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1.  Origin of the Proton-transfer Step in the Cofactor-free (1H)-3-Hydroxy-4-oxoquinaldine 2,4-Dioxygenase 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2014;289(12):8620-8632.
Background: The mechanism of cofactor-free dioxygenases has not been clearly elucidated.
Results: Mutation of the His/Asp dyad in (1H)-3-hydroxy-4-oxoquinaldine 2,4-dioxygenase strongly affects substrate deprotonation and overall catalysis.
Conclusion: Base mechanism is demonstrated where His-251 acts as catalytic base and Asp-126 modulates basicity.
Significance: Many dioxygenases activate their substrates via deprotonation, which is an essential step for later reaction with oxygen.
Dioxygenases catalyze a diverse range of chemical reactions that involve the incorporation of oxygen into a substrate and typically use a transition metal or organic cofactor for reaction. Bacterial (1H)-3-hydroxy-4-oxoquinaldine 2,4-dioxygenase (HOD) belongs to a class of oxygenases able to catalyze this energetically unfavorable reaction without any cofactor. In the quinaldine metabolic pathway, HOD breaks down its natural N-heteroaromatic substrate using a mechanism that is still incompletely understood. Experimental and computational approaches were combined to study the initial step of the catalytic cycle. We have investigated the role of the active site His-251/Asp-126 dyad, proposed to be involved in substrate hydroxyl group deprotonation, a critical requirement for subsequent oxygen reaction. The pH profiles obtained under steady-state conditions for the H251A and D126A variants show a strong pH effect on their kcat and kcat/Km constants, with a decrease in kcat/Km of 5500- and 9-fold at pH 10.5, respectively. Substrate deprotonation studies under transient-state conditions show that this step is not rate-limiting and yield a pKa value of ∼7.2 for WT HOD. A large solvent isotope effect was found, and the pKa value was shifted to ∼8.3 in D2O. Crystallographic and computational studies reveal that the mutations have a minor effect on substrate positioning. Computational work shows that both His-251 and Asp-126 are essential for the proton transfer driving force of the initial reaction. This multidisciplinary study offers unambiguous support to the view that substrate deprotonation, driven by the His/Asp dyad, is an essential requirement for its activation.
PMCID: PMC3961685  PMID: 24482238
Enzyme Kinetics; Enzyme Mechanisms; Isotope Effects; Molecular Dynamics; Site-directed Mutagenesis; DFT Calculations; Quantum Mechanics/Molecular Mechanics
2.  Structural Basis For Kinesin-1:Cargo Recognition 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;340(6130):356-359.
Kinesin-mediated cargo transport is required for many cellular functions and plays a key role in pathological processes. Structural information on how kinesins recognize their cargoes is required for a molecular understanding of this fundamental and ubiquitous process. Here we present the crystal structure of the tetratricopeptide repeat of kinesin light chain 2 in complex with a cargo peptide harboring a ‘tryptophan-acidic’ motif derived from SKIP, a critical host determinant in Salmonella pathogenesis and a regulator of lysosomal positioning. Structural data together with biophysical, biochemical and cellular assays allow us to propose a framework for intracellular transport based on the binding by kinesin-1 of W-acidic cargo motifs through a combination of electrostatic interactions and sequence-specific elements, providing direct molecular evidence of the mechanisms for kinesin-1:cargo recognition.
PMCID: PMC3693442  PMID: 23519214
3.  Model building, refinement and validation 
An introduction to the proceedings of the CCP4 Study Weekend held at the University of Warwick on the 6–7 January 2011.
PMCID: PMC3322591  PMID: 22505252
CCP4 Study Weekend
4.  REFMAC5 for the refinement of macromolecular crystal structures 
The general principles behind the macromolecular crystal structure refinement program REFMAC5 are described.
This paper describes various components of the macromolecular crystallographic refinement program REFMAC5, which is distributed as part of the CCP4 suite. REFMAC5 utilizes different likelihood functions depending on the diffraction data employed (amplitudes or intensities), the presence of twinning and the availability of SAD/SIRAS experimental diffraction data. To ensure chemical and structural integrity of the refined model, REFMAC5 offers several classes of restraints and choices of model parameterization. Reliable models at resolutions at least as low as 4 Å can be achieved thanks to low-resolution refinement tools such as secondary-structure restraints, restraints to known homologous structures, automatic global and local NCS restraints, ‘jelly-body’ restraints and the use of novel long-range restraints on atomic displacement parameters (ADPs) based on the Kullback–Leibler divergence. REFMAC5 additionally offers TLS parameterization and, when high-resolution data are available, fast refinement of anisotropic ADPs. Refinement in the presence of twinning is performed in a fully automated fashion. REFMAC5 is a flexible and highly optimized refinement package that is ideally suited for refinement across the entire resolution spectrum encountered in macromolecular crystallography.
PMCID: PMC3069751  PMID: 21460454
REFMAC5; refinement
5.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of 1H-3-hydroxy-4-oxoquinaldine 2,4-dioxygenase from Arthrobacter nitroguajacolicus Rü61a: a cofactor-devoid dioxygenase of the α/β-hydrolase-fold superfamily 
Preliminary crystallographic data are reported for 1H-3-hydroxy-4-oxoquinaldine 2,4-dioxygenase (HOD) from A. nitroguajacolicus Rü61a.
1H-3-Hydroxy-4-oxoquinaldine 2,4-dioxygenase (HOD) is a cofactor-devoid dioxygenase that is involved in the anthranilate pathway of quinaldine degradation. HOD has been proposed to belong to the α/β-hydrolase-fold superfamily of enzymes. N-terminally His6-tagged HOD has been crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method using sodium/potassium tartrate as a precipitant and CuCl2 as an additive. The structure was solved by the single anomalous dispersion (SAD) technique using data collected to 3.5 Å resolution at the Cu absorption peak wavelength. The crystals belong to the primitive tetragonal space group P43212, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 153.788, c = 120.872 Å.
PMCID: PMC2335005  PMID: 17565176
oxygenase; cofactor-free; α/β-hydrolase; 1H-3-hydroxy-4-oxoquinaldine; SAD

Results 1-5 (5)