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1.  Analysis of the kinetic mechanism of recombinant human isoprenylcysteine carboxylmethyltransferase (Icmt) 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:19.
Isoprenylcysteine carboxyl methyltransferase (Icmt) is the third of three enzymes that posttranslationally modify proteins that contain C-terminal CaaX motifs. The processing of CaaX proteins through this so-called prenylation pathway via a route initiated by addition of an isoprenoid lipid is required for both membrane targeting and function of the proteins. The involvement of many CaaX proteins such as Ras GTPases in oncogenesis and other aberrant proliferative disorders has led to the targeting of the enzymes involved in their processing for therapeutic development, necessitating a detailed understanding of the mechanisms of the enzymes.
In this study, we have investigated the kinetic mechanism of recombinant human Icmt. In the reaction catalyzed by Icmt, S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet) provides the methyl group that is transferred to the second substrate, the C-terminal isoprenylated cysteine residue of a CaaX protein, thereby generating a C-terminal prenylcysteine methyl ester on the protein. To facilitate the kinetic analysis of Icmt, we synthesized a new small molecule substrate of the enzyme, biotin-S-farnesyl-L-cysteine (BFC). Initial kinetic analysis of Icmt suggested a sequential mechanism for the enzyme that was further analyzed using a dead end competitive inhibitor, S-farnesylthioacetic acid (FTA). Inhibition by FTA was competitive with respect to BFC and uncompetitive with respect to AdoMet, indicating an ordered mechanism with SAM binding first. To investigate the order of product dissociation, product inhibition studies were undertaken with S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine (AdoHcy) and the N-acetyl-S-farnesyl-L-cysteine methylester (AFCME). This analysis indicated that AdoHcy is a competitive inhibitor with respect to AdoMet, while AFCME shows a noncompetitive inhibition with respect to BFC and a mixed-type inhibition with respect to AdoMet. These studies established that AdoHcy is the final product released, and that BFC and AFCME bind to different forms of the enzyme.
These studies establish that catalysis by human Icmt proceeds through an ordered sequential mechanism and provide a kinetic framework for analysis of specific inhibitors of this key enzyme.
PMCID: PMC545952  PMID: 15625008
2.  Identification of α-type subunits of the Xenopus 20S proteasome and analysis of their changes during the meiotic cell cycle 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:18.
The 26S proteasome is the proteolytic machinery of the ubiquitin-dependent proteolytic system responsible for most of the regulated intracellular protein degradation in eukaryotic cells. Previously, we demonstrated meiotic cell cycle dependent phosphorylation of α4 subunit of the 26S proteasome. In this study, we analyzed the changes in the spotting pattern separated by 2-D gel electrophoresis of α subunits during Xenopus oocyte maturation.
We identified cDNA for three α-type subunits (α1, α5 and α6) of Xenopus, then prepared antibodies specific for five subunits (α1, α3, α5, α6, and α7). With these antibodies and previously described monoclonal antibodies for subunits α2 and α4, modifications to all α-type subunits of the 26S proteasome during Xenopus meiotic maturation were examined by 2D-PAGE. More than one spot for all subunits except α7 was identified. Immunoblot analysis of 26S proteasomes purified from immature and mature oocytes showed a difference in the blots of α2 and α4, with an additional spot detected in the 26S proteasome from immature oocytes (in G2-phase).
Six of α-type subunits of the Xenopus 26S proteasome are modified in Xenopus immature oocytes and two subunits (α2 and α4) are modified meiotic cell cycle-dependently.
PMCID: PMC544557  PMID: 15603592
3.  Rhodobacter capsulatus porphobilinogen synthase, a high activity metal ion independent hexamer 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:17.
The enzyme porphobilinogen synthase (PBGS), which is central to the biosynthesis of heme, chlorophyll and cobalamins, has long been known to use a variety of metal ions and has recently been shown able to exist in two very different quaternary forms that are related to metal ion usage. This paper reports new information on the metal ion independence and quaternary structure of PBGS from the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter capsulatus.
The gene for R. capsulatus PBGS was amplified from genomic DNA and sequencing revealed errors in the sequence database. R. capsulatus PBGS was heterologously expressed in E. coli and purified to homogeneity. Analysis of an unusual phylogenetic variation in metal ion usage by PBGS enzymes predicts that R. capsulatus PBGS does not utilize metal ions such as Zn2+, or Mg2+, which have been shown to act in other PBGS at either catalytic or allosteric sites. Studies with these ions and chelators confirm the predictions. A broad pH optimum was determined to be independent of monovalent cations, approximately 8.5, and the Km value shows an acidic pKa of ~6. Because the metal ions of other PBGS affect the quaternary structure, gel permeation chromatography and analytical ultracentrifugation experiments were performed to examine the quaternary structure of metal ion independent R. capsulatus PBGS. The enzyme was found to be predominantly hexameric, in contrast with most other PBGS, which are octameric. A protein concentration dependence to the specific activity suggests that the hexameric R. capsulatus PBGS is very active and can dissociate to smaller, less active, species. A homology model of hexameric R. capsulatus PBGS is presented and discussed.
The evidence presented in this paper supports the unusual position of the R. capsulatus PBGS as not requiring any metal ions for function. Unlike other wild-type PBGS, the R. capsulatus protein is a hexamer with an unusually high specific activity when compared to other octameric PBGS proteins.
PMCID: PMC535902  PMID: 15555082
4.  The "Transport Specificity Ratio": a structure-function tool to search the protein fold for loci that control transition state stability in membrane transport catalysis 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:16.
In establishing structure-function relationships for membrane transport proteins, the interpretation of phenotypic changes can be problematic, owing to uncertainties in protein expression levels, sub-cellular localization, and protein-folding fidelity. A dual-label competitive transport assay called "Transport Specificity Ratio" (TSR) analysis has been developed that is simple to perform, and circumvents the "expression problem," providing a reliable TSR phenotype (a constant) for comparison to other transporters.
Using the Escherichia coli GABA (4-aminobutyrate) permease (GabP) as a model carrier, it is demonstrated that the TSR phenotype is largely independent of assay conditions, exhibiting: (i) indifference to the particular substrate concentrations used, (ii) indifference to extreme changes (40-fold) in transporter expression level, and within broad limits (iii) indifference to assay duration. The theoretical underpinnings of TSR analysis predict all of the above observations, supporting that TSR has (i) applicability in the analysis of membrane transport, and (ii) particular utility in the face of incomplete information on protein expression levels and initial reaction rate intervals (e.g., in high-throughput screening situations). The TSR was used to identify gab permease (GabP) variants that exhibit relative changes in catalytic specificity (kcat/Km) for [14C]GABA (4-aminobutyrate) versus [3H]NA (nipecotic acid).
The TSR phenotype is an easily measured constant that reflects innate molecular properties of the transition state, and provides a reliable index of the difference in catalytic specificity that a carrier exhibits toward a particular pair of substrates. A change in the TSR phenotype, called a Δ(TSR), represents a specificity shift attributable to underlying changes in the intrinsic substrate binding energy (ΔGb) that translocation catalysts rely upon to decrease activation energy (). TSR analysis is therefore a structure-function tool that enables parsimonious scanning for positions in the protein fold that couple to the transition state, creating stability and thereby serving as functional determinants of catalytic power (efficiency, or specificity).
PMCID: PMC535561  PMID: 15548327
5.  Selective inhibition of c-Myb DNA-binding by RNA polymers 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:15.
The transcription factor c-Myb is expressed in hematopoietic progenitor cells and other rapidly proliferating tissues, regulating genes important for proliferation, differentiation and survival. The DNA-binding domain (DBD) of c-Myb contains three tandemly arranged imperfect repeats, designated Myb domain R1, R2 and R3. The three-dimensional structure of the DBD shows that only the second and third Myb domains are directly involved in sequence-specific DNA-binding, while the R1 repeat does not contact DNA and only marginally affects DNA-binding properties. No structural information is available on the N-terminal 30 residues. Since deletion of the N-terminal region including R1 plays an important role in oncogenic activation of c-Myb, we asked whether this region confers properties beyond DNA-binding to the neighbouring c-Myb DBD.
Analysis of a putative RNA-binding function of c-Myb DBD revealed that poly(G) preferentially inhibited c-Myb DNA-binding. A strong sequence-selectivity was observed when different RNA polymers were compared. Most interesting, the poly(G) sensitivity was significantly larger for a protein containing the N-terminus and the R1-repeat than for the minimal DNA-binding domain.
Preferential inhibition of c-Myb DNA binding by poly(G) RNA suggests that c-Myb is able to interact with RNA in a sequence-selective manner. While R2 and R3, but not R1, are necessary for DNA-binding, R1 seems to have a distinct role in enhancing the RNA-sensitivity of c-Myb.
PMCID: PMC533864  PMID: 15527501
6.  RNA integrity as a quality indicator during the first steps of RNP purifications : A comparison of yeast lysis methods 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:14.
The completion of several genome-sequencing projects has increased our need to assign functions to newly identified genes. The presence of a specific protein domain has been used as the determinant for suggesting a function for these new genes. In the case of proteins that are predicted to interact with mRNA, most RNAs bound by these proteins are still unknown. In yeast, several protocols for the identification of protein-protein interactions in high-throughput analyses have been developed during the last years leading to an increased understanding of cellular proteomics. If any of these protocols or similar approaches shall be used for the identification of mRNA-protein complexes, the integrity of mRNA is a critical factor.
We compared the effect of different lysis protocols on RNA integrity. We report dramatic differences in RNA stability depending on the method used for yeast cell lysis. Glass bead milling and French Press lead to degraded mRNAs even in the presence of RNase inhibitors. Thus, they are not suitable to purify intact mRNP complexes or to identify specific mRNAs bound to proteins.
We suggest a novel protocol, grinding deep-frozen cells, for the preparation of protein extracts that contain intact RNAs, as lysis method for the purification of mRNA-protein complexes from yeast cells.
PMCID: PMC524479  PMID: 15461782
7.  Site-specific mutagenesis of Drosophila proliferating cell nuclear antigen enhances its effects on calf thymus DNA polymerase δ 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:13.
We and others have shown four distinct and presumably related effects of mammalian proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) on DNA synthesis catalyzed by mammalian DNA polymerase δ(pol δ). In the presence of homologous PCNA, pol δ exhibits 1) increased absolute activity; 2) increased processivity of DNA synthesis; 3) stable binding of synthetic oligonucleotide template-primers (t1/2 of the pol δ•PCNA•template-primer complex ≥2.5 h); and 4) enhanced synthesis of DNA opposite and beyond template base lesions. This last effect is potentially mutagenic in vivo. Biochemical studies performed in parallel with in vivo genetic analyses, would represent an extremely powerful approach to investigate further, both DNA replication and repair in eukaryotes.
Drosophila PCNA, although highly similar in structure to mammalian PCNA (e.g., it is >70% identical to human PCNA in amino acid sequence), can only substitute poorly for either calf thymus or human PCNA (~10% as well) in affecting calf thymus pol δ. However, by mutating one or only a few amino acids in the region of Drosophila PCNA thought to interact with pol δ, all four effects can be enhanced dramatically.
Our results therefore suggest that all four above effects depend at least in part on the PCNA-pol δ interaction. Moreover unlike mammals, Drosophila offers the potential for immediate in vivo genetic analyses. Although it has proven difficult to obtain sufficient amounts of homologous pol δ for parallel in vitro biochemical studies, by altering Drosophila PCNA using site-directed mutagenesis as suggested by our results, in vitro biochemical studies may now be performed using human and/or calf thymus pol δ preparations.
PMCID: PMC515284  PMID: 15310391
8.  A single amino acid determines preference between phospholipids and reveals length restriction for activation ofthe S1P4 receptor 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:12.
Sphingosine-1-phosphate and lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) are ligands for two related families of G protein-coupled receptors, the S1P and LPA receptors, respectively. The lysophospholipid ligands of these receptors are structurally similar, however recognition of these lipids by these receptors is highly selective. A single residue present within the third transmembrane domain (TM) of S1P receptors is thought to determine ligand selectivity; replacement of the naturally occurring glutamic acid with glutamine (present at this position in the LPA receptors) has previously been shown to be sufficient to change the specificity of S1P1 from S1P to 18:1 LPA.
We tested whether mutation of this "ligand selectivity" residue to glutamine could confer LPA-responsiveness to the related S1P receptor, S1P4. This mutation severely affected the response of S1P4 to S1P in a [35S]GTPγS binding assay, and imparted sensitivity to LPA species in the order 14:0 LPA > 16:0 LPA > 18:1 LPA. These results indicate a length restriction for activation of this receptor and demonstrate the utility of using LPA-responsive S1P receptor mutants to probe binding pocket length using readily available LPA species. Computational modelling of the interactions between these ligands and both wild type and mutant S1P4 receptors showed excellent agreement with experimental data, therefore confirming the fundamental role of this residue in ligand recognition by S1P receptors.
Glutamic acid in the third transmembrane domain of the S1P receptors is a general selectivity switch regulating response to S1P over the closely related phospholipids, LPA. Mutation of this residue to glutamine confers LPA responsiveness with preference for short-chain species. The preference for short-chain LPA species indicates a length restriction different from the closely related S1P1 receptor.
PMCID: PMC514652  PMID: 15298705
9.  Characterization of yeast histone H3-specific type B histone acetyltransferases identifies an ADA2-independent Gcn5p activity 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:11.
The acetylation of the core histone NH2-terminal tails is catalyzed by histone acetyltransferases. Histone acetyltransferases can be classified into two distinct groups (type A and B) on the basis of cellular localization and substrate specificity. Type B histone acetyltransferases, originally defined as cytoplasmic enzymes that acetylate free histones, have been proposed to play a role in the assembly of chromatin through the acetylation of newly synthesized histones H3 and H4. To date, the only type B histone acetyltransferase activities identified are specific for histone H4.
To better understand the role of histone acetylation in the assembly of chromatin structure, we have identified additional type B histone acetyltransferase activities specific for histone H3. One such activity, termed HatB3.1, acetylated histone H3 with a strong preference for free histones relative to chromatin substrates. Deletion of the GCN5 and ADA3 genes resulted in the loss of HatB3.1 activity while deletion of ADA2 had no effect. In addition, Gcn5p and Ada3p co-fractionated with partially purified HatB3.1 activity while Ada2p did not.
Yeast extracts contain several histone acetyltransferase activities that show a strong preference for free histone H3. One such activity, termed HatB3.1, appears to be a novel Gcn5p-containing complex which does not depend on the presence of Ada2p.
PMCID: PMC509278  PMID: 15274751
10.  The molecular basis of electroporation 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:10.
Electroporation is a common method to introduce foreign molecules into cells, but its molecular basis is poorly understood. Here I investigate the mechanism of pore formation by direct molecular dynamics simulations of phospholipid bilayers of a size of 256 and of more than 2000 lipids as well as simulations of simpler interface systems with applied electric fields of different strengths.
In a bilayer of 26 × 29 nm multiple pores form independently with sizes of up to 10 nm on a time scale of nanoseconds with an applied field of 0.5 V/nm. Pore formation is accompanied by curving of the bilayer. In smaller bilayers of ca. 6 × 6 nm, a single pore forms on a nanosecond time scale in lipid bilayers with applied fields of at least 0.4 V/nm, corresponding to transmembrane voltages of ca. 3 V. The presence of 1 M salt does not seem to change the mechanism. In an even simpler system, consisting of a 3 nm thick octane layer, pores also form, despite the fact that there are no charged headgroups and no salt in this system. In all cases pore formation begins with the formation of single-file like water defects penetrating into the bilayer or octane.
The simulations suggest that pore formation is driven by local electric field gradients at the water/lipid interface. Water molecules move in these field gradients, which increases the probability of water defects penetrating into the bilayer interior. Such water defects cause a further increase in the local electric field, accelerating the process of pore formation. The likelihood of pore formation appears to be increased by local membrane defects involving lipid headgroups. Simulations with and without salt show little difference in the observed pore formation process. The resulting pores are hydrophilic, lined by phospholipid headgroups.
PMCID: PMC489962  PMID: 15260890
11.  Mutation of exposed hydrophobic amino acids to arginine to increase protein stability 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:9.
One strategy to increase the stability of proteins is to reduce the area of water-accessible hydrophobic surface.
In order to test it, we replaced 14 solvent-exposed hydrophobic residues of acetylcholinesterase by arginine. The stabilities of the resulting proteins were tested using denaturation by high temperature, organic solvents, urea and by proteolytic digestion.
Altough the mutational effects were rather small, this strategy proved to be successful since half of the mutants showed an increased stability. This stability may originate from the suppression of unfavorable interactions of nonpolar residues with water or from addition of new hydrogen bonds with the solvent. Other mechanisms may also contribute to the increased stability observed with some mutants. For example, introduction of a charge at the surface of the protein may provide a new coulombic interaction on the protein surface.
PMCID: PMC479692  PMID: 15251041
12.  The VSFASSQQ motif confers calcium sensitivity to the intracellular apyrase LALP70 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:8.
Apyrases are divalent ion dependent tri- and dinucleotide phosphatases with different substrate specificity. The intracellular lysosomal apyrase LALP70 is also expressed as a splice variant (LALP70v) lacking a VSFASSQQ motif in the center of the molecule (aminoacids 287–294). However, the functional significance of this motif is unknown. In this report we used a thin layer chromatography approach to study separately the UTPase and UDPase activity of the two LALP-enzymes.
We show, that LALP70 and LALP70v cleaved UTP to UDP in a calcium independent manner. In contrast, the cleavage of UDP to UMP was strongly calcium dependent for LALP70, but calcium independent for LALP70v.
The VSFASSQQ motif not only influences the substrate specificity of LALP70, but it confers calcium sensitivity to LALP70 during the UDP cleavage. Whether this is due to direct binding of calcium to this motif or to a conformational change of the enzyme, remains to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC443525  PMID: 15200686
13.  Characterization of a Nudix hydrolase from Deinococcus radiodurans with a marked specificity for (deoxy)ribonucleoside 5'-diphosphates 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:7.
Nudix hydrolases form a protein family whose function is to hydrolyse intracellular nucleotides and so regulate their levels and eliminate potentially toxic derivatives. The genome of the radioresistant bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans encodes 25 nudix hydrolases, an unexpectedly large number. These may contribute to radioresistance by removing mutagenic oxidised and otherwise damaged nucleotides. Characterisation of these hydrolases is necessary to understand the reason for their presence. Here, we report the cloning and characterisation of the DR0975 gene product, a nudix hydrolase that appears to be unique to this organism.
The DR0975 gene was cloned and expressed as a 20 kDa histidine-tagged recombinant product in Escherichia coli. Substrate analysis of the purified enzyme showed it to act primarily as a phosphatase with a marked preference for (deoxy)nucleoside 5'-diphosphates (dGDP > ADP > dADP > GDP > dTDP > UDP > dCDP > CDP). Km for dGDP was 110 μM and kcat was 0.18 s-1 under optimal assay conditions (pH 9.4, 7.5 mM Mg2+). 8-Hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine 5'-diphosphate (8-OH-dGDP) was also a substrate with a Km of 170 μM and kcat of 0.13 s-1. Thus, DR0975 showed no preference for 8-OH-dGDP over dGDP. Limited pyrophosphatase activity was also observed with NADH and some (di)adenosine polyphosphates but no other substrates. Expression of the DR0975 gene was undetectable in logarithmic phase cells but was induced at least 30-fold in stationary phase. Superoxide, but not peroxide, stress and slow, but not rapid, dehydration both caused a slight induction of the DR0975 gene.
Nucleotide substrates for nudix hydrolases conform to the structure NDP-X, where X can be one of several moieties. Thus, a preference for (d)NDPs themselves is most unusual. The lack of preference for 8-OH-dGDP over dGDP as a substrate combined with the induction in stationary phase, but not by peroxide or superoxide, suggests that the function of DR09075 may be to assist in the recycling of nucleotides under the very different metabolic requirements of stationary phase. Thus, if DR0975 does contribute to radiation resistance, this contribution may be indirect.
PMCID: PMC428907  PMID: 15147580
14.  Integrated allosteric regulation in the S. cerevisiae carbamylphosphate synthetase – aspartate transcarbamylase multifunctional protein 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:6.
The S. cerevisiae carbamylphosphate synthetase – aspartate transcarbamylase multifunctional protein catalyses the first two reactions of the pyrimidine pathway. In this organism, these two reactions are feedback inhibited by the end product UTP. In the present work, the mechanisms of these integrated inhibitions were studied.
The results obtained show that the inhibition is competitive in the case of carbamylphosphate synthetase and non-competitive in the case of aspartate transcarbamylase. They also identify the substrate whose binding is altered by this nucleotide and the step of the carbamylphosphate synthetase reaction which is inhibited. Furthermore, the structure of the domains catalyzing these two reactions were modelled in order to localize the mutations which, specifically, alter the aspartate transcarbamylase sensitivity to the feedback inhibitor UTP. Taken together, the results make it possible to propose a model for the integrated regulation of the two activities of the complex. UTP binds to a regulatory site located in the vicinity of the carbamylphosphate synthetase catalytic subsite which catalyzes the third step of this enzyme reaction. Through a local conformational change, this binding decreases, competitively, the affinity of this site for the substrate ATP. At the same time, through a long distance signal transmission process it allosterically decreases the affinity of the aspartate transcarbamylase catalytic site for the substrate aspartate.
This investigation provides informations about the mechanisms of allosteric inhibition of the two activities of the CPSase-ATCase complex. Although many allosteric monofunctional enzymes were studied, this is the first report on integrated allosteric regulation in a multifunctional protein. The positions of the point mutations which specifically abolish the sensitivity of aspartate transcarbamylase to UTP define an interface between the carbamylphosphate synthetase and aspartate transcarbamylase domains, through which the allosteric signal for the regulation of aspartate transcarbamylase must be propagated.
PMCID: PMC434488  PMID: 15128434
15.  Suppression of nitric oxide production in mouse macrophages by soybean flavonoids accumulated in response to nitroprusside and fungal elicitation 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:5.
The anti-inflammatory properties of some flavonoids have been attributed to their ability to inhibit the production of NO by activated macrophages. Soybean cotyledons accumulate certain flavonoids following elicitation with an extract of the fungal pathogen Diaporthe phaseolorum f. sp. meridionalis (Dpm). Sodium nitroprusside (SNP), a nitric oxide donor, can substitute for Dpm in inducing flavonoid production. In this study, we investigated the effect of flavonoid-containing diffusates obtained from Dpm- and SNP-elicited soybean cotyledons on NO production by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)- and LPS plus interferon-γ (IFNγ)-activated murine macrophages.
Significant inhibition of NO production, measured as nitrite formation, was observed when macrophages were activated in the presence of soybean diffusates from Dpm- or SNP-elicited cotyledons. This inhibition was dependent on the duration of exposure to the elicitor. Daidzein, genistein, luteolin and apigenin, the main flavonoids present in diffusates of elicited cotyledons, suppressed the NO production by LPS + IFNγ activated macrophages in a concentration-dependent manner, with IC50 values of 81.4 μM, 34.5 μM, 38.6 μM and 10.4 μM respectively. For macrophages activated with LPS alone, the IC50 values were 40.0 μM, 16.6 μM, 10.4 μM and 2.8 μM, respectively. Western blot analysis showed that iNOS expression was not affected by daidzein, was reduced by genistein, and was abolished by apigenin, luteolin and Dpm- and SNP-soybean diffusates at concentrations that significantly inhibited NO production by activated macrophages.
These results suggest that the suppressive effect of flavonoids on iNOS expression could account for the potent inhibitory effect of Dpm- and SNP-diffusates on NO production by activated macrophages. Since the physiological concentration of flavonoids in plants is normally low, the treatment of soybean tissues with SNP may provide a simple method for substantially increasing the concentration of metabolites that are beneficial for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases associated with NO production.
PMCID: PMC408346  PMID: 15102332
16.  Radiolabeling of lipo-chitooligosaccharides using the NodH sulfotransferase: a two-step enzymatic procedure  
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:4.
The NodH sulfotransferase from Sinorhizobium meliloti has been used to radiolabel lipochitooligosaccharidic (LCO) Nod factor signals with 35S from inorganic sulfate in a two-step enzymatic procedure. The first step involved the production of 3'-phosphoadenosine 5'-phosphosulfate (PAPS), a sulphate donor, using enzymes contained in a yeast extract, and the second step used the NodH enzyme. However with this established procedure, only a low incorporation of the initial inorganic sulfate into the Nod factors was obtained (about 7% after purification of the labeled compounds). The aim of this work was to optimize the radiolabelling of Nod factors with 35S.
The limiting step has been shown to be the sulfation of ATP and its subsequent conversion into PAPS (first step), the sulfate donor for the NodH sulfotransferase activity (second step). By the addition of GTP to the reaction mixture and by manipulating the [ATP]/[Mg2+] ratio the yield of PAPS has been increased from 13% to 80%. Using the radiolabeled PAPS we have shown that the efficiency of sulfate transfer to LCOs, by the recombinant S. meliloti NodH sulfotransferase is strongly influenced by the length of the oligosaccharide chain. Variations in the substitutions on the non-reducing sugar, including the structure of the fatty acyl chain, had little effect and Nod factors from the heterologous bacterium Rhizobium tropici could be sulfated by NodH from S. meliloti.
By characterizing the two steps we have optimized the procedure to radiolabel biologically-important, lipo-chitooligosaccharide (LCO) Nod factors to a specific radioactivity of about 800 Ci.mmol-1 with an incorporation of 60% of the initial inorganic sulfate. The two-step sulfation procedure may be used to radiolabel a variety of related LCO molecules.
PMCID: PMC404373  PMID: 15084228
17.  Molecular cloning, gene structure and expression profile of two mouse peroxisomal 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase genes 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:3.
In rats, two peroxisomal 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase genes (A and B) have been cloned, whereas only one thiolase gene is found in humans. The aim of this study was thus to clone the different mouse thiolase genes in order to study both their tissue expression and their associated enzymatic activity.
In this study, we cloned and characterized two mouse peroxisomal 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase genes (termed thiolase A and B). Both thiolase A and B genes contain 12 exons and 11 introns. Using RNA extracted from mouse liver, we cloned the two corresponding cDNAs. Thiolase A and B cDNAs possess an open reading frame of 1272 nucleotides encoding a protein of 424 amino acids. In the coding sequence, the two thiolase genes exhibited ≈97% nucleotide sequence identity and ≈96% identity at the amino acid level. The tissue-specific expression of the two peroxisomal 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase genes was studied in mice. Thiolase A mRNA was mainly expressed in liver and intestine, while thiolase B mRNA essentially exhibited hepatic expression and weaker levels in kidney, intestine and white adipose tissue. Thiolase A and B expressions in the other tissues such as brain or muscle were very low though these tissues were chiefly involved in peroxisomal disorders. At the enzymatic level, thiolase activity was detected in liver, kidney, intestine and white adipose tissue but no significant difference was observed between these four tissues. Moreover, thiolase A and B genes were differently induced in liver of mice treated with fenofibrate.
Two mouse thiolase genes and cDNAs were cloned. Their corresponding transcripts are mostly expressed in the liver of mice and are differently induced by fenofibrate.
PMCID: PMC404372  PMID: 15043762
18.  Lipid phosphate phosphatases dimerise, but this interaction is not required for in vivo activity 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:2.
Lipid phosphate phosphatases (LPPs) are integral membrane proteins believed to dephosphorylate bioactive lipid messengers, so modifying or attenuating their activities. Wunen, a Drosophila LPP homologue, has been shown to play a pivotal role in primordial germ cell (PGC) migration and survival during embryogenesis. It has been hypothesised that LPPs may form oligomeric complexes, and may even function as hexamers. We were interested in exploring this possibility, to confirm whether LPPs can oligomerise, and if they do, whether oligomerisation is required for either in vitro or in vivo activity.
We present evidence that Wunen dimerises, that these associations require the last thirty-five C-terminal amino-acids and depend upon the presence of an intact catalytic site. Expression of a truncated, monomeric form of Wunen in Drosophila embryos results in perturbation of germ cell migration and germ cell loss, as observed for full-length Wunen. We also observed that murine LPP-1 and human LPP-3 can also form associations, but do not form interactions with Wunen or each other. Furthermore, Wunen does not form dimers with its closely related counterpart Wunen-2. Finally we discovered that addition of a trimeric myc tag to the C-terminus of Wunen does not prevent dimerisation or in vitro activity, but does prevent activity in vivo.
LPPs do form complexes, but these do not seem to be specifically required for activity either in vitro or in vivo. Since neither dimerisation nor the C-terminus seem to be involved in substrate recognition, they may instead confer structural or functional stability through dimerisation. The results indicate that the associations we see are highly specific and occur only between monomers of the same protein.
PMCID: PMC319698  PMID: 14725715
19.  Physicochemical characterization of the endotoxins from Coxiella burnetii strain Priscilla in relation to their bioactivities 
BMC Biochemistry  2004;5:1.
Coxiella burnetii is the etiological agent of Q fever found worldwide. The microorganism has like other Gram-negative bacteria a lipopolysaccharide (LPS, endotoxin) in its outer membrane, which is important for the pathogenicity of the bacteria. In order to understand the biological activity of LPS, a detailed physico-chemical analysis of LPS is of utmost importace.
The lipid A moiety of LPS is tetraacylated and has longer (C-16) acyl chains than most other lipid A from enterobacterial strains. The two ester-linked 3-OH fatty acids found in the latter are lacking. The acyl chains of the C. burnetii endotoxins exhibit a broad melting range between 5 and 25°C for LPS and 10 and 40°C for lipid A. The lipid A moiety has a cubic inverted aggregate structure, and the inclination angle of the D-glucosamine disaccharide backbone plane of the lipid A part with respect to the membrane normal is around 40°. Furthermore, the endotoxins readily intercalate into phospholipid liposomes mediated by the lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP). The endotoxin-induced tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) production in human mononuclear cells is one order of magnitude lower than that found for endotoxins from enterobacterial strains, whereas the same activity as in the latter compounds is found in the clotting reaction of the Limulus amebocyte lysate assay.
Despite a considerably different chemical primary structure of the C. burnetii lipid A in comparison with enterobacterial lipid A, the data can be well understood by applying the previously presented conformational concept of endotoxicity, a conical shape of the lipid A moiety of LPS and a sufficiently high inclination of the sugar backbone plane with respect to the membrane plane. Importantly, the role of the acyl chain fluidity in modulating endotoxicity now becomes more evident.
PMCID: PMC331395  PMID: 14715092

Results 1-19 (19)