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1.  Computer simulation of partitioning of ten pentapeptides Ace-WLXLL at the cyclohexane/water and phospholipid/water interfaces 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:30.
Peptide-membrane interactions play a key role in the binding, partitioning and folding of membrane proteins, the activity of antimicrobial and fusion peptides, and a number of other processes. To gain a better understanding of the thermodynamics of such interactions, White and Wimley created an interfacial hydrophobicity scale based of the transfer free energy from water to octanol or lipid bilayers of a series of synthetic peptapeptides (Ace-WLXLL, with X being any of the twenty natural amino acids) (White and Wimley (1996) Nat. Struct. Biol. 3, 842–848). In this study, we performed molecular dynamics simulations of a representative set of ten of these peptides (X = D, K, R, N, A, T, S, I, F and W) in two membrane mimetic interfaces: water-cyclohexane (10 ns) and a fully solvated dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC) bilayer (50 ns) using both constant pressure and constant area ensembles. We focus on partitioning of the ten peptides at the cyclohexane/water and lipid/water interfaces.
The peptides rapidly equilibrate (< 2 ns) and partition at the cyclohexane/water interface. The X3 guest residue assumes average orientations that depend on the nature of the side chain. At the DOPC/water interface, dynamics is much slower and convergence is difficult to achieve on a 50 ns timescale. Nonetheless, all peptides partition to the lipid/water interface with distributions with widths of 1–2 nm. The peptides assume a broad range of side chain and backbone orientations and have only a small effect on the area of the unit cell. On average, hydrophobic guest residues partition deeper into the hydrophobic core than hydrophilic residues. In some cases the peptides penetrate sufficiently deep to somewhat affect the distribution of the C=C double bond in DOPC. The relative distribution of the X3 guest residue compared to W1 and L5 is similar in the water/cyclohexane and water/lipid simulations. Snapshots show mostly extended backbone conformations in both environments. There is little difference between simulations at a constant area of 0.66 nm2 and simulations at constant pressure that approximately yield the same average area of 0.66 nm2.
These peptides were designed to assume extended conformations, which is confirmed by the simulations. The distribution of the X3 side chain depends on its nature, and can be determined from molecular dynamics simulations. The time scale of peptide motion at a phospholipids-water interface is too long to directly calculate the experimentally measured hydrophobicity scale to test and improve the simulation parameters. This should be possible at the water/cyclohexane interface and likely will become feasible in the future for the phospholipids/water case.
PMCID: PMC1351180  PMID: 16368010
2.  A novel mass spectrometry-based assay for GSK-3β activity 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:29.
As a component of the progression from genomic to proteomic analysis, there is a need for accurate assessment of protein post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation. Traditional kinase assays rely heavily on the incorporation of γ-P32 radiolabeled isotopes, monoclonal anti-phospho-protein antibodies, or gel shift analysis of substrate proteins. In addition to the expensive and time consuming nature of these methods, the use of radio-ligands imposes restrictions based on the half-life of the radionucleotides and pose potential health risks to researchers. With the shortcomings of traditional assays in mind, the aim of this study was to develop a high throughput, non-radioactive kinase assay for screening Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3beta (GSK-3β) activity.
Synthetic peptide substrates designed with a GSK-3β phosphorylation site were assayed with both recombinant enzyme and GSK-3β immunoprecipitated from NIH 3T3 fibroblasts. A molecular weight shift equal to that of a single phosphate group (80 Da.) was detected by surface enhanced laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (SELDI-TOF-MS) in a GSK-3β target peptide (2B-Sp). Not only was there a dose-dependent response in molecular weight shift to the amount of recombinant GSK-3β used in this assay, this shift was also inhibited by lithium chloride (LiCl), in a dose-dependent manner.
We present here a novel method to sensitively measure peptide phosphorylation by GSK-3β that, due to the incorporation of substrate controls, is applicable to either purified enzyme or cell extracts. Future studies using this method have the potential to elucidate the activity of GSK-3β in vivo, and to screen enzyme activity in relation to a variety of GSK-3β related disorders.
PMCID: PMC1352369  PMID: 16359552
3.  Dimerization and enzymatic activity of fungal 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase from the short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase superfamily 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:28.
17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase from the fungus Cochliobolus lunatus (17β-HSDcl) is a member of the short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR) superfamily. SDR proteins usually function as dimers or tetramers and 17β-HSDcl is also a homodimer under native conditions.
We have investigated here which secondary structure elements are involved in the dimerization of 17β-HSDcl and examined the importance of dimerization for the enzyme activity. Sequence similarity with trihydroxynaphthalene reductase from Magnaporthe grisea indicated that Arg129 and His111 from the αE-helices interact with the Asp121, Glu117 and Asp187 residues from the αE and αF-helices of the neighbouring subunit. The Arg129Asp and His111Leu mutations both rendered 17β-HSDcl monomeric, while the mutant 17β-HSDcl-His111Ala was dimeric. Circular dichroism spectroscopy analysis confirmed the conservation of the secondary structure in both monomers. The three mutant proteins all bound coenzyme, as shown by fluorescence quenching in the presence of NADP+, but both monomers showed no enzymatic activity.
We have shown by site-directed mutagenesis and structure/function analysis that 17β-HSDcl dimerization involves the αE and αF helices of both subunits. Neighbouring subunits are connected through hydrophobic interactions, H-bonds and salt bridges involving amino acid residues His111 and Arg129. Since the substitutions of these two amino acid residues lead to inactive monomers with conserved secondary structure, we suggest dimerization is a prerequisite for catalysis. A detailed understanding of this dimerization could lead to the development of compounds that will specifically prevent dimerization, thereby serving as a new type of inhibitor.
PMCID: PMC1326212  PMID: 16359545
4.  Multiple phosphorylation events control mitotic degradation of the muscle transcription factor Myf5 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:27.
The two myogenic regulatory factors Myf5 and MyoD are basic helix-loop-helix muscle transcription factors undergoing differential cell cycle dependent proteolysis in proliferating myoblasts. This regulated degradation results in the striking expression of these two factors at distinct phases of the cell cycle, and suggests that their precise and alternated disappearance is an important feature of myoblasts, maybe connected to the maintenance of the proliferative status and/or commitment to the myogenic lineage of these cells. One way to understand the biological function(s) of the cyclic expression of these proteins is to specifically alter their degradation, and to analyze the effects of their stabilization on cells. To this aim, we undertook the biochemical analysis of the mechanisms governing Myf5 mitotic degradation, using heterologous systems.
We show here that mitotic degradation of Myf5 is conserved in non-myogenic cells, and is thus strictly under the control of the cell cycle apparatus. Using Xenopus egg extracts as an in vitro system to dissect the main steps of Myf5 mitotic proteolysis, we show that (1) Myf5 stability is regulated by a complex interplay of phosphorylation/dephosphorylation, probably involving various kinases and phosphatases, (2) Myf5 is ubiquitylated in mitotic extracts, and this is a prerequisite to its degradation by the proteasome and (3) at least in the Xenopus system, the E3 responsible for its mitotic degradation is not the APC/C (the major E3 during mitosis).
Altogether, our data strongly suggest that the mitotic degradation of Myf5 by the ubiquitin-proteasome system is precisely controlled by multiple phosphorylation of the protein, and that the APC/C is not involved in this process.
PMCID: PMC1322219  PMID: 16321160
5.  Reduced Flavin: NMR investigation of N(5)-H exchange mechanism, estimation of ionisation constants and assessment of properties as biological catalyst 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:26.
The flavin in its FMN and FAD forms is a versatile cofactor that is involved in catalysis of most disparate types of biological reactions. These include redox reactions such as dehydrogenations, activation of dioxygen, electron transfer, bioluminescence, blue light reception, photobiochemistry (as in photolyases), redox signaling etc. Recently, hitherto unrecognized types of biological reactions have been uncovered that do not involve redox shuffles, and might involve the reduced form of the flavin as a catalyst. The present work addresses properties of reduced flavin relevant in this context.
N(5)-H exchange reactions of the flavin reduced form and its pH dependence were studied using the 15N-NMR-signals of 15N-enriched, reduced flavin in the pH range from 5 to 12. The chemical shifts of the N(3) and N(5) resonances are not affected to a relevant extent in this pH range. This contrasts with the multiplicity of the N(5)-resonance, which strongly depends on pH. It is a doublet between pH 8.45 and 10.25 that coalesces into a singlet at lower and higher pH values. From the line width of the 15N(5) signal the pH-dependent rate of hydrogen exchange was deduced. The multiplicity of the 15N(5) signal and the proton exchange rates are little dependent on the buffer system used.
The exchange rates allow an estimation of the pKa value of N(5)-H deprotonation in reduced flavin to be ≥ 20. This value imposes specific constraints for mechanisms of flavoprotein catalysis based on this process. On the other hand the pK ≈ 4 for N(5)-H protonation (to form N(5)+-H2) would be consistent with a role of N(5)-H as a base.
PMCID: PMC1318458  PMID: 16309555
6.  Characterization of the interactions between the active site of a protein tyrosine kinase and a divalent metal activator 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:25.
Protein tyrosine kinases are important enzymes for cell signalling and key targets for anticancer drug discovery. The catalytic mechanisms of protein tyrosine kinase-catalysed phosphorylation are not fully understood. Protein tyrosine kinase Csk requires two Mg2+ cations for activity: one (M1) binds to ATP, and the other (M2) acts as an essential activator.
Experiments in this communication characterize the interaction between M2 and Csk. Csk activity is sensitive to pH in the range of 6 to 7. Kinetic characterization indicates that the sensitivity is not due to altered substrate binding, but caused by the sensitivity of M2 binding to pH. Several residues in the active site with potential of binding M2 are mutated and the effect on metal activation studied. An active mutant of Asn319 is generated, and this mutation does not alter the metal binding characteristics. Mutations of Glu236 or Asp332 abolish the kinase activity, precluding a positive or negative conclusion on their role in M2 coordination. Finally, the ability of divalent metal cations to activate Csk correlates to a combination of ionic radius and the coordination number.
These studies demonstrate that M2 binding to Csk is sensitive to pH, which is mainly responsible for Csk activity change in the acidic arm of the pH response curve. They also demonstrate critical differences in the metal activator coordination sphere in protein tyrosine kinase Csk and a protein Ser/Thr kinase, the cAMP-dependent protein kinase. They shed light on the physical interactions between a protein tyrosine kinase and a divalent metal activator.
PMCID: PMC1316873  PMID: 16305747
7.  Studies of the intermediary metabolism in cultured cells of the insect Spodoptera frugiperda using 13C- or 15N-labelled tracers 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:24.
Insect cells can serve as host systems for the recombinant expression of eukaryotic proteins. Using this platform, the controlled expression of 15N/13C labelled proteins requires the analysis of incorporation paths and rates of isotope-labelled precursors present in the medium into amino acids. For this purpose, Spodoptera frugiperda cells were grown in a complex medium containing [U-13C6]glucose. In a second experiment, cultures of S. frugiperda were grown in the presence of 15N-phenylalanine.
Quantitative NMR analysis showed incorporation of the proffered [U-13C6]glucose into the ribose moiety of ribonucleosides (40 – 45%) and into the amino acids, alanine (41%), glutamic acid/glutamine (C-4 and C-5, 30%) and aspartate/asparagine (15%). Other amino acids and the purine ring of nucleosides were not formed from exogenous glucose in significant amounts (> 5%). Prior to the incorporation into protein the proffered 15N-phenylalanine lost about 70% of its label by transamination and the labelled compound was not converted into tyrosine to a significant extent.
Growth of S. frugiperda cells in the presence of [U-13C6]glucose is conducive to the fractional labelling of ribonucleosides, alanine, glutamic acid/glutamine and aspartic acid/asparagine. The isotopolog compositions of the ribonucleosides and of alanine indicate considerable recycling of carbohydrate intermediates in the reductive branch of the pentose phosphate pathway. The incorporation of 15N-labelled amino acids may be hampered by loss of the 15N-label by transamination.
PMCID: PMC1310531  PMID: 16285881
8.  A strategy using NMR peptide structures of thromboxane A2 receptor as templates to construct ligand-recognition pocket of prostacyclin receptor 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:23.
Prostacyclin receptor (IP) and thromboxane A2 receptor (TP) belong to rhodopsin-type G protein-coupling receptors and respectively bind to prostacyclin and thromboxane A2 derived from arachidonic acid. Recently, we have determined the extracellular loop (eLP) structures of the human TP receptor by 2-D 1H NMR spectroscopy using constrained peptides mimicking the individual eLP segments. The studies have identified the segment along with several residues in the eLP domains important to ligand recognition, as well as proposed a ligand recognition pocket for the TP receptor.
The IP receptor shares a similar primary structure in the eLPs with those of the TP receptor. Forty percent residues in the second eLPs of the receptors are identical, which is the major region involved in forming the ligand recognition pocket in the TP receptor. Based on the high homology score, the eLP domains of the IP receptor were constructed by the homology modeling approach using the NMR structures of the TP eLPs as templates, and then configured to the seven transmembrane (TM) domains model constructed using the crystal structure of the bovine rhodopsin as a template. A NMR structure of iloprost was docked into the modeled IP ligand recognition pocket. After dynamic studies, the segments and residues involved in the IP ligand recognition were proposed. A key residue, Arg173 involved in the ligand recognition for the IP receptor, as predicted from the modeling, was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis.
A 3-D model of the human IP receptor was constructed by homology modeling using the crystal structure of bovine rhodopsin TM domains and the NMR structures of the synthetic constrained peptides of the eLP domains of the TP receptor as templates. This strategy can be applied to molecular modeling and the prediction of ligand recognition pockets for other prostanoid receptors.
PMCID: PMC1298286  PMID: 16271145
G protein-coupled receptor; GPCR; prostacyclin (prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) receptor; protein modeling; thromboxane A2 receptor; NMR structure; synthetic peptide.
9.  Substrate specificity analysis of protein kinase complex Dbf2-Mob1 by peptide library and proteome array screening 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:22.
The mitotic exit network (MEN) is a group of proteins that form a signaling cascade that is essential for cells to exit mitosis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The MEN has also been implicated in playing a role in cytokinesis. Two components of this signaling pathway are the protein kinase Dbf2 and its binding partner essential for its kinase activity, Mob1. The components of MEN that act upstream of Dbf2-Mob1 have been characterized, but physiological substrates for Dbf2-Mob1 have yet to be identified.
Using a combination of peptide library selection, phosphorylation of opitmal peptide variants, and screening of a phosphosite array, we found that Dbf2-Mob1 preferentially phosphorylated serine over threonine and required an arginine three residues upstream of the phosphorylated serine in its substrate. This requirement for arginine in peptide substrates could not be substituted with the similarly charged lysine. This specificity determined for peptide substrates was also evident in many of the proteins phosphorylated by Dbf2-Mob1 in a proteome chip analysis.
We have determined by peptide library selection and phosphosite array screening that the protein kinase Dbf2-Mob1 preferentially phosphorylated substrates that contain an RXXS motif. A subsequent proteome microarray screen revealed proteins that can be phosphorylated by Dbf2-Mob1 in vitro. These proteins are enriched for RXXS motifs, and may include substrates that mediate the function of Dbf2-Mob1 in mitotic exit and cytokinesis. The relatively low degree of sequence restriction at the site of phosphorylation suggests that Dbf2 achieves specificity by docking its substrates at a site that is distinct from the phosphorylation site
PMCID: PMC1277818  PMID: 16242037
10.  Nonnatural amino acid incorporation into the methionine 214 position of the metzincin Pseudomonas aeruginosa alkaline protease 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:21.
The alkaline protease from Pseudomonas aeruginosa (AprA) is a member of the metzincin superfamily of metalloendoproteases. A key feature of these proteases is a conserved methionine-containing 1,4-tight β turn at the base of the active site zinc binding region.
To explore the invariant methionine position in this class of protease, incorporation of a nonnatural fluorinated methionine, L-difluoromethionine (DFM), into this site was accomplished. Although overproduction of the N-terminal catalytic fragment of AprA resulted in protein aggregates which could not be resolved, successful heterologous production of the entire AprA was accomplished in the presence and absence of the nonnatural amino acid. DFM incorporation was found to only slightly alter the enzyme kinetics of AprA. In addition, differential scanning calorimetry indicated no significant alteration in the thermal stability of the modified enzyme.
Although invariant in all metzincin proteases, the methionine 214 position in AprA can be successfully replaced by the nonnatural amino acid DFM resulting in little effect on protein structure and function. This study indicates that the increased size of the methyl group by the introduction of two fluorines is still sufficiently non-sterically demanding, and bodes well for the application of DFM to biophysical studies of protein structure and function in this class of protease.
PMCID: PMC1266349  PMID: 16221305
11.  Comparison of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isocitrate dehydrogenases (ICD-1 and ICD-2) reveals differences in coenzyme affinity, oligomeric state, pH tolerance and phylogenetic affiliation 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:20.
M.tb icd-1 and M.tb icd-2, have been identified in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome as probable isocitrate dehydrogenase (ICD) genes. Earlier we demonstrated that the two isoforms can elicit B cell response in TB patients and significantly differentiate TB infected population from healthy, BCG-vaccinated controls. Even though immunoassays suggest that these proteins are closely related in terms of antigenic determinants, we now show that M.tb icd-1 and M.tb icd-2 code for functional energy cycle enzymes and document the differences in their biochemical properties, oligomeric assembly and phylogenetic affiliation.
Functionally, both M.tb ICD-1 and ICD-2 proteins are dimers. Zn+2 can act as a cofactor for ICD-1 apart from Mg+2, but not for ICD-2. ICD-1 has higher affinity for metal substrate complex (Km (isocitrate) with Mg++:10 μM ± 5) than ICD-2 (Km (isocitrate) with Mg++:20 μM ± 1). ICD-1 is active across a wider pH range than ICD-2, retaining 33–35% activity in an acidic pH upto 5.5. Difference in thermal behaviour is also observed with ICD-2 being active across wider temperature range (20°C to 40°C) than ICD-1 (optimum temperature 40°C). The isozymes are NADP+ dependent with distinct phylogenetic affiliations; unlike M.tb ICD-2 that groups with bacterial ICDs, M.tb ICD-1 exhibits a closer lineage to eukaryotic NADP+ dependent ICDs.
The data provide experimental evidence to show that the two open reading frames, Rv3339c (ICD-1) and Rv0066c (ICD-2), annotated as probable ICDs are functional TCA cycle enzymes with identical enzymatic function but different physio-chemical and kinetic properties. The differences in biochemical and kinetic properties suggest the possibility of differential expression of the two ICDs during different stages of growth, despite having identical metabolic function.
PMCID: PMC1260013  PMID: 16194279
12.  Biochemical characterization of Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:19.
Normal cell cycle progression requires the precise activation and inactivation of cyclin-dependent protein kinases (CDKs), which consist of a CDK and a cyclin subunit. A novel cell cycle regulator called Speedy/Ringo shows no sequence similarity to cyclins, yet can directly bind to and activate CDKs. Speedy/Ringo proteins, which bind to and activate Cdc2 and Cdk2 in vitro, are required for the G2 to M transition during Xenopus oocyte maturation and for normal S-phase entry in cultured human cells.
We have characterized the substrate specificity and enzymatic activity of human Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 in order to gain insights into the possible functions of this complex. In contrast to Cdk2-cyclin A, which has a well-defined consensus target site ((S/T)PX(K/R)) that strongly favors substrates containing a lysine at the +3 position of substrates, Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 displayed a broad substrate specificity at this position. Consequently, Cdk2-Ringo/Speedy A2 phosphorylated optimal Cdk2 substrates such as histone H1 and a KSPRK peptide poorly, only ~0.08% as well as Cdk2-cyclin A, but non-canonical Cdk2 substrates such as a KSPRY peptide relatively well, with an efficiency of ~80% compared to Cdk2-cyclin A. Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 also phosphorylated authentic Cdk2 substrates, such as Cdc25 proteins, which contain non-canonical CDK phosphorylation sites, nearly as well as Cdk2-cyclin A. Phosphopeptide mapping indicated that Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 and Cdk2-cyclin A phosphorylate distinct subsets of sites on Cdc25 proteins. Thus, the low activity that Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 displays when assayed on conventional Cdk2 substrates may significantly underestimate the potential physiological importance of Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 in phosphorylating key subsets of Cdk2 substrates. Unlike Cdk2-cyclin A, whose activity depends strongly on activating phosphorylation of Cdk2 on Thr-160, neither the overall catalytic activity nor the substrate recognition by Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 was significantly affected by this phosphorylation. Furthermore, Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 was not a suitable substrate for metazoan CAK (which phosphorylates Cdk2 at Thr-160), supporting the notion that Speedy/Ringo A2 activates Cdk2 in a CAK-independent manner.
There are major differences in substrate preferences between CDK-Speedy/Ringo A2 and Cdk2-cyclin complexes. These differences may accommodate the CAK-independent activation of Cdk2 by Speedy/Ringo A2 and they raise the possibility that CDK-Speedy/Ringo A2 complexes could phosphorylate and regulate a subset of non-canonical CDK substrates, such as Cdc25 protein phosphatases, to control cell cycle progression.
PMCID: PMC1262692  PMID: 16191191
13.  Methodological modifications on quantification of phosphatidylethanol in blood from humans abusing alcohol, using high-performance liquid chromatography and evaporative light scattering detection 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:18.
Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) is an abnormal phospholipid formed slowly in cell membranes by a transphosphatidylation reaction from phosphatidylcholine in the presence of ethanol and catalyzed by the enzyme phospholipase D. PEth in blood is a promising new marker of ethanol abuse depending on the high specificity and sensitivity of this marker. None of the biological markers used in clinical routine at the present time are sensitive and specific enough for the diagnosis of alcohol abuse.
The method for PEth analysis includes lipid extraction of whole blood, a one-hour HPLC separation of lipids and ELSD (evaporative light scattering) detection of PEth.
Methodological improvements are presented which comprise a simpler extraction procedure, the use of phosphatidylbutanol as internal standard and a new algorithm for evaluation of unknown samples. It is further demonstrated that equal test results are obtained with blood collected in standard test tubes with EDTA as with the previously used heparinized test tubes. The PEth content in blood samples is stable for three weeks in the refrigerator.
Methodological changes make the method more suitable for routine laboratory use, lower the limit of quantification (LOQ) and improve precision.
PMCID: PMC1249557  PMID: 16188025
14.  Probing stereoselective inhibition of the acyl binding site of cholesterol esterase with four diastereomers of 2'-N-α-methylbenzylcarbamyl-1, 1'-bi-2-naphthol 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:17.
Recently there has been increased interest in pancreatic cholesterol esterase due to correlation between enzymatic activity in vivo and absorption of dietary cholesterol. Cholesterol esterase plays a role in digestive lipid absorption in the upper intestinal tract, though its role in cholesterol absorption in particular is controversial. Serine lipases, acetylcholinesterase, butyrylcholinesterase, and cholesterol esterase belong to a large family of proteins called the α/β-hydrolase fold, and they share the same catalytic machinery as serine proteases in that they have an active site serine residue which, with a histidine and an aspartic or glutamic acid, forms a catalytic triad. The aim of this work is to study the stereoselectivity of the acyl chain binding site of the enzyme for four diastereomers of an inhibitor.
Four diastereomers of 2'-N-α-methylbenzylcarbamyl-1, 1'-bi-2-naphthol (1) are synthesized from the condensation of R-(+)- or S-(-)-1, 1'-bi-2-naphthanol with R-(+)- or S-(-)-α-methylbenzyl isocyanate in the presence of a catalytic amount of pyridine in CH2Cl2. The [α]25D values for (1R, αR)-1, (1R, αS)-1, (1S, αR)-1, and (1S, αS)-1 are +40, +21, -21, and -41°, respectively. All four diastereomers of inhibitors are characterized as pseudo substrate inhibitors of pancreatic cholesterol esterase. Values of the inhibition constant (Ki), the carbamylation constant (k2), and the bimolecular rate constant (ki) for these four diastereomeric inhibitors are investigated. The inhibitory potencies for these four diastereomers are in the descending order of (1R, αR)-1, (1R, αS)-1, (1S, αR)-1, and (1S, αS)-1. The k2 values for these four diastereomers are about the same. The enzyme stereoselectivity for the 1, 1'-bi-2-naphthyl moiety of the inhibitors (R > S, ca. 10 times) is the same as that for 2'-N-butylcarbamyl-1, 1'-bi-2-naphthol (2). The enzyme stereoselectivity for the α-methylbenzylcarbamyl moiety of the inhibitors is also R > S (2–3 times) due to the constraints in the acyl binding site.
We are the first to report that the acyl chain binding site of cholesterol esterase shows stereoselectivity for the four diastereomers of 1.
PMCID: PMC1262691  PMID: 16176589
15.  Analysis of Escherichia coli nicotinate mononucleotide adenylyltransferase mutants in vivo and in vitro 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:16.
Adenylation of nicotinate mononucleotide to nicotinate adenine dinucleotide is the penultimate step in NAD+ synthesis. In Escherichia coli, the enzyme nicotinate mononucleotide adenylyltransferase is encoded by the nadD gene. We have earlier made an initial characterization in vivo of two mutant enzymes, NadD72 and NadD74. Strains with either mutation have decreased intracellular levels of NAD+, especially for one of the alleles, nadD72.
In this study these two mutant proteins have been further characterized together with ten new mutant variants. Of the, in total, twelve mutations four are in a conserved motif in the C-terminus and eight are in the active site. We have tested the activity of the enzymes in vitro and their effect on the growth phenotype in vivo. There is a very good correlation between the two data sets.
The mutations in the C-terminus did not reveal any function for the conserved motif. On the other hand, our data has lead us to assign amino acid residues His-19, Arg-46 and Asp-109 to the active site. We have also shown that the nadD gene is essential for growth in E. coli.
PMCID: PMC1249556  PMID: 16153292
16.  A two disulfide bridge Kazal domain from Phytophthora exhibits stable inhibitory activity against serine proteases of the subtilisin family 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:15.
Kazal-like serine protease inhibitors are defined by a conserved sequence motif. A typical Kazal domain contains six cysteine residues leading to three disulfide bonds with a 1–5/2–4/3–6 pattern. Most Kazal domains described so far belong to this class. However, a novel class of Kazal domains with two disulfide bridges resulting from the absence of the third and sixth cysteines have been found in biologically important molecules, such as human LEKTI, a 15-domain inhibitor associated with the severe congenital disease Netherton syndrome. These domains are referred to as atypical Kazal domains. Previously, EPI1, a Kazal-like protease inhibitor from the oomycete plant pathogen Phytophthora infestans, was shown to be a tight-binding inhibitor of subtilisin A. EPI1 also inhibits and interacts with the pathogenesis-related P69B subtilase of the host plant tomato, suggesting a role in virulence. EPI1 is composed of two Kazal domains, the four-cysteine atypical domain EPI1a and the typical domain EPI1b.
In this study, we predicted the inhibition constants of EPI1a and EPI1b to subtilisin A using the additivity-based sequence to reactivity algorithm (Laskowski algorithm). The atypical domain EPI1a, but not the typical domain EPI1b, was predicted to have strong inhibitory activity against subtilisin A. Inhibition assays and coimmunoprecipitation experiments showed that recombinant domain EPI1a exhibited stable inhibitory activity against subilisin A and was solely responsible for inhibition and interaction with tomato P69B subtilase.
The finding that the two disulfide bridge atypical Kazal domain EPI1a is a stable inhibitor indicates that the missing two cysteines and their corresponding disulfide bond are not essential for inhibitor reactivity and stability. This report also suggests that the Laskowski algorithm originally developed and validated with typical Kazal domains might operate accurately for atypical Kazal domains.
PMCID: PMC1236909  PMID: 16117831
17.  Low-magnesium, trans-cleavage activity by type III, tertiary stabilized hammerhead ribozymes with stem 1 discontinuities 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:14.
Low concentrations of free magnesium in the intracellular environment can present critical limitations for hammerhead ribozymes, especially for those that are designed for intermolecular (trans) cleavage of a host or pathogen RNA. Tertiary stabilizing motifs (TSM's) from natural and artificial ribozymes with a "type I" topology have been exploited to stabilize trans-cleaving hammerheads. Ribozymes with "type II" or "type III" topologies might seem incompatible with conversion to trans-cleavage designs, because opening the loop at the end of stem 1 or stem 2 to accommodate substrate binding is expected to disrupt the TSM and eliminate tertiary stabilization.
Stem 1, together with single-stranded segments capping or internal to this stem, contains both the substrate-binding and tertiary stabilization functions. This stem was made discontinuous within the sTRSV hammerhead ribozyme, thereby separating the two functions into discrete structural segments. The resulting ribozyme, designated "RzC," cleaved its 13 nucleotide target substrate at MgCl2 concentrations as low as 0.2 mM at 25°C and 0.5 mM at 37°C. Under multiple-turnover conditions, nearly thirty turnovers were observed at the highest substrate:RzC ribozyme ratios. Similar stabilization was observed for several derivatives of RzC. Catalytic activity was diminished or eliminated at sub-millimolar MgCl2 concentrations for ribozymes with weakened or deleted tertiary interactions. Eadie-Hofstee analysis revealed that the stabilized and non-stabilized ribozymes bind their substrates with equivalent affinities, suggesting that differences in observed activity are not the result of diminished binding. Some of the stabilized and non-stabilized ribozymes appear to fold into a heterogeneous collection of conformers, only a subset of which are catalytically active.
Hammerhead ribozymes with the "type III" topology can be converted to a tertiary, trans-cleavage design. Separating the stabilization and substrate recognition functions of stem 1 increases cleavage activity at physiological concentrations of divalent magnesium while retaining recognition of exogenous targets. Trans-cleaving ribozymes that exploit the tertiary stabilizing motifs of all natural hammerhead topologies can therefore be used in intracellular applications.
PMCID: PMC1199579  PMID: 16095542
18.  Archazolid and apicularen: Novel specific V-ATPase inhibitors 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:13.
V-ATPases constitute a ubiquitous family of heteromultimeric, proton translocating proteins. According to their localization in a multitude of eukaryotic membranes, they energize many different transport processes. Since their malfunction is correlated with various diseases in humans, the elucidation of the properties of this enzyme for the development of selective inhibitors and drugs is one of the challenges in V-ATPase research.
Archazolid A and B, two recently discovered cytotoxic macrolactones produced by the myxobacterium Archangium gephyra, and apicularen A and B, two novel benzolactone enamides produced by different species of the myxobacterium Chondromyces, exerted a similar inhibitory efficacy on a wide range of mammalian cell lines as the well established plecomacrolidic type V-ATPase inhibitors concanamycin and bafilomycin. Like the plecomacrolides both new macrolides also prevented the lysosomal acidification in cells and inhibited the V-ATPase purified from the midgut of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta, with IC50 values of 20–60 nM. However, they did not influence the activity of mitochondrial F-ATPase or that of the Na+/K+-ATPase. To define the binding sites of these new inhibitors we used a semi-synthetic radioactively labelled derivative of concanamycin which exclusively binds to the membrane Vo subunit c. Whereas archazolid A prevented, like the plecomacrolides concanamycin A, bafilomycin A1 and B1, labelling of subunit c by the radioactive I-concanolide A, the benzolactone enamide apicularen A did not compete with the plecomacrolide derivative.
The myxobacterial antibiotics archazolid and apicularen are highly efficient and specific novel inhibitors of V-ATPases. While archazolid at least partly shares a common binding site with the plecomacrolides bafilomycin and concanamycin, apicularen adheres to an independent binding site.
PMCID: PMC1190152  PMID: 16080788
19.  Characterization of 17α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity (17α-HSD) and its involvement in the biosynthesis of epitestosterone 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:12.
Epi-testosterone (epiT) is the 17α-epimer of testosterone. It has been found at similar level as testosterone in human biological fluids. This steroid has thus been used as a natural internal standard for assessing testosterone abuse in sports. EpiT has been also shown to accumulate in mammary cyst fluid and in human prostate. It was found to possess antiandrogenic activity as well as neuroprotective effects. So far, the exact pathway leading to the formation of epiT has not been elucidated.
In this report, we describe the isolation and characterization of the enzyme 17α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. The name is given according to its most potent activity. Using cells stably expressing the enzyme, we show that 17α-HSD catalyzes efficienty the transformation of 4-androstenedione (4-dione), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), 5α-androstane-3,17-dione (5α-dione) and androsterone (ADT) into their corresponding 17α-hydroxy-steroids : epiT, 5-androstene-3β,17α-diol (epi5diol), 5α-androstane-17α-ol-3-one (epiDHT) and 5α-androstane-3α,17α-diol (epi3α-diol), respectively. Similar to other members of the aldo-keto reductase family that possess the ability to reduce the keto-group into hydroxyl-group at different position on the steroid nucleus, 17α-HSD could also catalyze the transformation of DHT, 5α-dione, and 5α-pregnane-3,20-dione (DHP) into 3α-diol, ADT and 5α-pregnane-3α-ol-20-one (allopregnanolone) through its less potent 3α-HSD activity. We also have over-expressed the 17α-HSD in Escherichia coli and have purified it by affinity chromatography. The purified enzyme exhibits the same catalytic properties that have been observed with cultured HEK-293 stably transfected cells. Using quantitative Realtime-PCR to study tissue distribution of this enzyme in the mouse, we observed that it is expressed at very high levels in the kidney.
The present study permits to clarify the biosynthesis pathway of epiT. It also offers the opportunity to study gene regulation and function of this enzyme. Further study in human will allow a better comprehension about the use of epiT in drug abuse testing; it will also help to clarify the importance of its accumulation in breast cyst fluid and prostate, as well as its potential role as natural antiandrogen.
PMCID: PMC1185520  PMID: 16018803
20.  Determination of thermodynamic parameters of Xerocomus chrysenteron lectin interactions with N-acetylgalactosamine and Thomsen-Friedenreich antigen by isothermal titration calorimetry 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:11.
Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins which potentially bind to cell surface glycoconjugates. They are found in various organisms including fungi. A lectin from the mushroom Xerocomus chrysenteron (XCL) has been isolated recently. It shows insecticidal activity and has antiproliferative properties.
As the monosaccharide binding specificity is an important determinant of lectin function, we determined the affinity of XCL for the galactose moiety. Isothermal titration calorimetry studies revealed a dissociation constant Kd of 5.2 μM for the XCL:N-acetylgalactosamine interaction at 27degreesC. Higher affinities were observed at lower temperatures and higher osmotic pressures. The dissociation constant was five hundred times higher for the disaccharide beta-D-Gal(1–3)-D-GalNAc, Thomsen-Friedenreich (TF) antigen (Kd of 0.94 μM). By using fetuin and asialofetuin in interaction with the XCL, we revealed its ability to recognize the Thomsen-Friedenreich motif on glycoproteins.
The XCL antiproliferative effect and the TF antigen specificity presented in this work suggest that XCL and ABL may have similar binding mechanisms. The recent structure determination of these two proteins lead us to analyse these interactions in the light of our thermodynamic data. The understanding of this type of interaction may be a useful tool for the regulation of cell proliferation.
PMCID: PMC1166539  PMID: 15929788
21.  Characterization of the aggregates formed during recombinant protein expression in bacteria 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:10.
The first aim of the work was to analyze in detail the complexity of the aggregates formed upon overexpression of recombinant proteins in E. coli. A sucrose step gradient succeeded in separating aggregate subclasses of a GFP-GST fusion protein with specific biochemical and biophysical features, providing a novel approach for studying recombinant protein aggregates.
The total lysate separated into 4 different fractions whereas only the one with the lowest density was detected when the supernatant recovered after ultracentrifugation was loaded onto the sucrose gradient. The three further aggregate sub-classes were otherwise indistinctly precipitated in the pellet. The distribution of the recombinant protein among the four subclasses was strongly dependent on the DnaK availability, with larger aggregates formed in Dnak- mutants. The aggregation state of the GFP-GST recovered from each of the four fractions was further characterized by examining three independent biochemical parameters. All of them showed an increased complexity of the recombinant protein aggregates starting from the top of the sucrose gradient (lower mass aggregates) to the bottom (larger mass aggregates). These results were also confirmed by electron microscopy analysis of the macro-structure formed by the different aggregates. Large fibrils were rapidly assembled when the recombinant protein was incubated in the presence of cellular extracts, but the GFP-GST fusion purified soon after lysis failed to undergo amyloidation, indicating that other cell components probably participate in the active formation of large aggregates. Finally, we showed that aggregates of lower complexity are more efficiently disaggregated by a combination of molecular chaperones.
An additional analytical tool is now available to investigate the aggregation process and separate subclasses by their mass. It was possible to demonstrate the complexity of the aggregation pattern of a recombinant protein expressed in bacteria and to characterize biochemically the different aggregate subclasses. Furthermore, we have obtained evidence that the cellular environment plays a role in the development of the aggregates and the problem of the artifact generation of aggregates has been discussed using in vitro models. Finally, the possibility of separating aggregate fractions with different complexities offers new options for biotechnological strategies aimed at improving the yield of folded and active recombinant proteins.
PMCID: PMC1175841  PMID: 15927061
22.  Pattern similarity study of functional sites in protein sequences: lysozymes and cystatins 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:9.
Although it is generally agreed that topography is more conserved than sequences, proteins sharing the same fold can have different functions, while there are protein families with low sequence similarity. An alternative method for profile analysis of characteristic conserved positions of the motifs within the 3D structures may be needed for functional annotation of protein sequences. Using the approach of quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR), we have proposed a new algorithm for postulating functional mechanisms on the basis of pattern similarity and average of property values of side-chains in segments within sequences. This approach was used to search for functional sites of proteins belonging to the lysozyme and cystatin families.
Hydrophobicity and β-turn propensity of reference segments with 3–7 residues were used for the homology similarity search (HSS) for active sites. Hydrogen bonding was used as the side-chain property for searching the binding sites of lysozymes. The profiles of similarity constants and average values of these parameters as functions of their positions in the sequences could identify both active and substrate binding sites of the lysozyme of Streptomyces coelicolor, which has been reported as a new fold enzyme (Cellosyl). The same approach was successfully applied to cystatins, especially for postulating the mechanisms of amyloidosis of human cystatin C as well as human lysozyme.
Pattern similarity and average index values of structure-related properties of side chains in short segments of three residues or longer were, for the first time, successfully applied for predicting functional sites in sequences. This new approach may be applicable to studying functional sites in un-annotated proteins, for which complete 3D structures are not yet available.
PMCID: PMC1173080  PMID: 15904486
23.  Rational polynomial representation of ribonucleotide reductase activity 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:8.
Recent data suggest that ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) exists not only as a heterodimer R12R22 of R12 and R22 homodimers, but also as tetramers R14R24 and hexamers R16R26. Recent data also suggest that ATP binds the R1 subunit at a previously undescribed hexamerization site, in addition to its binding to previously described dimerization and tetramerization sites. Thus, the current view is that R1 has four NDP substrate binding possibilities, four dimerization site binding possibilities (dATP, ATP, dGTP, or dTTP), two tetramerization site binding possibilities (dATP or ATP), and one hexamerization site binding possibility (ATP), in addition to possibilities of unbound site states. This large number of internal R1 states implies an even larger number of quaternary states. A mathematical model of RNR activity which explicitly represents the states of R1 currently exists, but it is complicated in several ways: (1) it includes up to six-fold nested sums; (2) it uses different mathematical structures under different substrate-modulator conditions; and (3) it requires root solutions of high order polynomials to determine R1 proportions in mono-, di-, tetra- and hexamer states and thus RNR activity as a function of modulator and total R1 concentrations.
We present four (one for each NDP) rational polynomial models of RNR activity as a function of substrate and reaction rate modifier concentrations. The new models avoid the complications of the earlier model without compromising curve fits to recent data.
Compared to the earlier model of recent data, the new rational polynomial models are simpler, adequately fitting, and likely better suited for biochemical network simulations.
PMCID: PMC1142302  PMID: 15876357
24.  Stimulation of Myc transactivation by the TATA binding protein in promoter-reporter assays 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:7.
The c-Myc oncogenic transcription factor heterodimerizes with Max, binds specific DNA sites and regulates transcription. The role of Myc in transcriptional activation involves its binding to TRRAP and histone acetylases; however, Myc's ability to activate transcription in transient transfection assays is remarkably weak (2 to 5 fold) when compared to other transcription factors. Since a deletion Myc mutant D106-143 and a substitution mutant W135E that weakly binds TRRAP are still fully active in transient transfection reporter assays and the TATA binding protein (TBP) has been reported to directly bind Myc, we sought to determine the effect of TBP on Myc transactivation.
We report here a potent stimulation of Myc transactivation by TBP, allowing up to 35-fold transactivation of reporter constructs. Although promoters with an initiator (InR) element briskly responded to Myc transactivation, the presence of an InR significantly diminished the response to increasing amounts of TBP. We surmise from these findings that promoters containing both TATA and InR elements may control Myc responsive genes that require brisk increased expression within a narrow window of Myc levels, independent of TBP. In contrast, promoters driven by the TATA element only, may also respond to modulation of TBP activity or levels.
Our observations not only demonstrate that TBP is limiting for Myc transactivation in transient transfection experiments, but they also suggest that the inclusion of TBP in Myc transactivation assays may further improve the characterization of c-Myc target genes.
PMCID: PMC1145180  PMID: 15876353
25.  The de novo methylation activity of Dnmt3a is distinctly different than that of Dnmt1 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:6.
Though Dnmt1 is considered the primary maintenance methyltransferase and Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b are considered de novo methyltransferases in mammals, these three enzymes may work together in maintaining as well as establishing DNA methylation patterns. It has been proposed that Dnmt1 may carry out de novo methylation at sites in the genome with transient single-stranded regions, such as replication origins, and then spread methylation from these nucleation sites in vivo, even though such activity has not been reported.
In this study, we show that Dnmt3a does not act on single-stranded substrates in vitro, indicating that Dnmt3a is not likely to initiate DNA methylation at such proposed nucleation sites. Dnmt3a shows similar methylation activity on unmethylated and hemimethylated duplex DNA, though with some substrate preference. Unlike Dnmt1, pre-existing cytosine methylation at CpG sites or non-CpG sites does not stimulate Dnmt3a activity in vitro and in vivo.
The fact that Dnmt3a does not act on single stranded DNA and is not stimulated by pre-existing cytosine methylation indicates that the de novo methylation activity of Dnmt3a is quite different from that of Dnmt1. These findings are consistent with a model in which Dnmt3a initiates methylation on one of the DNA strands of duplex DNA, and these hemimethylated sites then stimulate Dnmt1 activity for further methylation.
PMCID: PMC1084342  PMID: 15799776

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