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1.  Combinatorial Optimization of Cystine-Knot Peptides towards High-Affinity Inhibitors of Human Matriptase-1 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76956.
Cystine-knot miniproteins define a class of bioactive molecules with several thousand natural members. Their eponymous motif comprises a rigid structured core formed by six disulfide-connected cysteine residues, which accounts for its exceptional stability towards thermic or proteolytic degradation. Since they display a remarkable sequence tolerance within their disulfide-connected loops, these molecules are considered promising frameworks for peptide-based pharmaceuticals. Natural open-chain cystine-knot trypsin inhibitors of the MCoTI (Momordica cochinchinensis trypsin inhibitor) and SOTI (Spinacia oleracea trypsin inhibitor) families served as starting points for the generation of inhibitors of matriptase-1, a type II transmembrane serine protease with possible clinical relevance in cancer and arthritic therapy. Yeast surface-displayed libraries of miniproteins were used to select unique and potent matriptase-1 inhibitors. To this end, a knowledge-based library design was applied that makes use of detailed information on binding and folding behavior of cystine-knot peptides. Five inhibitor variants, four of the MCoTI family and one of the SOTI family, were identified, chemically synthesized and oxidatively folded towards the bioactive conformation. Enzyme assays revealed inhibition constants in the low nanomolar range for all candidates. One subnanomolar binder (Ki = 0.83 nM) with an inverted selectivity towards trypsin and matriptase-1 was identified.
PMCID: PMC3795654  PMID: 24146945
2.  A sensitive method for rapid detection of alkyl halides and dehalogenase activity using a multistep enzyme assay 
AMB Express  2012;2:51.
A method for the detection of haloalkane conversion to the corresponding alcohols by haloalkane dehalogenases is described. It is based on a multistage enzyme reaction which allows for the analysis of alkyl halides in buffered systems. Irreversible hydrolytic dehalogenation catalyzed by haloalkane dehalogenase DhaA from Rhodococcus erythropolis transfers an alkyl halide into a corresponding alcohol that is further oxidized by alcohol oxidase AOX from Pichia pastoris yielding a respective aldehyde and hydrogen peroxide easily detectable via the horseradish peroxidase catalyzed oxidation of chromogenic molecules. Due to its high sensitivity (0.025 mM, 0.43 ppm for 1,3-dibromopropane), low expenditure and the ability of handling a large number of samples in parallel, this method is an attractive alternative to existing procedures for the monitoring of both haloalkanes and dehalogenases.
PMCID: PMC3487978  PMID: 23006907
Alcohol oxidase; Haloalkane dehalogenase; Haloalkanes; Horseradish peroxidase; Multistage enzyme reaction
3.  In Vivo Enzyme Immobilization by Inclusion Body Display▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(16):5563-5569.
A novel strategy for in vivo immobilization of enzymes on the surfaces of inclusion bodies has been established. It relies on expression in Escherichia coli of the polyhydroxybutyrate synthase PhaC from Cupriavidus necator, which carries at its amino terminus an engineered negatively charged α-helical coil (Ecoil) and forms inclusion bodies upon high-level expression. Coexpression in the same cell of galactose oxidase (GOase) from Fusarium spp. carrying a carboxy-terminal positively charged coil (lysine-rich coil [Kcoil]) sequence results in heterodimeric coiled-coil formation in vivo and in the capture of the enzyme in active form on the surface of the inclusion body particle. These round-shaped enzyme-decorated microparticles, with sizes of approximately 0.7 μm, can be isolated from lysed cells simply by centrifugation. The cost-effective one-step generation and isolation of enzymes immobilized on inclusion body particles may become useful for various applications in bioprocessing and biotransformation.
PMCID: PMC2918971  PMID: 20581198
4.  Knottin cyclization: impact on structure and dynamics 
Present in various species, the knottins (also referred to as inhibitor cystine knots) constitute a group of extremely stable miniproteins with a plethora of biological activities. Owing to their small size and their high stability, knottins are considered as excellent leads or scaffolds in drug design. Two knottin families contain macrocyclic compounds, namely the cyclotides and the squash inhibitors. The cyclotide family nearly exclusively contains head-to-tail cyclized members. On the other hand, the squash family predominantly contains linear members. Head-to-tail cyclization is intuitively expected to improve bioactivities by increasing stability and lowering flexibility as well as sensitivity to proteolytic attack.
In this paper, we report data on solution structure, thermal stability, and flexibility as inferred from NMR experiments and molecular dynamics simulations of a linear squash inhibitor EETI-II, a circular squash inhibitor MCoTI-II, and a linear analog lin-MCoTI. Strikingly, the head-to-tail linker in cyclic MCoTI-II is by far the most flexible region of all three compounds. Moreover, we show that cyclic and linear squash inhibitors do not display large differences in structure or flexibility in standard conditions, raising the question as to why few squash inhibitors have evolved into cyclic compounds. The simulations revealed however that the cyclization increases resistance to high temperatures by limiting structure unfolding.
In this work, we show that, in contrast to what could have been intuitively expected, cyclization of squash inhibitors does not provide clear stability or flexibility modification. Overall, our results suggest that, for squash inhibitors in standard conditions, the circularization impact might come from incorporation of an additional loop sequence, that can contribute to the miniprotein specificity and affinity, rather than from an increase in conformational rigidity or protein stability. Unfolding simulations showed however that cyclization is a stabilizing factor in strongly denaturing conditions. This information should be useful if one wants to use the squash inhibitor scaffold in drug design.
PMCID: PMC2659701  PMID: 19077275
5.  Intimin-Mediated Export of Passenger Proteins Requires Maintenance of a Translocation-Competent Conformation 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(2):522-533.
Intimins from pathogenic bacteria promote intimate bacterial adhesion to epithelial cells. Several structurally similar domains form on the bacterial cell surface an extended rigid rod that exposes the carboxy-terminal domain, which interacts with the translocated intimin receptor. We constructed a series of intimin-derived fusion proteins consisting of carboxy-terminally truncated intimin and the immunoglobulin light-chain variable domain REIv, ubiquitin, calmodulin, β-lactamase inhibitor protein, or β-lactamase. By systematically investigating the intimin-mediated cell surface exposure of these passenger domains in the presence or absence of compounds that interfere with outer membrane stability or passenger domain folding, we acquired experimental evidence that intimin-mediated protein export across the outer membrane requires, prior to export, the maintenance of a translocation-competent conformation that may be distinct from the final protein structure. We propose that, during export, competition exists between productive translocation and folding of the passenger domain in the periplasm into a stable conformation that is not compatible with translocation through the bacterial outer membrane. These results may expand understanding of the mechanism by which intimins are inserted into the outer membrane and expose extracellular domains on the cell surface.
PMCID: PMC543525  PMID: 15629924
6.  Display of Passenger Proteins on the Surface of Escherichia coli K-12 by the Enterohemorrhagic E. coli Intimin EaeA 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(24):7273-7284.
Intimins are members of a family of bacterial adhesins from pathogenic Escherichia coli which specifically interact with diverse eukaryotic cell surface receptors. The EaeA intimin from enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 contains an N-terminal transporter domain, which resides in the bacterial outer membrane and promotes the translocation of four C-terminally attached passenger domains across the bacterial cell envelope. We investigated whether truncated EaeA intimin lacking two carboxy-terminal domains could be used as a translocator for heterologous passenger proteins. We found that a variant of the trypsin inhibitor Ecballium elaterium trypsin inhibitor II (EETI-II), interleukin 4, and the Bence-Jones protein REIv were displayed on the surface of E. coli K-12 via fusion to truncated intimin. Fusion protein net accumulation in the outer membrane could be regulated over a broad range by varying the cellular amount of suppressor tRNA that is necessary for translational readthrough at an amber codon residing within the truncated eaeA gene. Intimin-mediated adhesion of the bacterial cells to eukaryotic target cells could be mimicked by surface display of a short fibrinogen receptor binding peptide containing an arginine-glycine-aspartic acid sequence motif, which promoted binding of E. coli K-12 to human platelets. Cells displaying a particular epitope sequence fused to truncated intimin could be enriched 200,000-fold by immunofluorescence staining and fluorescence-activated cell sorting in three sorting rounds. These results demonstrate that truncated intimin can be used as an anchor protein that mediates the translocation of various passenger proteins through the cytoplasmic and outer membranes of E. coli and their exposure on the cell surface. Intimin display may prove a useful tool for future protein translocation studies with interesting biological and biotechnological ramifications.
PMCID: PMC95577  PMID: 11717287

Results 1-6 (6)