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1.  Identification of four novel phosphorylation sites in estrogen receptor α: impact on receptor-dependent gene expression and phosphorylation by protein kinase CK2 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:36.
Estrogen receptor α (ERα) phosphorylation is important for estrogen-dependent transcription of ER-dependent genes, ligand-independent receptor activation and endocrine therapy response in breast cancer. However ERα phosphorylation at the previously identified sites does not fully account for these receptor functions. To determine if additional ERα phosphorylation sites exist, COS-1 cells expressing human ERα were labeled with [32P]H3PO4 in vivo and ERα tryptic phosphopeptides were isolated to identify phosphorylation sites.
Previously uncharacterized phosphorylation sites at serines 46/47, 282, 294, and 559 were identified by manual Edman degradation and phosphoamino acid analysis and confirmed by mutagenesis and phospho-specific antibodies. Antibodies detected phosphorylation of endogenous ERα in MCF-7, MCF-7-LCC2, and Ishikawa cancer cell lines by immunoblot. Mutation of Ser-282 and Ser-559 to alanine (S282A, S559A) resulted in ligand independent activation of ERα as determined by both ERE-driven reporter gene assays and endogenous pS2 gene expression in transiently transfected HeLa cells. Mutation of Ser-46/47 or Ser-294 to alanine markedly reduced estradiol dependent reporter activation. Additionally protein kinase CK2 was identified as a kinase that phosphorylated ERα at S282 and S559 using motif analysis, in vitro kinase assays, and incubation of cells with CK2 kinase inhibitor.
These novel ERα phosphorylation sites represent new means for modulation of ERα activity. S559 represents the first phosphorylation site identified in the extreme C-terminus (F domain) of a steroid receptor.
PMCID: PMC2811108  PMID: 20043841
2.  The acidic domains of the Toc159 chloroplast preprotein receptor family are intrinsically disordered protein domains 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:35.
The Toc159 family of proteins serve as receptors for chloroplast-destined preproteins. They directly bind to transit peptides, and exhibit preprotein substrate selectivity conferred by an unknown mechanism. The Toc159 receptors each include three domains: C-terminal membrane, central GTPase, and N-terminal acidic (A-) domains. Although the function(s) of the A-domain remains largely unknown, the amino acid sequences are most variable within these domains, suggesting they may contribute to the functional specificity of the receptors.
The physicochemical properties of the A-domains are characteristic of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). Using CD spectroscopy we show that the A-domains of two Arabidopsis Toc159 family members (atToc132 and atToc159) are disordered at physiological pH and temperature and undergo conformational changes at temperature and pH extremes that are characteristic of IDPs.
Identification of the A-domains as IDPs will be important for determining their precise function(s), and suggests a role in protein-protein interactions, which may explain how these proteins serve as receptors for such a wide variety of preprotein substrates.
PMCID: PMC2805684  PMID: 20042108
3.  Identification and characterization of endonuclein binding proteins: evidence of modulatory effects on signal transduction and chaperone activity 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:34.
We have previously identified endonuclein as a cell cycle regulated WD-repeat protein that is up-regulated in adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. Now, we aim to investigate its biomedical functions.
Using the cDNA encoding human endonuclein, we have expressed and purified the recombinant protein from Escherichia coli using metal affinity chromatography. The recombinant protein was immobilized to a column and by affinity chromatography several interacting proteins were purified from several litres of placenta tissue extract. After chromatography the eluted proteins were further separated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and identified by tandem mass spectrometry. The interacting proteins were identified as; Tax interaction protein 1 (TIP-1), Aα fibrinogen transcription factor (P16/SSBP1), immunoglobulin heavy chain binding protein (BiP), human ER-associated DNAJ (HEDJ/DNAJB11), endonuclein interaction protein 8 (EIP-8), and pregnancy specific β-1 glycoproteins (PSGs). Surface plasmon resonance analysis and confocal fluorescence microscopy were used to further characterize the interactions.
Our results demonstrate that endonuclein interacts with several proteins indicating a broad function including signal transduction and chaperone activity.
PMCID: PMC2810291  PMID: 20028516
4.  Comparison of the receptor FGFRL1 from sea urchins and humans illustrates evolution of a zinc binding motif in the intracellular domain 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:33.
FGFRL1, the gene for the fifth member of the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) family, is found in all vertebrates from fish to man and in the cephalochordate amphioxus. Since it does not occur in more distantly related invertebrates such as insects and nematodes, we have speculated that FGFRL1 might have evolved just before branching of the vertebrate lineage from the other invertebrates (Beyeler and Trueb, 2006).
We identified the gene for FGFRL1 also in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and cloned its mRNA. The deduced amino acid sequence shares 62% sequence similarity with the human protein and shows conservation of all disulfides and N-linked carbohydrate attachment sites. Similar to the human protein, the S. purpuratus protein contains a histidine-rich motif at the C-terminus, but this motif is much shorter than the human counterpart. To analyze the function of the novel motif, recombinant fusion proteins were prepared in a bacterial expression system. The human fusion protein bound to nickel and zinc affinity columns, whereas the sea urchin protein barely interacted with such columns. Direct determination of metal ions by atomic absorption revealed 2.6 mole zinc/mole protein for human FGFRL1 and 1.7 mole zinc/mole protein for sea urchin FGFRL1.
The FGFRL1 gene has evolved much earlier than previously assumed. A comparison of the intracellular domain between sea urchin and human FGFRL1 provides interesting insights into the shaping of a novel zinc binding domain.
PMCID: PMC2806250  PMID: 20021659
5.  Analysis of the stoichiometric metal activation of methionine aminopeptidase 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:32.
Methionine aminopeptidase (MetAP) is a ubiquitous enzyme required for cell survival and an attractive target for antibacterial and anticancer drug development. The number of a divalent metal required for catalysis is under intense debate. E. coli MetAP was shown to be fully active with one equivalent of metal by graphical analysis, but it was inferred to require at least two metals by a Hill equation model. Herein, we report a mathematical model and detailed analysis of the stoichiometric activation of MetAP by metal cofactors.
Because of diverging results with significant implications in drug discovery, the experimental titration curve for Co2+ activating MetAP was analyzed by fitting with a multiple independent binding sites (MIBS) model, and the quality of the fitting was compared to that of the Hill equation. The fitting by the MIBS model was clearly superior and indicated that complete activity is observed at a one metal to one protein ratio. The shape of the titration curve was also examined for activation of metalloenzymes in general by one or two metals.
Considering different scenarios of MetAP activation by one or two metal ions, it is concluded that E. coli MetAP is fully active as a monometalated enzyme. Our approach can be of value in proper determination of the number of cations needed for catalysis by metalloenzymes.
PMCID: PMC2807865  PMID: 20017927
6.  Biochemical evidence for the tyrosine involvement in cationic intermediate stabilization in mouse β-carotene 15, 15'-monooxygenase 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:31.
β-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase (BCMO1) catalyzes the crucial first step in vitamin A biosynthesis in animals. We wished to explore the possibility that a carbocation intermediate is formed during the cleavage reaction of BCMO1, as is seen for many isoprenoid biosynthesis enzymes, and to determine which residues in the substrate binding cleft are necessary for catalytic and substrate binding activity. To test this hypothesis, we replaced substrate cleft aromatic and acidic residues by site-directed mutagenesis. Enzymatic activity was measured in vitro using His-tag purified proteins and in vivo in a β-carotene-accumulating E. coli system.
Our assays show that mutation of either Y235 or Y326 to leucine (no cation-π stabilization) significantly impairs the catalytic activity of the enzyme. Moreover, mutation of Y326 to glutamine (predicted to destabilize a putative carbocation) almost eliminates activity (9.3% of wt activity). However, replacement of these same tyrosines with phenylalanine or tryptophan does not significantly impair activity, indicating that aromaticity at these residues is crucial. Mutations of two other aromatic residues in the binding cleft of BCMO1, F51 and W454, to either another aromatic residue or to leucine do not influence the catalytic activity of the enzyme. Our ab initio model of BCMO1 with β-carotene mounted supports a mechanism involving cation-π stabilization by Y235 and Y326.
Our data are consistent with the formation of a substrate carbocation intermediate and cation-π stabilization of this intermediate by two aromatic residues in the substrate-binding cleft of BCMO1.
PMCID: PMC2801523  PMID: 20003456
7.  Ghrelin-like peptide with fatty acid modification and O-glycosylation in the red stingray, Dasyatis akajei 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:30.
Ghrelin (GRLN) is now known to be an appetite-stimulating and growth hormone (GH)-releasing peptide that is predominantly synthesized and secreted from the stomachs of various vertebrate species from fish to mammals. Here, we report a GRLN-like peptide (GRLN-LP) in a cartilaginous fish, the red stingray, Dasyatis akajei.
The purified peptide contains 16 amino acids (GVSFHPQPRS10TSKPSA), and the serine residue at position 3 is modified by n-octanoic acid. The modification is the characteristic of GRLN. The six N-terminal amino acid residues (GVSFHP) were identical to another elasmobranch shark GRLN-LP that was recently identified although it had low identity with other GRLN peptides. Therefore, we designated this peptide stingray GRLN-LP. Uniquely, stingray GRLN-LP was O-glycosylated with mucin-type glycan chains [N-acetyl hexosamine (HexNAc)3 hexose(Hex)2] at threonine at position 11 (Thr-11) or both serine at position 10 (Ser-10) and Thr-11. Removal of the glycan structure by O-glycanase made the in vitro activity of stingray GRLN-LP decreased when it was evaluated by the increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentrations using a rat GHS-R1a-expressing cell line, suggesting that the glycan structure plays an important role for maintaining the activity of stingray GRLN-LP.
This study reveals the structural diversity of GRLN and GRLN-LP in vertebrates.
PMCID: PMC2803784  PMID: 20003394
8.  Prion protein self-peptides modulate prion interactions and conversion 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:29.
Molecular mechanisms underlying prion agent replication, converting host-encoded cellular prion protein (PrPC) into the scrapie associated isoform (PrPSc), are poorly understood. Selective self-interaction between PrP molecules forms a basis underlying the observed differences of the PrPC into PrPSc conversion process (agent replication). The importance of previously peptide-scanning mapped ovine PrP self-interaction domains on this conversion was investigated by studying the ability of six of these ovine PrP based peptides to modulate two processes; PrP self-interaction and conversion.
Three peptides (octarepeat, binding domain 2 -and C-terminal) were capable of inhibiting self-interaction of PrP in a solid-phase PrP peptide array. Three peptides (N-terminal, binding domain 2, and amyloidogenic motif) modulated prion conversion when added before or after initiation of the prion protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) reaction using brain homogenates. The C-terminal peptides (core region and C-terminal) only affected conversion (increased PrPres formation) when added before mixing PrPC and PrPSc, whereas the octarepeat peptide only affected conversion when added after this mixing.
This study identified the putative PrP core binding domain that facilitates the PrPC-PrPSc interaction (not conversion), corroborating evidence that the region of PrP containing this domain is important in the species-barrier and/or scrapie susceptibility. The octarepeats can be involved in PrPC-PrPSc stabilization, whereas the N-terminal glycosaminoglycan binding motif and the amyloidogenic motif indirectly affected conversion. Binding domain 2 and the C-terminal domain are directly implicated in PrPC self-interaction during the conversion process and may prove to be prime targets in new therapeutic strategy development, potentially retaining PrPC function. These results emphasize the importance of probable PrPC-PrPC and required PrPC-PrPSc interactions during PrP conversion. All interactions are probably part of the complex process in which polymorphisms and species barriers affect TSE transmission and susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC2789745  PMID: 19943977
9.  Purification and characterization of cysteine protease from germinating cotyledons of horse gram 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:28.
Proteolytic enzymes play central role in the biochemical mechanism of germination and intricately involved in many aspects of plant physiology and development. To study the mechanism of protein mobilization, undertaken the task of purifying and characterizing proteases, which occur transiently in germinating seeds of horse gram.
Cysteine protease (CPRHG) was purified to homogeneity with 118 fold by four step procedure comprising Crude extract, (NH4)2SO4 fractionation, DEAE-Cellulose and CM-sephacel chromatography from the 2 day germinating cotyledons of horse gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum (Lam.) Verdc.). CPRHG is a monomer with molecular mass of 30 k Da, was determined by SDS-PAGE and gel filtration. The purified enzyme on IEF showed two isoforms having pI values of 5.85 and 6.1. CPRHG composed of high content of aspartic acid, glutamic acid and serine. The enzyme activity was completely inhibited by pCMB, iodoacetate and DEPC indicating cysteine and histidine residues at the active site. However, on addition of sulfhydryl reagents (cysteine, dithiothreitol, glutathione and beta-ME) reverse the strong inhibition by pCMB. The enzyme is fairly stable toward pH and temperature. Immunoblot analysis shows that the enzyme synthesized as zymogen (preproenzyme with 81 kDa) and processed to a 40 kDa proenzyme which was further degraded to give 30 kDa active enzyme.
It appears that the newly synthesized protease is inactive, and activation takes place during germination. CPRHG has a broad substrate specificity and stability in pH, temperature, etc. therefore, this protease may turn out to be an efficient choice for the pharmaceutical, medicinal, food, and biotechnology industry.
PMCID: PMC2784799  PMID: 19919695
10.  The Cytochrome P450 Engineering Database: integration of biochemical properties 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:27.
Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (CYPs) form a vast and diverse enzyme class of particular interest in drug development and a high biotechnological potential. Although very diverse in sequence, they share a common structural fold. For the comprehensive and systematic comparison of protein sequences and structures the Cytochrome P450 Engineering Database (CYPED) was established. It was built up based on an extensible data model that enables its functions readily enhanced.
The new version of the CYPED contains information on sequences and structures of 8613 and 47 proteins, respectively, which strictly follow Nelson's classification rules for homologous families and superfamilies. To gain biochemical information on substrates and inhibitors, the CYPED was linked to the Cytochrome P450 Knowledgebase (CPK). To overcome differences in the data model and inconsistencies in the content of CYPED and CPK, a metric was established based on sequence similarity to link protein sequences as primary keys. In addition, the annotation of structurally and functionally relevant residues was extended by a reliable prediction of conserved secondary structure elements and by information on the effect of single nucleotide polymorphisms.
The online accessible version of the CYPED at provides a valuable tool for the analysis of sequences, structures and their relationships to biochemical properties.
PMCID: PMC2779185  PMID: 19909539
11.  Biosynthesis of the proteasome inhibitor syringolin A: the ureido group joining two amino acids originates from bicarbonate 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:26.
Syringolin A, an important virulence factor in the interaction of the phytopathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae B728a with its host plant Phaseolus vulgaris (bean), was recently shown to irreversibly inhibit eukaryotic proteasomes by a novel mechanism. Syringolin A is synthesized by a mixed non-ribosomal peptide synthetase/polyketide synthetase and consists of a tripeptide part including a twelve-membered ring with an N-terminal valine that is joined to a second valine via a very unusual ureido group. Analysis of sequence and architecture of the syringolin A synthetase gene cluster with the five open reading frames sylA-sylE allowed to formulate a biosynthesis model that explained all structural features of the tripeptide part of syringolin A but left the biosynthesis of the unusual ureido group unaccounted for.
We have cloned a 22 kb genomic fragment containing the sylA-sylE gene cluster but no other complete gene into the broad host range cosmid pLAFR3. Transfer of the recombinant cosmid into Pseudomonas putida and P. syringae pv. syringae SM was sufficient to direct the biosynthesis of bona fide syringolin A in these heterologous organisms whose genomes do not contain homologous genes. NMR analysis of syringolin A isolated from cultures grown in the presence of NaH13CO3 revealed preferential 13C-labeling at the ureido carbonyl position.
The results show that no additional syringolin A-specific genes were needed for the biosynthesis of the enigmatic ureido group joining two amino acids. They reveal the source of the ureido carbonyl group to be bicarbonate/carbon dioxide, which we hypothesize is incorporated by carbamylation of valine mediated by the sylC gene product(s). A similar mechanism may also play a role in the biosynthesis of other ureido-group-containing NRPS products known largely from cyanobacteria.
PMCID: PMC2773804  PMID: 19863801
12.  Ser170 of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ab δ-endotoxin becomes anchored in a hydrophobic moiety upon insertion of this protein into Manduca sexta brush border membranes 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:25.
Three spin-labeled mutant proteins, mutated at the beginning, middle, and end of α-helix 5 of the Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ab δ-endotoxin, were used to study the involvement of these specific amino acid residues in ion transport and to determine conformational changes in the vicinity of these residues when the protein was translocated into a biological membrane.
Amino acid residue leucine 157, located in the N-terminal portion of α-helix 5, showed no involvement in ion transport, and the environment that surrounds the residue did not show any change when transferred into the biological membrane. Serine 170, located in the middle of the α-helix, showed no involvement in ion transport, but our findings indicate that in the membrane-bound state this residue faces an environment that makes the spin less mobile, as opposed to the mobility observed in an aqueous environment. Serine 176, located in the C-terminal end of the α-helix 5 is shown to be involved in ion transport activity.
Ion transport data for L157, S170, and S176, along with the mobility of the spin-labels, structural characterization of the resulting proteins, and toxicity assays against a target insect, suggest that the toxin undergoes conformational changes upon protein translocation into the midgut membrane. These conformational changes result in the midregion of the α-helix 5 being exposed to a hydrophobic-like environment. The location of these three residues in the toxin suggests that the entire α-helix becomes inserted in the insect midgut membrane.
PMCID: PMC2771034  PMID: 19840388
13.  Mapping of protein phosphatase-6 association with its SAPS domain regulatory subunit using a model of helical repeats 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:24.
Helical repeat motifs are common among regulatory subunits for type-1 and type-2A protein Ser/Thr phosphatases. Yeast Sit4 is a distinctive type-2A phosphatase that has dedicated regulatory subunits named Sit4-Associated Proteins (SAPS). These subunits are conserved, and three human SAPS-related proteins are known to associate with PP6 phosphatase, the Sit4 human homologue.
Here we show that endogenous SAPS subunit PP6R3 co-precipitates half of PP6 in cell extracts, and the SAPS region of PP6R3 is sufficient for binding PP6. The SAPS domain of recombinant GST-PP6R3 is relatively resistant to trypsin despite having many K and R residues, and the purified SAPS domain (residues 1-513) has a circular dichroic spectrum indicative of mostly alpha helical structure. We used sequence alignments and 3D-jury methods to develop alternative models for the SAPS domain, based on available structures of other helical repeat proteins. The models were used to select sites for charge-reversal substitutions in the SAPS domain of PP6R3 that were tested by co-precipitation of endogenous PP6c with FLAG-tagged PP6R3 from mammalian cells. Mutations that reduced binding with PP6 suggest that SAPS adopts a helical repeat similar to the structure of p115 golgin, but distinct from the PP2A-A subunit. These mutations did not cause perturbations in overall PP6R3 conformation, evidenced by no change in kinetics or preferential cleavage by chymotrypsin.
The conserved SAPS domain in PP6R3 forms helical repeats similar to those in golgin p115 and negatively charged residues in interhelical loops are used to associate specifically with PP6. The results advance understanding of how distinctive helical repeat subunits uniquely distribute and differentially regulate closely related Ser/Thr phosphatases.
PMCID: PMC2765987  PMID: 19835610
14.  Monitoring compartment-specific substrate cleavage by cathepsins B, K, L, and S at physiological pH and redox conditions 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:23.
Cysteine cathepsins are known to primarily cleave their substrates at reducing and acidic conditions within endo-lysosomes. Nevertheless, they have also been linked to extracellular proteolysis, that is, in oxidizing and neutral environments. Although the impact of reducing or oxidizing conditions on proteolytic activity is a key to understand physiological protease functions, redox conditions have only rarely been considered in routine enzyme activity assays. Therefore we developed an assay to test for proteolytic processing of a natural substrate by cysteine cathepsins which accounts for redox potentials and pH values corresponding to the conditions in the extracellular space in comparison to those within endo-lysosomes of mammalian cells.
The proteolytic potencies of cysteine cathepsins B, K, L and S towards thyroglobulin were analyzed under conditions simulating oxidizing versus reducing environments with neutral to acidic pH values. Thyroglobulin, the precursor molecule of thyroid hormones, was chosen as substrate, because it represents a natural target of cysteine cathepsins. Thyroglobulin processing involves thyroid hormone liberation which, under physiological circumstances, starts in the extracellular follicle lumen before being continued within endo-lysosomes. Our study shows that all cathepsins tested were capable of processing thyroglobulin at neutral and oxidizing conditions, although these are reportedly non-favorable for cysteine proteases. All analyzed cathepsins generated distinct fragments of thyroglobulin at extracellular versus endo-lysosomal conditions as demonstrated by SDS-PAGE followed by immunoblotting or N-terminal sequencing. Moreover, the thyroid hormone thyroxine was liberated by the action of cathepsin S at extracellular conditions, while cathepsins B, K and L worked most efficiently in this respect at endo-lysosomal conditions.
The results revealed distinct cleavage patterns at all conditions analyzed, indicating compartment-specific processing of thyroglobulin by cysteine cathepsins. In particular, proteolytic activity of cathepsin S towards the substrate thyroglobulin can now be understood as instrumental for extracellular thyroid hormone liberation. Our study emphasizes that the proteolytic functions of cysteine cathepsins in the thyroid are not restricted to endo-lysosomes but include pivotal roles in extracellular substrate utilization. We conclude that understanding of the interplay and fine adjustment of protease networks in vivo is better approachable by simulating physiological conditions in protease activity assays.
PMCID: PMC2759951  PMID: 19772638
15.  Identification of a nuclear localization motif in the serine/arginine protein kinase PSRPK of physarum polycephalum 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:22.
Serine/arginine (SR) protein-specific kinases (SRPKs) are conserved in a wide range of organisms, from humans to yeast. Studies showed that SRPKs can regulate the nuclear import of SR proteins in cytoplasm, and regulate the sub-localization of SR proteins in the nucleus. But no nuclear localization signal (NLS) of SRPKs was found. We isolated an SRPK-like protein PSRPK (GenBank accession No. DQ140379) from Physarum polycephalum previously, and identified a NLS of PSRPK in this study.
We carried out a thorough molecular dissection of the different domains of the PSRPK protein involved in its nuclear localization. By truncation of PSRPK protein, deletion of and single amino acid substitution in a putative NLS and transfection of mammalian cells, we observed the distribution of PSRPK fluorescent fusion protein in mammalian cells using confocal microscopy and found that the protein was mainly accumulated in the nucleus; this indicated that the motif contained a nuclear localization signal (NLS). Further investigation with truncated PSPRK peptides showed that the NLS (318PKKGDKYDKTD328) was localized in the alkaline Ω-loop of a helix-loop-helix motif (HLHM) of the C-terminal conserved domain. If the 318PKKGDK322 sequence was deleted from the loop or K320 was mutated to T320, the PSRPK fluorescent fusion protein could not enter and accumulate in the nucleus.
This study demonstrated that the 318PKKGDKYDKTD328 peptides localized in the C-terminal conserved domain of PSRPK with the Ω-loop structure could play a crucial role in the NLS function of PSRPK.
PMCID: PMC2754491  PMID: 19703313
16.  Contribution of oenocytes and pheromones to courtship behaviour in Drosophila 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:21.
In Drosophila, cuticular sex pheromones are long-chain unsaturated hydrocarbons synthesized from fatty acid precursors in epidermal cells called oenocytes. The species D. melanogaster shows sex pheromone dimorphism, with high levels of monoenes in males, and of dienes in females. Some biosynthesis enzymes are expressed both in fat body and oenocytes, rendering it difficult to estimate the exact role of oenocytes and of the transport of fatty acids from fat body to oenocytes in pheromone elaboration. To address this question, we RNAi silenced two main genes of the biosynthesis pathway, desat1 and desatF, in the oenocytes of D. melanogaster, without modifying their fat body expression.
Inactivation of desat1 in oenocytes resulted in a 96% and 78% decrease in unsaturated hydrocarbons in males and females, respectively. Female pheromones (dienes) showed a decrease of 90%. Inactivation of desatF, which is female-specific and responsible for diene formation, resulted in a dramatic loss of pheromones (-98%) paralleled with a two-fold increase in monoenes. Courtship parameters (especially courtship latency) from wild-type males were more affected by desat1 knocked-down females (courtship latency increased by four fold) than by desatF knocked-down ones (+65% of courtship latency).
The number of transcripts in oenocytes was estimated at 0.32 and 0.49 attomole/μg for desat1 in males and females, respectively, about half of the total transcripts in a fly. There were only 0.06 attomole/μg desatF transcripts in females, all located in the oenocytes.
Knock-down results for desat1 suggest that there must be very little transport of unsaturated precursors from fat body to the oenocytes, so pheromone synthesis occurs almost entirely through the action of biosynthesis enzymes within the oenocytes. Courtship experiments allow us to discuss the behavioral role of diene pheromones, which, under special conditions, could be replaced by monoenes in D. melanogaster. A possible explanation is given of how pheromones could have evolved in species such as D. simulans, which only synthesize monoenes.
PMCID: PMC2734525  PMID: 19671131
17.  Biochemical characterization of malate synthase G of P. aeruginosa 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:20.
Malate synthase catalyzes the second step of the glyoxylate bypass, the condensation of acetyl coenzyme A and glyoxylate to form malate and coenzyme A (CoA). In several microorganisms, the glyoxylate bypass is of general importance to microbial pathogenesis. The predicted malate synthase G of Pseudomonas aeruginosa has also been implicated in virulence of this opportunistic pathogen.
Here, we report the verification of the malate synthase activity of this predicted protein and its recombinant production in E. coli, purification and biochemical characterization. The malate synthase G of P. aeruginosa PAO1 has a temperature and pH optimum of 37.5°C and 8.5, respectively. Although displaying normal thermal stability, the enzyme was stable up to incubation at pH 11. The following kinetic parameters of P. aeruginosa PAO1 malate synthase G were obtained: Km glyoxylate (70 μM), Km acetyl CoA (12 μM) and Vmax (16.5 μmol/minutes/mg enzyme). In addition, deletion of the corresponding gene showed that it is a prerequisite for growth on acetate as sole carbon source.
The implication of the glyoxylate bypass in the pathology of various microorganisms makes malate synthase G an attractive new target for antibacterial therapy. The purification procedure and biochemical characterization assist in the development of antibacterial components directed against this target in P. aeruginosa.
PMCID: PMC2708195  PMID: 19549344
18.  Insights into the role of Val45 and Gln182 of Escherichia coli MutY in DNA substrate binding and specificity 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:19.
Escherichia coli MutY (EcMutY) reduces mutagenesis by removing adenines paired with guanines or 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-guanines (8-oxoG). V45 and Q182 of EcMutY are considered to be the key determinants of adenine specificity. Both residues are spatially close to each other in the active site and are conserved in MutY family proteins but not in Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum Mig.MthI T/G mismatch DNA glycosylase (A50 and L187 at the corresponding respective positions).
Targeted mutagenesis study was performed to determine the substrate specificities of V45A, Q182L, and V45A/Q182L double mutant of EcMutY. All three mutants had significantly lower binding and glycosylase activities for A/G and A/8-oxoG mismatches than the wild-type enzyme. The double mutant exhibited an additive reduction in binding to both the A/G and A/GO in comparison to the single mutants. These mutants were also tested for binding and glycosylase activities with T/G- or T/8-oxoG-containing DNA. Both V45A and Q182L mutants had substantially increased affinities towards T/G, however, they did not exhibit any T/G or T/8-oxoG glycosylase activity. Surprisingly, the V45A/Q182L double mutant had similar binding affinities to T/G as the wild-type EcMutY. V45A, Q182L, and V45A/Q182L EcMutY mutants could not reduce the G:C to T:A mutation frequency of a mutY mutant. Expression of the V45A mutant protein caused a dominant negative phenotype with an increased G:C to A:T mutation frequency.
The substrate specificities are altered in V45A, Q182L, and V45A/Q182L EcMutY mutants. V45A and Q182L mutants had reduced binding and glycosylase activities for A/G and A/8-oxoG mismatches and increased affinities towards T/G mismatch. However, in contrast to a previous report that Mig.MthI thymine DNA glycosylase can be converted to a MutY-like adenine glycosylase by replacing two residues (A50V and L187Q), both V45A and Q182L EcMutY mutants did not exhibit any T/G or T/8-oxoG glycosylase activity. The dominant negative phenotype of V45A EcMutY mutant protein is probably caused by its increased binding affinity to T/G mismatch and thus inhibiting other repair pathways.
PMCID: PMC2714593  PMID: 19523222
19.  Analysis of DNA relaxation and cleavage activities of recombinant Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA topoisomerase I from a new expression and purification protocol 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:18.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA topoisomerase I is an attractive target for discovery of novel TB drugs that act by enhancing the accumulation of the topoisomerase-DNA cleavage product. It shares a common transesterification domain with other type IA DNA topoisomerases. There is, however, no homology between the C-terminal DNA binding domains of Escherichia coli and M. tuberculosis DNA topoisomerase I proteins.
A new protocol for expression and purification of recombinant M. tuberculosis DNA topoisomerase I (MtTOP) has been developed to produce enzyme of much higher specific activity than previously characterized recombinant enzyme. MtTOP was found to be less efficient than E. coli DNA topoisomerase I (EcTOP) in removal of remaining negative supercoils from partially relaxed DNA. DNA cleavage by MtTOP was characterized for the first time. Comparison of DNA cleavage site selectivity with EcTOP showed differences in cleavage site preferences, but the preferred sites of both enzymes have a C nucleotide in the -4 position.
Recombinant M. tuberculosis DNA topoisomerase I can be expressed as a soluble protein and purified in high yield from E. coli host with a new protocol. Analysis of DNA cleavage with M. tuberculosis DNA substrate showed that the preferred DNA cleavage sites have a C nucleotide in the -4 position.
PMCID: PMC2702276  PMID: 19519900
20.  DNA binding kinetics of two response regulators, PlnC and PlnD, from the bacteriocin regulon of Lactobacillus plantarum C11 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:17.
Bacteriocin production in the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus plantarum C11 is regulated through a quorum sensing based pathway involving two highly homologous response regulators (59% identity and 76% similarity), PlnC as a transcriptional activator and PlnD as a repressor. Previous in vitro studies have shown that both regulators bind, as homodimers, to the same DNA regulatory repeats to exert their regulatory functions. As the genes for these two proteins are located on the same auto-regulatory operon, hence being co-expressed upon gene activation, it is plausible that their opposite functions must somehow be differentially regulated, either in terms of timing and/or binding kinetics, so that their activities do not impair each other in an uncontrolled manner. To understand the nature behind this potential differentiation, we have studied the binding kinetics of the two regulators on five target promoters (PplnA, PplnM, PplnJ, PplnE and PplnG) from the bacteriocin regulon of L. plantarum C11.
By using surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy we obtained parameters such as association rates, dissociation rates and dissociation constants, showing that the two regulators indeed differ greatly from each other in terms of cooperative binding and binding strength to the different promoters. For instance, cooperativity is very strong for PlnC binding to the promoter of the regulatory operon (PplnA), but not to the promoter of the transport operon (PplnG), while the opposite is seen for PlnD binding to these two promoters. The estimated affinity constants indicate that PlnC can bind to PplnA to activate transcription of the key regulatory operon plnABCD without much interference from PlnD, and that the repressive function of PlnD might act through a different mechanism than repression of the regulatory operon.
We have characterised the DNA binding kinetics of the two regulators PlnC and PlnD from the bacteriocin locus in L. plantarum C11. Our data show that PlnC and PlnD, despite their strong homology to each other, differ greatly from each other in terms of binding affinity and cooperativity to the different promoters of the pln regulon.
PMCID: PMC2714321  PMID: 19519894
21.  TIPT2 and geminin interact with basal transcription factors to synergize in transcriptional regulation 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:16.
The re-replication inhibitor Geminin binds to several transcription factors including homeodomain proteins, and to members of the polycomb and the SWI/SNF complexes.
Here we describe the TATA-binding protein-like factor-interacting protein (TIPT) isoform 2, as a strong binding partner of Geminin. TIPT2 is widely expressed in mouse embryonic and adult tissues, residing both in cyto- and nucleoplasma, and enriched in the nucleolus. Like Geminin, also TIPT2 interacts with several polycomb factors, with the general transcription factor TBP (TATA box binding protein), and with the related protein TBPL1 (TRF2). TIPT2 synergizes with geminin and TBP in the activation of TATA box-containing promoters, and with TBPL1 and geminin in the activation of the TATA-less NF1 promoter. Geminin and TIPT2 were detected in the chromatin near TBP/TBPL1 binding sites.
Together, our study introduces a novel transcriptional regulator and its function in cooperation with chromatin associated factors and the basal transcription machinery.
PMCID: PMC2702275  PMID: 19515240
22.  A novel human NatA Nα-terminal acetyltransferase complex: hNaa16p-hNaa10p (hNat2-hArd1) 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:15.
Protein acetylation is among the most common protein modifications. The two major types are post-translational Nε-lysine acetylation catalyzed by KATs (Lysine acetyltransferases, previously named HATs (histone acetyltransferases) and co-translational Nα-terminal acetylation catalyzed by NATs (N-terminal acetyltransferases). The major NAT complex in yeast, NatA, is composed of the catalytic subunit Naa10p (N alpha acetyltransferase 10 protein) (Ard1p) and the auxiliary subunit Naa15p (Nat1p). The NatA complex potentially acetylates Ser-, Ala-, Thr-, Gly-, Val- and Cys- N-termini after Met-cleavage. In humans, the homologues hNaa15p (hNat1) and hNaa10p (hArd1) were demonstrated to form a stable ribosome associated NAT complex acetylating NatA type N-termini in vitro and in vivo.
We here describe a novel human protein, hNaa16p (hNat2), with 70% sequence identity to hNaa15p (hNat1). The gene encoding hNaa16p originates from an early vertebrate duplication event from the common ancestor of hNAA15 and hNAA16. Immunoprecipitation coupled to mass spectrometry identified both endogenous hNaa15p and hNaa16p as distinct interaction partners of hNaa10p in HEK293 cells, thus demonstrating the presence of both hNaa15p-hNaa10p and hNaa16p-hNaa10p complexes. The hNaa16p-hNaa10p complex acetylates NatA type N-termini in vitro. hNaa16p is ribosome associated, supporting its potential role in cotranslational Nα-terminal acetylation. hNAA16 is expressed in a variety of human cell lines, but is generally less abundant as compared to hNAA15. Specific knockdown of hNAA16 induces cell death, suggesting an essential role for hNaa16p in human cells.
At least two distinct NatA protein Nα-terminal acetyltransferases coexist in human cells potentially creating a more complex and flexible system for Nα-terminal acetylation as compared to lower eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC2695478  PMID: 19480662
23.  The endocannabinoid anandamide is a precursor for the signaling lipid N-arachidonoyl glycine by two distinct pathways 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:14.
N-arachidonoyl glycine (NAGly) is an endogenous signaling lipid with a wide variety of biological activity whose biosynthesis is poorly understood. Two primary biosynthetic pathways have been proposed. One suggests that NAGly is formed via an enzymatically regulated conjugation of arachidonic acid (AA) and glycine. The other suggests that NAGly is an oxidative metabolite of the endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide (AEA), through an alcohol dehydrogenase. Here using both in vitro and in vivo assays measuring metabolites with LC/MS/MS we test the hypothesis that both pathways are present in mammalian cells.
The metabolic products of deuterium-labeled AEA, D4AEA (deuterium on ethanolamine), indicated that NAGly is formed by the oxidation of the ethanolamine creating a D2NAGly product in both RAW 264.7 and C6 glioma cells. Significantly, D4AEA produced a D0NAGly product only in C6 glioma cells suggesting that the hydrolysis of AEA yielded AA that was used preferentially in a conjugation reaction. Addition of the fatty acid amide (FAAH) inhibitor URB 597 blocked the production of D0NAGly in these cells. Incubation with D8AA in C6 glioma cells likewise produced D8NAGly; however, with significantly less efficacy leading to the hypothesis that FAAH-initiated AEA-released AA conjugation with glycine predominates in these cells. Furthermore, the levels of AEA in the brain were significantly increased, whereas those of NAGly were significantly decreased after systemic injection of URB 597 in rats and in FAAH KO mice further supporting a role for FAAH in endogenous NAGly biosynthesis. Incubations of NAGly and recombinant FAAH demonstrated that NAGly is a significantly less efficacious substrate for FAAH with only ~50% hydrolysis at 30 minutes compared to 100% hydrolysis of AEA. Co-incubations of AEA and glycine with recombinant FAAH did not, however, produce NAGly.
These data support the hypothesis that the signaling lipid NAGly is a metabolic product of AEA by both oxidative metabolism of the AEA ethanolamine moiety and through the conjugation of glycine to AA that is released during AEA hydrolysis by FAAH.
PMCID: PMC2689249  PMID: 19460156
24.  Biochemical characterization of bovine plasma thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor (TAFI) 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:13.
TAFI is a plasma protein assumed to be an important link between coagulation and fibrinolysis. The three-dimensional crystal structures of authentic mature bovine TAFI (TAFIa) in complex with tick carboxypeptidase inhibitor, authentic full lenght bovine plasma thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor (TAFI), and recombinant human TAFI have recently been solved. In light of these recent advances, we have characterized authentic bovine TAFI biochemically and compared it to human TAFI.
The four N-linked glycosylation sequons within the activation peptide were all occupied in bovine TAFI, similar to human TAFI, while the sequon located within the enzyme moiety of the bovine protein was non-glycosylated. The enzymatic stability and the kinetic constants of TAFIa differed somewhat between the two proteins, as did the isoelectric point of TAFI, but not TAFIa. Equivalent to human TAFI, bovine TAFI was a substrate for transglutaminases and could be proteolytically cleaved by trypsin or thrombin/solulin complex, although small differences in the fragmentation patterns were observed. Furthermore, bovine TAFI exhibited intrinsic activity and TAFIa attenuated tPA-mediated fibrinolysis similar to the human protein.
The findings presented here suggest that the properties of these two orthologous proteins are similar and that conclusions reached using the bovine TAFI may be extrapolated to the human protein.
PMCID: PMC2684115  PMID: 19416536
25.  Exploring the functional interaction between POSH and ALIX and the relevance to HIV-1 release 
BMC Biochemistry  2009;10:12.
The ALG2-interacting protein X (ALIX)/AIP1 is an adaptor protein with multiple functions in intracellular protein trafficking that plays a central role in the biogenesis of enveloped viruses. The ubiquitin E3-ligase POSH (plenty of SH3) augments HIV-1 egress by facilitating the transport of Gag to the cell membrane. Recently, it was reported, that POSH interacts with ALIX and thereby enhances ALIX mediated phenotypes in Drosophila.
In this study we identified ALIX as a POSH ubiquitination substrate in human cells: POSH induces the ubiquitination of ALIX that is modified on several lysine residues in vivo and in vitro. This ubiquitination does not destabilize ALIX, suggesting a regulatory function. As it is well established that ALIX rescues virus release of L-domain mutant HIV-1, HIV-1ΔPTAP, we demonstrated that wild type POSH, but not an ubiquitination inactive RING finger mutant (POSHV14A), substantially enhances ALIX-mediated release of infectious virions derived from HIV-1ΔPTAP L-domain mutant (YPXnL-dependent HIV-1). In further agreement with the idea of a cooperative function of POSH and ALIX, mutating the YPXnL-ALIX binding site in Gag completely abrogated augmentation of virus release by overexpression of POSH. However, the effect of the POSH-mediated ubiquitination appears to be auxiliary, but not necessary, as silencing of POSH by RNAi does not disturb ALIX-augmentation of virus release.
Thus, the cumulative results identified ALIX as an ubiquitination substrate of POSH and indicate that POSH and ALIX cooperate to facilitate efficient virus release. However, while ALIX is obligatory for the release of YPXnL-dependent HIV-1, POSH, albeit rate-limiting, may be functionally interchangeable.
PMCID: PMC2680910  PMID: 19393081

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