test total score; HA, hemagglutinin; HEK, human embryonic kidney; PAGE, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; RMSD, root-mean-square deviation; TGN, trans-Golgi network; Antizyme; Antizyme-binding element; Homology modeling; Polyamines; Protein degradation; Proteasome inhibitors
21.  Statins impair glucose uptake in human cells 
Objective
Considering the increasing number of clinical observations indicating hyperglycemic effects of statins, this study was designed to measure the influence of statins on the uptake of glucose analogs by human cells derived from liver, adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle.
Design
Flow cytometry and scintillation counting were used to measure the uptake of fluorescently labeled or tritiated glucose analogs by differentiated visceral preadipocytes, skeletal muscle cells, skeletal muscle myoblasts, and contact-inhibited human hepatocellular carcinoma cells. A bioinformatics approach was used to predict the structure of human glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) and to identify the presence of putative cholesterol-binding (cholesterol recognition/interaction amino acid consensus (CRAC)) motifs within this transporter. Mutagenesis of CRAC motifs in SLC2A1 gene and limited proteolysis of membrane GLUT1 were used to determine the molecular effects of statins.
Results
Statins significantly inhibit the uptake of glucose analogs in all cell types. Similar effects are induced by methyl-β-cyclodextrin, which removes membrane cholesterol. Statin effects can be rescued by addition of mevalonic acid, or supplementation with exogenous cholesterol. Limited proteolysis of GLUT1 and mutagenesis of CRAC motifs revealed that statins induce conformational changes in GLUTs.
Conclusions
Statins impair glucose uptake by cells involved in regulation of glucose homeostasis by inducing cholesterol-dependent conformational changes in GLUTs. This molecular mechanism might explain hyperglycemic effects of statins observed in clinical trials.
doi:10.1136/bmjdrc-2014-000017
PMCID: PMC4212557  PMID: 25452863
Glucose Uptake; GLUT1; Pharmacological Therapy
23.  The RNase H-like superfamily: new members, comparative structural analysis and evolutionary classification 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(7):4160-4179.
Ribonuclease H-like (RNHL) superfamily, also called the retroviral integrase superfamily, groups together numerous enzymes involved in nucleic acid metabolism and implicated in many biological processes, including replication, homologous recombination, DNA repair, transposition and RNA interference. The RNHL superfamily proteins show extensive divergence of sequences and structures. We conducted database searches to identify members of the RNHL superfamily (including those previously unknown), yielding >60 000 unique domain sequences. Our analysis led to the identification of new RNHL superfamily members, such as RRXRR (PF14239), DUF460 (PF04312, COG2433), DUF3010 (PF11215), DUF429 (PF04250 and COG2410, COG4328, COG4923), DUF1092 (PF06485), COG5558, OrfB_IS605 (PF01385, COG0675) and Peptidase_A17 (PF05380). Based on the clustering analysis we grouped all identified RNHL domain sequences into 152 families. Phylogenetic studies revealed relationships between these families, and suggested a possible history of the evolution of RNHL fold and its active site. Our results revealed clear division of the RNHL superfamily into exonucleases and endonucleases. Structural analyses of features characteristic for particular groups revealed a correlation between the orientation of the C-terminal helix with the exonuclease/endonuclease function and the architecture of the active site. Our analysis provides a comprehensive picture of sequence-structure-function relationships in the RNHL superfamily that may guide functional studies of the previously uncharacterized protein families.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt1414
PMCID: PMC3985635  PMID: 24464998
24.  A novel homozygous p.Arg527Leu LMNA mutation in two unrelated Egyptian families causes overlapping mandibuloacral dysplasia and progeria syndrome 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2012;20(11):1134-1140.
Mandibuloacral dysplasia (MAD) is a rare disease resulting from a mutation of LMNA gene encoding lamins A and C. The most common mutation associated with this disease is a homozygous arginine 527 replacement by histidine. Three female patients originating from two unrelated families from Northeast Egypt were examined. Their growth was retarded; they had microcephaly, widened cranial sutures, prominent eyes and cheeks, micrognathia, dental crowding, hypoplastic mandible, acro-osteolysis of distal phalanges, and joint contractures. In addition, they presented some progeroid features, such as pinched nose, premature loss of teeth, loss of hair, scleroderma-like skin atrophy, spine rigidity, and waddling gait. The clinical presentation of the disease varied between the patient originating from Family 1 and patients from Family 2, suggesting that unknown, possibly epigenetic factors, modify the course of the disease. The first symptoms of the disease appeared at the age of 2.5 (a girl from Family 1), 5, and 3 years (girls from Family 2). All patients had the same, novel homozygous c.1580G>T LMNA mutation, resulting in the replacement of arginine 527 by leucine. Computational predictions of such substitution effects suggested that it might alter protein stability and increase the tendency for protein aggregation, and as a result, might influence its interaction with other proteins. In addition, restriction fragment-length polymorphism analysis performed in 178 unrelated individuals showed that up to 1.12% of inhabitants of Northeast Egypt might be heterozygous carriers of this mutation, suggesting the presence of a founder effect in this area.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.77
PMCID: PMC3476705  PMID: 22549407
LMNA; lamin A/C; mutation; mandibuloacral dysplasia; progeria
25.  Crohn's Disease Risk Alleles on the NOD2 Locus Have Been Maintained by Natural Selection on Standing Variation 
Molecular Biology and Evolution  2012;29(6):1569-1585.
Risk alleles for complex diseases are widely spread throughout human populations. However, little is known about the geographic distribution and frequencies of risk alleles, which may contribute to differences in disease susceptibility and prevalence among populations. Here, we focus on Crohn's disease (CD) as a model for the evolutionary study of complex disease alleles. Recent genome-wide association studies and classical linkage analyses have identified more than 70 susceptible genomic regions for CD in Europeans, but only a few have been confirmed in non-European populations. Our analysis of eight European-specific susceptibility genes using HapMap data shows that at the NOD2 locus the CD-risk alleles are linked with a haplotype specific to CEU at a frequency that is significantly higher compared with the entire genome. We subsequently examined nine global populations and found that the CD-risk alleles spread through hitchhiking with a high-frequency haplotype (H1) exclusive to Europeans. To examine the neutrality of NOD2, we performed phylogenetic network analyses, coalescent simulation, protein structural prediction, characterization of mutation patterns, and estimations of population growth and time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA). We found that while H1 was significantly prevalent in European populations, the H1 TMRCA predated human migration out of Africa. H1 is likely to have undergone negative selection because 1) the root of H1 genealogy is defined by a preexisting amino acid substitution that causes serious conformational changes to the NOD2 protein, 2) the haplotype has almost become extinct in Africa, and 3) the haplotype has not been affected by the recent European expansion reflected in the other haplotypes. Nevertheless, H1 has survived in European populations, suggesting that the haplotype is advantageous to this group. We propose that several CD-risk alleles, which destabilize and disrupt the NOD2 protein, have been maintained by natural selection on standing variation because the deleterious haplotype of NOD2 is advantageous in diploid individuals due to heterozygote advantage and/or intergenic interactions.
doi:10.1093/molbev/mss006
PMCID: PMC3697811  PMID: 22319155
Crohn's disease; NOD2; hitchhiking effect; natural selection; standing variation; mildly deleterious mutation

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