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author:("Lu, changeux")
1.  Variable sequences outside the SAM-binding core critically influence the conformational dynamics of the SAM-III/SMK box riboswitch 
Journal of molecular biology  2011;409(5):786-799.
The SMK box (SAM-III) translational riboswitches were identified in S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) synthetase metK genes in members of the Lactobacillales. This riboswitch switches between two alternative conformations in response to the intracellular SAM concentration and controls metK expression at the level of translation initiation. We previously reported the crystal structure of the SAM-bound SMK box riboswitch. In this study we combined SHAPE chemical probing with mutagenesis to probe the ligand-induced conformational switching mechanism. We revealed that while the majority of the apo SMK box RNA molecules exist in an alternatively base paired (ON) conformation, a subset of them pre-organize into a SAM-bound-like (READY) conformation, which upon SAM exposure is selectively stabilized into the SAM-bound (OFF) conformation through an induced-fit mechanism. Mutagenesis showed that the ON state is only slightly more stable than the READY state, as several single-nucleotide substitutions in a hypervariable region outside the SAM-binding core can alter the folding landscape to favor the READY state. Such SMK variants display a “constitutively-OFF” behavior both in vitro and in vivo. Time-resolved and temperature-dependent SHAPE analyses revealed adaptation of the SMK box RNA to its mesothermal working environment. The latter analysis revealed that the SAM-bound SMK box RNA follows a two-step folding/unfolding process.
PMCID: PMC3479645  PMID: 21549712
2.  ‘Reversine’ and its 2-Substituted Adenine Derivatives as Potent and Selective A3 Adenosine Receptor Antagonists 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2005;48(15):4910-4918.
The dedifferentiation agent ‘reversine’ (2-(4-morpholinoanilino)-N6-cyclohexyladenine 2) was found to be a moderately potent antagonist for the human A3 adenosine receptor (AR) with a Ki value 0.66 μM. This result prompted an exploration of the structure-activity relationship of related derivatives, synthesized via sequential substitution of 6-chloro-2-fluoropurine with selected nucleophiles. Optimization of substituents at these two positions identified 2-phenylamino-N6-(cyclohexyl)adenine 12, 2-phenylamino-N6-(cycloheptyl)adenine 19, and 2-phenylamino-N6-(endo-norbornyl)adenine 21 as potent A3 AR ligands with Ki values of 51, 42 and 37 nM, respectively, with 30 – 200-fold selectivity in comparison to A1 and A2A ARs. The most selective A3 AR antagonist (>200-fold) was 2-phenyloxy-N6-(cyclohexyl)adenine 22. 9-Methylation of 12, but not 19, was well tolerated in A3 AR binding. Extension of the 2-phenylamino group to 2-benzyl- and 2-(2-phenylethylamino) reduced affinity. In the series of 2-phenylamino, 2-phenyloxy, and 2-phenylthio substitutions, the order of affinity at the A3 AR was oxy ≥ amino > thio. Selected derivatives, including reversine (KB value of 466 nM in Schild analysis), competitively antagonized the functional effects of a selective A3 AR agonist, i.e. inhibition of forskolin-stimulated cAMP production in stably transfected Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. These results are in agreement with other studies suggesting the presence of a lipophilic pocket in the AR binding site that is filled by moderately sized cycloalkyl rings at the N6 position of both adenine and adenosine derivatives. Thus, the compound series reported herein comprise an important new series of selective A3 AR antagonists. We were unable to reproduce the dedifferentiation effect of reversine, previously reported, or to demonstrate any connection between A3 AR antagonist effects and dedifferentiation.
PMCID: PMC3474371  PMID: 16033270
3.  Crystal structures of the SAM-III/SMK riboswitch reveal the SAM-dependent translation inhibition mechanism 
Nature structural & molecular biology  2008;15(10):1076-1083.
Three distinct classes of S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM)-responsive riboswitches have been identified that regulate bacterial gene expression at the levels of transcription attenuation or translation inhibition. The SMK box (SAM-III) translational riboswitch has been identified in the SAM synthetase gene in members of the Lactobacillales. Here we report the 2.2-Å crystal structure of the Enterococcus faecalis SMK box riboswitch. The Y-shaped riboswitch organizes its conserved nucleotides around a three-way junction for SAM recognition. The Shine-Dalgarno sequence, which is sequestered by base-pairing with the anti–Shine-Dalgarno sequence in response to SAM binding, also directly participates in SAM recognition. The riboswitch makes extensive interactions with the adenosine and sulfonium moieties of SAM but does not appear to recognize the tail of the methionine moiety. We captured a structural snapshot of the SMK box riboswitch sampling the near-cognate ligand S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine (SAH) in which SAH was found to adopt an alternative conformation and fails to make several key interactions.
PMCID: PMC3467307  PMID: 18806797
4.  SAM Recognition and Conformational Switching Mechanism in the Bacillus subtilis yitJ S Box/SAM-I Riboswitch 
Journal of molecular biology  2010;404(5):803-818.
S-box (SAM-I) riboswitches are a widespread class of riboswitches involved in the regulation of sulfur metabolism in Gram-positive bacteria. We report here the 3.0-Å crystal structure of the aptamer domain of the Bacillus subtilis yitJ S-box (SAM-I) riboswitch bound to S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM). The RNA folds into two sets of helical stacks spatially arranged by tertiary interactions including a K-turn and a pseudoknot at a four-way junction. The tertiary structure is further stabilized by metal coordination, extensive ribose zipper interactions, and SAM-mediated tertiary interactions. Despite structural differences in the peripheral regions, the SAM-binding core of the B. subtilis yitJ riboswitch is virtually superimposable with the previously determined Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensis yitJ riboswitch structure, suggesting that a highly conserved ligand-recognition mechanism is utilized by all S-box riboswitches. SHAPE (selective 2′-hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension) chemical probing analysis further revealed that the alternative base-pairing element in the expression platform controls the conformational switching process. In the absence of SAM, the apo yitJ aptamer domain folds predominantly into a pre-binding conformation that resembles, but is not identical with, the SAM-bound state. We propose that SAM enters the ligand-binding site through the “J1/2–J3/4” gate and “locks” down the SAM-bound conformation through an induced-fit mechanism. Temperature-dependent SHAPE revealed that the tertiary interaction-stabilized SAM-binding core is extremely stable, likely due to the cooperative RNA folding behavior. Mutational studies revealed that certain modifications in the SAM-binding region result in loss of SAM binding and constitutive termination, which suggests that these mutations lock the RNA into a form that resembles the SAM-bound form in the absence of SAM.
PMCID: PMC3222078  PMID: 20951706
riboswitch; S-box; SAM-I; SHAPE; SAM
5.  Crystal Structure of the S. solfataricus Archaeal Exosome Reveals Conformational Flexibility in the RNA-Binding Ring 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8739.
The exosome complex is an essential RNA 3′-end processing and degradation machinery. In archaeal organisms, the exosome consists of a catalytic ring and an RNA-binding ring, both of which were previously reported to assume three-fold symmetry.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we report an asymmetric 2.9 Å Sulfolobus solfataricus archaeal exosome structure in which the three-fold symmetry is broken due to combined rigid body and thermal motions mainly within the RNA-binding ring. Since increased conformational flexibility was also observed in the RNA-binding ring of the related bacterial PNPase, we speculate that this may reflect an evolutionarily conserved mechanism to accommodate diverse RNA substrates for degradation.
This study clearly shows the dynamic structures within the RNA-binding domains, which provides additional insights on mechanism of asymmetric RNA binding and processing.
PMCID: PMC2806925  PMID: 20090900

Results 1-5 (5)