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1.  On the need for an international effort to capture, share and use crystallization screening data 
Development of an ontology for the description of crystallization experiments and results is proposed.
When crystallization screening is conducted many outcomes are observed but typically the only trial recorded in the literature is the condition that yielded the crystal(s) used for subsequent diffraction studies. The initial hit that was optimized and the results of all the other trials are lost. These missing results contain information that would be useful for an improved general understanding of crystallization. This paper provides a report of a crystallization data exchange (XDX) workshop organized by several international large-scale crystallization screening laboratories to discuss how this information may be captured and utilized. A group that administers a significant fraction of the world’s crystallization screening results was convened, together with chemical and structural data informaticians and computational scientists who specialize in creating and analysing large disparate data sets. The development of a crystallization ontology for the crystallization community was proposed. This paper (by the attendees of the workshop) provides the thoughts and rationale leading to this conclusion. This is brought to the attention of the wider audience of crystallographers so that they are aware of these early efforts and can contribute to the process going forward.
PMCID: PMC3310524  PMID: 22442216
crystallization screening data; crystallization ontology
2.  Structure and lability of archaeal dehydroquinase 
The structure and thermal melting data for dehydroquinase from A. fulgidus are reported. The protein melts in vitro well below the organism’s growth temperature.
Multiple sequence alignments of type I 3-dehydroquinate dehydratases (DQs; EC show that archaeal DQs have shorter helical regions than bacterial orthologs of known structure. To investigate this feature and its relation to thermostability, the structure of the Archaeoglobus fulgidus (Af) DQ dimer was determined at 2.33 Å resolution and its denaturation temperature was measured in vitro by circular dichroism (CD) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). This structure, a P212121 crystal form with two 45 kDa dimers in the asymmetric unit, is the first structural representative of an archaeal DQ. Denaturation occurs at 343 ± 3 K at both low and high ionic strength and at 349 K in the presence of the substrate analog tartrate. Since the growth optimum of the organism is 356 K, this implies that the protein maintains its folded state through the participation of additional factors in vivo. The (βα)8 fold is compared with those of two previously determined type I DQ structures, both bacterial (Salmonella and Staphylococcus), which had sequence identities of ∼30% with AfDQ. Although the overall folds are the same, there are many differences in secondary structure and ionic features; the archaeal protein has over twice as many salt links per residue. The archaeal DQ is smaller than its bacterial counterparts and lower in regular secondary structure, with its eight helices being an average of one turn shorter. In particular, two of the eight normally helical regions (the exterior of the barrel) are mostly nonhelical in AfDQ, each having only a single turn of 310-­helix flanked by β-strand and coil. These ‘protohelices’ are unique among evolutionarily close members of the (βα)8-fold superfamily. Structural features that may contribute to stability, in particular ionic factors, are examined and the implications of having a T m below the organism’s growth temperature are considered.
PMCID: PMC2564895  PMID: 18931429
Archaeoglobus fulgidus; β-barrel; thermophiles; intrinsically unfolded; ion pairs; melting; thermostability
3.  Protein Crystal Engineering of YpAC-IV using the Strategy of Excess Charge Reduction 
Crystal growth & design  2009;9(8):3570-3574.
The class IV adenylyl cyclase from Yersinia pestis has been engineered by site-specific mutagenesis to facilitate crystallization at neutral pH. The wild-type enzyme crystallized only below pH 5, consistent with the observation of a carboxyl-carboxylate H bond in a crystal contact in the refined structure 2FJT. Based on that unliganded structure at 1.9 Å resolution, two different approaches were tested with the goal of producing a higher-pH crystal needed for inhibitor complexation and mechanistic studies. In one approach, Asp 19, which forms the growth-limiting dicarboxyl contact in wild-type triclinic crystals, was modified to Ala and Asn in hopes of relieving the acid-dependence of that crystal form. In the other approach, wild-type residues Met 18, Glu 25, and Asp 55 were (individually) changed to lysine to reduce the protein's excess negative charge in hopes of enabling growth of new, higher-pH forms. These 3 sites were selected based on their high solvent exposure and lack of intraprotein interactions. The D19A and D19N mutants had reduced solubility and did not crystallize. The other 3 mutants all crystallized, producing several new forms at neutral pH. One of these forms, with the D55K mutant, enabled a product complex at 1.6 Å resolution, structure 3GHX. This structure shows why the new crystal form required the mutation in order to grow at neutral pH. This approach could be useful in other cases where excess negative charge inhibits the crystallization of low-pI proteins.
PMCID: PMC2758785  PMID: 20160955
crystal growth; crystal contact; crystal engineering; isoelectric point; mutation; structure; x-ray diffraction
4.  Crystallization of the class IV adenylyl cyclase from Yersinia pestis  
The class IV adenylyl cyclase from Y. pestis has been crystallized in an orthorhombic form suitable for structure determination.
The class IV adenylyl cyclase from Yersinia pestis has been cloned and crystallized in both a triclinic and an orthorhombic form. An amino-terminal His-tagged construct, from which the tag was removed by thrombin, crystallized in a triclinic form diffracting to 1.9 Å, with one dimer per asymmetric unit and unit-cell parameters a = 33.5, b = 35.5, c = 71.8 Å, α = 88.7, β = 82.5, γ = 65.5°. Several mutants of this construct crystallized but diffracted poorly. A non-His-tagged native construct (179 amino acids, MW = 20.5 kDa) was purified by conventional chromatography and crystallized in space group P212121. These crystals have unit-cell parameters a = 56.8, b = 118.6, c = 144.5 Å, diffract to 3 Å and probably have two dimers per asymmetric unit and V M = 3.0 Å3 Da−1. Both crystal forms appear to require pH below 5, complicating attempts to incorporate nucleotide ligands into the structure. The native construct has been produced as a selenomethionine derivative and crystallized for phasing and structure determination.
PMCID: PMC2197185  PMID: 16511301
adenylyl cyclase; cyclic AMP; selenomethionine

Results 1-4 (4)