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1.  Crystal structure of signal regulatory protein gamma (SIRPγ) in complex with an antibody Fab fragment 
Signal Regulatory Protein γ (SIRPγ) is a member of a closely related family of three cell surface receptors implicated in modulating immune/inflammatory responses. SIRPγ is expressed on T lymphocytes where it appears to be involved in the integrin-independent adhesion of lymphocytes to antigen-presenting cells. Here we describe the first full length structure of the extracellular region of human SIRPγ.
We obtained crystals of SIRPγ by making a complex of the protein with the Fab fragment of the anti-SIRP antibody, OX117, which also binds to SIRPα and SIRPβ. We show that the epitope for FabOX117 is formed at the interface of the first and second domains of SIRPγ and comprises residues which are conserved between all three SIRPs. The FabOX117 binding site is distinct from the region in domain 1 which interacts with CD47, the physiological ligand for both SIRPγ and SIRPα but not SIRPβ. Comparison of the three domain structures of SIRPγ and SIRPα showed that these receptors can adopt different overall conformations due to the flexibility of the linker between the first two domains. SIRPγ in complex with FabOX117 forms a dimer in the crystal. Binding to the Fab fixes the position of domain 1 relative to domains 2/3 exposing a surface which favours formation of a homotypic dimer. However, the interaction appears to be relatively weak since only monomers of SIRPγ were observed in sedimentation velocity analytical ultracentrifugation of the protein alone. Studies of complex formation by equilibrium ultracentrifugation showed that only a 1:1 complex of SIRPγ: FabOX117 was formed with a dissociation constant in the low micromolar range (Kd = 1.2 +/− 0.3 μM).
The three-domain extracellular regions of SIRPs are structurally conserved but show conformational flexibility in the disposition of the amino terminal ligand-binding Ig domain relative to the two membrane proximal Ig domains. Binding of a cross-reactive anti-SIRP Fab fragment to SIRPγ stabilises a conformation that favours SIRP dimer formation in the crystal structure, though this interaction does not appear sufficiently stable to be observed in solution.
PMCID: PMC3716694  PMID: 23826770
Antigen-binding complex; Signal regulatory protein; Receptor structure
2.  Crystal structure of nitrogen regulatory protein IIANtr from Neisseria meningitidis 
The NMB0736 gene of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B strain MC58 encodes the putative nitrogen regulatory protein, IIANtr (abbreviated to NM-IIANtr). The homologous protein present in Escherichia coli is implicated in the control of nitrogen assimilation. As part of a structural proteomics approach to the study of pathogenic Neisseria spp., we have selected this protein for structure determination by X-ray crystallography.
The NM-IIANtr was over-expressed in E. coli and was shown to be partially mono-phosphorylated, as assessed by mass spectrometry of the purified protein.
Crystals of un-phosphorylated protein were obtained and diffraction data collected to 2.5 Å resolution. The structure of NM-IIANtr was solved by molecular replacement using the coordinates of the E. coli nitrogen regulatory protein IIAntr [PDB: 1A6J] as the starting model. The overall fold of the Neisseria enzyme shows a high degree of similarity to the IIANtr from E. coli, and the position of the phosphoryl acceptor histidine residue (H67) is conserved. The orientation of an adjacent arginine residue (R69) suggests that it may also be involved in coordinating the phosphate group. Comparison of the structure with that of E. coli IIAmtl complexed with HPr [PDB: 1J6T] indicates that NM-IIANtr binds in a similar way to the HPr-like enzyme in Neisseria.
The structure of NM-IIANtr confirms its assignment as a homologue of the IIANtr proteins found in a range of other Gram-negative bacteria. We conclude that the NM- IIANtr protein functions as part of a phosphorylation cascade which, in contrast to E. coli, shares the upstream phosphotransfer protein with the sugar uptake phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS), but in common with E. coli has a distinct downstream effector mechanism.
PMCID: PMC1201152  PMID: 16092953
3.  Novel structural features in two ZHX homeodomains derived from a systematic study of single and multiple domains 
Zhx1 to 3 (zinc-fingers and homeoboxes) form a set of paralogous genes encoding multi-domain proteins. ZHX proteins consist of two zinc fingers followed by five homeodomains. ZHXs have biological roles in cell cycle control by acting as co-repressors of the transcriptional regulator Nuclear Factor Y. As part of a structural genomics project we have expressed single and multi-domain fragments of the different human ZHX genes for use in structure determination.
A total of 30 single and multiple domain ZHX1-3 constructs selected from bioinformatics protocols were screened for soluble expression in E. coli using high throughput methodologies. Two homeodomains were crystallized leading to structures for ZHX1 HD4 and ZHX2 HD2. ZHX1 HD4, although closest matched to homeodomains from 'homez' and 'engrailed', showed structural differences, notably an additional C-terminal helix (helix V) which wrapped over helix I thereby making extensive contacts. Although ZHX2 HD2-3 was successfully expressed and purified, proteolysis occurred during crystallization yielding crystals of just HD2. The structure of ZHX2 HD2 showed an unusual open conformation with helix I undergoing 'domain-swapping' to form a homodimer.
Although multiple-domain constructs of ZHX1 selected by bioinformatics studies could be expressed solubly, only single homeodomains yielded crystals. The crystal structure of ZHX1 HD4 showed additional hydrophobic interactions relative to many known homeodomains via extensive contacts formed by the novel C-terminal helix V with, in particular, helix I. Additionally, the replacement of some charged covariant residues (which are commonly observed to form salt bridges in non-homeotherms such as the Drosophila 'engrailed' homeodomain), by apolar residues further increases hydrophobic contacts within ZHX1 HD4, and potentially stability, relative to engrailed homeodomain. ZHX1 HD4 helix V points away from the normally observed DNA major groove binding site on homeodomains and thus would not obstruct the putative binding of nucleic acid. In contrast, for ZHX2 HD2 the observed altered conformation involving rearrangement of helix I, relative to the canonical homeodomain fold, disrupts the normal DNA binding site, although protein-protein binding is possible as observed in homodimer formation.
PMCID: PMC2893186  PMID: 20509910
4.  The structure of a reduced form of OxyR from Neisseria meningitidis 
Survival of the human pathogen, Neisseria meningitidis, requires an effective response to oxidative stress resulting from the release of hydrogen peroxide by cells of the human immune system. In N. meningitidis, expression of catalase, which is responsible for detoxifying hydrogen peroxide, is controlled by OxyR, a redox responsive LysR-type regulator. OxyR responds directly to intracellular hydrogen peroxide through the reversible formation of a disulphide bond between C199 and C208 in the regulatory domain of the protein.
We report the first crystal structure of the regulatory domain of an OxyR protein (NMB0173 from N. meningitidis) in the reduced state i.e. with cysteines at positions 199 and 208. The protein was crystallized under reducing conditions and the structure determined to a resolution of 2.4 Å. The overall fold of the Neisseria OxyR shows a high degree of similarity to the structure of a C199S mutant OxyR from E. coli, which cannot form the redox sensitive disulphide. In the neisserial structure, C199 is located at the start of helix α3, separated by 18 Å from C208, which is positioned between helices α3 and α4. In common with other LysR-type regulators, full length OxyR proteins are known to assemble into tetramers. Modelling of the full length neisserial OxyR as a tetramer indicated that C199 and C208 are located close to the dimer-dimer interface in the assembled tetramer. The formation of the C199-C208 disulphide may thus affect the quaternary structure of the protein.
Given the high level of structural similarity between OxyR from N. meningitidis and E. coli, we conclude that the redox response mechanism is likely to be similar in both species, involving the reversible formation of a disulphide between C199-C208. Modelling suggests that disulphide formation would directly affect the interface between regulatory domains in an OxyR tetramer which in turn may lead to an alteration in the spacing/orientation of the DNA-binding domains and hence the interaction of OxyR with its DNA binding sites.
PMCID: PMC2881104  PMID: 20478059

Results 1-4 (4)