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1.  Statistical analysis of SHAPE-directed RNA secondary structure modeling 
Biochemistry  2013;52(4):596-599.
The ability to predict RNA secondary structure is fundamental for understanding and manipulating RNA function. The structural information obtained from selective 2'-hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension (SHAPE) experiments greatly improves the accuracy of RNA secondary structure prediction. Recently, Das and colleagues [Kladwang et al., Biochemistry 50:8049 (2011)] proposed a “bootstrapping” approach to estimate the variance and helix-by-helix confidence levels of predicted secondary structures based on resampling (randomizing and summing) the measured SHAPE data. We show that the specific resampling approach described by Kladwang et al. introduces systematic errors and underestimates confidence in secondary structure prediction using SHAPE data. Instead, a leave-data-out jackknife approach better estimates the influence of a given experimental dataset on SHAPE-directed secondary structure modeling. Even when 35% of the data were left out in the jackknife approach, the confidence levels of SHAPE-directed secondary structure prediction were significantly higher than those calculated by Das and colleagues using bootstrapping. Helix confidence levels were thus significantly underestimated in the recent study, and resampling approach implemented by Kladwang et al. is not an appropriate metric for assigning confidences in SHAPE-directed secondary structure modeling.
PMCID: PMC3558531  PMID: 23286327
2.  1Energetic and structural basis for activation of the epithelial sodium channel by matriptase 
Biochemistry  2012;51(16):3460-3469.
Limited proteolysis, accomplished by endopeptidases, is a ubiquitous phenomenon underlying the regulation and activation of many enzymes, receptors and other proteins synthesized as inactive precursors. Serine proteases are one of the largest and conserved families of endopeptidases involved in diverse cellular activities including wound healing, blood coagulation and immune responses. Heteromeric α,β,γ-epithelial sodium channels (ENaC) associated with diseases like cystic fibrosis and Liddle’s syndrome, are irreversibly stimulated by membrane-anchored proteases (MAPs) and furin-like convertases. Matriptase/Channel activating protease-3 (CAP3) is one of the several MAPs that potently activate ENaC. Despite identification of protease cleavage sites, the basis for enhanced susceptibility of α- and γ-ENaC to proteases remains elusive. Here, we elucidate the energetic and structural bases for activation of ENaC by CAP3. We find a region near the γ-ENaC furin site that is previously unidentified as a critical cleavage site for CAP3-mediated stimulation. We also report that CAP3 mediates cleavage of ENaC at basic residues downstream of the furin site. Our results indicate that surface proteases alone are sufficient to fully activate uncleaved ENaC, and explain how ENaC in epithelia expressing surface-active proteases can appear refractory to soluble proteases. Our results support a model in which proteases prime ENaC for activation by cleaving at the furin site, and cleavage at downstream sites is accomplished by membrane surface proteases or extracellular soluble proteases. Based on our results, we propose a dynamics-driven “anglerfish” mechanism that explains less stringent sequence requirements for substrate recognition and cleavage by matriptase compared to furin.
PMCID: PMC3404201  PMID: 22471557
ENaC; serine endopeptidase; Xenopus; voltage clamp; discrete molecular dynamics
3.  Identification of novel integrin binding partners for CIB1: structural and thermodynamic basis of CIB1 promiscuity 
Biochemistry  2013;52(40):7082-7090.
The short cytoplasmic tails of the α and β chains of integrin adhesion receptors regulate integrin activation and cell signaling. Significantly less is known about proteins that bind to α-integrin cytoplasmic tails (CTs) than β-CTs to regulate integrins. CIB1 was previously identified as an αIIb binding partner that inhibits agonist-induced activation of the platelet-specific integrin, αIIbβ3. A sequence alignment of all α-integrin CTs revealed that key residues in the CIB1 binding site on αIIb are well-conserved, and was used to delineate a consensus binding site (I/L-x-x-x-L/M-W/Y-K-x-G-F-F). Because the CIB1 binding site on αIIb is conserved in all α-integrins, and CIB1 expression is ubiquitous, we asked if CIB1 could interact with other α-integrin CTs. We predicted that multiple α-integrin CTs were capable of binding to the same hydrophobic binding pocket on CIB1 with docking models generated by all-atom replica exchange discrete molecular dynamics. After demonstrating novel in vivo interactions between CIB1 and other whole integrin complexes with co-immunopreceipitations, we validated the modeled predictions with solid-phase competitive binding assays showing that other α-integrin CTs compete with the αIIb CT for binding to CIB1 in vitro. Isothermal titration calorimetry measurements indicated that this binding is driven by hydrophobic interactions and depends on residues in the CIB1 consensus binding site. These new mechanistic details of CIB1-integrin binding imply that CIB1 could bind to all integrin complexes and act as a broad regulator of integrin function.
PMCID: PMC4104500  PMID: 24011356
4.  Principles for understanding the accuracy of SHAPE-directed RNA structure modeling 
Biochemistry  2013;52(4):588-595.
Accurate RNA structure modeling is an important, incompletely solved, challenge. Single-nucleotide resolution SHAPE (selective 2'-hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension) yields an experimental measurement of local nucleotide flexibility that can be incorporated as pseudo-free energy change constraints to direct secondary structure predictions. Prior work from our laboratory has emphasized both the overall accuracy of this approach and the need for nuanced interpretation of some apparent discrepancies between modeled and accepted structures. Recent studies by Das and colleagues [Kladwang et al., Biochemistry 50:8049 (2011) and Nat. Chem. 3:954 (2011)], focused on analyzing six small RNAs, yielded poorer RNA secondary structure predictions than expected based on prior benchmarking efforts. To understand the features that led to these divergent results, we re-examined four RNAs yielding the poorest results in this recent work – tRNAPhe, the adenine and cyclic-di-GMP riboswitches, and 5S rRNA. Most of the errors reported by Das and colleagues reflected non-standard experiment and data processing choices, and selective scoring rules. For two RNAs, tRNAPhe and the adenine riboswitch, secondary structure predictions are nearly perfect if no experimental information is included but were rendered inaccurate by the Das and colleagues SHAPE data. When best practices were used, single-sequence SHAPE-directed secondary structure modeling recovered ~93% of individual base pairs and greater than 90% of helices in the four RNAs, essentially indistinguishable from the mutate-and-map approach with the exception of a single helix in the 5S rRNA. The field of experimentally-directed RNA secondary structure prediction is entering a phase focused on the most difficult prediction challenges. We outline five constructive principles for guiding this field forward.
PMCID: PMC3578230  PMID: 23316814
5.  Glutathionylation at Cys-111 Induces Dissociation of Wild Type and FALS Mutant SOD1 Dimers 
Biochemistry  2011;50(32):7057-7066.
Mutation of the ubiquitous cytosolic enzyme Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) is hypothesized to cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) through structural destabilization leading to misfolding and aggregation. Considering the late onset of symptoms as well as the phenotypic variability among patients with identical SOD1 mutations, it is clear that nongenetic factor(s) impact ALS etiology and disease progression. Here we examine the effect of Cys-111 glutathionylation, a physiologically prevalent post-translational oxidative modification, on the stabilities of wild type SOD1 and two phenotypically diverse FALS mutants, A4V and I112T. Glutathionylation results in profound destabilization of SOD1WT dimers, increasing the equilibrium dissociation constant Kd to ~10−20 μM, comparable to that of the aggressive A4V mutant. SOD1A4V is further destabilized by glutathionylation, experiencing an ~30-fold increase in Kd. Dissociation kinetics of glutathionylated SOD1WT and SOD1A4V are unchanged, as measured by surface plasmon resonance, indicating that glutathionylation destabilizes these variants by decreasing association rate. In contrast, SOD1I112T has a modestly increased dissociation rate but no change in Kd when glutathionylated. Using computational structural modeling, we show that the distinct effects of glutathionylation on different SOD1 variants correspond to changes in composition of the dimer interface. Our experimental and computational results show that Cys-111 glutathionylation induces structural rearrangements that modulate stability of both wild type and FALS mutant SOD1. The distinct sensitivities of SOD1 variants to glutathionylation, a modification that acts in part as a coping mechanism for oxidative stress, suggest a novel mode by which redox regulation and aggregation propensity interact in ALS.
PMCID: PMC3281512  PMID: 21739997
6.  Robust and Generic RNA Modeling Using Inferred Constraints: A Structure for the Hepatitis C Virus IRES Pseudoknot Domain 
Biochemistry  2010;49(24):4931-4933.
RNA function is dependent on its structure, yet three-dimensional folds for most biologically important RNAs are unknown. We develop a generic discrete molecular dynamics (DMD)-based modeling system that uses long-range constraints inferred from diverse biochemical or bioinformatic analyses to create statistically significant (p < 0.01) native-like folds for RNAs of known structure ranging from 45 to 158 nucleotides. We then predict the unknown structure of the hepatitis C virus IRES pseudoknot domain. The resulting RNA model rationalizes independent solvent accessibility and cryo-electron microscopy structure information. The pseudoknot positions the AUG start codon near the mRNA channel and is tRNA-like, suggesting the IRES employs molecular mimicry as a functional strategy.
PMCID: PMC2889920  PMID: 20545364

Results 1-6 (6)