Chemoreceptors enable bacteria to detect chemical signals in the environment and navigate towards niches that are favourable for survival. The sensor domains of chemoreceptors function as the input modules for chemotaxis systems, and provide sensory specificity by binding specific ligands. Cache-like domains are the most common extracellular sensor module in prokaryotes, however only a handful have been functionally or structurally characterised. Here, we have characterised a chemoreceptor Cache-like sensor domain (PscD-SD) from the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa). High-throughput fluorescence thermal shift assays, combined with isothermal thermal titration calorimetry, revealed that PscD-SD binds specifically to C2 (glycolate and acetate) and C3 (propionate and pyruvate) carboxylates. We solved the structure of PscD-SD in complex with propionate using X-ray crystallography. The structure reveals the key residues that comprise the ligand binding pocket and dictate the specificity of this sensor domain for C2 and C3 carboxylates. We also demonstrate that all four carboxylate ligands are chemoattractants for Psa, but only two of these (acetate and pyruvate) are utilisable carbon sources. This result suggests that in addition to guiding the bacteria towards nutrients, another possible role for carboxylate sensing is in locating potential sites of entry into the host plant.
The Critical Assessment of protein Structure Prediction (CASP) experiment would not have been possible without the prediction targets provided by the experimental structural biology community. In this article, selected crystallographers providing targets for the CASP11 experiment discuss the functional and biological significance of the target proteins, highlight their most interesting structural features, and assess whether these features were correctly reproduced in the predictions submitted to CASP11. Proteins 2016; 84(Suppl 1):34–50. © 2015 The Authors. Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
X‐ray crystallography; NMR; CASP; protein structure prediction
The PDB is looked at to find data to answer the question ‘How well do our current screens cover crystallization space?’ and to try to find answers to the more general question about the most efficient strategy to employ in a crystallization campaign.
The REMARK280 field of the Protein Data Bank is the richest open source of successful crystallization information. The REMARK280 field is optional and currently uncurated, so significant effort needs to be applied to extract reliable data. There are well over 15 000 crystallization conditions available commercially from 12 different vendors. After putting the PDB crystallization information and the commercial cocktail data into a consistent format, these data are used to extract information about the overlap between the two sets of crystallization conditions. An estimation is made as to which commercially available conditions are most appropriate for producing well diffracting crystals by looking at which commercial conditions are found unchanged (or almost unchanged) in the PDB. Further analyses include which commercial kits are the most appropriate for shotgun or more traditional approaches to crystallization screening. This analysis suggests that almost 40% of the crystallization conditions found currently in the PDB are identical or very similar to a commercial condition.
crystallization; crystallization space
We previously isolated the transaminase KES23458 from Pseudomonas sp. strain AAC as a promising biocatalyst for the production of 12-aminododecanoic acid, a constituent building block of nylon-12. Here, we report the subsequent characterization of this transaminase. It exhibits activity with a broad substrate range which includes α-, β-, and ω-amino acids, as well as α,ω-diamines and a number of other industrially relevant compounds. It is therefore a prospective candidate for the biosynthesis of a range of polyamide monomers. The crystal structure of KES23458 revealed that the protein forms a dimer containing a large active site pocket and unusual phosphorylated histidine residues. To infer the physiological role of the transaminase, we expressed, purified, and characterized a dehydrogenase from the same operon, KES23460. Unlike the transaminase, the dehydrogenase was shown to be quite selective, catalyzing the oxidation of malonic acid semialdehyde, formed from β-alanine transamination via KES23458. In keeping with previous reports, the dehydrogenase was shown to catalyze both a coenzyme A (CoA)-dependent reaction to form acetyl-CoA and a significantly slower CoA-independent reaction to form acetate. These findings support the original functional assignment of KES23458 as a β-alanine transaminase. However, a seemingly well-adapted active site and promiscuity toward unnatural compounds, such as 12-aminododecanoic acid, suggest that this enzyme could perform multiple functions for Pseudomonas sp. strain AAC.
IMPORTANCE We describe the characterization of an industrially relevant transaminase able to metabolize 12-aminododecanoic acid, a constituent building block of the widely used polymer nylon-12, and we report the biochemical and structural characterization of the transaminase protein. A physiological role for this highly promiscuous enzyme is proposed based on the characterization of a related gene from the host organism. Molecular dynamics simulations were carried out to compare the conformational changes in the transaminase protein to better understand the determinants of specificity in the protein. This study makes a substantial contribution that is of interest to the broad biotechnology and enzymology communities, providing insights into the catalytic activity of an industrially relevant biocatalyst as well as the biological function of this operon.
The membrane-spanning α-helices of single-pass receptors play crucial roles in stabilizing oligomeric structures and transducing biochemical signals across the membrane. Probing intermolecular transmembrane interactions in single-pass receptors presents unique challenges, reflected in a gross underrepresentation of their membrane-embedded domains in structural databases. Here we present two high-resolution structures of transmembrane assemblies from a eukaryotic single-pass protein crystallized in a lipidic membrane environment. Trimeric and tetrameric structures of the immunoreceptor signaling module DAP12, determined to 1.77 Å and 2.14 Å resolution, respectively, are organized by the same polar surfaces that govern intramembrane assembly with client receptors. We demonstrate that both trimeric and tetrameric products form in cells and that formation of products larger than dimers is competitive with receptor association in the ER. The polar transmembrane sequences therefore act as primary determinants of oligomerization specificity through interplay between charge-shielding and sequestration of polar surfaces within helix interfaces.
Enzymes expressed by highly salt-tolerant organisms show many modifications compared with salt-affected counterparts including biased amino acid and lower α-helix content, lower solvent accessibility and negative surface charge. Here, we show that halotolerance can be generated in an enzyme solely by modifying surface residues. Rational design of carbonic anhydrase II is undertaken in three stages replacing 18 residues in total, crystal structures confirm changes are confined to surface residues. Catalytic activities and thermal unfolding temperatures of the designed enzymes increase at high salt concentrations demonstrating their shift to halotolerance, whereas the opposite response is found in the wild-type enzyme. Molecular dynamics calculations reveal a key role for sodium ions in increasing halotolerant enzyme stability largely through interactions with the highly ordered first Na+ hydration shell. For the first time, an approach to generate extreme halotolerance, a trait with broad application in industrial biocatalysis, in a wild-type enzyme is demonstrated.
Halophilic organisms thrive in high salt conditions and express proteins that display desirable characteristics for industrial applications. Here, the authors use a rational design approach to transform wild-type carbonic anhydrase into a strongly halophilic enzyme.
The N-isopropylammelide isopropylaminohydrolase from Pseudomonas sp. strain ADP, AtzC, provides the third hydrolytic step in the mineralization of s-triazine herbicides, such as atrazine. We obtained the X-ray crystal structure of AtzC at 1.84 Å with a weak inhibitor bound in the active site and then used a combination of in silico docking and site-directed mutagenesis to understand the interactions between AtzC and its substrate, isopropylammelide. The substitution of an active site histidine residue (His249) for an alanine abolished the enzyme’s catalytic activity. We propose a plausible catalytic mechanism, consistent with the biochemical and crystallographic data obtained that is similar to that found in carbonic anhydrase and other members of subtype III of the amidohydrolase family
All the crystallization communications published in Acta Cryst. F in 2012 were analysed. Details of the analysis are presented, along with some suggestions for making this type of publication more useful.
Crystallization of macromolecules is famously difficult. By knowing what has worked for others, researchers can ease the process, both in the case where the protein has already been crystallized and in the situation where more general guidelines are needed. The 264 crystallization communications published in Acta Crystallographica Section F in 2012 have been reviewed, and from this analysis some information about trends in crystallization has been gleaned. More importantly, it was found that there are several ways in which the utility of these communications could be increased: to make each individual paper a more complete crystallization record; and to provide a means for taking a snapshot of what the current ‘best practices’ are in the field.
crystallization; crystallization communications
The activity of the allophanate hydrolase from Pseudomonas sp. strain ADP, AtzF, provides the final hydrolytic step for the mineralization of s-triazines, such as atrazine and cyanuric acid. Indeed, the action of AtzF provides metabolic access to two of the three nitrogens in each triazine ring. The X-ray structure of the N-terminal amidase domain of AtzF reveals that it is highly homologous to allophanate hydrolases involved in a different catabolic process in other organisms (i.e., the mineralization of urea). The smaller C-terminal domain does not appear to have a physiologically relevant catalytic function, as reported for the allophanate hydrolase of Kluyveromyces lactis, when purified enzyme was tested in vitro. However, the C-terminal domain does have a function in coordinating the quaternary structure of AtzF. Interestingly, we also show that AtzF forms a large, ca. 660-kDa, multienzyme complex with AtzD and AtzE that is capable of mineralizing cyanuric acid. The function of this complex may be to channel substrates from one active site to the next, effectively protecting unstable metabolites, such as allophanate, from solvent-mediated decarboxylation to a dead-end metabolic product.
Tremendous gains and novel methods are often developed when people are challenged to do something new or difficult. This process is enhanced when people compete against each other-this can be seen in sport as well as in science and technology (e.g. the space race). The SAMPL challenges, like the CASP challenges, aim to challenge modellers and software developers to develop new ways of looking at molecular interactions so the community as a whole can progress in the accurate prediction of these interactions. In order for this challenge to occur, data must be supplied so the prospective test can be done. We have supplied unpublished data related to a drug discovery program run several years ago on HIV integrase for the SAMPL4 challenge. This paper describes the methods used to obtain these data and the chemistry involved.
Microbial metalloenzymes constitute a large library of biocatalysts, a number of which have already been shown to catalyze the breakdown of toxic chemicals or industrially relevant chemical transformations. However, while there is considerable interest in harnessing these catalysts for biotechnology, for many of the enzymes, their large-scale production in active, soluble form in recombinant systems is a significant barrier to their use. In this work, we demonstrate that as few as three mutations can result in a 300-fold increase in the expression of soluble TrzN, an enzyme from Arthrobacter aurescens with environmental applications that catalyzes the hydrolysis of triazine herbicides, in Escherichia coli. Using a combination of X-ray crystallography, kinetic analysis, and computational simulation, we show that the majority of the improvement in expression is due to stabilization of the apoenzyme rather than the metal ion-bound holoenzyme. This provides a structural and mechanistic explanation for the observation that many compensatory mutations can increase levels of soluble-protein production without increasing the stability of the final, active form of the enzyme. This study provides a molecular understanding of the importance of the stability of metal ion free states to the accumulation of soluble protein and shows that differences between apoenzyme and holoenzyme structures can result in mutations affecting the stability of either state differently.
As technology advances, the crystal volume that can be used to collect useful X-ray diffraction data decreases. The technologies available to detect and study growing crystals beyond the optical resolution limit and methods to successfully place the crystal into the X-ray beam are discussed.
Structural biology has contributed tremendous knowledge to the understanding of life on the molecular scale. The Protein Data Bank, a depository of this structural knowledge, currently contains over 100 000 protein structures, with the majority stemming from X-ray crystallography. As the name might suggest, crystallography requires crystals. As detectors become more sensitive and X-ray sources more intense, the notion of a crystal is gradually changing from one large enough to embellish expensive jewellery to objects that have external dimensions of the order of the wavelength of visible light. Identifying these crystals is a prerequisite to their study. This paper discusses developments in identifying these crystals during crystallization screening and distinguishing them from other potential outcomes. The practical aspects of ensuring that once a crystal is identified it can then be positioned in the X-ray beam for data collection are also addressed.
crystal detection; crystal growth; crystal positioning
The rich history of crystallization and how that history influences current practices is described. The tremendous impact of crystallization screens on the field is discussed.
While crystallization historically predates crystallography, it is a critical step for the crystallographic process. The rich history of crystallization and how that history influences current practices is described. The tremendous impact of crystallization screens on the field is discussed.
The amidase domain of the allophanate hydrolase AtzF from Pseudomonas sp. strain ADP has been crystallized and preliminary X-ray diffraction data have been collected.
The allophanate hydrolase from Pseudomonas sp. strain ADP was expressed and purified, and a tryptic digest fragment was subsequently identified, expressed and purified. This 50 kDa construct retained amidase activity and was crystallized. The crystals diffracted to 2.5 Å resolution and adopted space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 82.4, b = 179.2, c = 112.6 Å, β = 106.6°.
AtzF; allphanate hydrolase; amidase domain; Pseudomonas sp. strain ADP
Dihydrodipicolinate synthase from the common grapevine V. vinifera has been cloned, expressed, purified and crystallized in the presence of the substrate pyruvate by in-drop hexahistidine-tag cleavage. A diffraction data set has been collected to a resolution of 2.2 Å.
Dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DHDPS) catalyses the first committed step of the lysine-biosynthesis pathway in bacteria, plants and some fungi. This study describes the cloning, expression, purification and crystallization of DHDPS from the grapevine Vitis vinifera (Vv-DHDPS). Following in-drop cleavage of the hexahistidine tag, cocrystals of Vv-DHDPS with the substrate pyruvate were grown in 0.1 M Bis-Tris propane pH 8.2, 0.2 M sodium bromide, 20%(w/v) PEG 3350. X-ray diffraction data in space group P1 at a resolution of 2.2 Å are presented. Preliminary diffraction data analysis indicated the presence of eight molecules per asymmetric unit (V
M = 2.55 Å3 Da−1, 52% solvent content). The pending crystal structure of Vv-DHDPS will provide insight into the molecular evolution in quaternary structure of DHDPS enzymes.
diaminopimelate; dihydrodipicolinate; grapes; herbicide; lysine; metabolism; quaternary structure; thrombin; wine
As the second essential enzyme of the folate biosynthetic pathway, the potential antimicrobial target, HPPK (6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin pyrophosphokinase), catalyzes the Mg2+-dependant transfer of pyrophosphate from the cofactor (ATP) to the substrate, 6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin. Recently, we showed that 8-mercaptoguanine (8-MG) bound at the substrate site (KD ∼13 µM), inhibited the S. aureus enzyme (SaHPPK) (IC50 ∼ 41 µM), and determined the structure of the SaHPPK/8-MG complex. Here we present the synthesis of a series of guanine derivatives, together with their HPPK binding affinities, as determined by SPR and ITC analysis. The binding mode of the most potent was investigated using 2D NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography. The results indicate, firstly, that the SH group of 8-MG makes a significant contribution to the free energy of binding. Secondly, direct N9 substitution, or tautomerization arising from N7 substitution in some cases, leads to a dramatic reduction in affinity due to loss of a critical N9-H···Val46 hydrogen bond, combined with the limited space available around the N9 position. The water-filled pocket under the N7 position is significantly more tolerant of substitution, with a hydroxyl ethyl 8-MG derivative attached to N7 (compound 21a) exhibiting an affinity for the apo enzyme comparable to the parent compound (KD ∼ 12 µM). In contrast to 8-MG, however, 21a displays competitive binding with the ATP cofactor, as judged by NMR and SPR analysis. The 1.85 Å X-ray structure of the SaHPPK/21a complex confirms that extension from the N7 position towards the Mg2+-binding site, which affords the only tractable route out from the pterin-binding pocket. Promising strategies for the creation of more potent binders might therefore include the introduction of groups capable of interacting with the Mg2+ centres or Mg2+ -binding residues, as well as the development of bitopic inhibitors featuring 8-MG linked to a moiety targeting the ATP cofactor binding site.
Escherichia coli possesses two acyl ornithine aminotransferases, one catabolic (AstC) and the other anabolic (ArgD), that participate in L-arginine metabolism. Although only 58% identical, the enzymes have been shown to be functionally interchangeable. Here we have purified AstC and have obtained X-ray crystal structures of apo and holo-AstC and of the enzyme complexed with its physiological substrate, succinylornithine. We compare the structures obtained in this study with those of ArgD from Salmonella typhimurium obtained elsewhere, finding several notable differences. Docking studies were used to explore the docking modes of several substrates (ornithine, succinylornithine and acetylornithine) and the co-substrate glutamate/α-ketogluterate. The docking studies support our observations that AstC has a strong preference for acylated ornithine species over ornithine itself, and suggest that the increase in specificity associated with acylation is caused by steric and desolvation effects rather than specific interactions between the substrate and enzyme.
The use of UV imaging as a means of locating protein crystals is a fairly new tool, however not suitable for all protein crystallization trials. Practical examples of the strengths and some of the pitfalls of the technology are presented.
High-throughput imaging of protein crystallization experiments with ultraviolet (UV) light has recently become commercially available and can enable crystallographers to differentiate between crystals of protein and those of salt, as the visualization of protein crystals is based on intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence. Unfortunately, UV imaging is not a panacea, as some protein crystals will not fluoresce under UV excitation and some salt crystals are UV-fluorescently active. As a new technology, there is little experience within the general community on how to use this technology effectively and what caveats to look out for. Here, an attempt is made to identify some of the common problems that may arise using UV-imaging technology by examining test proteins, common crystallization reagents and a range of proteins by assessing their UV–Vis absorbance spectra. Some pointers are offered as to which systems may not be appropriate for this methodology.
An apo form of human arginase I which is suitable for soaking experiments has been crystallized.
Arginase (EC 126.96.36.199) is an aminohydrolase that acts on l-arginine to produce urea and ornithine. Two isotypes of the enzyme are found in humans. Type I is predominantly produced in the liver and is a homotrimer of 35 kDa subunits. Human arginase (hArginase) I is seen to be up-regulated in many diseases and is a potential therapeutic target for many diverse indications. Previous reports of crystallization and structure determination of hArginase have always included inhibitors of the enzyme: here, the first case of a true apo crystal form of the enzyme which is suitable for small-molecule soaking is reported. The crystals belonged to space group P212121 and have approximate unit-cell parameters a = 53, b = 67.5, c = 250 Å. The crystals showed slightly anisotropic diffraction to beyond 2.0 Å resolution.
arginase; seeding; alternative reservoirs
The structure of human vascular adhesion protein 1 in space group C2 with seven molecules in the asymmetric unit has been refined at a resolution of 2.9 Å.
Human vascular adhesion protein 1 (VAP-1) is involved in lymphocyte–endothelial cell adhesion and has been implicated in many human inflammatory diseases. VAP-1 is a member of the copper amine oxidase family of enzymes with a trihydroxyphenylalanine quinone (TPQ) cofactor. Previously characterized crystals of VAP-1 suffered from anisotropy and contained disordered regions; in addition, one form was consistently twinned. In an effort to grow crystals that diffracted to higher resolution for inhibitor-binding studies, a construct with an N-terminal deletion was made and expressed in the Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) glycosylation mutant cell line Lec8. Screening produced crystals that displayed some anisotropy and contained seven molecules per asymmetric unit. These crystals belonged to space group C2, with unit-cell parameters a = 394.5, b = 115.8, c = 179.3 Å, β = 112.3°. The structure was refined to a resolution of 2.9 Å, with R
cryst and R
free values of 0.250 and 0.286, respectively.
vascular adhesion protein 1; VAP-1; SSAO; copper amine oxidases; topaquinone; TPQ
A fragment-based screen against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) integrase led to a number of compounds that bound to the lens epithelium derived growth factor (LEDGF) binding site of the integrase catalytic core domain. We determined the crystallographic structures of complexes of the HIV integrase catalytic core domain for 10 of these compounds and quantitated the binding by surface plasmon resonance. We demonstrate that the compounds inhibit the interaction of LEDGF with HIV integrase in a proximity AlphaScreen assay, an assay for the LEDGF enhancement of HIV integrase strand transfer and in a cell based assay. The compounds identified represent a potential framework for the development of a new series of HIV integrase inhibitors that do not bind to the catalytic site of the enzyme.
The expression, purification and crystallization of S. aureus 6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin pyrophosphokinase, an essential enzyme from the folate-biosynthesis pathway, is reported.
6-Hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin pyrophosphokinase (HPPK) catalyzes the Mg2+-dependent transfer of pyrophosphate from ATP to 6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin (HMDP), forming 6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin pyrophosphate, which is a critical step in the de novo folic acid-biosynthesis pathway. Diffraction-quality crystals of HPPK from the medically relevant species Staphylococcus aureus were grown in the presence of ammonium sulfate or sodium malonate and diffracted to better than 1.65 Å resolution. The crystals belonged to space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 36.8, b = 76.6, c = 51.5 Å, α = γ = 90.0, β = 100.2°. The crystals contained two molecules per asymmetric unit, with a volume per protein weight (V
M) of 2.04 Å3 Da−1 and an estimated solvent content of 39.6%.
HPPK; folate pathway; Staphylococcus aureus
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.
crystallization screening data; crystallization ontology
The first structural and biophysical data on the folate biosynthesis pathway enzyme and drug target, 6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin pyrophosphokinase (SaHPPK), from the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus is presented. HPPK is the second essential enzyme in the pathway catalysing the pyrophosphoryl transfer from cofactor (ATP) to the substrate (6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin, HMDP). In-silico screening identified 8-mercaptoguanine which was shown to bind with an equilibrium dissociation constant, Kd, of ∼13 µM as measured by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR). An IC50 of ∼41 µM was determined by means of a luminescent kinase assay. In contrast to the biological substrate, the inhibitor has no requirement for magnesium or the ATP cofactor for competitive binding to the substrate site. The 1.65 Å resolution crystal structure of the inhibited complex showed that it binds in the pterin site and shares many of the key intermolecular interactions of the substrate. Chemical shift and 15N heteronuclear NMR measurements reveal that the fast motion of the pterin-binding loop (L2) is partially dampened in the SaHPPK/HMDP/α,β-methylene adenosine 5′-triphosphate (AMPCPP) ternary complex, but the ATP loop (L3) remains mobile on the µs-ms timescale. In contrast, for the SaHPPK/8-mercaptoguanine/AMPCPP ternary complex, the loop L2 becomes rigid on the fast timescale and the L3 loop also becomes more ordered – an observation that correlates with the large entropic penalty associated with inhibitor binding as revealed by ITC. NMR data, including 15N-1H residual dipolar coupling measurements, indicate that the sulfur atom in the inhibitor is important for stabilizing and restricting important motions of the L2 and L3 catalytic loops in the inhibited ternary complex. This work describes a comprehensive analysis of a new HPPK inhibitor, and may provide a foundation for the development of novel antimicrobials targeting the folate biosynthetic pathway.