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1.  Calcium, calcium-sensing receptor and growth control in the colonic mucosa 
Histology and histopathology  2011;26(6):769-779.
A role for calcium in epithelial growth control is well-established in the colon and other tissues. In the colon, Ca2+ “drives” the differentiation process. This results in sequestration of ß-catenin in the cell surface / cytoskeletal complex, leaving ß-catenin unavailable to serve as a growth-promoting transcription enhancer in the nucleus. The signaling events that lead from Ca2+ stimulation to differentiation are not fully understood. A critical role for the extracellular calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) is assumed, based on CaSR localization to the differentiating epithelial cells in the normal colonic mucosa (upper half of the crypt and crypt surface), decreased CaSR expression in colon carcinoma, and the results from in vitro studies with colonic epithelial cell lines.
While Ca2+ is well-accepted as a growth-regulating agent in the colon, suppression of cell proliferation is not complete. At least part of the reason for this is the inherent variability in Ca2+ responsiveness among individual epithelial cells. Of interest, colon epithelial cells that are resistant to the growth-regulating activity of Ca2+ alone are still responsive to Ca2+ in conjunction with other transition metals. Whether a multi-mineral approach will, ultimately, prove to be more effective than Ca2+ alone as a colon cancer chemopreventive agent remains to be seen, but certainly worth investigating.
PMCID: PMC4806791  PMID: 21472691
ß-catenin; Calcium; Colon cancer; Extracellular calcium-sensing receptor; E-cadherin
2.  Topological characterisation and identification of critical domains within glucosyltransferase IV (GtrIV) of Shigella flexneri 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:67.
The three bacteriophage genes gtrA, gtrB and gtr(type) are responsible for O-antigen glucosylation in Shigella flexneri. Both gtrA and gtrB have been demonstrated to be highly conserved and interchangeable among serotypes while gtr(type) was found to be specific to each serotype, leading to the hypothesis that the Gtr(type) proteins are responsible for attaching glucosyl groups to the O-antigen in a site- and serotype- specific manner. Based on the confirmed topologies of GtrI, GtrII and GtrV, such interaction and attachment of the glucosyl groups to the O-antigen has been postulated to occur in the periplasm.
In this study, the topology of GtrIV was experimentally determined by creating different fusions between GtrIV and a dual-reporter protein, PhoA/LacZ. This study shows that GtrIV consists of 8 transmembrane helices, 2 large periplasmic loops, 2 small cytoplasmic N- and C- terminal ends and a re-entrant loop that occurs between transmembrane helices III and IV. Though this topology differs from that of GtrI, GtrII, GtrV and GtrX, it is very similar to that of GtrIc. Furthermore, both the N-terminal periplasmic and the C-terminal periplasmic loops are important for GtrIV function as shown via a series of loop deletion experiments and the creation of chimeric proteins between GtrIV and its closest structural homologue, GtrIc.
The current study provides the basis for elucidating the structure and mechanism of action of this important O-antigen modifying glucosyltransferase.
PMCID: PMC3259042  PMID: 22188643
3.  Low affinity PEGylated hemoglobin from Trematomus bernacchii, a model for hemoglobin-based blood substitutes 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:66.
Conjugation of human and animal hemoglobins with polyethylene glycol has been widely explored as a means to develop blood substitutes, a novel pharmaceutical class to be used in surgery or emergency medicine. However, PEGylation of human hemoglobin led to products with significantly different oxygen binding properties with respect to the unmodified tetramer and high NO dioxygenase reactivity, known causes of toxicity. These recent findings call for the biotechnological development of stable, low-affinity PEGylated hemoglobins with low NO dioxygenase reactivity.
To investigate the effects of PEGylation on protein structure and function, we compared the PEGylation products of human hemoglobin and Trematomus bernacchii hemoglobin, a natural variant endowed with a remarkably low oxygen affinity and high tetramer stability. We show that extension arm facilitated PEGylation chemistry based on the reaction of T. bernacchii hemoglobin with 2-iminothiolane and maleimido-functionalyzed polyethylene glycol (MW 5000 Da) leads to a tetraPEGylated product, more homogeneous than the corresponding derivative of human hemoglobin. PEGylated T. bernacchii hemoglobin largely retains the low affinity of the unmodified tetramer, with a p50 50 times higher than PEGylated human hemoglobin. Moreover, it is still sensitive to protons and the allosteric effector ATP, indicating the retention of allosteric regulation. It is also 10-fold less reactive towards nitrogen monoxide than PEGylated human hemoglobin.
These results indicate that PEGylated hemoglobins, provided that a suitable starting hemoglobin variant is chosen, can cover a wide range of oxygen-binding properties, potentially meeting the functional requirements of blood substitutes in terms of oxygen affinity, tetramer stability and NO dioxygenase reactivity.
PMCID: PMC3268738  PMID: 22185675
4.  Computational identification and experimental characterization of substrate binding determinants of nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase 7 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:65.
Nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase 7 (NPP7) is the only member of the mammalian NPP enzyme family that has been confirmed to act as a sphingomyelinase, hydrolyzing sphingomyelin (SM) to form phosphocholine and ceramide. NPP7 additionally hydrolyzes lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC), a substrate preference shared with the NPP2/autotaxin(ATX) and NPP6 mammalian family members. This study utilizes a synergistic combination of molecular modeling validated by experimental site-directed mutagenesis to explore the molecular basis for the unique ability of NPP7 to hydrolyze SM.
The catalytic function of NPP7 against SM, LPC, platelet activating factor (PAF) and para-nitrophenylphosphorylcholine (pNPPC) is impaired in the F275A mutant relative to wild type NPP7, but different impacts are noted for mutations at other sites. These results are consistent with a previously described role of F275 to interact with the choline headgroup, where all substrates share a common functionality. The L107F mutation showed enhanced hydrolysis of LPC, PAF and pNPPC but reduced hydrolysis of SM. Modeling suggests this difference can be explained by the gain of cation-pi interactions with the choline headgroups of all four substrates, opposed by increased steric crowding against the sphingoid tail of SM. Modeling also revealed that the long and flexible hydrophobic tails of substrates exhibit considerable dynamic flexibility in the binding pocket, reducing the entropic penalty that might otherwise be incurred upon substrate binding.
Substrate recognition by NPP7 includes several important contributions, ranging from cation-pi interactions between F275 and the choline headgroup of all substrates, to tail-group binding pockets that accommodate the inherent flexibility of the lipid hydrophobic tails. Two contributions to the unique ability of NPP7 to hydrolyze SM were identified. First, the second hydrophobic tail of SM occupies a second hydrophobic binding pocket. Second, the leucine residue present at position 107 contrasts with a conserved phenylalanine in NPP enzymes that do not utilize SM as a substrate, consistent with the observed reduction in SM hydrolysis by the NPP7-L107F mutant.
PMCID: PMC3282672  PMID: 22177013
5.  Fatty acyl-CoA reductases of birds 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:64.
Birds clean and lubricate their feathers with waxes that are produced in the uropygial gland, a holocrine gland located on their back above the tail. The type and the composition of the secreted wax esters are dependent on the bird species, for instance the wax ester secretion of goose contains branched-chain fatty acids and unbranched fatty alcohols, whereas that of barn owl contains fatty acids and alcohols both of which are branched. Alcohol-forming fatty acyl-CoA reductases (FAR) catalyze the reduction of activated acyl groups to fatty alcohols that can be esterified with acyl-CoA thioesters forming wax esters.
cDNA sequences encoding fatty acyl-CoA reductases were cloned from the uropygial glands of barn owl (Tyto alba), domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) and domestic goose (Anser anser domesticus). Heterologous expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae showed that they encode membrane associated enzymes which catalyze a NADPH dependent reduction of acyl-CoA thioesters to fatty alcohols. By feeding studies of transgenic yeast cultures and in vitro enzyme assays with membrane fractions of transgenic yeast cells two groups of isozymes with different properties were identified, termed FAR1 and FAR2. The FAR1 group mainly synthesized 1-hexadecanol and accepted substrates in the range between 14 and 18 carbon atoms, whereas the FAR2 group preferred stearoyl-CoA and accepted substrates between 16 and 20 carbon atoms. Expression studies with tissues of domestic chicken indicated that FAR transcripts were not restricted to the uropygial gland.
The data of our study suggest that the identified and characterized avian FAR isozymes, FAR1 and FAR2, can be involved in wax ester biosynthesis and in other pathways like ether lipid synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3265415  PMID: 22151413
6.  Roles of quaternary structure and cysteine residues in the activity of human serine racemase 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:63.
D-serine is an important coagonist at the NR1 subunit of the NMDA receptor class of glutamate receptors. It is chiefly synthesized in the CNS by serine racemase (SR). Regulation of SR activity is still poorly understood. As step toward developing reagents and methods for investigating SR in vitro, we analyzed structure-function relationships of a recombinant enzyme of human sequence.
Michaelis-Menten kinetic analysis indicated a KM value of 14 mM and Vmax value of 3.66 μmol·mg-1·hr-1 when L-serine was used as a substrate for purified SR. Gel-filtration chromatography and protein cross-linking experiments revealed that dimer is the major oligomeric form of recombinant SR in aqueous solution, though the proportions of monomer, tetramer, and larger aggregates differed somewhat with the specific buffer used. These buffers also altered activity in a manner correlating with the relative abundance of dimer. Activity assays showed that the dimeric gel-filtration fraction held the highest activity. Chemical reduction with DTT increased the activity of SR by elevating Vmax; cystamine, a reagent that blocks sulfhydryl groups, abolished SR activity. Gel-filtration chromatography and western blot analysis indicated that DTT enhanced the recovery of noncovalent SR dimer.
These data suggest that SR is most active as a noncovalent dimer containing one or more free sulfhydryls in the enzyme's active center or a modulatory site. Buffer composition and reduction/oxidation status during preparation can dramatically impact interpretations of SR activity. These findings also highlight the possibility that SR is sensitive to oxidative stress in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3252284  PMID: 22151352
7.  Bifunctional TaqII restriction endonuclease: redefining the prototype DNA recognition site and establishing the Fidelity Index for partial cleaving 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:62.
The TaqII enzyme is a member of the Thermus sp. enzyme family that we propounded previously within Type IIS restriction endonucleases, containing related thermophilic bifunctional endonucleases-methyltransferases from various Thermus sp.: TaqII, Tth111II, TthHB27I, TspGWI, TspDTI and TsoI. These enzymes show significant nucleotide and amino acid sequence similarities, a rare phenomenon among restriction endonucleases, along with similarities in biochemical properties, molecular size, DNA recognition sequences and cleavage sites. They also feature some characteristics of Types I and III.
Barker et al. reported the Type IIS/IIC restriction endonuclease TaqII as recognizing two distinct cognate site variants (5'-GACCGA-3' and 5'-CACCCA-3') while cleaving 11/9 nucleotides downstream. We used four independent methods, namely, shotgun cloning and sequencing, restriction pattern analysis, digestion of particular custom substrates and GeneScan analysis, to demonstrate that the recombinant enzyme recognizes only 5'-GACCGA-3' sites and cleaves 11/9 nucleotides downstream. We did not observe any 5'-CACCCA-3' cleavage under a variety of conditions and site arrangements tested. We also characterized the enzyme biochemically and established new digestion conditions optimal for practical enzyme applications. Finally, we developed and propose a new version of the Fidelity Index - the Fidelity Index for Partial Cleavage (FI-PC).
The DNA recognition sequence of the bifunctional prototype TaqII endonuclease-methyltransferase from Thermus aquaticus has been redefined as recognizing only 5'-GACCGA-3' cognate sites. The reaction conditions (pH and salt concentrations) were designed either to minimize (pH = 8.0 and 10 mM ammonium sulphate) or to enhance star activity (pH = 6.0 and no salt). Redefinition of the recognition site and reaction conditions makes this prototype endonuclease a useful tool for DNA manipulation; as yet, this enzyme has no practical applications. The extension of the Fidelity Index will be helpful for DNA manipulation with enzymes only partially cleaving DNA.
PMCID: PMC3280180  PMID: 22141927
8.  Assembly and proteolytic processing of mycobacterial ClpP1 and ClpP2 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:61.
Caseinolytic proteases (ClpPs) are barrel-shaped self-compartmentalized peptidases involved in eliminating damaged or short-lived regulatory proteins. The Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) genome contains two genes coding for putative ClpPs, ClpP1 and ClpP2 respectively, that are likely to play a role in the virulence of the bacterium.
We report the first biochemical characterization of ClpP1 and ClpP2 peptidases from MTB. Both proteins were produced and purified in Escherichia coli. Use of fluorogenic model peptides of diverse specificities failed to show peptidase activity with recombinant mycobacterial ClpP1 or ClpP2. However, we found that ClpP1 had a proteolytic activity responsible for its own cleavage after the Arg8 residue and cleavage of ClpP2 after the Ala12 residue. In addition, we showed that the absence of any peptidase activity toward model peptides was not due to an obstruction of the entry pore by the N-terminal flexible extremity of the proteins, nor to an absolute requirement for the ClpX or ClpC ATPase complex. Finally, we also found that removing the putative propeptides of ClpP1 and ClpP2 did not result in cleavage of model peptides.
We have also shown that recombinant ClpP1 and ClpP2 do not assemble in the conventional functional tetradecameric form but in lower order oligomeric species ranging from monomers to heptamers. The concomitant presence of both ClpP1 and ClpP2 did not result in tetradecameric assembly. Deleting the amino-terminal extremity of ClpP1 and ClpP2 (the putative propeptide or entry gate) promoted the assembly in higher order oligomeric species, suggesting that the flexible N-terminal extremity of mycobacterial ClpPs participated in the destabilization of interaction between heptamers.
Despite the conservation of a Ser protease catalytic triad in their primary sequences, mycobacterial ClpP1 and ClpP2 do not have conventional peptidase activity toward peptide models and display an unusual mechanism of self-assembly. Therefore, the mechanism underlying their peptidase and proteolytic activities might differ from that of other ClpP proteolytic complexes.
PMCID: PMC3258218  PMID: 22132756
9.  Effects of low frequency ultrasound on some properties of fibrinogen and its plasminolysis 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:60.
Pharmacological thrombolysis with streptokinase, urokinase or tissue activator of plasminogen (t-PA), and mechanical interventions are frequently used in the treatment of both arterial and venous thrombotic diseases. It has been previously reported that application of ultrasound as an adjunct to thrombolytic therapy offers unique potential to improve effectiveness. However, little is known about effects of the ultrasound on proteins of blood coagulation and fibrinolysis. Here, we investigated the effects of the ultrasound on fibrinogen on processes of coagulation and fibrinogenolysis in an in vitro system.
Our study demonstrated that low frequency high intensity pulse ultrasound (25.1 kHz, 48.4 W/cm2, duty 50%) induced denaturation of plasminogen and t-PA and fibrinogen aggregates formation in vitro. The aggregates were characterized by the loss of clotting ability and a greater rate of plasminolysis than native fibrinogen. We investigated the effect of the ultrasound on individual proteins. In case of plasminogen and t-PA, ultrasound led to a decrease of the fibrinogenolysis rate, while it increased the fibrinogenolysis rate in case of fibrinogen. It has been shown that upon ultrasound treatment of mixture fibrinogen or fibrin with plasminogen, t-PA, or both, the rate of proteolytic digestion of fibrin(ogen) increases too. It has been shown that summary effect on the fibrin(ogen) proteolytic degradation under the conditions for combined ultrasound treatment is determined exclusively by effect on fibrin(ogen).
The data presented here suggest that among proteins of fibrinolytic systems, the fibrinogen is one of the most sensitive proteins to the action of ultrasound. It has been shown in vitro that ultrasound induced fibrinogen aggregates formation, characterized by the loss of clotting ability and a greater rate of plasminolysis than native fibrinogen in different model systems and under different mode of ultrasound treatment. Under ultrasound treatment of plasminogen and/or t-PA in the presence of fibrin(ogen) the stabilizing effect fibrin(ogen) on given proteins was shown. On the other hand, an increase in the rate of fibrin(ogen) lysis was observed due to both the change in the substrate structure and promoting of the protein-protein complexes formation.
PMCID: PMC3235072  PMID: 22112213
10.  Delineation of the Pasteurellaceae-specific GbpA-family of glutathione-binding proteins 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:59.
The Gram-negative bacterium Haemophilus influenzae is a glutathione auxotroph and acquires the redox-active tripeptide by import. The dedicated glutathione transporter belongs to the ATP-binding cassette (ABC)-transporter superfamily and displays more than 60% overall sequence identity with the well-studied dipeptide (Dpp) permease of Escherichia coli. The solute binding protein (SBP) that mediates glutathione transport in H. influenzae is a lipoprotein termed GbpA and is 54% identical to E. coli DppA, a well-studied member of family 5 SBP's. The discovery linking GbpA to glutathione import came rather unexpectedly as this import-priming SBP was previously annotated as a heme-binding protein (HbpA), and was thought to mediate heme acquisition. Nonetheless, although many SBP's have been implicated in more than one function, a prominent physiological role for GbpA and its partner permease in heme acquisition appears to be very unlikely. Here, we sought to characterize five representative GbpA homologs in an effort to delineate the novel GbpA-family of glutathione-specific family 5 SBPs and to further clarify their functional role in terms of ligand preferences.
Lipoprotein and non-lipoprotein GbpA homologs were expressed in soluble form and substrate specificity was evaluated via a number of ligand binding assays. A physiologically insignificant affinity for hemin was observed for all five GbpA homologous test proteins. Three out of five test proteins were found to bind glutathione and some of its physiologically relevant derivatives with low- or submicromolar affinity. None of the tested SBP family 5 allocrites interacted with the remaining two GbpA test proteins. Structure-based sequence alignments and phylogenetic analysis show that the two binding-inert GbpA homologs clearly form a separate phylogenetic cluster. To elucidate a structure-function rationale for this phylogenetic differentiation, we determined the crystal structure of one of the GbpA family outliers from H. parasuis. Comparisons thereof with the previously determined structure of GbpA in complex with oxidized glutathione reveals the structural basis for the lack of allocrite binding capacity, thereby explaining the outlier behavior.
Taken together, our studies provide for the first time a collective functional look on a novel, Pasteurellaceae-specific, SBP subfamily of glutathione binding proteins, which we now term GbpA proteins. Our studies strongly implicate GbpA family SBPs in the priming step of ABC-transporter-mediated translocation of useful forms of glutathione across the inner membrane, and rule out a general role for GbpA proteins in heme acquisition.
PMCID: PMC3295651  PMID: 22087650
glutathione; GbpA; HbpA; DppA; solute-binding protein; SBP; ABC transporter
11.  Extraction and inhibition of enzymatic activity of botulinum neurotoxins /B1, /B2, /B3, /B4, and /B5 by a panel of monoclonal anti-BoNT/B antibodies 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:58.
Botulism is caused by botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), extremely toxic proteins which can induce respiratory failure leading to long-term intensive care or death. Treatment for botulism includes administration of antitoxins, which must be administered early in the course of the intoxication; therefore, rapid determination of human exposure to BoNT is an important public health goal. In previous work, our laboratory reported on Endopep-MS, a mass spectrometry-based activity method for detecting and differentiating BoNT/A, /B, /E, and /F in clinical samples. We also demonstrated that antibody-capture is effective for purification and concentration of BoNTs from complex matrices such as clinical samples. However, some antibodies inhibit or neutralize the enzymatic activity of BoNT, so the choice of antibody for toxin extraction is critical.
In this work, we evaluated 24 anti-BoNT/B monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) for their ability to inhibit the in vitro activity of BoNT/B1, /B2, /B3, /B4, and /B5 and to extract those toxins. Among the mAbs, there were significant differences in ability to extract BoNT/B subtypes and inhibitory effect on BoNT catalytic activity. Some of the mAbs tested enhanced the in vitro light chain activity of BoNT/B, suggesting that BoNT/B may undergo conformational change upon binding some mAbs.
In addition to determining in vitro inhibition abilities of a panel of mAbs against BoNT/B1-/B5, this work has determined B12.2 and 2B18.2 to be the best mAbs for sample preparation before Endopep-MS. These mAb characterizations also have the potential to assist with mechanistic studies of BoNT/B protection and treatment, which is important for studying alternative therapeutics for botulism.
PMCID: PMC3250939  PMID: 22085466
12.  Differential pattern of glycogen accumulation after protein phosphatase 1 glycogen-targeting subunit PPP1R6 overexpression, compared to PPP1R3C and PPP1R3A, in skeletal muscle cells 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:57.
PPP1R6 is a protein phosphatase 1 glycogen-targeting subunit (PP1-GTS) abundant in skeletal muscle with an undefined metabolic control role. Here PPP1R6 effects on myotube glycogen metabolism, particle size and subcellular distribution are examined and compared with PPP1R3C/PTG and PPP1R3A/GM.
PPP1R6 overexpression activates glycogen synthase (GS), reduces its phosphorylation at Ser-641/0 and increases the extracted and cytochemically-stained glycogen content, less than PTG but more than GM. PPP1R6 does not change glycogen phosphorylase activity. All tested PP1-GTS-cells have more glycogen particles than controls as found by electron microscopy of myotube sections. Glycogen particle size is distributed for all cell-types in a continuous range, but PPP1R6 forms smaller particles (mean diameter 14.4 nm) than PTG (36.9 nm) and GM (28.3 nm) or those in control cells (29.2 nm). Both PPP1R6- and GM-derived glycogen particles are in cytosol associated with cellular structures; PTG-derived glycogen is found in membrane- and organelle-devoid cytosolic glycogen-rich areas; and glycogen particles are dispersed in the cytosol in control cells. A tagged PPP1R6 protein at the C-terminus with EGFP shows a diffuse cytosol pattern in glucose-replete and -depleted cells and a punctuate pattern surrounding the nucleus in glucose-depleted cells, which colocates with RFP tagged with the Golgi targeting domain of β-1,4-galactosyltransferase, according to a computational prediction for PPP1R6 Golgi location.
PPP1R6 exerts a powerful glycogenic effect in cultured muscle cells, more than GM and less than PTG. PPP1R6 protein translocates from a Golgi to cytosolic location in response to glucose. The molecular size and subcellular location of myotube glycogen particles is determined by the PPP1R6, PTG and GM scaffolding.
PMCID: PMC3240831  PMID: 22054094
13.  Enzymatic properties of Staphylococcus aureus adenosine synthase (AdsA) 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:56.
Staphylococcus aureus is a human pathogen that produces extracellular adenosine to evade clearance by the host immune system, an activity attributed to the 5'-nucleotidase activity of adenosine synthase (AdsA). In mammals, conversion of adenosine triphosphate to adenosine is catalyzed in a two-step process: ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolases (ecto-NTDPases) hydrolyze ATP and ADP to AMP, whereas 5'-nucleotidases hydrolyze AMP to adenosine. NTPDases harbor apyrase conserved regions (ACRs) that are critical for activity.
NTPDase ACR motifs are absent in AdsA, yet we report here that recombinant AdsA hydrolyzes ADP and ATP in addition to AMP. Competition assays suggest that hydrolysis occurs following binding of all three substrates at a unique site. Alanine substitution of two amino acids, aspartic acid 127 and histidine 196 within the 5'-nucleotidase signature sequence, leads to reduced AMP or ADP hydrolysis but does not affect the binding of these substrates.
Collectively, these results provide insight into the unique ability of AdsA to produce adenosine through the consecutive hydrolysis of ATP, ADP and AMP, thereby endowing S. aureus with the ability to modulate host immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3213008  PMID: 22035583
14.  Three genes expressing Kunitz domains in the epididymis are related to genes of WFDC-type protease inhibitors and semen coagulum proteins in spite of lacking similarity between their protein products 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:55.
We have previously identified a locus on human chromosome 20q13.1, encompassing related genes of postulated WFDC-type protease inhibitors and semen coagulum proteins. Three of the genes with WFDC motif also coded for the Kunitz-type protease inhibitor motif. In this report, we have reinvestigated the locus for homologous genes encoding Kunitz motif only. The identified genes have been analyzed with respect to structure, expression and function.
We identified three novel genes; SPINT3, SPINT4 and SPINT5, and the structure of their transcripts were determined by sequencing of DNA generated by rapid amplification of cDNA ends. Each gene encodes a Kunitz domain preceded by a typical signal peptide sequence, which indicates that the proteins of 7.6, 8.7, and 9.7 kDa are secreted. Analysis of transcripts in 26 tissues showed that the genes predominantly are expressed in the epididymis. The recombinantly produced proteins could not inhibit the amidolytic activity of trypsin, chymotrypsin, plasmin, thrombin, coagulation factor Xa, elastase, urokinase and prostate specific antigen, whereas similarly made bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI) had the same bioactivity as the protein isolated from bovine pancreas.
The similar organization, chromosomal location and site of expression, suggests that the novel genes are homologous with the genes of WFDC-type protease inhibitors and semen coagulum proteins, despite the lack of similarity in primary structure of their protein products. Their restricted expression to the epididymis suggests that they could be important for male reproduction. The recombinantly produced proteins are presumably bioactive, as demonstrated with similarly made BPTI, but may have a narrower spectrum of inhibition, as indicated by the lacking activity against eight proteases with differing specificity. Another possibility is that they have lost the protease inhibiting properties, which is typical of Kunitz domains, in favor of hitherto unknown functions.
PMCID: PMC3209443  PMID: 21988899
15.  Protein phosphatase 2a (PP2A) binds within the oligomerization domain of striatin and regulates the phosphorylation and activation of the mammalian Ste20-Like kinase Mst3 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:54.
Striatin, a putative protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) B-type regulatory subunit, is a multi-domain scaffolding protein that has recently been linked to several diseases including cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM), which causes symptoms ranging from headaches to stroke. Striatin association with the PP2A A/C (structural subunit/catalytic subunit) heterodimer alters PP2A substrate specificity, but targets and roles of striatin-associated PP2A are not known. In addition to binding the PP2A A/C heterodimer to form a PP2A holoenzyme, striatin associates with cerebral cavernous malformation 3 (CCM3) protein, the mammalian Mps one binder (MOB) homolog, Mob3/phocein, the mammalian sterile 20-like (Mst) kinases, Mst3, Mst4 and STK25, and several other proteins to form a large signaling complex. Little is known about the molecular architecture of the striatin complex and the regulation of these sterile 20-like kinases.
To help define the molecular organization of striatin complexes and to determine whether Mst3 might be negatively regulated by striatin-associated PP2A, a structure-function analysis of striatin was performed. Two distinct regions of striatin are capable of stably binding directly or indirectly to Mob3--one N-terminal, including the coiled-coil domain, and another more C-terminal, including the WD-repeat domain. In addition, striatin residues 191-344 contain determinants necessary for efficient association of Mst3, Mst4, and CCM3. PP2A associates with the coiled-coil domain of striatin, but unlike Mob3 and Mst3, its binding appears to require striatin oligomerization. Deletion of the caveolin-binding domain on striatin abolishes striatin family oligomerization and PP2A binding. Point mutations in striatin that disrupt PP2A association cause hyperphosphorylation and activation of striatin-associated Mst3.
Striatin orchestrates the regulation of Mst3 by PP2A. It binds Mst3 likely as a dimer with CCM3 via residues lying between striatin's calmodulin-binding and WD-domains and recruits the PP2A A/C heterodimer to its coiled-coil/oligomerization domain. Residues outside the previously reported coiled-coil domain of striatin are necessary for its oligomerization. Striatin-associated PP2A is critical for Mst3 dephosphorylation and inactivation. Upon inhibition of PP2A, Mst3 activation appears to involve autophosphorylation of multiple activation loop phosphorylation sites. Mob3 can associate with striatin sequences C-terminal to the Mst3 binding site but also with sequences proximal to striatin-associated PP2A, consistent with a possible role for Mob 3 in the regulation of Mst3 by PP2A.
PMCID: PMC3217859  PMID: 21985334
16.  Detailed kinetics and regulation of mammalian 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:53.
Mitochondrial 2-oxoglutarate (α-ketoglutarate) dehydrogenase complex (OGDHC), a key regulatory point of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, plays vital roles in multiple pathways of energy metabolism and biosynthesis. The catalytic mechanism and allosteric regulation of this large enzyme complex are not fully understood. Here computer simulation is used to test possible catalytic mechanisms and mechanisms of allosteric regulation of the enzyme by nucleotides (ATP, ADP), pH, and metal ion cofactors (Ca2+ and Mg2+).
A model was developed based on an ordered ter-ter enzyme kinetic mechanism combined with con-formational changes that involve rotation of one lipoic acid between three catalytic sites inside the enzyme complex. The model was parameterized using a large number of kinetic data sets on the activity of OGDHC, and validated by comparison of model predictions to independent data.
The developed model suggests a hybrid rapid-equilibrium ping-pong random mechanism for the kinetics of OGDHC, consistent with previously reported mechanisms, and accurately describes the experimentally observed regulatory effects of cofactors on the OGDHC activity. This analysis provides a single consistent theoretical explanation for a number of apparently contradictory results on the roles of phosphorylation potential, NAD (H) oxidation-reduction state ratio, as well as the regulatory effects of metal ions on ODGHC function.
PMCID: PMC3195097  PMID: 21943256
17.  Liver and muscle hemojuvelin are differently glycosylated 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:52.
Hemojuvelin (HJV) is one of essential components for expression of hepcidin, a hormone which regulates iron transport. HJV is mainly expressed in muscle and liver, and processing of HJV in both tissues is similar. However, hepcidin is expressed in liver but not in muscle and the role of the muscle HJV is yet to be established. Our preliminary analyses of mouse tissue HJV showed that the apparent molecular masses of HJV peptides are different in liver (50 kDa monomer and 35 and 20 kDa heterodimer fragments) and in muscle (55 kDa monomer and a 34 kDa possible large fragment of heterodimer). One possible explanation is glycosylation which could lead to difference in molecular mass.
We investigated glycosylation of HJV in both liver and muscle tissue from mice. PNGase F treatment revealed that the HJV large fragments of liver and muscle were digested to peptides with similar masses, 30 and 31 kDa, respectively, and the liver 20 kDa small fragment of heterodimer was digested to 16 kDa, while the 50 kDa liver and 55 kDa muscle monomers were reduced to 42 and 48 kDa, respectively. Endo H treatment produced distinct digestion profiles of the large fragment: a small fraction of the 35 kDa peptide was reduced to 33 kDa in liver, while the majority of the 34 kDa peptide was digested to 33 kDa and a very small fraction to 31 kDa in muscle. In addition, liver HJV was found to be neuraminidase-sensitive but its muscle counterpart was neuraminidase-resistant.
Our results indicate that different oligosaccharides are attached to liver and muscle HJV peptides, which may contribute to different functions of HJV in the two tissues.
PMCID: PMC3190341  PMID: 21936923
18.  Isolation and characterization of an exopolygalacturonase from Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense race 1 and race 4 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:51.
Fusarium wilt is an economically devastating disease that affects banana production. Although Cavendish banana cultivars are resistant to Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense race 1 (FOC1) and maitain banana production after Gros Michel was destructed by race 1, a new race race 4 (FOC4) was found to infect Cavendish.
An exopolygalacturonase (PGC2) was isolated and purified from the supernatant of the plant pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense race 4 (FOC4). PGC2 had an apparent Mr of 63 kDa by SDS-PAGE and 51.7 kDa by mass spectrometry. The enzyme was N-glycosylated. PGC2 hydrolyzed polygalacturonic acid in an exo-manner, as demonstrated by analysis of degradation products. To obtain adequate amounts of protein for functional studies between the PGC2 proteins of two races of the pathogen, pgc2 genes encoding PGC2 from race 4 (FOC4) and race 1 (FOC1), both 1395 bp in length and encoding 465 amino acids with a predicted amino-terminal signal sequence of 18 residues, were cloned into the expression vector pPICZaA and then expressed in Pichia pastoris strains of SMD1168. The recombinant PGC2 products, r-FOC1-PGC2 and r-FOC4-PGC2, were expressed and purified as active extracellular proteins. Optimal PGC2 activity was observed at 50°C and pH 5. The Km and Vmax values of purified r-FOC1-PGC2 were 0.43 mg.mL-1 and 94.34 units mg protein-1 min-1, respectively. The Km and Vmax values of purified r-FOC4-PGC2 were 0.48 mg.mL-1 and 95.24 units mg protein-1 min-1, respectively. Both recombinant PGC2 proteins could induce tissue maceration and necrosis in banana plants.
Collectively, these results suggest that PGC2 is the first exoPG reported from the pathogen FOC, and we have shown that fully functional PGC2 can be produced in the P. pastoris expression system.
PMCID: PMC3180650  PMID: 21920035
19.  Regulation of the BRCA1 gene by an SRC3/53BP1 complex 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:50.
Steroid Receptor coactivator 3(SRC3) is an oncogene and a member of the SRC family of nuclear receptor coactivator proteins that mediate the transcriptional effects of nuclear hormone receptors as well as other transcription factors.
We have used protein purification and mass spectrometry to identify the 53BP1 tumour suppressor as a novel SRC3-associated protein. Copurification was demonstrated using multiple antibodies, and was not dependent on DNA damage suggesting that SRC3 is not directly involved in the DNA damage response. However using chromatin immunoprecipitation(ChIP) and siRNA knockdown, we have demonstrated that both SRC3 and 53BP1 co-occupy the same region of the BRCA1 promoter and both are required for BRCA1 expression in HeLa cells.
Our results suggest that both 53BP1 and SRC3 have a common function that converge at the BRCA1 promoter and possibly other genes important for DNA repair and genomic stability.
PMCID: PMC3180649  PMID: 21914189
20.  Factors that influence the response of the LysR type transcriptional regulators to aromatic compounds 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:49.
The transcriptional regulators DntR, NagR and NtdR have a high sequence identity and belong to the large family of LysR type transcriptional regulators (LTTRs). These three regulators are all involved in regulation of genes identified in pathways for degradation of aromatic compounds. They activate the transcription of these genes in the presence of an inducer, but the inducer specificity profiles are different.
The results from this study show that NtdR has the broadest inducer specificity, responding to several nitro-aromatic compounds. Mutational studies of residues that differ between DntR, NagR and NtdR suggest that a number of specific residues are involved in the broader inducer specificity of NtdR when compared to DntR and NagR. The inducer response was also investigated as a function of the experimental conditions and a number of parameters such as the growth media, plasmid arrangement of the LTTR-encoding genes, promoter and gfp reporter gene, and the presence of a His6-tag were shown to affect the inducer response in E.coli DH5α. Furthermore, the response upon addition of both salicylate and 4-nitrobenzoate to the growth media was larger than the sum of responses upon addition of each of the compounds, which suggests the presence of a secondary binding site, as previously reported for other LTTRs.
Optimization of the growth conditions and gene arrangement resulted in improved responses to nitro-aromatic inducers. The data also suggests the presence of a previously unknown secondary binding site in DntR, analogous to that of BenM.
PMCID: PMC3180648  PMID: 21884597
transcriptional regulator; LysR family; inducer specificity; gfp
21.  Application of Celluspots peptide arrays for the analysis of the binding specificity of epigenetic reading domains to modified histone tails 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:48.
Epigenetic reading domains are involved in the regulation of gene expression and chromatin state by interacting with histones in a post-translational modification specific manner. A detailed knowledge of the target modifications of reading domains, including enhancing and inhibiting secondary modifications, will lead to a better understanding of the biological signaling processes mediated by reading domains.
We describe the application of Celluspots peptide arrays which contain 384 histone peptides carrying 59 post translational modifications in different combinations as an inexpensive, reliable and fast method for initial screening for specific interactions of reading domains with modified histone peptides. To validate the method, we tested the binding specificities of seven known epigenetic reading domains on Celluspots peptide arrays, viz. the HP1ß and MPP8 Chromo domains, JMJD2A and 53BP1 Tudor domains, Dnmt3a PWWP domain, Rag2 PHD domain and BRD2 Bromo domain. In general, the binding results agreed with literature data with respect to the primary specificity of the reading domains, but in almost all cases we obtained additional new information concerning the influence of secondary modifications surrounding the target modification.
We conclude that Celluspots peptide arrays are powerful screening tools for studying the specificity of putative reading domains binding to modified histone peptides.
PMCID: PMC3176149  PMID: 21884582
22.  Enzymatic synthesis of long double-stranded DNA labeled with haloderivatives of nucleobases in a precisely pre-determined sequence 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:47.
Restriction endonucleases are widely applied in recombinant DNA technology. Among them, enzymes of class IIS, which cleave DNA beyond recognition sites, are especially useful. We use BsaI enzyme for the pinpoint introduction of halogen nucleobases into DNA. This has been done for the purpose of anticancer radio- and phototherapy that is our long-term objective.
An enzymatic method for synthesizing long double-stranded DNA labeled with the halogen derivatives of nucleobases (Hal-NBs) with 1-bp accuracy has been put forward and successfully tested on three different DNA fragments containing the 5-bromouracil (5-BrU) residue. The protocol assumes enzymatic cleavage of two Polymerase-Chain-Reaction (PCR) fragments containing two recognition sequences for the same or different class IIS restriction endonucleases, where each PCR fragment has a partially complementary cleavage site. These sites are introduced using synthetic DNA primers or are naturally present in the sequence used. The cleavage sites are not compatible, and therefore not susceptible to ligation until they are partially filled with a Hal-NB or original nucleobase, resulting in complementary cohesive end formation. Ligation of these fragments ultimately leads to the required Hal-NB-labeled DNA duplex. With this approach, a synthetic, extremely long DNA fragment can be obtained by means of a multiple assembly reaction (n × maximum PCR product length: n × app. 50 kb).
The long, precisely labeled DNA duplexes obtained behave in very much the same manner as natural DNA and are beyond the range of chemical synthesis. Moreover, the conditions of synthesis closely resemble the natural ones, and all the artifacts accompanying the chemical synthesis of DNA are thus eliminated. The approach proposed seems to be completely general and could be used to label DNA at multiple pre-determined sites and with halogen derivatives of any nucleobase. Access to DNAs labeled with Hal-NBs at specific position is an indispensable condition for the understanding and optimization of DNA photo- and radio-degradation, which are prerequisites for clinical trials of Hal-NBs in anticancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3179937  PMID: 21864341
23.  Gallus gallus NEU3 sialidase as model to study protein evolution mechanism based on rapid evolving loops 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:45.
Large surface loops contained within compact protein structures and not involved in catalytic process have been proposed as preferred regions for protein family evolution. These loops are subjected to lower sequence constraints and can evolve rapidly in novel structural variants. A good model to study this hypothesis is represented by sialidase enzymes. Indeed, the structure of sialidases is a β-propeller composed by anti-parallel β-sheets connected by loops that suit well with the rapid evolving loop hypothesis. These features prompted us to extend our studies on this protein family in birds, to get insights on the evolution of this class of glycohydrolases.
Gallus gallus (Gg) genome contains one NEU3 gene encoding a protein with a unique 188 amino acid sequence mainly constituted by a peptide motif repeated six times in tandem with no homology with any other known protein sequence. The repeat region is located at the same position as the roughly 80 amino acid loop characteristic of mammalian NEU4. Based on molecular modeling, all these sequences represent a connecting loop between the first two highly conserved β-strands of the fifth blade of the sialidase β-propeller. Moreover this loop is highly variable in sequence and size in NEU3 sialidases from other vertebrates. Finally, we found that the general enzymatic properties and subcellular localization of Gg NEU3 are not influenced by the deletion of the repeat sequence.
In this study we demonstrated that sialidase protein structure contains a surface loop, highly variable both in sequence and size, connecting two conserved β-sheets and emerging on the opposite site of the catalytic crevice. These data confirm that sialidase family can serve as suitable model for the study of the evolutionary process based on rapid evolving loops, which may had occurred in sialidases. Giving the peculiar organization of the loop region identified in Gg NEU3, this protein can be considered of particular interest in such evolutionary studies and to get deeper insights in sialidase evolution.
PMCID: PMC3179935  PMID: 21861893
rapid evolving loops; sialidase; birds; comparative genomics; peptide tandem repeat
24.  The major leucyl aminopeptidase of Trypanosoma cruzi (LAPTc) assembles into a homohexamer and belongs to the M17 family of metallopeptidases 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:46.
Pathogens depend on peptidase activities to accomplish many physiological processes, including interaction with their hosts, highlighting parasitic peptidases as potential drug targets. In this study, a major leucyl aminopeptidolytic activity was identified in Trypanosoma cruzi, the aetiological agent of Chagas disease.
The enzyme was isolated from epimastigote forms of the parasite by a two-step chromatographic procedure and associated with a single 330-kDa homohexameric protein as determined by sedimentation velocity and light scattering experiments. Peptide mass fingerprinting identified the enzyme as the predicted T. cruzi aminopeptidase EAN97960. Molecular and enzymatic analysis indicated that this leucyl aminopeptidase of T. cruzi (LAPTc) belongs to the peptidase family M17 or leucyl aminopeptidase family. LAPTc has a strong dependence on neutral pH, is mesophilic and retains its oligomeric form up to 80°C. Conversely, its recombinant form is thermophilic and requires alkaline pH.
LAPTc is a 330-kDa homohexameric metalloaminopeptidase expressed by all T. cruzi forms and mediates the major parasite leucyl aminopeptidolytic activity. Since biosynthetic pathways for essential amino acids, including leucine, are lacking in T. cruzi, LAPTc could have a function in nutritional supply.
PMCID: PMC3179936  PMID: 21861921
25.  Phylogenetic and experimental characterization of an acyl-ACP thioesterase family reveals significant diversity in enzymatic specificity and activity 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:44.
Acyl-acyl carrier protein thioesterases (acyl-ACP TEs) catalyze the hydrolysis of the thioester bond that links the acyl chain to the sulfhydryl group of the phosphopantetheine prosthetic group of ACP. This reaction terminates acyl chain elongation of fatty acid biosynthesis, and in plant seeds it is the biochemical determinant of the fatty acid compositions of storage lipids.
To explore acyl-ACP TE diversity and to identify novel acyl ACP-TEs, 31 acyl-ACP TEs from wide-ranging phylogenetic sources were characterized to ascertain their in vivo activities and substrate specificities. These acyl-ACP TEs were chosen by two different approaches: 1) 24 TEs were selected from public databases on the basis of phylogenetic analysis and fatty acid profile knowledge of their source organisms; and 2) seven TEs were molecularly cloned from oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), coconut (Cocos nucifera) and Cuphea viscosissima, organisms that produce medium-chain and short-chain fatty acids in their seeds. The in vivo substrate specificities of the acyl-ACP TEs were determined in E. coli. Based on their specificities, these enzymes were clustered into three classes: 1) Class I acyl-ACP TEs act primarily on 14- and 16-carbon acyl-ACP substrates; 2) Class II acyl-ACP TEs have broad substrate specificities, with major activities toward 8- and 14-carbon acyl-ACP substrates; and 3) Class III acyl-ACP TEs act predominantly on 8-carbon acyl-ACPs. Several novel acyl-ACP TEs act on short-chain and unsaturated acyl-ACP or 3-ketoacyl-ACP substrates, indicating the diversity of enzymatic specificity in this enzyme family.
These acyl-ACP TEs can potentially be used to diversify the fatty acid biosynthesis pathway to produce novel fatty acids.
PMCID: PMC3176148  PMID: 21831316

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