The ubiquitous mitochondrial J-protein Jac1, called HscB in Escherichia coli, and its partner Hsp70 play a critical role in the transfer of Fe-S clusters from the scaffold protein Isu to recipient proteins. Biochemical results from eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems indicate that formation of the Jac1-Isu complex is important for both targeting of the Isu for Hsp70 binding and stimulation of Hsp70’s ATPase activity. However, in apparent contradiction, we previously reported that an 8 fold decrease in Jac1’s affinity for Isu1 is well tolerated in vivo, raising the question as to whether the Jac1:Isu interaction actually plays an important biological role. Here we report the determination of the structure of Jac1 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Taking advantage of this information and recently published data from the homologous bacterial system, a total of eight surface exposed residues were determined to play a role in Isu binding, as assessed by a set of biochemical assays. A variant having alanines substituted for these eight residues was unable to support growth of a jac1-Δ strain. However, replacement of three residues caused partial loss of function, resulting in a significant decrease in the Jac1:Isu1 interaction, a slow growth phenotype and a reduction in the activity of Fe-S cluster containing enzymes. Thus, we conclude that the Jac1:Isu1 interaction plays an indispensible role in the essential process of mitochondrial Fe-S cluster biogenesis.
The structural characterization of acyl-carrier-protein synthase (AcpS) from three different pathogenic microorganisms is reported. One interesting finding of the present work is a crystal artifact related to the activity of the enzyme, which fortuitously represents an opportunity for a strategy to design a potential inhibitor of a pathogenic AcpS.
Some bacterial type II fatty-acid synthesis (FAS II) enzymes have been shown to be important candidates for drug discovery. The scientific and medical quest for new FAS II protein targets continues to stimulate research in this field. One of the possible additional candidates is the acyl-carrier-protein synthase (AcpS) enzyme. Its holo form post-translationally modifies the apo form of an acyl carrier protein (ACP), which assures the constant delivery of thioester intermediates to the discrete enzymes of FAS II. At the Center for Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases (CSGID), AcpSs from Staphylococcus aureus (AcpSSA), Vibrio cholerae (AcpSVC) and Bacillus anthracis (AcpSBA) have been structurally characterized in their apo, holo and product-bound forms, respectively. The structure of AcpSBA is emphasized because of the two 3′,5′-adenosine diphosphate (3′,5′-ADP) product molecules that are found in each of the three coenzyme A (CoA) binding sites of the trimeric protein. One 3′,5′-ADP is bound as the 3′,5′-ADP part of CoA in the known structures of the CoA–AcpS and 3′,5′-ADP–AcpS binary complexes. The position of the second 3′,5′-ADP has never been described before. It is in close proximity to the first 3′,5′-ADP and the ACP-binding site. The coordination of two ADPs in AcpSBA may possibly be exploited for the design of AcpS inhibitors that can block binding of both CoA and ACP.
acyl-carrier-protein synthase; acyl carrier protein; type II fatty-acid synthesis; inhibition; 3′,5′-adenosine diphosphate; coenzyme A
Prediction of peptide binding to human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules is essential to a wide range of clinical entities from vaccine design to stem cell transplant compatibility. Here we present a new structure-based methodology that applies robust computational tools to model peptide-HLA (p-HLA) binding interactions. The method leverages the structural conservation observed in p-HLA complexes to significantly reduce the search space and calculate the system’s binding free energy. This approach is benchmarked against existing p-HLA complexes and the prediction performance is measured against a library of experimentally validated peptides. The effect on binding activity across a large set of high-affinity peptides is used to investigate amino acid mismatches reported as high-risk factors in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
The crystal structure of 2-oxo-3-deoxygalactonate kinase from the De Ley–Doudoroff pathway of galactose metabolism has been determined at 2.1 Å resolution.
In most organisms, efficient d-galactose utilization requires the highly conserved Leloir pathway that converts d-galactose to d-glucose 1-phosphate. However, in some bacterial and fungal species alternative routes of d-galactose assimilation have been identified. In the so-called De Ley–Doudoroff pathway, d-galactose is metabolized into pyruvate and d-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate in five consecutive reactions carried out by specific enzymes. The penultimate step in this pathway involves the phosphorylation of 2-oxo-3-deoxygalactonate to 2-oxo-3-deoxygalactonate 6-phosphate catalyzed by 2-oxo-3-deoxygalactonate kinase, with ATP serving as a phosphoryl-group donor. Here, a crystal structure of 2-oxo-3-deoxygalactonate kinase from Klebsiella pneumoniae determined at 2.1 Å resolution is reported, the first structure of an enzyme from the De Ley–Doudoroff pathway. Structural comparison indicates that the enzyme belongs to the ASKHA (acetate and sugar kinases/hsc70/actin) family of phosphotransferases. The protein is composed of two α/β domains, each of which contains a core common to all family members. Additional elements introduced between conserved structural motifs define the unique features of 2-oxo-3-deoxygalactonate kinase and possibly determine the biological function of the protein.
2-oxo-3-deoxygalactonate kinase; galactose; De Ley–Doudoroff pathway; ASKHA family
Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis ATCC 15697 utilizes several small-mass neutral human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), several of which are fucosylated. Whereas previous studies focused on endpoint consumption, a temporal glycan consumption profile revealed a time-dependent effect. Specifically, among preferred HMOs, tetraose was favored early in fermentation, with other oligosaccharides consumed slightly later. In order to utilize fucosylated oligosaccharides, ATCC 15697 possesses several fucosidases, implicating GH29 and GH95 α-l-fucosidases in a gene cluster dedicated to HMO metabolism. Evaluation of the biochemical kinetics demonstrated that ATCC 15697 expresses three fucosidases with a high turnover rate. Moreover, several ATCC 15697 fucosidases are active on the linkages inherent to the HMO molecule. Finally, the HMO cluster GH29 α-l-fucosidase possesses a crystal structure that is similar to previously characterized fucosidases.
The enzyme prephenate dehydratase (PDT) converts prephenate to phenylpyruvate in L-phenylalanine biosynthesis. PDT is allosterically regulated by L-Phe and other amino acids. We report the first crystal structures of PDT from Staphylococcus aureus in a relaxed (R) state and PDT from Chlorobium tepidum in a tense (T) state. The two enzymes show low sequence identity (27.3%) but the same prototypic architecture and domain organization. Both enzymes are tetramers (dimer of dimers) in crystal and solution while a PDT dimer can be regarded as a basic catalytic unit. The N-terminal PDT domain consists of two similar subdomains with a cleft in between, which hosts the highly conserved active site. In one PDT dimer two clefts are aligned to form an extended active site across the dimer interface. Similarly at the interface two ACT regulatory domains create two highly conserved pockets. Upon binding of the L-Phe inside the pockets, PDT transits from an open to a closed conformation.
prephenate dehydratase structure; PDT domain; ACT domain; allosteric regulation; L-Phe binding
The high-throughput structure determination pipelines developed by structural genomics programs offer a unique opportunity for data mining. One important question is how protein properties derived from a primary sequence correlate with the protein’s propensity to yield X-ray quality crystals (crystallizability) and 3D X-ray structures. A set of protein properties were computed for over 1,300 proteins that expressed well but were insoluble, and for ~720 unique proteins that resulted in X-ray structures. The correlation of the protein’s iso-electric point and grand average hydropathy (GRAVY) with crystallizability was analyzed for full length and domain constructs of protein targets. In a second step, several additional properties that can be calculated from the protein sequence were added and evaluated. Using statistical analyses we have identified a set of the attributes correlating with a protein’s propensity to crystallize and implemented a Support Vector Machine (SVM) classifier based on these. We have created applications to analyze and provide optimal boundary information for query sequences and to visualize the data. These tools are available via the web site http://bioinformatics.anl.gov/cgi-bin/tools/pdpredictor.
Bioinformatics; Data mining; Protein crystallization; Crystallizability
The first crucial step in any structural genomics project is the selection and prioritization of target proteins for structure determination. There may be a number of selection criteria to be satisfied, including that the proteins have novel folds, that they be representatives of large families for which no structure is known, and so on. The better the selection at this stage, the greater is the value of the structures obtained at the end of the experimental process. This value can be further enhanced once the protein structures have been solved if the functions of the given proteins can also be determined. Here we describe the methods used at either end of the experimental process: firstly, sensitive sequence comparison techniques for selecting a high-quality list of target proteins, and secondly the various computational methods that can be applied to the eventual 3D structures to determine the most likely biochemical function of the proteins in question.
Structural genomics; target selection; function from structure; functional annotation
Sortases anchor surface proteins to the cell wall of Gram-positive pathogens through recognition of specific motif sequences. Loss of sortase leads to large reductions in virulence, which identifies sortase as a target for the development of antibacterials. By screening 135,625 small molecules for inhibition, we report here that aryl (β-amino)ethyl ketones inhibit sortase enzymes from staphylococci and bacilli. Inhibition of sortases occurs through an irreversible, covalent modification of their active site cysteine. Sortases specifically activate this class of molecules via β-elimination, generating a reactive olefin intermediate that covalently modifies the cysteine thiol. Analysis of the three-dimensional structure of Bacillus anthracis sortase B with and without inhibitor provides insights into the mechanism of inhibition and reveals binding pockets that can be exploited for drug discovery.
Here, we report the 1.53-Å crystal structure of the enzyme 7-cyano-7-deazaguanine reductase (QueF) from Vibrio cholerae, which is responsible for the complete reduction of a nitrile (C≡N) bond to a primary amine (H2C–NH2). At present, this is the only example of a biological pathway that includes reduction of a nitrile bond, establishing QueF as particularly noteworthy. The structure of the QueF monomer resembles two connected ferrodoxin-like domains that assemble into dimers. Ligands identified in the crystal structure suggest the likely binding conformation of the native substrates NADPH and 7-cyano-7-deazaguanine. We also report on a series of numerical simulations that have shed light on the mechanism by which this enzyme affects the transfer of four protons (and electrons) to the 7-cyano-7-deazaguanine substrate. In particular, the simulations suggest that the initial step of the catalytic process is the formation of a covalent adduct with the residue Cys194, in agreement with previous studies. The crystal structure also suggests that two conserved residues (His233 and Asp102) play an important role in the delivery of a fourth proton to the substrate.
queuosine; oxidoreductase; QueF; nitrile reduction
Insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE), a Zn2+-metalloprotease, is involved in the clearance of insulin and amyloid-β (refs 1–3). Loss-of-function mutations of IDE in rodents cause glucose intolerance and cerebral accumulation of amyloid-β, whereas enhanced IDE activity effectively reduces brain amyloid-β (refs 4–7). Here we report structures of human IDE in complex with four substrates (insulin B chain, amyloid-β peptide (1–40), amylin and glucagon). The amino- and carboxy-terminal domains of IDE (IDE-N and IDE-C, respectively) form an enclosed cage just large enough to encapsulate insulin. Extensive contacts between IDE-N and IDE-C keep the degradation chamber of IDE inaccessible to substrates. Repositioning of the IDE domains enables substrate access to the catalytic cavity. IDE uses size and charge distribution of the substrate-binding cavity selectively to entrap structurally diverse polypeptides. The enclosed substrate undergoes conformational changes to form β-sheets with two discrete regions of IDE for its degradation. Consistent with this model, mutations disrupting the contacts between IDE-N and IDE-C increase IDE catalytic activity 40-fold. The molecular basis for substrate recognition and allosteric regulation of IDE could aid in designing IDE-based therapies to control cerebral amyloid-β and blood sugar concentrations1,8,9.
Cyanase is an enzyme found in bacteria and plants that catalyzes the reaction of cyanate with bicarbonate to produce ammonia and carbon dioxide. In Escherichia coli, cyanase is induced from the cyn operon in response to extracellular cyanate. The enzyme is functionally active as a homodecamer of 17 kDa subunits, and displays half-site binding of substrates or substrate analogs. The enzyme shows no significant amino acid sequence homology with other proteins.
We have determined the crystal structure of cyanase at 1.65 Å resolution using the multiwavelength anomalous diffraction (MAD) method. Cyanase crystals are triclinic and contain one homodecamer in the asymmetric unit. Selenomethionine-labeled protein offers 40 selenium atoms for use in phasing. Structures of cyanase with bound chloride or oxalate anions, inhibitors of the enzyme, allowed identification of the active site.
The cyanase monomer is composed of two domains. The N-terminal domain shows structural similarity to the DNA-binding α-helix bundle motif. The C-terminal domain has an ‘open fold’ with no structural homology to other proteins. The subunits of cyanase are arranged in a novel manner both at the dimer and decamer level. The dimer structure reveals the C-terminal domains to be intertwined, and the decamer is formed by a pentamer of these dimers. The active site of the enzyme is located between dimers and is comprised of residues from four adjacent subunits of the homodecamer. The structural data allow a conceivable reaction mechanism to be proposed.
active site; cyanase; decamer structure; MAD phasing; monoanion and dianion inhibitors; synchrotron radiation
The crystal structure of Escherichia coli MoaB was determined by multiwavelength anomalous diffraction phasing and refined at 1.6-Å resolution. The molecule displayed a modified Rossman fold. MoaB is assembled into a hexamer composed of two trimers. The monomers have high structural similarity with two proteins, MogA and MoeA, from the molybdenum cofactor synthesis pathway in E. coli, as well as with domains of mammalian gephyrin and plant Cnx1, which are also involved in molybdopterin synthesis. Structural comparison between these proteins and the amino acid conservation patterns revealed a putative active site in MoaB. The structural analysis of this site allowed to advance several hypothesis that can be tested in further studies.
The Type VI secretion pathway transports proteins across the cell envelope of Gram-negative bacteria. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic Gram-negative bacterial pathogen infecting humans, uses the type VI secretion pathway to export specific effector proteins crucial for its pathogenesis. The HSI-I virulence locus encodes for several proteins that has been proposed to participate in protein transport including the Hcp1 protein, which forms hexameric rings that assemble into nanotubes in vitro. Two Hcp1 paralogues have been identified in the P. aeruginosa genome, Hsp2 and Hcp3. Here, we present the structure of the Hcp3 protein from P. aeruginosa. The overall structure of the monomer resembles Hcp1 despite the lack of amino-acid sequence similarity between the two proteins. The monomers assemble into hexamers similar to Hcp1. However, instead of forming nanotubes in head-to-tail mode like Hcp1, Hcp3 stacks its rings in head-to-head mode forming double-ring structures.
Type VI (T6SS) secretion system; Hcp3; Hcp1; X-ray crystallography; Structural genomics
Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPRs) and the associated proteins (Cas) comprise a system of adaptive immunity against viruses and plasmids in prokaryotes. Cas1 is a CRISPR-associated protein that is common to all CRISPR-containing prokaryotes but its function remains obscure. Here we show that the purified Cas1 protein of Escherichia coli (YgbT) exhibits nuclease activity against single-stranded and branched DNAs including Holliday junctions, replication forks, and 5′-flaps. The crystal structure of YgbT and site-directed mutagenesis have revealed the potential active site. Genome-wide screens show that YgbT physically and genetically interacts with key components of DNA repair systems, including recB, recC and ruvB. Consistent with these findings, the ygbT deletion strain showed increased sensitivity to DNA damage and impaired chromosomal segregation. Similar phenotypes were observed in strains with deletion of CRISPR clusters, suggesting that the function of YgbT in repair involves interaction with the CRISPRs. These results show that YgbT belongs to a novel, structurally distinct family of nucleases acting on branched DNAs and suggest that, in addition to antiviral immunity, at least some components of the CRISPR-Cas system have a function in DNA repair.
Cas1; CRISPR; DNA recombination; DNA repair; nuclease; YgbT
Cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP) is a ubiquitous second messenger regulating diverse cellular functions including motility, biofilm formation, cell cycle progression and virulence in bacteria. In the cell, degradation of c-di-GMP is catalyzed by highly specific EAL domain phosphodiesterases whose catalytic mechanism is still unclear. Here, we purified 13 EAL domain proteins from various organisms and demonstrated that their catalytic activity is associated with the presence of 10 conserved EAL domain residues. The crystal structure of the TDB1265 EAL domain was determined in a free state (1.8 Å) and in complex with c-di-GMP (2.35 Å) and unveiled the role of the conserved residues in substrate binding and catalysis. The structure revealed the presence of two metal ions directly coordinated by six conserved residues, two oxygens of the c-di-GMP phosphate, and potential catalytic water molecule. Our results support a two-metal-ion catalytic mechanism of c-di-GMP hydrolysis by EAL domain phosphodiesterases.
EAL domain; cyclic di-GMP; phosphodiesterase; X-ray crystallography; Thiobacillus denitrificans
The New Delhi Metallo-β-lactamase (NDM-1) gene makes multiple pathogenic microorganisms resistant to all known β-lactam antibiotics. The rapid emergence of NDM-1 has been linked to mobile plasmids that move between different strains resulting in world-wide dissemination. Biochemical studies revealed that NDM-1 is capable of efficiently hydrolyzing a wide range of β-lactams, including many carbapenems considered as “last resort” antibiotics. The crystal structures of metal-free apo- and monozinc forms of NDM-1 presented here revealed an enlarged and flexible active site of class B1 metallo-β-lactamase. This site is capable of accommodating many β-lactam substrates by having many of the catalytic residues on flexible loops, which explains the observed extended spectrum activity of this zinc dependent β-lactamase. Indeed, five loops contribute “keg” residues in the active site including side chains involved in metal binding. Loop 1 in particular, shows conformational flexibility, apparently related to the acceptance and positioning of substrates for cleavage by a zinc-activated water molecule.
Protein crystallization is in part driven by the changes in the entropy of the system, but opinions differ as to whether the solute (protein) or solvent (water) molecules make more of a contribution to the overall entropic change. Methylation of lysine residues in proteins has been used to enhance protein crystallization. We investigated using molecular dynamics simulations with explicit solvent molecules, the behavior of several native proteins and their methylated counterparts chosen from an earlier large-scale study. Methylated lysines are capable of making a variety of interactions including H-bonds with protein residues and solvent. We demonstrate that methylation on the lysine slightly increases its side chain conformational entropy by about 3.5 J mol−1 K−1. Analysis of the radial and spatial distributions of the water molecules around the methylated lysine surface in oxidoreductase from Streptococcus pneumoniae revealed a larger sphere of water molecules with low entropy, as compared with solvent associated with unmethylated lysine. If methylated lysine were to make interactions at the protein–protein interface, the low-entropy water molecules associated with methylated lysines would be released, resulting in a gain of entropy. We show that this gain more than compensates for the loss of protein entropy. Therefore, we propose that lysine methylation favors the formation of crystals through solvent entropic gain.
Reductive methylation; Methylated lysine; Protein crystallization; Protein interactions; Protein modification
Biosynthesis of lysine and meso-diaminopimelic acid in bacteria provides essential components for protein synthesis and construction of the bacterial peptidoglycan cell wall. The dapE operon enzymes synthesize both meso-diaminopimelic acid and lysine and, therefore, represent a potential targets for novel antibacterials. The dapE-encoded N-succinyl-L,L-diaminopimelic acid desuccinylase functions in a late step of the pathway and converts N-succinyl-L,L-diaminopimelic acid (L,L-SDAP) to L,L-diaminopimelic acid and succinate. Deletion of the dapE gene is lethal to Helicobacter pylori and Mycobacterium smegmatis indicating that DapE’s are essential for cell growth and proliferation. Since there are no similar pathways in humans, inhibitors that target DapE may have selective toxicity against only bacteria. A major limitation in developing antimicrobial agents that target DapE has been the lack of structural information. Herein we report the high-resolution X-ray crystal structures of the DapE from Haemophilus influenzae with one and two zinc ions bound in the active site, respectively. These two forms show different activity. Based on these newly determined structures we propose a revised catalytic mechanism of peptide bond cleavage by DapE enzymes. These structures provide important insight into catalytic mechanism of DapE enzymes as well as a structural foundation that is critical for the rational design of DapE inhibitors.
High-throughput structural genomics projects seek to delineate protein structure space by determining the structure of representatives of all major protein families. Generally this is accomplished by processing numerous proteins through standardized protocols, for the most part involving purification of N-terminally His-tagged proteins. Often proteins that fail this approach are abandoned, but in many cases further effort is warranted because of a protein’s intrinsic value. In addition, failure often occurs relatively far into the path to structure determination, and many failed proteins passed the first critical step, expression as a soluble protein. Salvage pathways seek to recoup the investment in this subset of failed proteins through alternative cloning, nested truncations, chemical modification, mutagenesis, screening buffers, ligands and modifying processing steps. To this end we have developed a series of ligation-independent cloning expression vectors that append various cleavable C-terminal tags instead of the conventional N-terminal tags. In an initial set of 16 proteins that failed with an N-terminal appendage, structures were obtained for C-terminally tagged derivatives of five proteins, including an example for which several alternative salvaging steps had failed. The new vectors allow appending C-terminal His6-tag and His6- and MBP-tags, and are cleavable with TEV or with both TEV and TVMV proteases.
LIC; TEV; C-terminal; His-tag; High-throughput; Structural genomics
The structure of DinB from G. stearothermophilus is described and compared with a number of recently reported structures of this unusual fold. Structural similarities are revealed that unite several distant protein families.
The crystal structure of the dinB gene product from Geobacillus stearothermophilus (GsDinB) is reported at 2.5 Å resolution. The dinB gene is one of the DNA-damage-induced genes and the corresponding protein, DinB, is the founding member of a Pfam family with no known function. The protein contains a four-helix up–down–down–up bundle that has previously been described in the literature in three disparate proteins: the enzyme MDMPI (mycothiol-dependent maleylpyruvate isomerase), YfiT and TTHA0303, a member of a small DUF (domain of unknown function). However, a search of the DALI structural database revealed similarities to a further 11 new unpublished structures contributed by structural genomics centers. The sequences of these proteins are quite divergent and represent several Pfam families, yet their structures are quite similar and most (but not all) seem to have the ability to coordinate a metal ion using a conserved histidine-triad motif. The structural similarities of these diverse proteins suggest that a new Pfam clan encompassing the families that share this fold should be created. The proteins that share this fold exhibit four different quaternary structures: monomeric and three different dimeric forms.
structural genomics; DinB; four-helix bundles; metal-binding proteins; Pfam families
A semi-automated computational procedure to assist in the identification of bound ligands from unknown electron density has been developed. The atomic surface surrounding the density blob is compared to a library of three-dimensional ligand binding surfaces extracted from the Protein Data Bank (PDB). Ligands corresponding to surfaces which share physicochemical texture and geometric shape similarities are considered for assignment. The method is benchmarked against a set of well represented ligands from the PDB, in which we show that we can identify the correct ligand based on the corresponding binding surface. Finally, we apply the method during model building and refinement stages from structural genomics targets in which unknown density blobs were discovered. A semi-automated computational method is described which aims to assist crystallographers with assigning the identity of a ligand corresponding to unknown electron density. Using shape and physicochemical similarity assessments between the protein surface surrounding the density and a database of known ligand binding surfaces, a plausible list of candidate ligands are identified for consideration. The method is validated against highly observed ligands from the Protein Data Bank and results are shown from its use in a high-throughput structural genomics pipeline.
Electron density assignment; Function annotation; Ligand identification; Ligand assignment; Protein surfaces
The conjugative transfer of F-like plasmids between bacteria is regulated by the plasmid-encoded RNA chaperone, FinO, which facilitates sense—antisense RNA interactions to regulate plasmid gene expression. FinO was thought to adopt a unique structure, however many putative homologs have been identified in microbial genomes and are considered members of the FinO_conjugation_repressor superfamily. We were interested in determining whether other members were also able to bind RNA and promote duplex formation, suggesting that this motif does indeed identify a putative RNA chaperone. We determined the crystal structure of the N. meningitidis MC58 protein NMB1681. It revealed striking similarity to FinO, with a conserved fold and a large, positively charged surface that could function in RNA interactions. Using assays developed to study FinO-FinP sRNA interactions, NMB1681, like FinO, bound tightly to FinP RNA stem-loops with short 5′ and 3′ single-stranded tails but not to ssRNA. It also was able to catalyze strand exchange between an RNA duplex and a complementary single-strand, and facilitated duplexing between complementary RNA hairpins. Finally, NMB1681 was able to rescue a finO deficiency and repress F plasmid conjugation. This study strongly suggests that NMB1681 is a FinO-like RNA chaperone that likely regulates gene expression through RNA-based mechanisms in N. meningitidis.
FinO; plasmid conjugation; RNA chaperone; sRNA; antisense RNA
Protein X-ray crystallography recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The structures of myoglobin and hemoglobin determined by Kendrew and Perutz provided the first glimpses into the complex protein architecture and chemistry. Since then, the field of structural molecular biology has experienced extraordinary progress and now over 53,000 proteins structures have been deposited into the Protein Data Bank. In the past decade many advances in macromolecular crystallography have been driven by world-wide structural genomics efforts. This was made possible because of third-generation synchrotron sources, structure phasing approaches using anomalous signal and cryo-crystallography. Complementary progress in molecular biology, proteomics, hardware and software for crystallographic data collection, structure determination and refinement, computer science, databases, robotics and automation improved and accelerated many processes. These advancements provide the robust foundation for structural molecular biology and assure strong contribution to science in the future. In this report we focus mainly on reviewing structural genomics high-throughput X-ray crystallography technologies and their impact.
Through its interactions with proteins and proteoglycans, thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) functions at the interface of the cell membrane and the extracellular matrix to regulate matrix structure and cellular phenotype. We have previously determined the structure of the high affinity heparin-binding domain of TSP-1, designated TSPN-1, in association with the synthetic heparin, Arixtra. To establish that the binding of TSPN-1 to Arixtra is representative of the association with naturally occurring heparins, we have determined the structures of TSPN-1 in complex with heparin oligosaccharides containing eight (dp8) and ten (dp10) subunits, by x-ray crystallography. We have found that dp8 and dp10 bind to TSPN-1 in a manner similar to Arixtra and that dp8 and dp10 induce the formation of trans and cis TSPN-1 dimers, respectively. In silico docking calculations partnered with our crystal structures support the importance of arginine residues in positions 29, 42, and 77 in binding sulfate groups of the dp8 and dp10 forms of heparin. The ability of several TSPN-1 domains to bind to glycosaminoglycans simultaneously probably increases the affinity of binding through multivalent interactions. The formation of cis and trans dimers of the TSPN-1 domain with relatively short segments of heparin further enhances the ability of TSP-1 to participate in high affinity binding to glycosaminoglycans. Dimer formation may also involve TSPN-1 domains from two separate TSP-1 molecules. This association would enable glycosaminoglycans to cluster TSP-1.