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1.  The host-binding domain of the P2 phage tail spike reveals a trimeric iron-binding structure 
The C-terminal domain of a bacteriophage P2 tail-spike protein, gpV, was crystallized and its structure was solved at 1.27 Å resolution. The refined model showed a triple β-helix structure and the presence of iron, calcium and chloride ions.
The adsorption and infection of bacteriophage P2 is mediated by tail fibres and tail spikes. The tail spikes on the tail baseplate are used to irreversibly adsorb to the host cells. Recently, a P2 phage tail-spike protein, gpV, was purified and it was shown that a C-terminal domain, Ser87–Leu211, is sufficient for the binding of gpV to host Escherichia coli membranes [Kageyama et al. (2009 ▶), Biochemistry, 48, 10129–10135]. In this paper, the crystal structure of the C-terminal domain of P2 gpV is reported. The structure is a triangular pyramid and looks like a spearhead composed of an intertwined β-­sheet, a triple β-helix and a metal-binding region containing iron, calcium and chloride ions.
PMCID: PMC3151111  PMID: 21821878
bacteriophage P2; tail-spike proteins; gpV
2.  Identification of Physiologically Active Substances as Novel Ligands for MRGPRD 
Mas-related G-protein coupled receptor member D (MRGPRD) is a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) which belongs to the Mas-related GPCRs expressed in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG). In this study, we investigated two novel ligands in addition to beta-alanine: (1) beta-aminoisobutyric acid, a physiologically active substance, with which possible relation to tumors has been seen together with beta-alanine; (2) diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic estrogen hormone. In addition to the novel ligands, we found that transfection of MRGPRD leads fibroblast cells to form spheroids, which would be related to oncogenicity. To understand the MRGPRD novel character, oncogenicity, a large chemical library was screened in order to obtain MRGPRD antagonists to utilize in exploring the character. The antagonist in turn inhibited the spheroid proliferation that is dependent on MRGPRD signaling as well as MRGPRD signals activated by beta-alanine. The antagonist, a small-molecule compound we found in this study, is a potential anticancer agent.
PMCID: PMC3471037  PMID: 23091359
3.  MRGD, a MAS-related G-protein Coupled Receptor, Promotes Tumorigenisis and Is Highly Expressed in Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38618.
To elucidate the function of MAS-related GPCR, member D (MRGD) in cancers, we investigated the in vitro and in vivo oncogenic function of MRGD using murine fibroblast cell line NIH3T3 in which MRGD is stably expressed. The expression pattern of MRGD in clinical samples was also analyzed. We found that overexpression of MRGD in NIH3T3 induced focus formation and multi-cellular spheroid formation, and promoted tumors in nude mice. In other words, overexpression of MRGD in NIH3T3 induced the loss of contact inhibition, anchorage-independent growth and in vivo tumorigenesis. Furthermore, it was found that the ligand of MRGD, beta-alanine, enhanced spheroid formation in MRGD-expressing NIH3T3 cells. From investigation of clinical cancer tissues, we found high expression of MRGD in several lung cancers by immunohistochemistry as well as real time PCR. Based on these results, MRGD could be involved in tumorigenesis and could also be a novel anticancer drug target.
PMCID: PMC3370999  PMID: 22715397
4.  Genomic and proteomic characterization of the large Myoviridae bacteriophage ϕTMA of the extreme thermophile Thermus thermophilus 
Bacteriophage  2011;1(3):152-164.
A lytic phage, designated as ϕTMA, was isolated from a Japanese hot spring using Thermus thermophilus HB27 as an indicator strain. Electron microscopic examination showed that ϕTMA had an icosahedral head and a contractile tail. The circular double-stranded DNA sequence of ϕTMA was 151,483 bp in length, and its organization was essentially same as that of ϕYS40 except that the ϕTMA genome contained genes for a pair of transposase and resolvase, and a gene for a serine to asparagine substituted ortholog of the protein involved in the initiation of the ϕYS40 genomic DNA synthesis. The different host specificities of ϕTMA and ϕYS40 could be explained by the sequence differences in the C-terminal regions of their distal tail fiber proteins. The ΔpilA knockout strains of T. thermophilus showed simultaneous loss of sensitivity to their cognate phages, pilus structure, twitching motility and competence for natural transformation, thus suggesting that the phage infection required the intact host pili. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis of the ϕTMA and ϕYS40 genomes revealed that the length of their DNA exceeded 200 kb, indicating that the terminal redundancy is more than 30% of the closed circular form. Proteomic analysis of the ϕTMA virion using a combination of N-terminal sequencing and mass spectrometric analysis of peptide fragments suggested that the maturation of several proteins involved in the phage assembly process was mediated by a trypsin-like protease. The gene order of the phage structural proteins was also discussed.
PMCID: PMC3225780  PMID: 22164349
Thermus thermophilus; myovirus; genomics; antagonistic coevolution; proteomics
5.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of gene product 44 from bacteriophage Mu 
Bacteriophage Mu baseplate protein gene product 44 was crystallized. The crystal belongs to space group R3, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 126.6, c = 64.2 Å.
Bacteriophage Mu baseplate protein gene product 44 (gp44) is an essential protein required for the assembly of viable phages. To investigate the roles of gp44 in baseplate assembly and infection, gp44 was crystallized at pH 6.0 in the presence of 20% 2-methyl-2,4-pentanediol. The crystals belong to space group R3, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 127.47, c = 63.97 Å. The crystals diffract X-­rays to at least 2.1 Å resolution and are stable in the X-ray beam and are therefore appropriate for structure determination. Native data have been collected to 2.1 Å resolution using a DIP6040 image-plate system at beamline BL44XU at the SPring-8 facility in Japan.
PMCID: PMC1952399  PMID: 16508104
gene product 44; bacteriophage Mu
6.  The C-Terminal Fragment of the Precursor Tail Lysozyme of Bacteriophage T4 Stays as a Structural Component of the Baseplate after Cleavage 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(9):2739-2744.
Tail-associated lysozyme of bacteriophage T4 (tail lysozyme), the product of gene 5 (gp 5), is an essential structural component of the hub of the phage baseplate. It is synthesized as a 63-kDa precursor, which later cleaves to form mature gp 5 with a molecular weight of 43,000. To elucidate the role of the C-terminal region of the precursor protein, gene 5 was cloned and overexpressed and the product was analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, immunoblotting, analytical ultracentrifugation, and circular dichroism. It was shown that the precursor protein tends to be cleaved into two fragments during expression and that the cleavage site is close to or perhaps identical to the cleavage site in the infected cell. The two fragments, however, remained associated. The lysozyme activity of the precursor or the nicked protein is about 10% of that of mature gp 5. Both the N-terminal mature tail lysozyme and the C-terminal fragment were then isolated and characterized by far-UV circular dichroism and analytical ultracentrifugation. The latter remained trimeric after dissociation from the N-terminal fragment and is rich in β-structure as predicted by an empirical method. To trace the fate of the C-terminal fragment, antiserum was raised against a synthesized peptide of the last 12 C-terminal residues. Surprisingly, the C-terminal fragment was found in the tail and the phage particle by immunoblotting. The significance of this finding is discussed in relation to the molecular assembly and infection process.
PMCID: PMC93713  PMID: 10217762

Results 1-6 (6)