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1.  Structural Insights into the Catalytic Mechanism of Escherichia coli Selenophosphate Synthetase 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(2):499-508.
Selenophosphate synthetase (SPS) catalyzes the synthesis of selenophosphate, the selenium donor for the biosynthesis of selenocysteine and 2-selenouridine residues in seleno-tRNA. Selenocysteine, known as the 21st amino acid, is then incorporated into proteins during translation to form selenoproteins which serve a variety of cellular processes. SPS activity is dependent on both Mg2+ and K+ and uses ATP, selenide, and water to catalyze the formation of AMP, orthophosphate, and selenophosphate. In this reaction, the gamma phosphate of ATP is transferred to the selenide to form selenophosphate, while ADP is hydrolyzed to form orthophosphate and AMP. Most of what is known about the function of SPS has derived from studies investigating Escherichia coli SPS (EcSPS) as a model system. Here we report the crystal structure of the C17S mutant of SPS from E. coli (EcSPSC17S) in apo form (without ATP bound). EcSPSC17S crystallizes as a homodimer, which was further characterized by analytical ultracentrifugation experiments. The glycine-rich N-terminal region (residues 1 through 47) was found in the open conformation and was mostly ordered in both structures, with a magnesium cofactor bound at the active site of each monomer involving conserved aspartate residues. Mutating these conserved residues (D51, D68, D91, and D227) along with N87, also found at the active site, to alanine completely abolished AMP production in our activity assays, highlighting their essential role for catalysis in EcSPS. Based on the structural and biochemical analysis of EcSPS reported here and using information obtained from similar studies done with SPS orthologs from Aquifex aeolicus and humans, we propose a catalytic mechanism for EcSPS-mediated selenophosphate synthesis.
doi:10.1128/JB.06012-11
PMCID: PMC3256651  PMID: 22081394
2.  A structural comparison of human serum transferrin and human lactoferrin 
Biometals  2007;20(3-4):249-262.
The transferrins are a family of proteins that bind free iron in the blood and bodily fluids. Serum transferrins function to deliver iron to cells via a receptor-mediated endocytotic process as well as to remove toxic free iron from the blood and to provide an anti-bacterial, low-iron environment. Lactoferrins (found in bodily secretions such as milk) are only known to have an anti-bacterial function, via their ability to tightly bind free iron even at low pH, and have no known transport function. Though these proteins keep the level of free iron low, pathogenic bacteria are able to thrive by obtaining iron from their host via expression of outer membrane proteins that can bind to and remove iron from host proteins, including both serum transferrin and lactoferrin. Furthermore, even though human serum transferrin and lactoferrin are quite similar in sequence and structure, and coordinate iron in the same manner, they differ in their affinities for iron as well as their receptor binding properties: the human transferrin receptor only binds serum transferrin, and two distinct bacterial transport systems are used to capture iron from serum transferrin and lactoferrin. Comparison of the recently solved crystal structure of iron-free human serum transferrin to that of human lactoferrin provides insight into these differences.
doi:10.1007/s10534-006-9062-7
PMCID: PMC2547852  PMID: 17216400
Transferrin; Lactoferrin; Iron transport; Human transferrin receptor; Bacterial transferrin receptor
3.  A Structural Comparison of Human Serum Transferrin and Human Lactoferrin 
The transferrins are a family of proteins that bind free iron in the blood and bodily fluids. Serum transferrins function to deliver iron to cells via a receptor-mediated endocytotic process as well as to remove toxic free iron from the blood and to provide an antibacterial, low-iron environment. Lactoferrins (found in bodily secretions such as milk) are only known to have an anti-bacterial function, via their ability to tightly bind free iron even at low pH, and have no known transport function. Though these proteins keep the level of free iron low, pathogenic bacteria are able to thrive by obtaining iron from their host via expression of outer membrane proteins that can bind to and remove iron from host proteins, including both serum transferrin and lactoferrin. Furthermore, even though human serum transferrin and lactoferrin are quite similar in sequence and structure, and coordinate iron in the same manner, they differ in their affinities for iron as well as their receptor binding properties: the human transferrin receptor only binds serum transferrin, and two distinct bacterial transport systems are used to capture iron from serum transferrin and lactoferrin. Comparison of the recently solved crystal structure of iron-free human serum transferrin to that of human lactoferrin provides insight into these differences.
doi:10.1007/s10534-006-9062-7
PMCID: PMC2547852  PMID: 17216400
transferrin; lactoferrin; iron transport; human transferrin receptor; bacterial transferrin receptor
4.  THE CRYSTAL STRUCTURE OF IRON-FREE HUMAN SERUM TRANSFERRIN PROVIDES INSIGHT INTO INTER-LOBE COMMUNICATION AND RECEPTOR BINDING* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2006;281(34):24934-24944.
Serum transferrin reversibly binds iron in each of two lobes and delivers it to cells by a receptor-mediated, pH-dependant process. The binding and release of iron results in a large conformational change in which two subdomains in each lobe close or open with a rigid twisting motion around a hinge. We report the structure of human serum transferrin (hTF) lacking iron (apo-hTF) which was independently determined by two methods: (1) the crystal structure of recombinant non-glycosylated apo-hTF was solved at 2.7 Å resolution using a MAD phasing strategy, by substituting the nine methionines in hTF with selenomethionine and (2) the structure of glycosylated apo-hTF (isolated from serum) was determined to a resolution of 2.7 Å by molecular replacement using the human apo-N-lobe and the rabbit holo-C1-subdomain as search models. These two crystal structures are essentially identical. They represent the first published model for full-length human TF and reveal that, in contrast to family members (human lactoferrin and hen ovotransferrin), both lobes are almost equally open: 59.4° and 49.5° rotations are required to open the N- and C-lobe, respectively, (compared to closed pig TF). Availability of this structure is critical to a complete understanding of the metal binding properties of each lobe of hTF; the apo-hTF structure suggests that differences in the hinge regions of the N- and C-lobes may influence the rates of iron binding and release. In addition, we evaluate potential interactions between apo-hTF and the human transferrin receptor.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M604592200
PMCID: PMC1895924  PMID: 16793765

Results 1-4 (4)