Protein Science

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Wiley Online Library : Protein Science
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CD and NMR investigation of collagen peptides mimicking a pathological Gly–Ser mutation and a natural interruption in a similar highly charged sequence context

Thu, 11/26/2015 - 23:23
Abstract

Even a single Gly substitution in the triple helix domain of collagen leads to pathological conditions while natural interruptions are suggested to play important functional roles. Two peptides—one mimicking a pathological Gly–Ser substitution (ERSEQ) and the other one modeling a similar natural interruption sequence (DRSER)—are designed to facilitate the comparison for elucidating the molecular basis of their different biological roles. CD and NMR investigation of peptide ERSEQ indicates a reduction of the thermal stability and disruption of hydrogen bonding at the Ser mutation site, providing a structural basis of the OI disease resulting from the Gly–Ser mutation in the highly charged RGE environment. Both CD and NMR real-time folding results indicate that peptide ERSEQ displays a comparatively slower folding rate than peptide DRSER, suggesting that the Gly–Ser mutation may lead to a larger interference in folding than the natural interruption in a similar RSE context. Our studies suggest that unlike the rigid GPO environment, the abundant R(K)GE(D) motif may provide a more flexible sequence environment that better accommodates mutations as well as interruptions, while the electrostatic interactions contribute to its stability. These results shed insight into the molecular features of the highly charged motif and may aid the design of collagen biomimetic peptides containing important biological sites.

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Redox-dependent disulfide bond formation in SAP30L corepressor protein: Implications for structure and function

Thu, 11/26/2015 - 18:03
Abstract

Sin3A-associated protein 30-like (SAP30L) is one of the key proteins in a multi-subunit protein complex involved in transcriptional regulation via histone deacetylation. SAP30L, together with a highly homologous SAP30 as well as other SAP proteins (i.e., SAP25, SAP45, SAP130 and SAP180), is an essential component of the Sin3A corepressor complex, although its actual role has remained elusive. SAP30L is thought to function as an important stabilizing and bridging molecule in the complex and to mediate its interactions with other corepressors. SAP30L has been previously shown to contain an N-terminal Cys3His type zinc finger (ZnF) motif, which is responsible for the key protein-protein, protein-DNA and protein-lipid interactions. By using high-resolution mass spectrometry, we studied a redox-dependent disulfide bond formation in SAP30L ZnF as a regulatory mechanism for its structure and function. We showed that upon oxidative stress SAP30L undergoes the formation of two specific disulfide bonds, a vicinal Cys29-Cys30 and Cys38-Cys74, with a concomitant release of the coordinated zinc ion. The oxidized protein was shown to remain folded in solution and to bind signaling phospholipids. We also determined a solution NMR structure for SAP30L ZnF that showed an overall fold similar to that of SAP30, determined earlier. The NMR titration experiments with lipids and DNA showed that the binding is mediated by the C-terminal tail as well as both α-helices of SAP30L ZnF. The implications of these results for the structure and function of SAP30L are discussed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Characterizing a partially ordered miniprotein through folding molecular dynamics simulations: Comparison with the experimental data

Thu, 11/26/2015 - 18:03
Abstract

The villin headpiece helical subdomain (HP36) is one of the best known model systems for computational studies of fast-folding all-α miniproteins. HP21 is a peptide fragment –derived from HP36– comprising only the first and second helices of the full domain. Experimental studies showed that although HP21 is mostly unfolded in solution, it does maintain some persistent native-like structure as indicated by the analysis of NMR-derived chemical shifts. Here we compare the experimental data for HP21 with the results obtained from a 15 μs long folding molecular dynamics simulation performed in explicit water and with full electrostatics. We find that the simulation is in good agreement with the experiment and faithfully reproduces the major experimental findings, namely that (a) HP21 is disordered in solution with less that 10% of the trajectory corresponding to transiently stable structures, (b) the most highly populated conformer is a native-like structure with an RMSD from the corresponding portion of the HP36 crystal structure of less than 1Å, (c) the simulation-derived chemical shifts –over the whole length of the trajectory– are in reasonable agreement with the experiment giving reduced χ2 values of 1.6, 1.4 and 0.8 for the Δδ13Cα, Δδ13CO and Δδ13Cβ secondary shifts respectively (becoming 0.8, 0.7, and 0.3 when only the major peptide conformer is considered), and finally, (d) the secondary structure propensity scores are in very good agreement with the experiment and clearly indicate the higher stability of the first helix. We conclude that folding molecular dynamics simulations can be a useful tool for the structural characterization of even marginally stable peptides. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Evolution of a Protein Folding Nucleus

Thu, 11/26/2015 - 10:53
Abstract

The folding nucleus (FN) is a cryptic element within protein primary structure that enables an efficient folding pathway and is the postulated heritable element in the evolution of protein architecture; however, almost nothing is known regarding how the FN structurally changes as complex protein architecture evolves from simpler peptide motifs. We report characterization of the FN of a designed purely-symmetric β-trefoil protein by ϕ-value analysis. We compare the structure and folding properties of key foldable intermediates along the evolutionary trajectory of the β-trefoil. The results show structural acquisition of the FN during gene fusion events, incorporating novel turn structure created by gene fusion. Furthermore, the FN is adjusted by circular permutation in response to destabilizing functional mutation. FN plasticity by way of circular permutation is made possible by the intrinsic C3 cyclic symmetry of the β-trefoil architecture, identifying a possible selective advantage that helps explain the prevalence of cyclic structural symmetry in the proteome. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Issue Information

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 10:16
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In This Issue

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 10:16
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Outer domains of integrase within retroviral intasomes are dispensible for catalysis of DNA integration

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 02:56
Abstract

Retroviral DNA integration is mediated by nucleoprotein complexes (intasomes) comprising a pair of viral DNA ends synapsed by a tetramer of integrase. Current integrase inhibitors act on intasomes rather than free integrase protein. Structural and functional studies of intasomes are essential to understand their mechanism of action and how the virus can escape by mutation. To date, prototype foamy virus (PFV) is the only retrovirus for which high-resolution structures of intasomes have been determined. In the PFV intasome structure, only the core domains of the outer subunits are ordered; the N-terminal domain, C-terminal domain, and N-terminal extension domain are disordered. Are these “missing domains” required for function or are they dispensable? We have devised a strategy to assemble “hetero-intasomes” in which the outer domains are not present as a tool to assess the functional role of the missing domains for catalysis of integration. We find that the disordered domains of outer subunits are not required for intasome assembly or catalytic activity as catalytic core domains can substitute for the outer subunits in the case of both PFV and HIV-1 intasomes.

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Effect of methylation on the side-chain pKa value of arginine

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 02:56
Abstract

Arginine methylation is important in biological systems. Recent studies link the deregulation of protein arginine methyltransferases with certain cancers. To assess the impact of methylation on interaction with other biomolecules, the pKa values of methylated arginine variants were determined using NMR data. The pKa values of monomethylated, symmetrically dimethylated, and asymmetrically dimethylated arginine are similar to the unmodified arginine (14.2 ± 0.4). Although the pKa value has not been significantly affected by methylation, consequences of methylation include changes in charge distribution and steric effects, suggesting alternative mechanisms for recognition.

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Structural investigations of the p53/p73 homologs from the tunicate species Ciona intestinalis reveal the sequence requirements for the formation of a tetramerization domain

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 00:10
Abstract

Most members of the p53 family of transcription factors form tetramers. Responsible for determining the oligomeric state is a short oligomerization domain consisting of one β-strand and one α-helix. With the exception of human p53 all other family members investigated so far contain a second α-helix as part of their tetramerization domain. Here we have used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to characterize the oligomerization domains of the two p53-like proteins from the tunicate Ciona intestinalis, representing the closest living relative of vertebrates. Structure determination reveals for one of the two proteins a new type of packing of this second α-helix on the core domain that was not predicted based on the sequence, while the other protein does not form a second helix despite the presence of crucial residues that are conserved in all other family members that form a second helix. By mutational analysis, we identify a proline as well as large hydrophobic residues in the hinge region between both helices as the crucial determinant for the formation of a second helix.

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Single fluorescence probes along the reactive center loop reveal site-specific changes during the latency transition of PAI-1

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 00:10
Abstract

The serine protease inhibitor (serpin), plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), is an important biomarker for cardiovascular disease and many cancers. It is therefore a desirable target for pharmaceutical intervention. However, to date, no PAI-1 inhibitor has successfully reached clinical trial, indicating the necessity to learn more about the mechanics of the serpin. Although its kinetics of inhibition have been extensively studied, less is known about the latency transition of PAI-1, in which the solvent-exposed reactive center loop (RCL) inserts into its central β-sheet, rendering the inhibitor inactive. This spontaneous transition is concomitant with a large translocation of the RCL, but no change in covalent structure. Here, we conjugated the fluorescent probe, NBD, to single positions along the RCL (P13-P5′) to detect changes in solvent exposure that occur during the latency transition. The results support a mousetrap-like RCL-insertion that occurs with a half-life of 1–2 h in accordance with previous reports. Importantly, this study exposes unique transitions during latency that occur with a half-life of ∼5 and 25 min at the P5′ and P8 RCL positions, respectively. We hypothesize that the process detected at P5′ represents s1C detachment, while that at P8 results from a steric barrier to RCL insertion. Together, these findings provide new insights by characterizing multiple steps in the latency transition.

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Evidence for an essential role of intradimer interaction in catalytic function of carnosine dipeptidase II using electrospray-ionization mass spectrometry

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 00:10
Abstract

Carnosine dipeptidase II (CN2/CNDP2) is an M20 family metallopeptidase that hydrolyses various dipeptides including β-alanyl-l-histidine (carnosine). Crystallographic analysis showed that CN2 monomer is composed of one catalytic and one dimerization domains, and likely to form homodimer. In this crystal, H228 residue of the dimerization domain interacts with the substrate analogue bestatin on the active site of the dimer counterpart, indicating that H228 is involved in enzymatic reaction. In the present study, the role of intradimer interaction of CN2 in its catalytic activity was investigated using electrospray-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ESI-TOF MS). First, a dimer interface mutant I319K was prepared and shown to be present as a folded monomer in solution as examined by using ESI-TOF MS. Since the mutant was inactive, it was suggested that dimer formation is essential to its enzymatic activity. Next, we prepared H228A and D132A mutant proteins with different N-terminal extended sequences, which enabled us to monitor dimer exchange reaction by ESI-TOF MS. The D132A mutant is a metal ligand mutant and also inactive. But the activity was partially recovered time-dependently when H228A and D132A mutant proteins were incubated together. In parallel, H228A/D132A heterodimer was formed as detected by ESI-TOF MS, indicating that interaction of a catalytic center with H228 residue of the other subunit is essential to the enzymatic reaction. These results provide evidence showing that intradimer interaction of H228 with the reaction center of the dimer counterpart is essential to the enzymatic activity of CN2.

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Distribution of single nucleotide variants on protein-protein interaction sites and its relation to minor allele frequency

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 18:44
Abstract

Recent advances in DNA sequencing techniques have identified rare single nucleotide variants with less than 1% minor allele frequency. Despite the growing interest and physiological importance of rare variants in genome sciences, less attention has been paid to the allele frequency of variants in protein sciences. To elucidate the characteristics of genetic variants on protein interaction sites, from the viewpoints of the allele frequency and the structural position of variants, we mapped about 20,000 human SNVs onto protein complexes. We found that variants are less abundant in protein interfaces, and specifically the core regions of interfaces. The tendency to “avoid” the interfacial core is stronger among common variants than rare variants. As amino acid substitutions, the trend of mutating amino acids among rare variants is consistent in different interfacial regions, reflecting the fact that rare variants result from random mutations in DNA sequences, whereas amino acid changes of common variants vary between the interfacial core and rim regions, possibly due to functional constraints on proteins. This study illustrated how the allele frequency of variants relates to the protein structural regions and the functional sites in general, and will lead to deeper understanding of the potential deleteriousness of rare variants at the structural level. Exceptional cases of the observed trends will shed light on the limitations of structural approaches to evaluate the functional impacts of variants. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Recollection

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 18:24
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Using experimental evolution to probe molecular mechanisms of protein function

Sat, 11/14/2015 - 04:15
Abstract

Directed evolution is a powerful tool for engineering protein function. The process of directed evolution involves iterative rounds of sequence diversification followed by assaying activity of variants and selection. The range of sequence variants and linked activities generated in the course of an evolution are a rich information source for investigating relationships between sequence and function. Key residue positions determining protein function, combinatorial contributors to activity and even potential functional mechanisms have been revealed in directed evolutions. The recent application of high throughput sequencing substantially increases the information that can be retrieved from directed evolution experiments. Combined with computational analysis this additional sequence information has allowed high-resolution analysis of individual residue contributions to activity. These developments promise to significantly enhance the depth of insight that experimental evolution provides into mechanisms of protein function.

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Distinct Encounter Complexes of PAI-1 with Plasminogen Activators and Vitronectin Revealed by Changes in the Conformation and Dynamics of the Reactive Center Loop

Mon, 11/09/2015 - 06:39
Abstract

Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) is a biologically important serine protease inhibitor (serpin) that, when overexpressed, is associated with a high risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer metastasis. Several of its ligands, including vitronectin, tissue-type and urokinase-type plasminogen activator (tPA, uPA), affect the fate of PAI-1. Here, we measured changes in the solvent accessibility and dynamics of an important unresolved functional region, the reactive center loop (RCL), upon binding of these ligands. Binding of the catalytically inactive S195A variant of tPA to the RCL causes an increase in fluorescence, indicating greater solvent protection, at its C-terminus, while mobility along the loop remains relatively unchanged. In contrast, a fluorescence increase and large decrease in mobility at the N-terminal RCL is observed upon binding of S195A-uPA to PAI-1. At a site distant from the RCL, binding of vitronectin results in a modest decrease in fluorescence at its proximal end without restricting overall loop dynamics. These results provide the new evidence for ligand effects on RCL conformation and dynamics and differences in the Michaelis complex with plasminogen activators that can be used for the development of more specific inhibitors to PAI-1. This study is also the first to use electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy to investigate PAI-1 dynamics. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Rational design of a monomeric and photostable far-red fluorescent protein for fluorescence imaging in vivo

Mon, 11/09/2015 - 06:38
Abstract

Fluorescent proteins (FPs) are powerful tools for cell and molecular biology. Here we report that based on structural analysis, we have rationally designed a blue-shifted mutant of a recently engineered monomeric infrared fluorescent protein (mIFP). This variant, named iBlueberry, bears a single mutation that shifts both excitation and emission spectra by ∼40 nm. Furthermore, iBlueberry is four times more photostable than mIFP, rendering it more advantageous for imaging protein dynamics. By tagging iBlueberry to centrin, we demonstrate that the fusion protein labels the centrosome in the developing zebrafish embryo. Together with GFP-labeled nucleus and tdTomato-labeled plasma membrane, we performed time-lapse imaging to visualize the dynamics of centrosomes in radial glia neural progenitors in the intact zebrafish brain. We further show that iBlueberry can be used together with mIFP in two-color protein labeling in living cells and in two-color tumor labeling in mice. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Structure of the N-terminal domain of the metalloprotease PrtV from Vibrio cholerae

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 06:34
Abstract

The metalloprotease PrtV from Vibrio cholerae serves an important function for the ability of bacteria to invade the mammalian host cell. The protein belongs to the family of M6 proteases, with a characteristic zinc ion in the catalytic active site. PrtV constitutes a 918 amino acids (102 kDa) multidomain pre-pro-protein that undergoes several N- and C-terminal modifications to form a catalytically active protease. We report here the NMR structure of the PrtV N-terminal domain (residues 23–103) that contains two short α-helices in a coiled coil motif. The helices are held together by a cluster of hydrophobic residues. Approximately 30 residues at the C-terminal end, which were predicted to form a third helical structure, are disordered. These residues are highly conserved within the genus Vibrio, which suggests that they might be functionally important.

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Use of carbonate extraction in analyzing moderately hydrophobic transmembrane proteins in the mitochondrial inner membrane

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 06:33
Abstract

Resistance to sodium carbonate extraction is regarded as a canonical way to distinguish integral membrane proteins (MPs) from other membrane-associated proteins. However, it has been observed that carbonate extraction releases some mitochondrial integral MPs. Here, by analyzing both artificially designed and native mitochondrial inner MPs containing transmembrane domains (TMDs) of different hydrophobicities, we show that carbonate treatment can release moderately hydrophobic TMDs from the mitochondrial inner membrane. These results suggest that resistance and sensitivity to carbonate extraction may be interpreted with caution when analyzing the nature of mitochondrial inner MPs.

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AB-Bind: Antibody binding mutational database for computational affinity predictions

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 06:33
Abstract

Antibodies (Abs) are a crucial component of the immune system and are often used as diagnostic and therapeutic agents. The need for high-affinity and high-specificity antibodies in research and medicine is driving the development of computational tools for accelerating antibody design and discovery. We report a diverse set of antibody binding data with accompanying structures that can be used to evaluate methods for modeling antibody interactions. Our Antibody-Bind (AB-Bind) database includes 1101 mutants with experimentally determined changes in binding free energies (ΔΔG) across 32 complexes. Using the AB-Bind data set, we evaluated the performance of protein scoring potentials in their ability to predict changes in binding free energies upon mutagenesis. Numerical correlations between computed and observed ΔΔG values were low (r = 0.16–0.45), but the potentials exhibited predictive power for classifying variants as improved vs weakened binders. Performance was evaluated using the area under the curve (AUC) for receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves; the highest AUC values for 527 mutants with |ΔΔG| > 1.0 kcal/mol were 0.81, 0.87, and 0.88 using STATIUM, FoldX, and Discovery Studio scoring potentials, respectively. Some methods could also enrich for variants with improved binding affinity; FoldX and Discovery Studio were able to correctly rank 42% and 30%, respectively, of the 80 most improved binders (those with ΔΔG < −1.0 kcal/mol) in the top 5% of the database. This modest predictive performance has value but demonstrates the continuing need to develop and improve protein energy functions for affinity prediction.

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High-throughput identification of protein mutant stability computed from a double mutant fitness landscape

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 17:54
Abstract

The effect of a mutation on protein stability is traditionally measured by genetic construction, expression, purification and physical analysis using low-throughput methods. This process is tedious and limits the number of mutants able to be examined in a single study. In contrast, functional fitness effects can be measured in a high-throughput manner by various deep mutational scanning tools. Using protein GB 1, we have recently demonstrated the feasibility of estimating the mutational stability effect (ΔΔG) of single-substitution based on the functional fitness profile of all double-substitutions. The principle is to identify genetic backgrounds that have an exhausted stability margin. The functional effect of an additional substitution on these genetic backgrounds can then be used to compute the mutational ΔΔG based on the biophysical relationship between functional fitness and thermodynamic stability. However, to identify such genetic backgrounds, the approach described in our previous study required a benchmark dataset, which is a set of known mutational ΔΔG. In this study, a benchmark-independent approach is developed. The genetic backgrounds of interest are identified using k-means clustering with the integration of structural information. We further demonstrated that a reasonable approximation of ΔΔG can also be obtained without taking structural information into account. In summary, this study describes a novel method for computing ΔΔG from double-substitution functional fitness profiles alone, without relying on any known mutational ΔΔG as a benchmark. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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