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1.  Cloning, purification, crystallization and preliminary crystallographic study of calcium-binding protein 5 from Entamoeba histolytica  
Calcium-binding protein 5 from E. histolytica was cloned, expressed in E. coli and purified. The purified protein crystallized in space group C222 and the crystals diffracted to 2 Å resolution.
Entamoeba histolytica is the causative agent of human amoebiasis. Phagocytosis is the major route of food intake by this parasite and is responsible for its virulence. Calcium and calcium-binding proteins play major roles in its phagocytosis. Calcium-binding protein 5 from E. histolytica (EhCaBP5) is a cytoplasmic protein; its expression is very sensitive to serum starvation and it seems to be involved in binding to myosin I. In this study, EhCaBP5 was cloned, expressed in Escherichia coli and purified using affinity and size-exclusion chromatography. The purified protein crystallized in space group C222 and the crystals diffracted to 2 Å resolution. The Matthews coefficient indicated the presence of one molecule in the asymmetric unit, with a V M of 2.35 Å3 Da−1 and a solvent content of 47.7%.
PMCID: PMC3509984  PMID: 23192043
calcium-binding protein 5; Entamoeba histolytica
2.  EhCoactosin Stabilizes Actin Filaments in the Protist Parasite Entamoeba histolytica 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(9):e1004362.
Entamoeba histolytica is a protist parasite that is the causative agent of amoebiasis, and is a highly motile organism. The motility is essential for its survival and pathogenesis, and a dynamic actin cytoskeleton is required for this process. EhCoactosin, an actin-binding protein of the ADF/cofilin family, participates in actin dynamics, and here we report our studies of this protein using both structural and functional approaches. The X-ray crystal structure of EhCoactosin resembles that of human coactosin-like protein, with major differences in the distribution of surface charges and the orientation of terminal regions. According to in vitro binding assays, full-length EhCoactosin binds both F- and G-actin. Instead of acting to depolymerize or severe F-actin, EhCoactosin directly stabilizes the polymer. When EhCoactosin was visualized in E. histolytica cells using either confocal imaging or total internal reflectance microscopy, it was found to colocalize with F-actin at phagocytic cups. Over-expression of this protein stabilized F-actin and inhibited the phagocytic process. EhCoactosin appears to be an unusual type of coactosin involved in E. histolytica actin dynamics.
Author Summary
E. histolytica is an important pathogen and a major cause of morbidity and mortality in developing nations. High level of motility and phagocytosis is responsible for the parasite invading different tissues of the host. Phagocytosis and motility depend on highly dynamic actin cytoskeleton of this organism. The mechanisms of actin dynamics is not well understood in E. histolytica. Here we report that coactosin like molecule from E. histolytica, EhCoactosin is involved in F-actin stabilization. The crystal structure obtained for the protein provides explanation for some functional differences observed with respect to the human homologue, such as ability to bind G-actin. Moreover, computational modelling along with crystal structure helps to explain the F-actin binding and stabilization by wild type protein. The mutational analysis further suggests that F-actin binding property does not depend on conserved Lys75 residue as observed in Human coactosin like protein (HCLP) but other regions present in protein are involved in binding. Overexpression of this protein in trophozoites leads to stabilization of actin filaments which are not accessible to actin remodelling machinery thereby reducing the growth of parasite due to decreased rate of actin dependent endocytosis. Overall, EhCoactosin behaves as F-actin stabilizing protein in vitro and it also participates in processes like phagocytosis and pseudopod formation.
PMCID: PMC4161475  PMID: 25210743
3.  Prediction and Analysis of Canonical EF Hand Loop and Qualitative Estimation of Ca2+ Binding Affinity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e96202.
The diversity of functions carried out by EF hand-containing calcium-binding proteins is due to various interactions made by these proteins as well as the range of affinity levels for Ca2+ displayed by them. However, accurate methods are not available for prediction of binding affinities. Here, amino acid patterns of canonical EF hand sequences obtained from available crystal structures were used to develop a classifier that distinguishes Ca2+-binding loops and non Ca2+-binding regions with 100% accuracy. To investigate further, we performed a proteome-wide prediction for E. histolytica, and classified known EF-hand proteins. We compared our results with published methods on the E. histolytica proteome scan, and demonstrated our method to be more specific and accurate for predicting potential canonical Ca2+-binding loops. Furthermore, we annotated canonical EF-hand motifs and classified them based on their Ca2+-binding affinities using support vector machines. Using a novel method generated from position-specific scoring metrics and then tested against three different experimentally derived EF-hand-motif datasets, predictions of Ca2+-binding affinities were between 87 and 90% accurate. Our results show that the tool described here is capable of predicting Ca2+-binding affinity constants of EF-hand proteins. The web server is freely available at
PMCID: PMC3997525  PMID: 24760183
4.  Analysis of the Protein Phosphotome of Entamoeba histolytica Reveals an Intricate Phosphorylation Network 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78714.
Phosphorylation is the most common mechanism for the propagation of intracellular signals. Protein phosphatases and protein kinases play a dynamic antagonistic role in protein phosphorylation. Protein phosphatases make up a significant fraction of eukaryotic proteome. In this article, we report the identification and analysis of protein phosphatases in the intracellular parasite Entamoeba histolytica. Based on an in silico analysis, we classified 250 non-redundant protein phosphatases in E. histolytica. The phosphotome of E. histolytica is 3.1% of its proteome and 1.3 times of the human phosphotome. In this extensive study, we identified 42 new putative phosphatases (39 hypothetical proteins and 3 pseudophosphatases). The presence of pseudophosphatases may have an important role in virulence of E. histolytica. A comprehensive phosphotome analysis of E. histolytica shows spectacular low similarity to human phosphatases, making them potent candidates for drug target.
PMCID: PMC3827238  PMID: 24236039
5.  Flexibility of EF-hand motifs: structural and thermodynamic studies of Calcium Binding Protein-1 from Entamoeba histolytica with Pb2+, Ba2+, and Sr2+ 
BMC Biophysics  2012;5:15.
EF-hand proteins can be activated by the binding of various heavy metals other than calcium, and such complexes can disturb the calcium-signaling pathway and cause toxicity and disease causing state. So far, no comprehensive study has been done to understand different heavy metals binding to calcium signaling proteins.
In this work, the flexibility of the EF-hand motifs are examined by crystallographic and thermodynamic studies of binding of Pb2+, Ba2+ and Sr2+ to Calcium Binding Protein-1 from Entamoeba histolytica (EhCaBP1). The structures of the EhCaBP1- heavy metal complexes are found to be overall similar, nevertheless specific differences in metal coordination, and small differences in the coordination distances between the metal and the ligands in the metal binding loop. The largest such distances occur for the Ba2+- EhCaBP1 complex, where two bariums are bound with partial occupancy at the EF2 motif. Thermodynamic studies confirm that EhCaBP1 has five binding sites for Ba2+ compared to four binding sites for the other metals. These structures and thermodynamic studies reveal that the EF-hand motifs can accommodate several heavy atoms with similar binding affinities. The binding of Ca2+ to the 1st, 2nd and 4th sites and the binding of Ba2+ to the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th sites are both enthalpically and entropically driven, whereas the binding of Sr2+ to the 1st, 2nd and 4th sites are simply enthalpy driven, interestingly in agreement with ITC data, Sr2+ do not coordinate with water in this structure. For all the metals, binding to the 3rd site is only entropy driven.
Energetically, Ca2+ is preferred in three sites, while in one site Ba2+ has better binding energy. The Sr2+-coordination in the EF hand motifs is similar to that of the native Ca2+ bound structure, except for the lack of water coordination. Sr2+ coordination seems to be a pre-formed in nature since all seven coordinating atoms are from the protein itself, which also correlates with entropy contributions in Sr2+ binding. These findings improve our understanding of metal association with calcium binding proteins and of metal induced conformational changes.
PMCID: PMC3483242  PMID: 22906057
Calcium sensor; Calcium binding protein; Coordination geometry; EF-hand motifs; Anthropogenic toxicant; Domain swapped manner; Anomalous signal
6.  The GPI Anchor Signal Sequence Dictates the Folding and Functionality of the Als5 Adhesin from Candida albicans 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35305.
Proteins destined to be Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchored are translocated into the ER lumen completely before the C-terminal GPI anchor attachment signal sequence (SS) is removed by the GPI-transamidase and replaced by a pre-formed GPI anchor precursor. Does the SS have a role in dictating the conformation and function of the protein as well?
Methodology/Principal Findings
We generated two variants of the Als5 protein without and with the SS in order to address the above question. Using a combination of biochemical and biophysical techniques, we show that in the case of Als5, an adhesin of C. albicans, the C-terminal deletion of 20 amino acids (SS) results in a significant alteration in conformation and function of the mature protein.
We propose that the locking of the conformation of the precursor protein in an alternate conformation from that of the mature protein is one probable strategy employed by the cell to control the behaviour and function of proteins intended to be GPI anchored during their transit through the ER.
PMCID: PMC3324464  PMID: 22509405
7.  Virtual Screening, Identification and In Vitro Testing of Novel Inhibitors of O-Acetyl-L-Serine Sulfhydrylase of Entamoeba histolytica 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30305.
The explosive epidemicity of amoebiasis caused by the facultative gastrointestinal protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica is a major public health problem in developing countries. Multidrug resistance and side effects of various available antiamoebic drugs necessitate the design of novel antiamobeic agents. The cysteine biosynthetic pathway is the critical target for drug design due to its significance in the growth, survival and other cellular activities of E. histolytica. Here, we have screened 0.15 million natural compounds from the ZINC database against the active site of the EhOASS enzyme (PDB ID. 3BM5, 2PQM), whose structure we previously determined to 2.4 Å and 1.86 Å resolution. For this purpose, the incremental construction algorithm of GLIDE and the genetic algorithm of GOLD were used. We analyzed docking results for top ranking compounds using a consensus scoring function of X-Score to calculate the binding affinity and using ligplot to measure protein-ligand interactions. Fifteen compounds that possess good inhibitory activity against EhOASS active site were identified that may act as potential high affinity inhibitors. In vitro screening of a few commercially available compounds established their biological activity. The first ranked compound ZINC08931589 had a binding affinity of ∼8.05 µM and inhibited about 73% activity at 0.1 mM concentration, indicating good correlation between in silico prediction and in vitro inhibition studies. This compound is thus a good starting point for further development of strong inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3280239  PMID: 22355310
8.  SDS Can Be Utilized as an Amyloid Inducer: A Case Study on Diverse Proteins 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29694.
Sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS), an anionic surfactant that mimics some characteristics of biological membrane has also been found to induce aggregation in proteins. The present study was carried out on 25 diverse proteins using circular dichroism, fluorescence spectroscopy, dye binding assay and electron microscopy. It was found that an appropriate molar ratio of protein to SDS readily induced amyloid formation in all proteins at a pH below two units of their respective isoelectric points (pI) while no aggregation was observed at a pH above two units of pI. We also observed that electrostatic interactions play a leading role in the induction of amyloid. This study can be used to design or hypothesize a molecule or drug, which may counter act the factor responsible for amyloid formation.
PMCID: PMC3257246  PMID: 22253760
9.  Three-Dimensional Structure of N-Terminal Domain of DnaB Helicase and Helicase-Primase Interactions in Helicobacter pylori 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7515.
Replication initiation is a crucial step in genome duplication and homohexameric DnaB helicase plays a central role in the replication initiation process by unwinding the duplex DNA and interacting with several other proteins during the process of replication. N-terminal domain of DnaB is critical for helicase activity and for DnaG primase interactions. We present here the crystal structure of the N-terminal domain (NTD) of H. pylori DnaB (HpDnaB) helicase at 2.2 Å resolution and compare the structural differences among helicases and correlate with the functional differences. The structural details of NTD suggest that the linker region between NTD and C-terminal helicase domain plays a vital role in accurate assembly of NTD dimers. The sequence analysis of the linker regions from several helicases reveals that they should form four helix bundles. We also report the characterization of H. pylori DnaG primase and study the helicase-primase interactions, where HpDnaG primase stimulates DNA unwinding activity of HpDnaB suggesting presence of helicase-primase cohort at the replication fork. The protein-protein interaction study of C-terminal domain of primase and different deletion constructs of helicase suggests that linker is essential for proper conformation of NTD to interact strongly with HpDnaG. The surface charge distribution on the primase binding surface of NTDs of various helicases suggests that DnaB-DnaG interaction and stability of the complex is most probably charge dependent. Structure of the linker and helicase-primase interactions indicate that HpDnaB differs greatly from E.coli DnaB despite both belong to gram negative bacteria.
PMCID: PMC2761005  PMID: 19841750
10.  N- and C-Terminal Domains of the Calcium Binding Protein EhCaBP1 of the Parasite Entamoeba histolytica Display Distinct Functions 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5269.
Entamoeba histolytica, a protozoan parasite, is the causative agent of amoebiasis, and calcium signaling is thought to be involved in amoebic pathogenesis. EhCaBP1, a Ca2+ binding protein of E. histolytica, is essential for parasite growth. High resolution crystal structure of EhCaBP1 suggested an unusual arrangement of the EF-hand domains in the N-terminal part of the structure, while C-terminal part of the protein was not traced. The structure revealed a trimer with amino terminal domains of the three molecules interacting in a head-to-tail manner forming an assembled domain at the interface with EF1 and EF2 motifs of different molecules coming close to each other. In order to understand the specific roles of the two domains of EhCaBP1, the molecule was divided into two halves, and each half was separately expressed. The domains were characterized with respect to their structure, as well as specific functional features, such as ability to activate kinase and bind actin. The domains were also expressed in E. histolytica cells along with green fluorescent protein. The results suggest that the N-terminal domain retains some of the properties, such as localization in phagocytic cups and activation of kinase. Crystal structure of EhCaBP1 with Phenylalanine revealed that the assembled domains, which are similar to Calmodulin N-terminal domain, bind to Phenylalanine revealing the binding mode to the target proteins. The C-terminal domain did not show any of the activities tested. However, over-expression in amebic cells led to a dominant negative phenotype. The results suggest that the two domains of EhCaBP1 are functionally and structurally different from each other. Both the domains are required for structural stability and full range of functional diversity.
PMCID: PMC2668073  PMID: 19384409
11.  The domain structure of Helicobacter pylori DnaB helicase: the N-terminal domain can be dispensable for helicase activity whereas the extreme C-terminal region is essential for its function 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(9):2861-2874.
Hexameric DnaB type replicative helicases are essential for DNA strand unwinding along with the direction of replication fork movement. These helicases in general contain an amino terminal domain and a carboxy terminal domain separated by a linker region. Due to the lack of crystal structure of a full-length DnaB like helicase, the domain structure and function of these types of helicases are not clear. We have reported recently that Helicobacter pylori DnaB helicase is a replicative helicase in vitro and it can bypass Escherichia coli DnaC activity in vivo. Using biochemical, biophysical and genetic complementation assays, here we show that though the N-terminal region of HpDnaB is required for conformational changes between C6 and C3 rotational symmetry, it is not essential for in vitro helicase activity and in vivo function of the protein. Instead, an extreme carboxy terminal region and an adjacent unique 34 amino acid insertion region were found to be essential for HpDnaB activity suggesting that these regions are important for proper folding and oligomerization of this protein. These results confer great potential in understanding the domain structures of DnaB type helicases and their related function.
PMCID: PMC1888833  PMID: 17430964

Results 1-11 (11)