PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-7 (7)
 

Clipboard (0)
None

Select a Filter Below

Journals
Authors
more »
Year of Publication
Document Types
1.  Resolving the paradox for protein aggregation diseases: NMR structure and dynamics of the membrane-embedded P56S-MSP causing ALS imply a common mechanism for aggregation-prone proteins to attack membranes 
F1000Research  2014;2:221.
Paradoxically, aggregation of specific proteins is characteristic of many human diseases and aging, yet aggregates have increasingly been found to be unnecessary for initiating pathogenesis. Here we determined the NMR topology and dynamics of a helical mutant in a membrane environment transformed from the 125-residue cytosolic all-β MSP domain of vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein B (VAPB) by the ALS-causing P56S mutation. Despite its low hydrophobicity, the P56S major sperm protein (MSP) domain becomes largely embedded in the membrane environment with high backbone rigidity. Furthermore it is composed of five helices with amphiphilicity comparable to those of the partly-soluble membrane toxin mellitin and α-synuclein causing Parkinson's disease. Consequently, the mechanism underlying this chameleon transformation becomes clear: by disrupting the specific tertiary interaction network stabilizing the native all-β MSP fold to release previously-locked amphiphilic segments, the P56S mutation acts to convert the classic MSP fold into a membrane-active protein that is fundamentally indistinguishable from mellitin and α-synuclein which are disordered in aqueous solution but spontaneously partition into membrane interfaces driven by hydrogen-bond energetics gained from forming α-helix in the membrane environments. As segments with high amphiphilicity exist in all proteins, our study successfully resolves the paradox by deciphering that the proteins with a higher tendency to aggregate have a stronger potential to partition into membranes through the same mechanism as α-synuclein to initially attack membranes to trigger pathogenesis without needing aggregates. This might represent the common first step for various kinds of aggregated proteins to trigger familiar, sporadic and aging diseases. Therefore the homeostasis of aggregated proteins in vivo is the central factor responsible for a variety of human diseases including aging. The number and degree of the membrane attacks by aggregated proteins may act as an endogenous clock to count down the aging process. Consequently, a key approach to fight against them is to develop strategies and agents to maintain or even enhance the functions of the degradation machineries.
doi:10.12688/f1000research.2-221.v2
PMCID: PMC4168755  PMID: 25254094
2.  Dynamically-Driven Enhancement of the Catalytic Machinery of the SARS 3C-Like Protease by the S284-T285-I286/A Mutations on the Extra Domain 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101941.
Previously we revealed that the extra domain of SARS 3CLpro mediated the catalysis via different mechanisms. While the R298A mutation completely abolished the dimerization, thus resulting in the inactive catalytic machinery, N214A inactivated the enzyme by altering its dynamics without significantly perturbing its structure. Here we studied another mutant with S284-T285-I286 replaced by Ala (STI/A) with a 3.6-fold activity increase and slightly enhanced dimerization. We determined its crystal structure, which still adopts the dimeric structure almost identical to that of the wild-type (WT), except for slightly tighter packing between two extra-domains. We then conducted 100-ns molecular dynamics (MD) simulations for both STI/A and WT, the longest reported so far for 3CLpro. In the simulations, two STI/A extra domains become further tightly packed, leading to a significant volume reduction of the nano-channel formed by residues from both catalytic and extra domains. The enhanced packing appears to slightly increase the dynamic stability of the N-finger and the first helix residues, which subsequently triggers the redistribution of dynamics over residues directly contacting them. This ultimately enhances the dynamical stability of the residues constituting the catalytic dyad and substrate-binding pockets. Further correlation analysis reveals that a global network of the correlated motions exists in the protease, whose components include all residues identified so far to be critical for the dimerization and catalysis. Most strikingly, the N214A mutation globally decouples this network while the STI/A mutation alters the correlation pattern. Together with previous results, the present study establishes that besides the classic structural allostery, the dynamic allostery also operates in the SARS 3CLpro, which is surprisingly able to relay the perturbations on the extra domain onto the catalytic machinery to manifest opposite catalytic effects. Our results thus imply a promising avenue to design specific inhibitors for 3CL proteases by disrupting their dynamic correlation network.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101941
PMCID: PMC4103764  PMID: 25036652
3.  Resolving the paradox for protein aggregation diseases: a common mechanism for aggregated proteins to initially attack membranes without needing aggregates 
F1000Research  2013;2:221.
Paradoxically, aggregation of specific proteins is characteristic of many human diseases and aging, yet aggregates have been found to be unnecessary for initiating pathogenesis. Here we determined the NMR topology and dynamics of a helical mutant in a membrane environment transformed from the 125-residue cytosolic all-β MSP by the ALS-causing P56S mutation. Unexpectedly, despite its low hydrophobicity, the P56S major sperm protein (MSP) domain becomes largely embedded in the membrane environment with high backbone rigidity. Furthermore it is composed of five helices with amphiphilicity comparable to those of the partly-soluble membrane toxin mellitin and α-synuclein causing Parkinson's disease. Consequently, the mechanism underlying this chameleon transformation becomes clear: by disrupting the specific tertiary interaction network stabilizing the native all-β MSP fold to release previously-locked amphiphilic segments, the P56S mutation acts to convert the classic MSP fold into a membrane-active protein that is fundamentally indistinguishable from mellitin and α-synuclein which are disordered in aqueous solution but spontaneously partition into membrane interfaces driven by hydrogen-bond energetics gained from forming α-helix in the membrane environments. As segments with high amphiphilicity exist in all proteins, our study successfully resolves the paradox by deciphering that the proteins with a higher tendency to aggregate have a stronger potential to partition into membranes through the same mechanism as α-synuclein to initially attack membranes to trigger pathogenesis without needing aggregates. This might represent the common first step for various kinds of aggregated proteins to trigger familiar, sporadic and aging diseases. Therefore the homeostasis of aggregated proteins in vivo is the central factor responsible for a variety of human diseases including aging. The number and degree of the membrane attacks by aggregated proteins may act as an endogenous clock to count down the aging process. Consequently, a key approach to fight against them is to develop strategies and agents to maintain or even enhance the functions of the degradation machineries.
doi:10.12688/f1000research.2-221.v1
PMCID: PMC4168755  PMID: 25254094
4.  Unique Structure and Dynamics of the EphA5 Ligand Binding Domain Mediate Its Binding Specificity as Revealed by X-ray Crystallography, NMR and MD Simulations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74040.
The 16 EphA and EphB receptors represent the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases, and their interactions with 9 ephrin-A and ephrin-B ligands initiate bidirectional signals controlling many physiological and pathological processes. Most interactions occur between receptor and ephrins of the same class, and only EphA4 can bind all A and B ephrins. To understand the structural and dynamic principles that enable Eph receptors to utilize the same jellyroll β-sandwich fold to bind ephrins, the VAPB-MSP domain, peptides and small molecules, we have used crystallography, NMR and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to determine the first structure and dynamics of the EphA5 ligand-binding domain (LBD), which only binds ephrin-A ligands. Unexpectedly, despite being unbound, the high affinity ephrin-binding pocket of EphA5 resembles that of other Eph receptors bound to ephrins, with a helical conformation over the J–K loop and an open pocket. The openness of the pocket is further supported by NMR hydrogen/deuterium exchange data and MD simulations. Additionally, the EphA5 LBD undergoes significant picosecond-nanosecond conformational exchanges over the loops, as revealed by NMR and MD simulations, but lacks global conformational exchanges on the microsecond-millisecond time scale. This is markedly different from the EphA4 LBD, which shares 74% sequence identity and 87% homology. Consequently, the unbound EphA5 LBD appears to comprise an ensemble of open conformations that have only small variations over the loops and appear ready to bind ephrin-A ligands. These findings show how two proteins with high sequence homology and structural similarity are still able to achieve distinctive binding specificities through different dynamics, which may represent a general mechanism whereby the same protein fold can serve for different functions. Our findings also suggest that a promising strategy to design agonists/antagonists with high affinity and selectivity might be to target specific dynamic states of the Eph receptor LBDs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074040
PMCID: PMC3782497  PMID: 24086308
5.  Protein dynamics at Eph receptor-ligand interfaces as revealed by crystallography, NMR and MD simulations 
BMC Biophysics  2012;5:2.
Background
The role of dynamics in protein functions including signal transduction is just starting to be deciphered. Eph receptors with 16 members divided into A- and B- subclasses are respectively activated by 9 A- and B-ephrin ligands. EphA4 is the only receptor capable of binding to all 9 ephrins and small molecules with overlapped interfaces.
Results
We first determined the structures of the EphA4 ligand binding domain (LBD) in two crystals of P1 space group. Noticeably, 8 EphA4 molecules were found in one asymmetric unit and consequently from two crystals we obtained 16 structures, which show significant conformational variations over the functionally critical A-C, D-E, G-H and J-K loops. The 16 new structures, together with previous 9 ones, can be categorized into two groups: closed and open forms which resemble the uncomplexed and complexed structures of the EphA4 LBD respectively. To assess whether the conformational diversity over the loops primarily results from the intrinsic dynamics, we initiated 30-ns molecular dynamics (MD) simulations for both closed and open forms. The results indicate that the loops do have much higher intrinsic dynamics, which is further unravelled by NMR H/D exchange experiments. During simulations, the open form has the RMS deviations slightly larger than those of the closed one, suggesting the open form may be less stable in the absence of external contacts. Furthermore, no obvious exchange between two forms is observed within 30 ns, implying that they are dynamically separated.
Conclusions
Our study provides the first experimental and computational result revealing that the intrinsic dynamics are most likely underlying the conformational diversity observed for the EphA4 LBD loops mediating the binding affinity and specificity. Interestingly, the open conformation of the EphA4 LBD is slightly unstable in the absence of it natural ligand ephrins, implying that the conformational transition from the closed to open has to be driven by the high-affinity interaction with ephrins because the weak interaction with small molecule was found to be insufficient to trigger the transition. Our results therefore highlight the key role of protein dynamics in Eph-ephrin signalling and would benefit future design of agonists/antagonists targeting Eph receptors.
doi:10.1186/2046-1682-5-2
PMCID: PMC3274464  PMID: 22277260
6.  Structural, Stability, Dynamic and Binding Properties of the ALS-Causing T46I Mutant of the hVAPB MSP Domain as Revealed by NMR and MD Simulations 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27072.
T46I is the second mutation on the hVAPB MSP domain which was recently identified from non-Brazilian kindred to cause a familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here using CD, NMR and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, we characterized the structure, stability, dynamics and binding capacity of the T46I-MSP domain. The results reveal: 1) unlike P56S which we previously showed to completely eliminate the native MSP structure, T46I leads to no significant disruption of the native secondary and tertiary structures, as evidenced from its far-UV CD spectrum, as well as Cα and Cβ NMR chemical shifts. 2) Nevertheless, T46I does result in a reduced thermodynamic stability and loss of the cooperative urea-unfolding transition. As such, the T46I-MSP domain is more prone to aggregation than WT at high protein concentrations and temperatures in vitro, which may become more severe in the crowded cellular environments. 3) T46I only causes a 3-fold affinity reduction to the Nir2 peptide, but a significant elimination of its binding to EphA4. 4) EphA4 and Nir2 peptide appear to have overlapped binding interfaces on the MSP domain, which strongly implies that two signaling networks may have a functional interplay in vivo. 5) As explored by both H/D exchange and MD simulations, the MSP domain is very dynamic, with most loop residues and many residues on secondary structures highly fluctuated or/and exposed to bulk solvent. Although T46I does not alter overall dynamics, it does trigger increased dynamics of several local regions of the MSP domain which are implicated in binding to EphA4 and Nir2 peptide. Our study provides the structural and dynamic understanding of the T46I-causing ALS; and strongly highlights the possibility that the interplay of two signaling networks mediated by the FFAT-containing proteins and Eph receptors may play a key role in ALS pathogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027072
PMCID: PMC3206076  PMID: 22069488
7.  Dynamically-Driven Inactivation of the Catalytic Machinery of the SARS 3C-Like Protease by the N214A Mutation on the Extra Domain 
PLoS Computational Biology  2011;7(2):e1001084.
Despite utilizing the same chymotrypsin fold to host the catalytic machinery, coronavirus 3C-like proteases (3CLpro) noticeably differ from picornavirus 3C proteases in acquiring an extra helical domain in evolution. Previously, the extra domain was demonstrated to regulate the catalysis of the SARS-CoV 3CLpro by controlling its dimerization. Here, we studied N214A, another mutant with only a doubled dissociation constant but significantly abolished activity. Unexpectedly, N214A still adopts the dimeric structure almost identical to that of the wild-type (WT) enzyme. Thus, we conducted 30-ns molecular dynamics (MD) simulations for N214A, WT, and R298A which we previously characterized to be a monomer with the collapsed catalytic machinery. Remarkably, three proteases display distinctive dynamical behaviors. While in WT, the catalytic machinery stably retains in the activated state; in R298A it remains largely collapsed in the inactivated state, thus implying that two states are not only structurally very distinguishable but also dynamically well separated. Surprisingly, in N214A the catalytic dyad becomes dynamically unstable and many residues constituting the catalytic machinery jump to sample the conformations highly resembling those of R298A. Therefore, the N214A mutation appears to trigger the dramatic change of the enzyme dynamics in the context of the dimeric form which ultimately inactivates the catalytic machinery. The present MD simulations represent the longest reported so far for the SARS-CoV 3CLpro, unveiling that its catalysis is critically dependent on the dynamics, which can be amazingly modulated by the extra domain. Consequently, mediating the dynamics may offer a potential avenue to inhibit the SARS-CoV 3CLpro.
Author Summary
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is the first emerging infectious disease of the 21st century which has not only caused rapid infection and death, but also triggered a dramatic social crisis. Its 3C-like protease is crucial for reproducing virus and thus represents a top target for drug design. Interestingly, unlike 3C protease such as from picorovirus, the SARS protease evolutionarily acquired a C-terminal extra domain with previously-unknown function. Immediately after SARS outbreak, we revealed that the extra domain was able to regulate the catalysis by controlling the dimerization essential for activity. Here, we studied one mutant with only slightly-weakened dimerization but almost completely abolished activity. We determined its three-dimensional structure but very unexpectedly it is almost identical to that of the wild-type enzyme. Therefore, we initiated 30-ns molecular dynamic simulations for five forms of the enzyme and the results demonstrate that the dynamical changes in this mutant are responsible for its inactivation. Therefore, the extra domain can also control the catalysis by modulating the enzyme dynamics. This is not only of fundamental significance to understanding how enzymes evolve, but also implies a novel avenue for design of anti-SARS molecules.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1001084
PMCID: PMC3044768  PMID: 21390281

Results 1-7 (7)