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1.  Improving the Thermal, Radial and Temporal Accuracy of the Analytical Ultracentrifuge through External References 
Analytical biochemistry  2013;440(1):10.1016/j.ab.2013.05.011.
Sedimentation velocity (SV) is a method based on first-principles that provides a precise hydrodynamic characterization of macromolecules in solution. Due to recent improvements in data analysis, the accuracy of experimental SV data emerges as a limiting factor in its interpretation. Our goal was to unravel the sources of experimental error and develop improved calibration procedures. We implemented the use of a Thermochron iButton® temperature logger to directly measure the temperature of a spinning rotor, and detected deviations that can translate into an error of as much as 10% in the sedimentation coefficient. We further designed a precision mask with equidistant markers to correct for instrumental errors in the radial calibration, which were observed to span a range of 8.6%. The need for an independent time calibration emerged with use of the current data acquisition software (Zhao et al., doi 10.1016/j.ab.2013.02.011) and we now show that smaller but significant time errors of up to 2% also occur with earlier versions. After application of these calibration corrections, the sedimentation coefficients obtained from eleven instruments displayed a significantly reduced standard deviation of ∼ 0.7 %. This study demonstrates the need for external calibration procedures and regular control experiments with a sedimentation coefficient standard.
doi:10.1016/j.ab.2013.05.011
PMCID: PMC3826449  PMID: 23711724
sedimentation velocity; sedimentation equilibrium; hydrodynamic modeling
2.  Human Herpesvirus 7 U21 Tetramerizes To Associate with Class I Major Histocompatibility Complex Molecules 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(6):3298-3308.
ABSTRACT
The U21 gene product from human herpesvirus 7 binds to and redirects class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules to a lysosomal compartment. The molecular mechanism by which U21 reroutes class I MHC molecules to lysosomes is not known. Here, we have reconstituted the interaction between purified soluble U21 and class I MHC molecules, suggesting that U21 does not require additional cellular proteins to interact with class I MHC molecules. Our results demonstrate that U21, itself predicted to contain an MHC class I-like protein fold, interacts tightly with class I MHC molecules as a tetramer, in a 4:2 stoichiometry. These observations have helped to elucidate a refined model describing the mechanism by which U21 escorts class I MHC molecules to the lysosomal compartment.
IMPORTANCE In this report, we show that the human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7) immunoevasin U21, itself a class I MHC-like protein, binds with high affinity to class I MHC molecules as a tetramer and escorts them to lysosomes, where they are degraded. While many class I MHC-like molecules have been described in detail, this unusual viral class I-like protein functions as a tetramer, associating with class I MHC molecules in a 4:2 ratio, illuminating a functional significance of homooligomerization of a class I MHC-like protein.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02639-13
PMCID: PMC3957921  PMID: 24390327
3.  Multipoint Binding of the SLP-76 SH2 Domain to ADAP Is Critical for Oligomerization of SLP-76 Signaling Complexes in Stimulated T Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(21):4140-4151.
The adapter molecules SLP-76 and LAT play central roles in T cell activation by recruiting enzymes and other adapters into multiprotein complexes that coordinate highly regulated signal transduction pathways. While many of the associated proteins have been characterized, less is known concerning the mechanisms of assembly for these dynamic and potentially heterogeneous signaling complexes. Following T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation, SLP-76 is found in structures called microclusters, which contain many signaling complexes. Previous studies showed that a mutation to the SLP-76 C-terminal SH2 domain nearly abolished SLP-76 microclusters, suggesting that the SH2 domain facilitates incorporation of signaling complexes into microclusters. S. C. Bunnell, A. L. Singer, D. I. Hong, B. H. Jacque, M. S. Jordan, M. C. Seminario, V. A. Barr, G. A. Koretzky, and L. E. Samelson, Mol. Cell. Biol., 26:7155–7166, 2006). Using biophysical methods, we demonstrate that the adapter, ADAP, contains three binding sites for SLP-76, and that multipoint binding to ADAP fragments oligomerizes the SLP-76 SH2 domain in vitro. These results were complemented with confocal imaging and functional studies of cells expressing ADAP with various mutations. Our results demonstrate that all three binding sites are critical for SLP-76 microcluster assembly, but any combination of two sites will partially induce microclusters. These data support a model whereby multipoint binding of SLP-76 to ADAP facilitates the assembly of SLP-76 microclusters. This model has implications for the regulation of SLP-76 and LAT microclusters and, as a result, T cell signaling.
doi:10.1128/MCB.00410-13
PMCID: PMC3811887  PMID: 23979596
5.  Analysis of high-affinity assembly for AMPA receptor amino-terminal domains 
The Journal of General Physiology  2012;139(5):371-388.
Analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC) and steady-state fluorescence anisotropy were used to measure the equilibrium dissociation constant (Kd) for formation of dimers by the amino-terminal domains (ATDs) of the GluA2 and GluA3 subtypes of AMPA receptor. Previous reports on GluA2 dimerization differed in their estimate of the monomer–dimer Kd by a 2,400-fold range, with no consensus on whether the ATD forms tetramers in solution. We find by sedimentation velocity (SV) analysis performed using absorbance detection a narrow range of monomer–dimer Kd values for GluA2, from 5 to 11 nM for six independent experiments, with no detectable formation of tetramers and no effect of glycosylation or the polypeptide linker connecting the ATD and ligand-binding domains; for GluA3, the monomer–dimer Kd was 5.6 µM, again with no detectable tetramer formation. For sedimentation equilibrium (SE) experiments, a wide range of Kd values was obtained for GluA2, from 13 to 284 nM, whereas for GluA3, the Kd of 3.1 µM was less than twofold different from the SV value. Analysis of cell contents after the ∼1-week centrifuge run by silver-stained gels revealed low molecular weight GluA2 breakdown products. Simulated data for SE runs demonstrate that the apparent Kd for GluA2 varies with the extent of proteolysis, leading to artificially high Kd values. SV experiments with fluorescence detection for GluA2 labeled with 5,6-carboxyfluorescein, and fluorescence anisotropy measurements for GluA2 labeled with DyLight405, yielded Kd values of 5 and 11 nM, consistent with those from SV with absorbance detection. However, the sedimentation coefficients measured by AUC using absorbance and fluorescence systems were strikingly different, and for the latter are not consistent with hydrodynamic protein models. Thus, for unknown reasons, the concentration dependence of sedimentation coefficients obtained with fluorescence detection SV may be unreliable, limiting the usefulness of this technique for quantitative analysis.
doi:10.1085/jgp.201210770
PMCID: PMC3343374  PMID: 22508847
6.  Dimeric States of Neural- and Epithelial-Cadherins are Distinguished by the Rate of Disassembly† 
Biochemistry  2011;50(14):2951-2961.
Epithelial- and Neural-cadherins are specifically localized at synapses in neurons which can change shape and contact surface on a time scale of seconds to months. We have focused our studies on the role of the extracellular domains of cadherins in the dynamics of synapses. The kinetics of dimer disassembly of the first two extracellular domains of E- and N-cadherin, ECAD12 and NCAD12, were studied with analytical size exclusion chromatography and sedimentation velocity. NCAD12 forms three different dimers that are distinguished by assembly conditions and kinetics of dissociation. ECAD12 dimer disassembles rapidly regardless of the calcium concentration, whereas the disassembly of NCAD12 dimers was strongly dependent on calcium concentration. In addition to the apo- and saturated-dimeric forms of NCAD12, there is a third dimeric form that is a slow exchange dimer. This third dimeric form for NCAD12, formed by decalcification of the calcium-saturated dimer, was kinetically-trapped in apo-conditions and did not disassemble over a period of months. Sedimentation velocity experiments showed that this dimer, upon addition of calcium, had similar weighted averages as calcium-saturated dimer. These studies provide evidence that the kinetics of dimer disassembly of the extracellular domains may be a major contributor to the morphological dynamics of synapses in vivo.
doi:10.1021/bi2001246
PMCID: PMC3471160  PMID: 21375242
Kinetically-trapped dimer; Slow disassembly; Size Exclusion Chromatography; Sedimentation Velocity
7.  Squaring the Circle. Social and Environmental Implications of Pre-Pottery Neolithic Building Technology at Tell Qarassa (South Syria) 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e42109.
We present the results of the microstratigraphic, phytolith and wood charcoal study of the remains of a 10.5 ka roof. The roof is part of a building excavated at Tell Qarassa (South Syria), assigned to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period (PPNB). The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) period in the Levant coincides with the emergence of farming. This fundamental change in subsistence strategy implied the shift from mobile to settled aggregated life, and from tents and huts to hard buildings. As settled life spread across the Levant, a generalised transition from round to square buildings occurred, that is a trademark of the PPNB period. The study of these buildings is fundamental for the understanding of the ever-stronger reciprocal socio-ecological relationship humans developed with the local environment since the introduction of sedentism and domestication. Descriptions of buildings in PPN archaeological contexts are usually restricted to the macroscopic observation of wooden elements (posts and beams) and mineral components (daub, plaster and stone elements). Reconstructions of microscopic and organic components are frequently based on ethnographic analogy. The direct study of macroscopic and microscopic, organic and mineral, building components performed at Tell Qarassa provides new insights on building conception, maintenance, use and destruction. These elements reflect new emerging paradigms in the relationship between Neolithic societies and the environment. A square building was possibly covered here with a radial roof, providing a glance into a topologic shift in the conception and understanding of volumes, from round-based to square-based geometries. Macroscopic and microscopic roof components indicate buildings were conceived for year-round residence rather than seasonal mobility. This implied performing maintenance and restoration of partially damaged buildings, as well as their adaptation to seasonal variability.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042109
PMCID: PMC3407145  PMID: 22848723
8.  The Boundary Structure in the Analysis of Reversibly Interacting Systems by Sedimentation Velocity 
Methods (San Diego, Calif.)  2011;54(1):16-30.
Sedimentation velocity (SV) experiments of heterogeneous interacting systems exhibit characteristic boundary structures that can usually be very easily recognized and quantified. For slowly interacting systems, the boundaries represent concentrations of macromolecular species and they can be interpreted directly with population models based solely on the mass action law. For fast reactions, migration and chemical reactions are coupled, and different, but equally easily discernable boundary structures appear. However, these features have not been commonly utilized for data analysis, for the lack of an intuitive and computationally simple model. The recently introduced effective particle theory (EPT) provides a suitable framework. Here, we review the motivation and theoretical basis of EPT, and explore practical aspects for its application. We introduce an EPT-based design tool for SV experiments of heterogeneous interactions in the software SEDPHAT. As a practical tool for the first step of data analysis, we describe how the boundary resolution can be further improved in c(s) with a Bayesian adjustment of maximum entropy regularization to the case of heterogeneous interactions between molecules that have been previously studied separately. This can facilitate extracting the characteristic boundary features by integration of c(s) and their assembly into isotherms as a function of total loading concentrations, which are fitted with EPT in a second stage. Methods for addressing concentration errors in isotherms are discussed. Finally, in an experimental model system of alpha-chymotrypsin interacting with soybean trypsin inhibitor, we show that EPT provides an excellent description of the experimental sedimentation boundary structure of fast interacting systems.
doi:10.1016/j.ymeth.2011.01.010
PMCID: PMC3090504  PMID: 21315155
9.  Density Contrast Sedimentation Velocity for the Determination of Protein Partial-Specific Volumes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26221.
The partial-specific volume of proteins is an important thermodynamic parameter required for the interpretation of data in several biophysical disciplines. Building on recent advances in the use of density variation sedimentation velocity analytical ultracentrifugation for the determination of macromolecular partial-specific volumes, we have explored a direct global modeling approach describing the sedimentation boundaries in different solvents with a joint differential sedimentation coefficient distribution. This takes full advantage of the influence of different macromolecular buoyancy on both the spread and the velocity of the sedimentation boundary. It should lend itself well to the study of interacting macromolecules and/or heterogeneous samples in microgram quantities. Model applications to three protein samples studied in either H2O, or isotopically enriched H218O mixtures, indicate that partial-specific volumes can be determined with a statistical precision of better than 0.5%, provided signal/noise ratios of 50–100 can be achieved in the measurement of the macromolecular sedimentation velocity profiles. The approach is implemented in the global modeling software SEDPHAT.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026221
PMCID: PMC3197611  PMID: 22028836
10.  The C-terminal domain of Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 3 self-assembles into α-helical coiled coil tetramer 
Proteins located on the surface of the pathogenic malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum are objects of intensive studies due to their important role in the invasion of human cells and the accessibility to host antibodies thus making these proteins attractive vaccine candidates. One of these proteins, merozoite surface protein 3 (MSP3) represents a leading component among vaccine candidates; however, little is known about its structure and function. Our biophysical studies suggest that the 40 residue C-terminal domain of MSP3 protein self-assembles into a four-stranded α–helical coiled coil structure where α–helices are packed “side-by-side”. A bioinformatics analysis provides an extended list of known and putative proteins from different species of Plasmodium which have such MSP3-like C-terminal domains. This finding allowed us to extend some conclusions of our studies to a larger group of the malaria surface proteins. Possible structural and functional roles of these highly conserved oligomerization domains in the intact merozoite surface proteins are discussed.
doi:10.1016/j.molbiopara.2009.01.015
PMCID: PMC2680791  PMID: 19428662
α-helical coiled coil; oligomerization; protein structure; Plasmodium falciparum.
11.  Assembly, Loading, and Alignment of an Analytical Ultracentrifuge Sample Cell 
The analytical ultracentrifuge (AUC) is a powerful biophysical tool that allows us to record macromolecular sedimentation profiles during high speed centrifugation. When properly planned and executed, an AUC sedimentation velocity or sedimentation equilibrium experiment can reveal a great deal about a protein in regards to size and shape, sample purity, sedimentation coefficient, oligomerization states and protein-protein interactions.
This technique, however, requires a rigorous level of technical attention. Sample cells hold a sectored center piece sandwiched between two window assemblies. They are sealed with a torque pressure of around 120-140 in/lbs. Reference buffer and sample are loaded into the centerpiece sectors and then after sealing, the cells are precisely aligned into a titanium rotor so that the optical detection systems scan both sample and reference buffer in the same radial path midline through each centerpiece sector while rotating at speeds of up to 60, 000 rpm and under very high vacuum
Not only is proper sample cell assembly critical, sample cell components are very expensive and must be properly cared for to ensure they are in optimum working condition in order to avoid leaks and breakage during experiments. Handle windows carefully, for even the slightest crack or scratch can lead to breakage in the centrifuge. The contact between centerpiece and windows must be as tight as possible; i.e. no Newton s rings should be visible after torque pressure is applied. Dust, lint, scratches and oils on either the windows or the centerpiece all compromise this contact and can very easily lead to leaking of solutions from one sector to another or leaking out of the centerpiece all together. Not only are precious samples lost, leaking of solutions during an experiment will cause an imbalance of pressure in the cell that often leads to broken windows and centerpieces. In addition, plug gaskets and housing plugs must be securely in place to avoid solutions being pulled out of the centerpiece sector through the loading holes by the high vacuum in the centrifuge chamber. Window liners and gaskets must be free of breaks and cracks that could cause movement resulting in broken windows.
This video will demonstrate our procedures of sample cell assembly, torque, loading and rotor alignment to help minimize component damage, solution leaking and breakage during the perfect AUC experiment.
doi:10.3791/1530
PMCID: PMC3157848  PMID: 19893484
12.  On the analysis of sedimentation velocity in the study of protein complexes 
European Biophysics Journal   2009;38(8):1079-1099.
Sedimentation velocity analytical ultracentrifugation has experienced a significant transformation, precipitated by the possibility of efficiently fitting Lamm equation solutions to the experimental data. The precision of this approach depends on the ability to account for the imperfections of the experiment, both regarding the sample and the instrument. In the present work, we explore in more detail the relationship between the sedimentation process, its detection, and the model used in the mathematical data analysis. We focus on configurations that produce steep and fast-moving sedimentation boundaries, such as frequently encountered when studying large multi-protein complexes. First, as a computational tool facilitating the analysis of heterogeneous samples, we introduce the strategy of partial boundary modeling. It can simplify the modeling by restricting the direct boundary analysis to species with sedimentation coefficients in a predefined range. Next, we examine factors related to the experimental detection, including the magnitude of optical aberrations generated by out-of-focus solution columns at high protein concentrations, the relationship between the experimentally recorded signature of the meniscus and the meniscus parameter in the data analysis, and the consequences of the limited radial and temporal resolution of the absorbance optical scanning system. Surprisingly, we find that large errors can be caused by the finite scanning speed of the commercial absorbance optics, exceeding the statistical errors in the measured sedimentation coefficients by more than an order of magnitude. We describe how these effects can be computationally accounted for in SEDFIT and SEDPHAT.
doi:10.1007/s00249-009-0514-1
PMCID: PMC2755746  PMID: 19644686
Analytical ultracentrifugation; Hydrodynamics; Direct boundary modeling; Lamm equation
13.  A Bayesian Approach for Quantifying Trace Amounts of Antibody Aggregates by Sedimentation Velocity Analytical Ultracentrifugation 
The AAPS Journal  2008;10(3):481-493.
Sedimentation velocity analytical ultracentrifugation (SV-AUC) has become an important tool for the characterization of the purity of protein therapeutics. The work presented here addresses a need for methods orthogonal to size-exclusion chromatography for ensuring the reliable quantitation of immunogenic oligomers, for example, in antibody preparations. Currently the most commonly used approach for SV-AUC analysis is the diffusion-deconvoluted sedimentation coefficient distribution c(s) method, previously developed by us as a general purpose technique and implemented in the software SEDFIT. In both practical and theoretical studies, different groups have reported a sensitivity of c(s) for trace oligomeric fractions well below the 1% level. In the present work we present a variant of c(s) designed for the purpose of trace detection, with customized Bayesian regularization. The original c(s) method relies on maximum entropy regularization providing the most parsimonious distribution consistent with the data. In the present paper, we use computer simulations of an antibody system as example to demonstrate that the standard maximum entropy regularization, due to its design, leads to a theoretical lower limit for the detection of oligomeric traces and a consistent underestimate of the trace populations by ∼0.1% (dependent on the level of regularization). This can be overcome with a recently developed Bayesian extension of c(s) (Brown et al., Biomacromolecules, 8:2011–2024, 2007), utilizing the known regions of sedimentation coefficients for the monomer and oligomers of interest as prior expectation for the peak positions in the distribution. We show that this leads to more clearly identifiable and consistent peaks and lower theoretical limits of quantization by approximately an order of magnitude for some experimental conditions. Implications for the experimental design of SV-AUC and practical detection limits are discussed.
doi:10.1208/s12248-008-9058-z
PMCID: PMC2696691  PMID: 18814037
analytical ultracentrifugation; Bayesian analysis; hydrodynamic separation; sedimentation velocity; size-distribution; trace aggregates
14.  A Bayesian Approach for Quantifying Trace Amounts of Antibody Aggregates by Sedimentation Velocity Analytical Ultracentrifugation 
The AAPS journal  2008;10(3):481-493.
Sedimentation velocity analytical ultracentrifugation (SV-AUC) has become an important tool for the characterization of the purity of protein therapeutics. The work presented here addresses a need for methods orthogonal to size-exclusion chromatography for ensuring the reliable quantitation of immunogenic oligomers, for example, in antibody preparations. Currently the most commonly used approach for SV-AUC analysis is the diffusion-deconvoluted sedimentation coefficient distribution c(s) method, previously developed by us as a general purpose technique and implemented in the software SEDFIT. In both practical and theoretical studies, different groups have reported a sensitivity of c(s) for trace oligomeric fractions well below the 1% level. In the present work we present a variant of c(s) designed for the purpose of trace detection, with customized Bayesian regularization. The original c(s) method relies on maximum entropy regularization providing the most parsimonious distribution consistent with the data. In the present paper, we use computer simulations of an antibody system as example to demonstrate that the standard maximum entropy regularization, due to its design, leads to a theoretical lower limit for the detection of oligomeric traces and a consistent underestimate of the trace populations by ∼0.1% (dependent on the level of regularization). This can be overcome with a recently developed Bayesian extension of c(s) (Biomacromolecules (2007), 8, 2011-2024), utilizing the known regions of sedimentation coefficients for the monomer and oligomers of interest as prior expectation for the peak positions in the distribution. We show that this leads to more clearly identifiable and consistent peaks and lower theoretical limits of quantization by approximately an order of magnitude for some experimental conditions. Implications for the experimental design of SV-AUC and practical detection limits are discussed.
doi:10.1208/s12248-008-9058-z
PMCID: PMC2696691  PMID: 18814037
sedimentation velocity; analytical ultracentrifugation; trace aggregates; hydrodynamic separation; size-distribution; Bayesian analysis
15.  CELLULAR EXPRESSION AND CRYSTAL STRUCTURE OF THE MURINE CYTOMEGALOVIRUS MHC-Iv GLYCOPROTEIN, m153* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;282(48):35247-35258.
Mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV), a β-herpesvirus that establishes latent and persistent infections in mice, is a valuable model for studying complex virus-host interactions. MCMV encodes the m145 family of putative immunoevasins with predicted MHC-I structure. Functions attributed to some family members include downregulation of host MHC-I (m152) and NKG2D ligands (m145, m152, m155) and interaction with inhibitory or activating NK receptors (m157). We present the cellular, biochemical and structural characterization of m153, which is a heavily glycosylated homodimer, that does not require β2m or peptide, and is expressed at the surface of MCMV-infected cells. Its 2.4 Å crystal structure confirms that this compact molecule preserves an MHC-I-like fold and reveals a novel mode of dimerization, confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis, and a distinctive disulfide-stabilized extended amino terminus. The structure provides a useful framework for comparative analysis of the divergent members of the m145 family.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M706782200
PMCID: PMC2424207  PMID: 17897947
16.  Using prior knowledge in the determination of macromolecular size distributions by analytical ultracentrifugation 
Biomacromolecules  2007;8(6):2011-2024.
Analytical ultracentrifugation has reemerged as a widely used tool for the study of ensembles of biological macromolecules to understand, for example, their size-distribution and interactions in free solution. Such information can be obtained from the mathematical analysis of the concentration and signal gradients across the solution column and their evolution in time generated as a result of the gravitational force. In sedimentation velocity analytical ultracentrifugation, this analysis is frequently conducted using high resolution, diffusion-deconvoluted sedimentation coefficient distributions. They are based on Fredholm integral equations, which are ill-posed unless stabilized by regularization. In many fields, maximum entropy and Tikhonov-Phillips regularization are well-established and powerful approaches that calculate the most parsimonious distribution consistent with the data and prior knowledge, in accordance with Occam’s razor. In the implementations available in analytical ultracentrifugation, to date, the basic assumption implied is that all sedimentation coefficients are equally likely, and that the information retrieved should be condensed to the least amount possible. Frequently, however, more detailed distributions would be warranted by specific detailed prior knowledge on the macromolecular ensemble under study, such as, the expectation of the sample to be monodisperse or paucidisperse, or the expectation for the migration to establish a bimodal sedimentation pattern based on Gilbert & Jenkins’ theory for the migration of chemically reacting systems. So far, such prior knowledge has remained largely unused in the calculation of the sedimentation coefficient or molecular weight distributions, or was only applied as constraints. In the present paper, we examine how prior expectations can be built directly into the computational data analysis, conservatively in a way that honors the complete information of the experimental data, whether or not consistent with the prior expectation. Consistent with analogous results in other fields, we find that use of available prior knowledge can have a dramatic effect on the resulting molecular weight, sedimentation coefficient and size-and-shape distributions, and significantly increase both their sensitivity and resolution. Further, the use of multiple alternative priors allows to probe the range of possible interpretations consistent with the data.
doi:10.1021/bm070193j
PMCID: PMC1994561  PMID: 17521163
Analytical ultracentrifugation; sedimentation velocity; sedimentation equilibrium; maximum entropy; Fredholm integral equations; size-distribution; regularization

Results 1-16 (16)