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1.  Identification of a single HNH active site in Type IIS restriction endonuclease Eco31I 
Journal of molecular biology  2007;370(1):157-169.
Type IIS restriction endonuclease Eco31I is a ‘short-distance cutter’, which cleaves DNA strands close to its recognition sequence, 5′-GGTCTC(1/5). Previously, it has been proposed that related endonucleases recognizing a common sequence core GTCTC possess two active sites for cleavage of both strands in the DNA substrate. Here, we present bioinformatic identification and experimental evidence for a single nuclease active site. We identified a short region of homology between Eco31I and HNH nucleases, constructed a three-dimensional model of the putative catalytic domain and validated our predictions by random and site-specific mutagenesis. The restriction mechanism of Eco31I is suggested by analogy to the mechanisms of phage T4 endonuclease VII and homing endonuclease I-PpoI. We propose that residues D311 and N334 coordinate the cofactor. H312 acts as a general base activating water molecule for the nucleophilic attack. K337 together with R340 and D345 are located in close proximity to the active center and are essential for correct folding of catalytic motif, while D345 together with R264 and D273 could be directly involved in DNA binding. We also predict that the Eco31I catalytic domain contains a putative Zn-binding site, which is essential for its structural integrity. Our results suggest that the HNH-like active site is involved in the cleavage of both strands in the DNA substrate. On the other hand, analysis of site-specific mutants in the region, previously suggested to harbor the second active site, revealed its irrelevance to the nuclease activity. Thus, our data argue against the earlier prediction and indicate the presence of a single conserved active site in Type IIS restriction endonucleases that recognize common sequence core GTCTC.
PMCID: PMC2754561  PMID: 17499273
restriction endonuclease; Type IIS; HNH; endonuclease VII; active site
2.  The 2′-O-Ribose Methyltransferase for Cap 1 of Spliced Leader RNA and U1 Small Nuclear RNA in Trypanosoma brucei▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(17):6084-6092.
mRNA cap 1 2′-O-ribose methylation is a widespread modification that is implicated in processing, trafficking, and translational control in eukaryotic systems. The eukaryotic enzyme has yet to be identified. In kinetoplastid flagellates trans-splicing of spliced leader (SL) to polycistronic precursors conveys a hypermethylated cap 4, including a cap 0 m7G and seven additional methylations on the first 4 nucleotides, to all nuclear mRNAs. We report the first eukaryotic cap 1 2′-O-ribose methyltransferase, TbMTr1, a member of a conserved family of viral and eukaryotic enzymes. Recombinant TbMTr1 methylates the ribose of the first nucleotide of an m7G-capped substrate. Knockdowns and null mutants of TbMTr1 in Trypanosoma brucei grow normally, with loss of 2′-O-ribose methylation at cap 1 on substrate SL RNA and U1 small nuclear RNA. TbMTr1-null cells have an accumulation of cap 0 substrate without further methylation, while spliced mRNA is modified efficiently at position 4 in the absence of 2′-O-ribose methylation at position 1; downstream cap 4 methylations are independent of cap 1. Based on TbMTr1-green fluorescent protein localization, 2′-O-ribose methylation at position 1 occurs in the nucleus. Accumulation of 3′-extended SL RNA substrate indicates a delay in processing and suggests a synergistic role for cap 1 in maturation.
PMCID: PMC1952150  PMID: 17606627
3.  Conserved amino acids in each subunit of the heteroligomeric tRNA m1A58 Mtase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae contribute to tRNA binding 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(20):6808-6819.
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a two-subunit methyltransferase (Mtase) encoded by the essential genes TRM6 and TRM61 is responsible for the formation of 1-methyladenosine, a modified nucleoside found at position 58 in tRNA that is critical for the stability of tRNAiMet. The crystal structure of the homotetrameric m1A58 tRNA Mtase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, TrmI, has been solved and was used as a template to build a model of the yeast m1A58 tRNA Mtase heterotetramer. We altered amino acids in TRM6 and TRM61 that were predicted to be important for the stability of the heteroligomer based on this model. Yeast strains expressing trm6 and trm61 mutants exhibited growth phenotypes indicative of reduced m1A formation. In addition, recombinant mutant enzymes had reduced in vitro Mtase activity. We demonstrate that the mutations introduced do not prevent heteroligomer formation and do not disrupt binding of the cofactor S-adenosyl-l-methionine. Instead, amino acid substitutions in either Trm6p or Trm61p destroy the ability of the yeast m1A58 tRNA Mtase to bind tRNAiMet, indicating that each subunit contributes to tRNA binding and suggesting a structural alteration of the substrate-binding pocket occurs when these mutations are present.
PMCID: PMC2175304  PMID: 17932071
4.  Structure and Evolutionary Origin of Ca2+-Dependent Herring Type II Antifreeze Protein 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(6):e548.
In order to survive under extremely cold environments, many organisms produce antifreeze proteins (AFPs). AFPs inhibit the growth of ice crystals and protect organisms from freezing damage. Fish AFPs can be classified into five distinct types based on their structures. Here we report the structure of herring AFP (hAFP), a Ca2+-dependent fish type II AFP. It exhibits a fold similar to the C-type (Ca2+-dependent) lectins with unique ice-binding features. The 1.7 Å crystal structure of hAFP with bound Ca2+ and site-directed mutagenesis reveal an ice-binding site consisting of Thr96, Thr98 and Ca2+-coordinating residues Asp94 and Glu99, which initiate hAFP adsorption onto the [10-10] prism plane of the ice lattice. The hAFP-ice interaction is further strengthened by the bound Ca2+ through the coordination with a water molecule of the ice lattice. This Ca2+-coordinated ice-binding mechanism is distinct from previously proposed mechanisms for other AFPs. However, phylogenetic analysis suggests that all type II AFPs evolved from the common ancestor and developed different ice-binding modes. We clarify the evolutionary relationship of type II AFPs to sugar-binding lectins.
PMCID: PMC1891086  PMID: 17579720
5.  Functional specialization of domains tandemly duplicated within 16S rRNA methyltransferase RsmC 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(13):4264-4274.
RNA methyltransferases (MTases) are important players in the biogenesis and regulation of the ribosome, the cellular machine for protein synthesis. RsmC is a MTase that catalyzes the transfer of a methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) to G1207 of 16S rRNA. Mutations of G1207 have dominant lethal phenotypes in Escherichia coli, underscoring the significance of this modified nucleotide for ribosome function. Here we report the crystal structure of E. coli RsmC refined to 2.1 Å resolution, which reveals two homologous domains tandemly duplicated within a single polypeptide. We characterized the function of the individual domains and identified key residues involved in binding of rRNA and SAM, and in catalysis. We also discovered that one of the domains is important for the folding of the other. Domain duplication and subfunctionalization by complementary degeneration of redundant functions (in particular substrate binding versus catalysis) has been reported for many enzymes, including those involved in RNA metabolism. Thus, RsmC can be regarded as a model system for functional streamlining of domains accompanied by the development of dependencies concerning folding and stability.
PMCID: PMC1934991  PMID: 17576679
6.  Novel protein fold discovered in the PabI family of restriction enzymes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(6):1908-1918.
Although structures of many DNA-binding proteins have been solved, they fall into a limited number of folds. Here, we describe an approach that led to the finding of a novel DNA-binding fold. Based on the behavior of Type II restriction–modification gene complexes as mobile elements, our earlier work identified a restriction enzyme, R.PabI, and its cognate modification enzyme in Pyrococcus abyssi through comparison of closely related genomes. While the modification methyltransferase was easily recognized, R.PabI was predicted to have a novel 3D structure. We expressed cytotoxic R.PabI in a wheat-germ-based cell-free translation system and determined its crystal structure. R.PabI turned out to adopt a novel protein fold. Homodimeric R.PabI has a curved anti-parallel β-sheet that forms a ‘half pipe’. Mutational and in silico DNA-binding analyses have assigned it as the double-strand DNA-binding site. Unlike most restriction enzymes analyzed, R.PabI is able to cleave DNA in the absence of Mg2+. These results demonstrate the value of genome comparison and the wheat-germ-based system in finding a novel DNA-binding motif in mobile DNases and, in general, a novel protein fold in horizontally transferred genes.
PMCID: PMC1874622  PMID: 17332011
7.  Structural and evolutionary bioinformatics of the SPOUT superfamily of methyltransferases 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8:73.
SPOUT methyltransferases (MTases) are a large class of S-adenosyl-L-methionine-dependent enzymes that exhibit an unusual alpha/beta fold with a very deep topological knot. In 2001, when no crystal structures were available for any of these proteins, Anantharaman, Koonin, and Aravind identified homology between SpoU and TrmD MTases and defined the SPOUT superfamily. Since then, multiple crystal structures of knotted MTases have been solved and numerous new homologous sequences appeared in the databases. However, no comprehensive comparative analysis of these proteins has been carried out to classify them based on structural and evolutionary criteria and to guide functional predictions.
We carried out extensive searches of databases of protein structures and sequences to collect all members of previously identified SPOUT MTases, and to identify previously unknown homologs. Based on sequence clustering, characterization of domain architecture, structure predictions and sequence/structure comparisons, we re-defined families within the SPOUT superfamily and predicted putative active sites and biochemical functions for the so far uncharacterized members. We have also delineated the common core of SPOUT MTases and inferred a multiple sequence alignment for the conserved knot region, from which we calculated the phylogenetic tree of the superfamily. We have also studied phylogenetic distribution of different families, and used this information to infer the evolutionary history of the SPOUT superfamily.
We present the first phylogenetic tree of the SPOUT superfamily since it was defined, together with a new scheme for its classification, and discussion about conservation of sequence and structure in different families, and their functional implications. We identified four protein families as new members of the SPOUT superfamily. Three of these families are functionally uncharacterized (COG1772, COG1901, and COG4080), and one (COG1756 represented by Nep1p) has been already implicated in RNA metabolism, but its biochemical function has been unknown. Based on the inference of orthologous and paralogous relationships between all SPOUT families we propose that the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of all extant organisms contained at least three SPOUT members, ancestors of contemporary RNA MTases that carry out m1G, m3U, and 2'O-ribose methylation, respectively. In this work we also speculate on the origin of the knot and propose possible 'unknotted' ancestors. The results of our analysis provide a comprehensive 'roadmap' for experimental characterization of SPOUT MTases and interpretation of functional studies in the light of sequence-structure relationships.
PMCID: PMC1829167  PMID: 17338813
8.  Type II restriction endonuclease R.Eco29kI is a member of the GIY-YIG nuclease superfamily 
The majority of experimentally determined crystal structures of Type II restriction endonucleases (REases) exhibit a common PD-(D/E)XK fold. Crystal structures have been also determined for single representatives of two other folds: PLD (R.BfiI) and half-pipe (R.PabI), and bioinformatics analyses supported by mutagenesis suggested that some REases belong to the HNH fold. Our previous bioinformatic analysis suggested that REase R.Eco29kI shares sequence similarities with one more unrelated nuclease superfamily, GIY-YIG, however so far no experimental data were available to support this prediction. The determination of a crystal structure of the GIY-YIG domain of homing endonuclease I-TevI provided a template for modeling of R.Eco29kI and prompted us to validate the model experimentally.
Using protein fold-recognition methods we generated a new alignment between R.Eco29kI and I-TevI, which suggested a reassignment of one of the putative catalytic residues. A theoretical model of R.Eco29kI was constructed to illustrate its predicted three-dimensional fold and organization of the active site, comprising amino acid residues Y49, Y76, R104, H108, E142, and N154. A series of mutants was constructed to generate amino acid substitutions of selected residues (Y49A, R104A, H108F, E142A and N154L) and the mutant proteins were examined for their ability to bind the DNA containing the Eco29kI site 5'-CCGCGG-3' and to catalyze the cleavage reaction. Experimental data reveal that residues Y49, R104, E142, H108, and N154 are important for the nuclease activity of R.Eco29kI, while H108 and N154 are also important for specific DNA binding by this enzyme.
Substitutions of residues Y49, R104, H108, E142 and N154 predicted by the model to be a part of the active site lead to mutant proteins with strong defects in the REase activity. These results are in very good agreement with the structural model presented in this work and with our prediction that R.Eco29kI belongs to the GIY-YIG superfamily of nucleases. Our study provides the first experimental evidence for a Type IIP REase that does not belong to the PD-(D/E)XK or HNH superfamilies of nucleases, and is instead a member of the unrelated GIY-YIG superfamily.
PMCID: PMC1952068  PMID: 17626614

Results 1-8 (8)