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author:("elmer, Maria")
1.  Resistance to β-Lactam Antibiotics Conferred by Point Mutations in Penicillin-Binding Proteins PBP3, PBP4 and PBP6 in Salmonella enterica 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97202.
Penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) are enzymes responsible for the polymerization of the glycan strand and the cross-linking between glycan chains as well as the target proteins for β-lactam antibiotics. Mutational alterations in PBPs can confer resistance either by reducing binding of the antibiotic to the active site or by evolving a β-lactamase activity that degrades the antibiotic. As no systematic studies have been performed to examine the potential of all PBPs present in one bacterial species to evolve increased resistance against β-lactam antibiotics, we explored the ability of fifteen different defined or putative PBPs in Salmonella enterica to acquire increased resistance against penicillin G. We could after mutagenesis and selection in presence of penicillin G isolate mutants with amino-acid substitutions in the PBPs, FtsI, DacB and DacC (corresponding to PBP3, PBP4 and PBP6) with increased resistance against β-lactam antibiotics. Our results suggest that: (i) most evolved PBPs became ‘generalists” with increased resistance against several different classes of β-lactam antibiotics, (ii) synergistic interactions between mutations conferring antibiotic resistance are common and (iii) the mechanism of resistance of these mutants could be to make the active site more accessible for water allowing hydrolysis or less binding to β-lactam antibiotics.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097202
PMCID: PMC4014608  PMID: 24810745
2.  The structure of the ribosome with elongation factor G trapped in the post-translocational state 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;326(5953):694-699.
Elongation factor G (EF-G) is a GTPase that plays a crucial role in the translocation of tRNAs and mRNA during translation by the ribosome. We report a crystal structure refined to 3.6 Å resolution of the ribosome trapped with EF-G in the post-translocational state using the antibiotic fusidic acid. Fusidic acid traps EF-G in a conformation intermediate between the GTP and GDP forms. The interaction of EF-G with ribosomal elements implicated in stimulating catalysis, such as the L10-L12 stalk and the L11 region, and of domain IV of EF-G with P-site tRNA and mRNA shed light on various aspects of EF-G function in catalysis and translocation. The stabilization of the mobile stalks of the ribosome also results in a more complete description of its structure.
doi:10.1126/science.1179709
PMCID: PMC3763468  PMID: 19833919
3.  Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of the 23S rRNA methyltransferase RlmJ from Escherichia coli  
The 23S rRNA methyltransferase RlmJ from E. coli has been cloned, expressed, purified and crystallized. X-ray diffraction data to 1.85 Å resolution have been collected from the apo RlmJ crystals.
Methyltransferase RlmJ uses the cofactor S-adenosylmethionine to methylate the exocyclic nitrogen N6 of nucleotide A2030 in 23S rRNA during ribosome assembly in Escherichia coli. RlmJ with a C-terminal hexahistidine tag was overexpressed in E. coli and purified as a monomer using Ni2+-affinity and size-exclusion chromatography. The recombinant RlmJ was crystallized using the sitting-drop vapour-diffusion method and a full data set was collected to 1.85 Å resolution from a single apo crystal. The crystals belonged to space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 46.9, b = 77.8, c = 82.5 Å, β = 104°. Data analysis suggested two molecules per asymmetric unit and a Matthews coefficient of 2.20 Å3 Da−1.
doi:10.1107/S1744309113020289
PMCID: PMC3758148  PMID: 23989148
RlmJ; S-adenosylmethionine; methyltransferases; 23S rRNA; m6A2030; ribosome assembly; Escherichia coli
4.  Structural and functional insights into the molecular mechanism of rRNA m6A methyltransferase RlmJ 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(20):9537-9548.
RlmJ catalyzes the m6A2030 methylation of 23S rRNA during ribosome biogenesis in Escherichia coli. Here, we present crystal structures of RlmJ in apo form, in complex with the cofactor S-adenosyl-methionine and in complex with S-adenosyl-homocysteine plus the substrate analogue adenosine monophosphate (AMP). RlmJ displays a variant of the Rossmann-like methyltransferase (MTase) fold with an inserted helical subdomain. Binding of cofactor and substrate induces a large shift of the N-terminal motif X tail to make it cover the cofactor binding site and trigger active-site changes in motifs IV and VIII. Adenosine monophosphate binds in a partly accommodated state with the target N6 atom 7 Å away from the sulphur of AdoHcy. The active site of RlmJ with motif IV sequence 164DPPY167 is more similar to DNA m6A MTases than to RNA m62A MTases, and structural comparison suggests that RlmJ binds its substrate base similarly to DNA MTases T4Dam and M.TaqI. RlmJ methylates in vitro transcribed 23S rRNA, as well as a minimal substrate corresponding to helix 72, demonstrating independence of previous modifications and tertiary interactions in the RNA substrate. RlmJ displays specificity for adenosine, and mutagenesis experiments demonstrate the critical roles of residues Y4, H6, K18 and D164 in methyl transfer.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt719
PMCID: PMC3814359  PMID: 23945937
5.  Tolerance of Protein Folding to a Circular Permutation in a PDZ Domain 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50055.
Circular permutation is a common molecular mechanism for evolution of proteins. However, such re-arrangement of secondary structure connectivity may interfere with the folding mechanism causing accumulation of folding intermediates, which in turn can lead to misfolding. We solved the crystal structure and investigated the folding pathway of a circularly permuted variant of a PDZ domain, SAP97 PDZ2. Our data illustrate how well circular permutation may work as a mechanism for molecular evolution. The circular permutant retains the overall structure and function of the native protein domain. Further, unlike most examples in the literature, this circular permutant displays a folding mechanism that is virtually identical to that of the wild type. This observation contrasts with previous data on the circularly permuted PDZ2 domain from PTP-BL, for which the folding pathway was remarkably affected by the same mutation in sequence connectivity. The different effects of this circular permutation in two homologous proteins show the strong influence of sequence as compared to topology. Circular permutation, when peripheral to the major folding nucleus, may have little effect on folding pathways and could explain why, despite the dramatic change in primary structure, it is frequently tolerated by different protein folds.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050055
PMCID: PMC3503759  PMID: 23185531
6.  Crystal structure of RlmM, the 2′O-ribose methyltransferase for C2498 of Escherichia coli 23S rRNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(20):10507-10520.
RlmM (YgdE) catalyzes the S-adenosyl methionine (AdoMet)-dependent 2′O methylation of C2498 in 23S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) of Escherichia coli. Previous experiments have shown that RlmM is active on 23S rRNA from an RlmM knockout strain but not on mature 50S subunits from the same strain. Here, we demonstrate RlmM methyltransferase (MTase) activity on in vitro transcribed 23S rRNA and its domain V. We have solved crystal structures of E. coli RlmM at 1.9 Å resolution and of an RlmM–AdoMet complex at 2.6 Å resolution. RlmM consists of an N-terminal THUMP domain and a C-terminal catalytic Rossmann-like fold MTase domain in a novel arrangement. The catalytic domain of RlmM is closely related to YiiB, TlyA and fibrillarins, with the second K of the catalytic tetrad KDKE shifted by two residues at the C-terminal end of a beta strand compared with most 2′O MTases. The AdoMet-binding site is open and shallow, suggesting that RNA substrate binding may be required to form a conformation needed for catalysis. A continuous surface of conserved positive charge indicates that RlmM uses one side of the two domains and the inter-domain linker to recognize its RNA substrate.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks727
PMCID: PMC3488215  PMID: 22923526
7.  Ribosome engineering to promote new crystal forms 
Truncation of ribosomal protein L9 in T. thermophilus allows the generation of new crystal forms and the crystallization of ribosome–GTPase complexes.
Crystallographic studies of the ribosome have provided molecular details of protein synthesis. However, the crystallization of functional complexes of ribosomes with GTPase translation factors proved to be elusive for a decade after the first ribosome structures were determined. Analysis of the packing in different 70S ribosome crystal forms revealed that regardless of the species or space group, a contact between ribosomal protein L9 from the large subunit and 16S rRNA in the shoulder of a neighbouring small subunit in the crystal lattice competes with the binding of GTPase elongation factors to this region of 16S rRNA. To prevent the formation of this preferred crystal contact, a mutant strain of Thermus thermophilus, HB8-MRCMSAW1, in which the ribosomal protein L9 gene has been truncated was constructed by homologous recombination. Mutant 70S ribosomes were used to crystallize and solve the structure of the ribosome with EF-­G, GDP and fusidic acid in a previously unobserved crystal form. Subsequent work has shown the usefulness of this strain for crystallization of the ribosome with other GTPase factors.
doi:10.1107/S0907444912006348
PMCID: PMC3335287  PMID: 22525755
ribosome; GTPase; engineering
8.  Structure and function of FusB: an elongation factor G-binding fusidic acid resistance protein active in ribosomal translocation and recycling 
Open Biology  2012;2(3):120016.
Fusidic acid (FA) is a bacteriostatic antibiotic that locks elongation factor G (EF-G) to the ribosome after GTP hydrolysis during elongation and ribosome recycling. The plasmid pUB101-encoded protein FusB causes FA resistance in clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus through an interaction with EF-G. Here, we report 1.6 and 2.3 Å crystal structures of FusB. We show that FusB is a two-domain protein lacking homology to known structures, where the N-terminal domain is a four-helix bundle and the C-terminal domain has an alpha/beta fold containing a C4 treble clef zinc finger motif and two loop regions with conserved basic residues. Using hybrid constructs between S. aureus EF-G that binds to FusB and Escherichia coli EF-G that does not, we show that the sequence determinants for FusB recognition reside in domain IV and involve the C-terminal helix of S. aureus EF-G. Further, using kinetic assays in a reconstituted translation system, we demonstrate that FusB can rescue FA inhibition of tRNA translocation as well as ribosome recycling. We propose that FusB rescues S. aureus from FA inhibition by preventing formation or facilitating dissociation of the FA-locked EF-G–ribosome complex.
doi:10.1098/rsob.120016
PMCID: PMC3352095  PMID: 22645663
FusB; elongation factor G; fusidic acid; antibiotic resistance

Results 1-8 (8)