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1.  Structural mechanism of cytosolic DNA sensing by cGAS 
Nature  2013;498(7454):332-337.
Cytosolic DNA arising from intracellular bacteria or viral infections is a powerful pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) that leads to innate immune host defense by the production of type I interferon and inflammatory cytokines. Recognition of cytosolic DNA by the recently discovered cyclic-GMP-AMP (cGA) synthase (cGAS) induces the production of cGA to activate the stimulator of interferon genes (STING). Here we report the crystal structure of cGAS alone and in complex with DNA, ATP and GTP along with functional studies. Our results explain cGAS’ broad specificity DNA sensing, show how cGAS catalyzes di-nucleotide formation and indicate activation by a DNA-induced structural switch. cGAS possesses a remarkable structural similarity to the antiviral cytosolic dsRNA sensor 2’-5’oligoadenylate synthase (OAS1), but contains a unique zinc-thumb that recognizes B-form dsDNA. Our results mechanistically unify dsRNA and dsDNA innate immune sensing by OAS1 and cGAS nucleotidyl transferases.
PMCID: PMC3768140  PMID: 23722159
2.  Crosstalk between cGAS DNA sensor and Beclin-1 autophagy protein shapes innate anti-microbial immune responses 
Cell host & microbe  2014;15(2):228-238.
Robust immune responses are essential for eliminating pathogens, but must be metered to avoid prolonged immune activation and potential host damage. Upon recognition of microbial DNA, the cytosolic DNA sensor cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP) synthetase, or cGAS, produces the second messenger cGAMP to initiate the STING pathway and subsequent interferon (IFN) production. We report that the direct interaction between cGAS and the Beclin-1 autophagy protein not only suppresses cGAMP synthesis to halt IFN production upon double stranded (ds)DNA stimulation or herpes simplex virus-1 infection, but also enhances autophagy-mediated degradation of cytosolic pathogen DNAs to prevent excessive cGAS activation and persistent immune stimulation. Specifically, this interaction releases Rubicon, a negative autophagy regulator, from the Beclin-1 complex, activating phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase class III activity and thereby inducing autophagy to remove cytosolic pathogen DNAs. Thus, the cGAS-Beclin-1 interaction shapes innate immune responses by regulating both cGAMP production and autophagy, resulting in well-balanced anti-microbial immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3950946  PMID: 24528868
3.  Rad50-CARD9 interactions link cytosolic DNA sensing to IL-1β production 
Nature immunology  2014;15(6):538-545.
Double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) in the cytoplasm triggers interleukin-1β (IL-1β) production as an anti-viral host response, and deregulation of the pathways involved can promote inflammatory disease. Here we report a direct cytosolic interaction between the DNA-damage sensor Rad50 and the innate immune adapter CARD9. Dendritic cell transfection with dsDNA or infection with a DNA virus induces the formation of dsDNA-Rad50-CARD9 signaling complexes for NF-κB activation and pro-IL-1β generation. Primary cells conditionally deficient for Rad50 or lacking CARD9 consequently exhibit defective DNA-induced IL-1β production, and Card9−/− mice have impaired inflammatory responses upon DNA virus infection in vivo. These results define a cytosolic DNA recognition pathway for inflammation and a physical and functional connection between a conserved DNA-damage sensor and the innate immune response to pathogens.
PMCID: PMC4309842  PMID: 24777530
4.  Structural biology of the Mre11:Nbs1 complex structure yields insights into ataxia–telangiectasia–like disease mutations and DNA damage signaling 
The Mre11–Rad50–Nbs1 (MRN) complex tethers, processes and signals DNA double strand breaks, promoting genomic stability. To understand the functional architecture of MRN, we determined the crystal structures of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe Mre11 dimeric catalytic domain alone and in complex with a fragment of Nbs1. Two Nbs1 subunits stretch around the outside of Mre11’s nuclease domains, with one subunit additionally bridging and locking the Mre11 dimer via a highly conserved asymmetrical binding motif. Our results reveal that Mre11 forms a flexible dimer and suggest that Nbs1 is not only a checkpoint adaptor, but also functionally impacts on Mre11-Rad50. Clinical mutations in Mre11 are located along the Nbs1 interaction sites and weaken the Mre11–Nbs1 interaction. However, they differentially affect DNA repair and telomere maintenance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, potentially providing insight into their different human disease pathologies.
PMCID: PMC3392456  PMID: 22705791
5.  Sensing of viral nucleic acids by RIG-I: from translocation to translation 
The innate immune system is a first layer of defense against infection by pathogens. It responds to pathogens by activating host defense mechanisms via interferon and inflammatory cytokine expression. Pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) are sensed by specific pattern recognition receptors. Among those, the ATP dependent helicase related RIG-I like receptors RIG-I, MDA5 and LGP2 sense the presence of viral RNA in the cytoplasm of host cells. While the precise PAMPs and functions of MDA5 or LGP2 are still unclear, RIG-I senses predominantly viral RNA containing a 5’-triphosphate along with dsRNA regions. Here we review out current knowledge how these PAMPs are sensed and integrated by RIG-I, and how RIG-I’s innate immune function can be used in translational medical approaches.
PMCID: PMC3155743  PMID: 21496944
6.  Nuclear actin-related proteins take shape 
Bioarchitecture  2011;1(4):192-195.
The function of nuclear actin is poorly understood. It is known to be a discrete component of several chromatin-modifying complexes. Nevertheless, filamentous forms of actin are important for various nuclear processes as well. Nuclear actin is often associated with nuclear actin-related protein Arp4 and other actin-related proteins like Arp8 in the INO80 chromatin remodeler. We recently determined the crystal structure of S. cerevisiae Arp4 that explains why Arp4 is unable to form actin like filaments and shows that it is constitutively bound to an ATP nucleotide. More interestingly, in vitro activities of Arp4 and Arp8 seem to be directed towards stabilizing monomeric actin and to integrate it stoichiometrically into the INO80 complex. Based on this activity, we discuss possible roles of nuclear Arps in chromatin modifying complexes and in regulating more general aspects of nuclear actin dynamics.
PMCID: PMC3210522  PMID: 22069513
actin-related proteins; chromatin remodeling; INO80 complex; nuclear actin
7.  Processive RNA decay by the exosome 
RNA Biology  2011;8(1):55-60.
RNA exosomes are large multi-subunit protein complexes involved in controlled and processive 3′ to 5′ RNA degradation. Exosomes form large molecular chambers and harbor multiple nuclease sites as well as RNA binding regions. This makes a quantitative kinetic analysis of RNA degradation with reliable parameter and error estimates challenging. For instance, recent quantitative biochemical assays revealed that degradation speed and efficiency depend on various factors, such as the type of RNA binding caps and the RNA length. We propose the combination of a differential equation model with Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling for a more robust and reliable analysis of such complex kinetic systems. Using the exosome as a paradigm, it is shown that conventional “best fit” approaches to parameter estimation are outperformed by the MCMC method. The parameter distribution returned by MCMC sampling allows for a reliable and meaningful comparison of the data from different time series. In the case of the exosome, we find that the cap structures of the exosome have a direct effect on the recruitment and degradation of RNA, and that these effects are RNA length-dependent. The described approach can be widely applied to any processive reaction with a similar kinetics like the XRN1-dependent RNA degradation, RNA/DNA synthesis by polymerases and protein synthesis by the ribosome.
PMCID: PMC3127079  PMID: 21282980
RNA degradation; exosome structure; processive enzymes; enzyme kinetics; bayesian inference; parameter estimation; Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling
8.  cGAS produces a 2′-5′-linked cyclic dinucleotide second messenger that activates STING 
Nature  2013;498(7454):380-384.
Detection of cytoplasmic DNA represents one of the most fundamental mechanisms of the innate immune system to sense the presence of microbial pathogens1. Moreover, erroneous detection of endogenous DNA by the same sensing mechanisms has an important pathophysiological role in certain sterile inflammatory conditions2, 3. The endoplasmic-reticulum-resident protein STING is critically required for the initiation of type I interferon signalling upon detection of cytosolic DNA of both exogenous and endogenous origin4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Next to its pivotal role in DNA sensing, STING also serves as a direct receptor for the detection of cyclic dinucleotides, which function as second messenger molecules in bacteria9, 10, 11, 12, 13. DNA recognition, however, is triggered in an indirect fashion that depends on a recently characterized cytoplasmic nucleotidyl transferase, termed cGAMP synthase (cGAS), which upon interaction with DNA synthesizes a dinucleotide molecule that in turn binds to and activates STING14, 15. We here show in vivo and in vitro that the cGAS-catalysed reaction product is distinct from previously characterized cyclic dinucleotides. Using a combinatorial approach based on mass spectrometry, enzymatic digestion, NMR analysis and chemical synthesis we demonstrate that cGAS produces a cyclic GMP-AMP dinucleotide, which comprises a 2′-5′ and a 3′-5′ phosphodiester linkage >Gp(2′-5′)Ap(3′-5′)>. We found that the presence of this 2′-5′ linkage was required to exert potent activation of human STING. Moreover, we show that cGAS first catalyses the synthesis of a linear 2′-5′-linked dinucleotide, which is then subject to cGAS-dependent cyclization in a second step through a 3′-5′ phosphodiester linkage. This 13-membered ring structure defines a novel class of second messenger molecules, extending the family of 2′-5′-linked antiviral biomolecules.
PMCID: PMC4143541  PMID: 23722158
9.  T cell-recruiting triplebody 19-3-19 mediates serial lysis of malignant B-lymphoid cells by a single T cell 
Oncotarget  2014;5(15):6466-6483.
Triplebody 19-3-19, an antibody-derived protein, carries three single chain fragment variable domains in tandem in a single polypeptide chain. 19-3-19 binds CD19-bearing lymphoid cells via its two distal domains and primary T cells via its CD3-targeting central domain in an antigen-specific manner. Here, malignant B-lymphoid cell lines and primary cells from patients with B cell malignancies were used as targets in cytotoxicity tests with pre-stimulated allogeneic T cells as effectors. 19-3-19 mediated up to 95% specific lysis of CD19-positive tumor cells and, at picomolar EC50 doses, had similar cytolytic potency as the clinically successful agent BlinatumomabTM. 19-3-19 activated resting T cells from healthy unrelated donors and mediated specific lysis of both autologous and allogeneic CD19-positive cells. 19-3-19 led to the elimination of 70% of CD19-positive target cells even with resting T cells as effectors at an effector-to-target cell ratio of 1 : 10. The molecule is therefore capable of mediating serial lysis of target cells by a single T cell. These results highlight that central domains capable of engaging different immune effectors can be incorporated into the triplebody format to provide more individualized therapy tailored to a patient’s specific immune status.
PMCID: PMC4171644  PMID: 25115385
immunotherapy; triplebody; cytolytic T cells; antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity; leukemia
10.  In Vivo Ligands of MDA5 and RIG-I in Measles Virus-Infected Cells 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(4):e1004081.
RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs: RIG-I, MDA5 and LGP2) play a major role in the innate immune response against viral infections and detect patterns on viral RNA molecules that are typically absent from host RNA. Upon RNA binding, RLRs trigger a complex downstream signaling cascade resulting in the expression of type I interferons and proinflammatory cytokines. In the past decade extensive efforts were made to elucidate the nature of putative RLR ligands. In vitro and transfection studies identified 5′-triphosphate containing blunt-ended double-strand RNAs as potent RIG-I inducers and these findings were confirmed by next-generation sequencing of RIG-I associated RNAs from virus-infected cells. The nature of RNA ligands of MDA5 is less clear. Several studies suggest that double-stranded RNAs are the preferred agonists for the protein. However, the exact nature of physiological MDA5 ligands from virus-infected cells needs to be elucidated. In this work, we combine a crosslinking technique with next-generation sequencing in order to shed light on MDA5-associated RNAs from human cells infected with measles virus. Our findings suggest that RIG-I and MDA5 associate with AU-rich RNA species originating from the mRNA of the measles virus L gene. Corresponding sequences are poorer activators of ATP-hydrolysis by MDA5 in vitro, suggesting that they result in more stable MDA5 filaments. These data provide a possible model of how AU-rich sequences could activate type I interferon signaling.
Author Summary
RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) are helicase-like molecules that detect cytosolic RNAs that are absent in the non-infected host. Upon binding to specific RNA patterns, RLRs elicit a signaling cascade that leads to host defense via the production of antiviral molecules. To understand how RLRs sense RNA, it is important to characterize the nature and origin of RLR-associated RNA from virus-infected cells. While it is well established that RIG-I binds 5′-triphosphate containing double-stranded RNA, the in vivo occurring ligand for MDA5 is poorly characterized. A major challenge in examining MDA5 agonists is the apparently transient interaction between the protein and its ligand. To improve the stability of interaction, we have used an approach to crosslink MDA5 to RNA in measles virus-infected cells. The virus-infected cells were treated with the photoactivatable nucleoside analog 4-thiouridine, which is incorporated in newly synthesized RNA. Upon 365 nm UV light exposure of living cells, a covalent linkage between the labeled RNA and the receptor protein is induced, resulting in a higher RNA recovery from RLR immunoprecipitates. Based on next generation sequencing, bioinformatics and in vitro approaches, we observed a correlation between the AU-composition of viral RNA and its ability to induce an MDA5-dependent immune response.
PMCID: PMC3990713  PMID: 24743923
11.  Activating FLT3 Mutants Show Distinct Gain-of-Function Phenotypes In Vitro and a Characteristic Signaling Pathway Profile Associated with Prognosis in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e89560.
About 30% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) harbour mutations of the receptor tyrosine kinase FLT3, mostly internal tandem duplications (ITD) and point mutations of the second tyrosine kinase domain (TKD). It was the aim of this study to comprehensively analyze clinical and functional properties of various FLT3 mutants.
In 672 normal karyotype AML patients FLT3-ITD, but not FLT3-TKD mutations were associated with a worse relapse free and overall survival in multivariate analysis. In paired diagnosis-relapse samples FLT3-ITD showed higher stability (70%) compared to FLT3-TKD (30%). In vitro, FLT3-ITD induced a strong activating phenotype in Ba/F3 cells. In contrast, FLT3-TKD mutations and other point mutations – including two novel mutations – showed a weaker but clear gain-of-function phenotype with gradual increase in proliferation and protection from apoptosis. The pro-proliferative capacity of the investigated FLT3 mutants was associated with cell surface expression and tyrosine 591 phosphorylation of the FLT3 receptor. Western blot experiments revealed STAT5 activation only in FLT3-ITD positive cell lines, in contrast to FLT3-non-ITD mutants, which displayed an enhanced signal of AKT and MAPK activation. Gene expression analysis revealed distinct difference between FLT3-ITD and FLT3-TKD for STAT5 target gene expression as well as deregulation of SOCS2, ENPP2, PRUNE2 and ART3.
FLT3-ITD and FLT3 point mutations show a gain-of-function phenotype with distinct signalling properties in vitro. Although poor prognosis in AML is only associated with FLT3-ITD, all activating FLT3 mutations can contribute to leukemogenesis and are thus potential targets for therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3946485  PMID: 24608088
12.  Epitope interactions of monoclonal antibodies targeting CD20 and their relationship to functional properties 
mAbs  2013;5(1):22-33.
Several novel anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies are currently in development with the aim of improving the treatment of B cell malignancies. Mutagenesis and epitope mapping studies have revealed differences between the CD20 epitopes recognized by these antibodies. Recently, X-ray crystallography studies confirmed that the Type I CD20 antibody rituximab and the Type II CD20 antibody obinutuzumab (GA101) differ fundamentally in their interaction with CD20 despite recognizing a partially overlapping epitope on CD20. The Type I CD20 antibodies rituximab and ofatumumab are known to bind to different epitopes. The differences suggest that the biological properties of these antibodies are not solely determined by their core epitope sequences, but also depend on other factors, such as the elbow hinge angle, the orientation of the bound antibody and differential effects mediated by the Fc region of the antibody. Taken together, these factors may explain differences in the preclinical properties and clinical efficacy of anti-CD20 antibodies.
PMCID: PMC3564883  PMID: 23211638
Rituximab; obinutuzumab; ofatumumab; GA101; structure; type I; type II; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; immunotherapy; leukemia
13.  NK cells from an AML patient have recovered in remission and reached comparable cytolytic activity to that of a healthy monozygotic twin mediated by the single-chain triplebody SPM-2 
The capacity of patient’s Natural Killer cells (NKs) to be activated for cytolysis is an important prerequisite for the success of antibody-derived agents such as single-chain triplebodies (triplebodies) in cancer therapy. NKs recovered from AML patients at diagnosis are often found to be reduced in peripheral blood titers and cytolytic activity. Here, we had the unique opportunity to compare blood titers and cytolytic function of NKs from an AML patient with those of a healthy monozygotic twin. The sibling’s NKs were compared with the patient’s drawn either at diagnosis or in remission after chemotherapy. The cytolytic activities of NKs from these different sources for the patient’s autologous AML blasts and other leukemic target cells in conjunction with triplebody SPM-2, targeting the surface antigens CD33 and CD123 on the AML cells, were compared.
Patient NKs drawn at diagnosis were compared to NKs drawn in remission after chemotherapy and a sibling’s NKs, all prepared from PBMCs by immunomagnetic beads (MACS). Redirected lysis (RDL) assays using SPM-2 and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) assays using the therapeutic antibody RituximabTM were performed with the enriched NKs. In addition, MACS-sorted NKs were analyzed for NK cell activating receptors (NCRs) by flow cytometry, and the release of TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma from blood samples of both siblings after the addition of the triplebody were measured in ELISA-assays.
Patient NKs isolated from peripheral blood drawn in remission produced comparable lysis as NKs from the healthy twin against the patient’s autologous bone marrow (BM) blasts, mediated by SPM-2. The NCR receptor expression profiles on NKs from patient and twin were similar, but NK cell titers in peripheral blood were lower for samples drawn at diagnosis than in remission.
Peripheral blood NK titers and ex vivo cytolytic activities mediated by triplebody SPM-2 were comparable for cells drawn from an AML patient in remission and a healthy twin. If these results can be generalized, then NKs from AML patients in remission are sufficient in numbers and cytolytic activity to make triplebodies promising new agents for the treatment of AML.
PMCID: PMC3842817  PMID: 24237598
Single chain triplebody (triplebodies); Antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC); Natural killer (NK) cells; Acute myeloid leukemia (AML); Cancer immunotherapy
14.  Crystal Structure of Human TWEAK in Complex with the Fab Fragment of a Neutralizing Antibody Reveals Insights into Receptor Binding 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62697.
The tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) is a multifunctional cytokine playing a key role in tissue regeneration and remodeling. Dysregulation of TWEAK signaling is involved in various pathological processes like autoimmune diseases and cancer. The unique interaction with its cognate receptor Fn14 makes both ligand and receptor promising targets for novel therapeutics. To gain insights into this important signaling pathway, we determined the structure of soluble human TWEAK in complex with the Fab fragment of an antibody selected for inhibition of receptor binding. In the crystallized complex TWEAK is bound by three Fab fragments of the neutralizing antibody. Homology modeling shows that Fab binding overlaps with the putative Fn14 binding site of TWEAK. Docking of the Fn14 cysteine rich domain (CRD) to that site generates a highly complementary interface with perfectly opposing charged and hydrophobic residues. Taken together the presented structure provides new insights into the biology of TWEAK and the TWEAK/Fn14 pathway, which will help to optimize the therapeutic strategy for treatment of related cancer types and autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3648529  PMID: 23667509
15.  Crystal Structure of an Anti-Ang2 CrossFab Demonstrates Complete Structural and Functional Integrity of the Variable Domain 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61953.
Bispecific antibodies are considered as a promising class of future biotherapeutic molecules. They comprise binding specificities for two different antigens, which may provide additive or synergistic modes of action. There is a wide variety of design alternatives for such bispecific antibodies, including the “CrossMab” format. CrossMabs contain a domain crossover in one of the antigen-binding (Fab) parts, together with the “knobs-and-holes” approach, to enforce the correct assembly of four different polypeptide chains into an IgG-like bispecific antibody. We determined the crystal structure of a hAng-2-binding Fab in its crossed and uncrossed form and show that CH1-CL-domain crossover does not induce significant perturbations of the structure and has no detectable influence on target binding.
PMCID: PMC3629102  PMID: 23613981
17.  Swi2/Snf2 remodelers: hybrid views on hybrid molecular machines 
Swi2/Snf2 (switch / sucrose non-fermentable) enzymes form a large and diverse class of proteins and multiprotein assemblies that remodel nucleic acid:protein complexes, using the energy of ATP hydrolysis. The core Swi2/Snf2 type ATPase domain belongs to the “helicase and NTP driven nucleic acid translocase” superfamily 2 (SF2). It serves as a motor that functionally and structurally interacts with different targeting domains and functional modules to drive a plethora of different remodeling activities in chromatin structure and dynamics, transcription regulation and DNA repair. Recent progress on the interaction of Swi2/Snf2 enzymes and multiprotein assemblies with their substrate nucleic acids and proteins, using hybrid structural biology methods, sheds light onto mechanisms of the complex chemo-mechanical remodeling reactions. In the case of Mot1, a hybrid mechanism of remodeler and chaperone emerged.
PMCID: PMC3323801  PMID: 22445226
19.  Cytosolic viral sensor RIG-I is a 5′-triphosphate dependent translocase on double stranded RNA 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;323(5917):1070-1074.
RIG-I is a cytosolic multi-domain protein that detects viral RNA and elicits an antiviral immune response. Two N-terminal caspase activation and recruitment domains (CARDs) transmit the signal and the regulatory domain prevents signaling in the absence of viral RNA. 5′-triphosphate and double stranded (ds) RNA are two molecular patterns that enable RIG-I to discriminate pathogenic from self-RNA. However, the function of the ATPase domain that is also required for activity is less clear. Using single-molecule fluorescence assays we discovered a robust, ATP-powered dsRNA translocation activity of RIG-I. The CARDs dramatically suppress translocation in the absence of 5′f-triphosphate and the activation by 5′-triphosphate triggers RIG-I to translocate preferentially on dsRNA in cis. This functional integration of two RNA molecular patterns may provide a means to specifically sense and counteract replicating viruses.
PMCID: PMC3567915  PMID: 19119185
20.  Structure of Actin-related protein 8 and its contribution to nucleosome binding 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(21):11036-11046.
Nuclear actin-related proteins (Arps) are subunits of several chromatin remodelers, but their molecular functions within these complexes are unclear. We report the crystal structure of the INO80 complex subunit Arp8 in its ATP-bound form. Human Arp8 has several insertions in the conserved actin fold that explain its inability to polymerize. Most remarkably, one insertion wraps over the active site cleft and appears to rigidify the domain architecture, while active site features shared with actin suggest an allosterically controlled ATPase activity. Quantitative binding studies with nucleosomes and histone complexes reveal that Arp8 and the Arp8–Arp4–actin-HSA sub-complex of INO80 strongly prefer nucleosomes and H3–H4 tetramers over H2A–H2B dimers, suggesting that Arp8 functions as a nucleosome recognition module. In contrast, Arp4 prefers free (H3–H4)2 over nucleosomes and may serve remodelers through binding to (dis)assembly intermediates in the remodeling reaction.
PMCID: PMC3510490  PMID: 22977180
21.  The Mre11:Rad50 structure shows an ATP dependent molecular clamp in DNA double-strand break repair 
Cell  2011;145(1):54-66.
The MR (Mre11 nuclease and Rad50 ABC ATPase) complex is an evolutionarily conserved sensor for DNA double-strand breaks, highly genotoxic lesions linked to cancer development. MR can recognize and process DNA ends even if they are blocked and misfolded. To reveal its mechanism, we determined the crystal structure of the catalytic head of Thermotoga maritima MR and analyzed ATP dependent conformational changes. MR adopts an open form with a central Mre11 nuclease dimer and two peripheral Rad50 molecules, a form suited for sensing obstructed breaks. The Mre11 C-terminal helix-loop-helix domain binds Rad50 and attaches flexibly to the nuclease domain, enabling large conformational changes. ATP binding to the two Rad50 subunits induces a rotation of the Mre11 helix-loop-helix and Rad50 coiled-coil domains, creating a clamp conformation with increased DNA binding activity. The results suggest that MR is an ATP controlled transient molecular clamp at DNA double-strand breaks
PMCID: PMC3071652  PMID: 21458667
Rad50; Mre11; DNA double-strand break repair; X-ray crystallography; protein complex; homologous recombination; ABC ATPases
22.  Structure and mechanism of the Swi2/Snf2 remodeler Mot1 in complex with its substrate TBP 
Nature  2011;475(7356):403-407.
Swi2/Snf2-type ATPases broadly regulate genome-associated processes such as transcription, replication and repair by catalyzing disruption, assembly, or remodeling of nucleosomes or other protein:DNA complexes1,2. ATP-driven motor activity along DNA has been suggested to disrupt target protein:DNA interactions in the remodeling reaction3–5. However, the complex and highly specific remodeling reactions are poorly understood, mostly because we lack high-resolution structural information on how remodelers bind their substrate proteins. Mot1 (modifier of transcription 1, denoted BTAF1 in humans) is a Swi2/Snf2 enzyme that specifically displaces TATA box binding protein (TBP) from promoter DNA and globally regulates transcription by generating a highly dynamic TBP pool in the cell6,7. As a Swi2/Snf2 enzyme that functions as a single polypeptide and interacts with a relatively simple substrate, Mot1 offers an ideal system for a better understanding of this important enzyme family. To reveal how Mot1 specifically disrupts TBP:DNA, we combined crystal and electron microscopy structures of Mot1:TBP complexes with biochemical studies. Here we show that Mot1 wraps around TBP and appears to act like a bottle opener: a spring-like array of 16 HEAT (huntingtin, elongation factor 3, PP2A and lipid kinase TOR) repeats grips the DNA distal side of TBP via loop insertions, while the Swi2/Snf2 domain binds upstream DNA, positioned to weaken TBPs DNA interaction by DNA translocation. A “latch” subsequently blocks TBP’s DNA binding groove, acting as a chaperone to prevent DNA re-association for efficient promoter clearance. This work shows how a remodeling enzyme can combine both motor and chaperone activities to achieve functional specificity using a conserved Swi2/Snf2 translocase.
PMCID: PMC3276066  PMID: 21734658
23.  Syk Kinase-Coupled C-type Lectin Receptors Engage Protein Kinase C-δ to Elicit Card9 Adaptor-Mediated Innate Immunity 
Immunity  2012;36(1-2):32-42.
C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) that couple with the kinase Syk are major pattern recognition receptors for the activation of innate immunity and host defense. CLRs recognize fungi and other forms of microbial or sterile danger, and they induce inflammatory responses through the adaptor protein Card9. The mechanisms relaying CLR proximal signals to the core Card9 module are unknown. Here we demonstrated that protein kinase C-δ (PKCδ) was activated upon Dectin-1-Syk signaling, mediated phosphorylation of Card9 at Thr231, and was responsible for Card9-Bcl10 complex assembly and canonical NF-κB control. Prkcd−/− dendritic cells, but not those lacking PKCα, PKCβ, or PKCθ, were defective in innate responses to Dectin-1, Dectin-2, or Mincle stimulation. Moreover, Candida albicans-induced cytokine production was blocked in Prkcd−/− cells, and Prkcd−/− mice were highly susceptible to fungal infection. Thus, PKCδ is an essential link between Syk activation and Card9 signaling for CLR-mediated innate immunity and host protection.
► Dectin-1-Syk stimulation activates PKCδ in dendritic cells ► PKCδ controls Card9-Bcl10 complex assembly for canonical NF-κB activation ► Prkcd−/− cells are defective in Dectin-1-, Dectin-2-, or Mincle-triggered responses ► PKCδ is essential for innate antifungal immunity and host protection in vivo
PMCID: PMC3477316  PMID: 22265677
24.  ATP driven structural changes of the bacterial Mre11:Rad50 catalytic head complex 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(2):914-927.
DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) threaten genome stability in all kingdoms of life and are linked to cancerogenic chromosome aberrations in humans. The Mre11:Rad50 (MR) complex is an evolutionarily conserved complex of two Rad50 ATPases and a dimer of the Mre11 nuclease that senses and processes DSBs and tethers DNA for repair. ATP binding and hydrolysis by Rad50 is functionally coupled to DNA-binding and tethering, but also regulates Mre11's nuclease in processing DNA ends. To understand how ATP controls the interaction between Mre11 and Rad50, we determined the crystal structure of Thermotoga maritima (Tm) MR trapped in an ATP/ADP state. ATP binding to Rad50 induces a large structural change from an open form with accessible Mre11 nuclease sites into a closed form. Remarkably, the NBD dimer binds in the Mre11 DNA-binding cleft blocking Mre11's dsDNA-binding sites. An accompanying large swivel of the Rad50 coiled coil domains appears to prepare the coiled coils for DNA tethering. DNA-binding studies show that within the complex, Rad50 likely forms a dsDNA-binding site in response to ATP, while the Mre11 nuclease module retains a ssDNA-binding site. Our results suggest a possible mechanism for ATP-dependent DNA tethering and DSB processing by MR.
PMCID: PMC3258140  PMID: 21937514
25.  Quantitative analysis of processive RNA degradation by the archaeal RNA exosome 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(15):5166-5176.
RNA exosomes are large multisubunit assemblies involved in controlled RNA processing. The archaeal exosome possesses a heterohexameric processing chamber with three RNase-PH-like active sites, capped by Rrp4- or Csl4-type subunits containing RNA-binding domains. RNA degradation by RNA exosomes has not been studied in a quantitative manner because of the complex kinetics involved, and exosome features contributing to efficient RNA degradation remain unclear. Here we derive a quantitative kinetic model for degradation of a model substrate by the archaeal exosome. Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods for parameter estimation allow for the comparison of reaction kinetics between different exosome variants and substrates. We show that long substrates are degraded in a processive and short RNA in a more distributive manner and that the cap proteins influence degradation speed. Our results, supported by small angle X-ray scattering, suggest that the Rrp4-type cap efficiently recruits RNA but prevents fast RNA degradation of longer RNAs by molecular friction, likely by RNA contacts to its unique KH-domain. We also show that formation of the RNase-PH like ring with entrapped RNA is not required for high catalytic efficiency, suggesting that the exosome chamber evolved for controlled processivity, rather than for catalytic chemistry in RNA decay.
PMCID: PMC2926604  PMID: 20392821

Results 1-25 (32)