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1.  High affinity binding of hydrophobic and autoantigenic regions of proinsulin to the 70 kDa chaperone DnaK 
BMC Biochemistry  2010;11:44.
Chaperones facilitate proper folding of peptides and bind to misfolded proteins as occurring during periods of cell stress. Complexes of peptides with chaperones induce peptide-directed immunity. Here we analyzed the interaction of (pre)proinsulin with the best characterized chaperone of the hsp70 family, bacterial DnaK.
Of a set of overlapping 13-mer peptides of human preproinsulin high affinity binding to DnaK was found for the signal peptide and one further region in each proinsulin domain (A- and B-chain, C-peptide). Among the latter, peptides covering most of the B-chain region B11-23 exhibited strongest binding, which was in the range of known high-affinity DnaK ligands, dissociation equilibrium constant (K'd) of 2.2 ± 0.4 μM. The B-chain region B11-23 is located at the interface between two insulin molecules and not accessible in insulin oligomers. Indeed, native insulin oligomers showed very low DnaK affinity (K'd 67.8 ± 20.8 μM) whereas a proinsulin molecule modified to prevent oligomerization showed good binding affinity (K'd 11.3 ± 7.8 μM).
Intact insulin only weakly interacts with the hsp70 chaperone DnaK whereas monomeric proinsulin and peptides from 3 distinct proinsulin regions show substantial chaperone binding. Strongest binding was seen for the B-chain peptide B 11-23. Interestingly, peptide B11-23 represents a dominant autoantigen in type 1 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2994776  PMID: 21059249
2.  Molecular evolution of B6 enzymes: Binding of pyridoxal-5'-phosphate and Lys41Arg substitution turn ribonuclease A into a model B6 protoenzyme 
BMC Biochemistry  2008;9:17.
The pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (PLP)-dependent or vitamin B6-dependent enzymes that catalyze manifold reactions in the metabolism of amino acids belong to no fewer than four evolutionarily independent protein families. The multiple evolutionary origin and the essential mechanistic role of PLP in these enzymes argue for the cofactor having arrived on the evolutionary scene before the emergence of the respective apoenzymes and having played a dominant role in the molecular evolution of the B6 enzyme families. Here we report on an attempt to re-enact the emergence of a PLP-dependent protoenzyme. The starting protein was pancreatic ribonuclease A (RNase), in which active-site Lys41 or Lys7 readily form a covalent adduct with PLP.
We screened the PLP adduct of wild-type RNase and two variant RNases (K7R and K41R) for catalytic effects toward L- and D-amino acids. RNase(K41R)-PLP, in which the cofactor is bound through an imine linkage to Lys7, qualifies for a model proto-B6 enzyme by the following criteria: (1) covalent linkage of PLP (internal aldimine); (2) catalytic activity toward amino acids that depends on formation of an imine linkage with the substrate (external aldimine); (3) adjoining binding sites for the cofactor and amino acid moiety that facilitate the transimination reaction of the internal to the external aldimine and stabilize the resulting noncovalent complex of the coenzyme-substrate adduct with the protein; (4) reaction specificity, the only detectable reactions being racemization of diverse amino acids and β-decarboxylation of L-aspartate; (5) acceleration factors for racemization and β-decarboxylation of >103 over and above that of PLP alone; (6) ribonuclease activity that is 103-fold lower than that of wild-type RNase, attenuation of a pre-existing biological activity being indispensable for the further evolution as a PLP-dependent protoenzyme.
A single amino acid substitution (Lys41Arg) and covalent binding of PLP to active-site Lys7 suffice to turn pancreatic ribonuclease A into a protein catalyst that complies with all plausible criteria for a proto-B6 enzyme. The study thus retraces in a model system what may be considered the committed step in the molecular evolution of a potential ancestor of a B6 enzyme family.
PMCID: PMC2443152  PMID: 18565210

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