BMC Structural Biology

  • A three dimensional visualisation approach to protein heavy-atom structure reconstruction
    [Dec 2014]

    Background: A commonly recurring problem in structural protein studies, is the determination of all heavy atom positions from the knowledge of the central ?-carbon coordinates. Results: We employ advances in virtual reality to address the problem. The outcome is a 3D visualisation based technique where all the heavy backbone and side chain atoms are treated on equal footing, in terms of the C? coordinates. Each heavy atom is visualised on the surfaces of a different two-sphere, that is centered at another heavy backbone and side chain atoms. In particular, the rotamers are visible as clusters, that display a clear and strong dependence on the underlying backbone secondary structure. Conclusions: We demonstrate that there is a clear interdependence between rotameric states and secondary structure. Our method easily detects those atoms in a crystallographic protein structure which are either outliers or have been likely misplaced, possibly due to radiation damage. Our approach forms a basis for the development of a new generation, visualization based side chain construction, validation and refinement tools. The heavy atom positions are identified in a manner which accounts for the secondary structure environment, leading to improved accuracy.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Structural basis of RGD-hirudin binding to thrombin: Tyr 3 and five C-terminal residues are crucial for inhibiting thrombin activity
    [Dec 2014]

    Background: Hirudin is an anti-coagulation protein produced by the salivary glands of the medicinal leech Hirudomedicinalis. It is a powerful and specific thrombin inhibitor. The novel recombinant hirudin, RGD-hirudin, which contains an RGD motif, competitively inhibits the binding of fibrinogen to GPIIb/IIIa on platelets, thus inhibiting platelet aggregation while maintaining its anticoagulant activity. Results: Recombinant RGD-hirudin and six mutant variants (Y3A, S50A, Q53A, D55A, E57A and I59A), designed based on molecular simulations, were expressed in Pichia pastoris. The proteins were refolded and purified to homogeneity as monomers by gel filtration and anion exchange chromatography. The anti-thrombin activity of the six mutants and RGD-hirudin was tested. Further, we evaluated the binding of the mutant variants and RGD-hirudin to thrombin using BIAcore surface plasmon resonance analysis (SPR). Kinetics and affinity constants showed that the KD values of all six mutant proteins were higher than that of RGD-hirudin. Conclusions: These findings contribute to a novel understanding of the interaction between RGD-hirudin and thrombin.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • In vitro histone lysine methylation by NSD1, NSD2/MMSET/WHSC1 and NSD3/WHSC1L
    [Dec 2014]

    Background: Histone lysine methylation has a pivotal role in regulating the chromatin. Histone modifiers, including histone methyl transferases (HMTases), have clear roles in human carcinogenesis but the extent of their functions and regulation are not well understood. The NSD family of HMTases comprised of three members (NSD1, NSD2/MMSET/WHSC1, and NSD3/WHSC1L) are oncogenes aberrantly expressed in several cancers, suggesting their potential to serve as novel therapeutic targets. However, the substrate specificity of the NSDs and the molecular mechanism of histones H3 and H4 recognition and methylation have not yet been established. Results: Herein, we investigated the in vitro mechanisms of histones H3 and H4 recognition and modifications by the catalytic domain of NSD family members. In this study, we quantified in vitro mono-, di- and tri- methylations on H3K4, H3K9, H3K27, H3K36, H3K79, and H4K20 by the carboxyl terminal domain (CTD) of NSD1, NSD2 and NSD3, using histone as substrate. Next, we used a molecular modelling approach and docked 6-mer peptides H3K4 a.a. 1-7; H3K9 a.a. 5-11; H3K27 a.a. 23-29; H3K36 a.a. 32-38; H3K79 a.a. 75-81; H4K20 a.a. 16-22 with the catalytic domain of the NSDs to provide insight into lysine-marks recognition and methylation on histones H3 and H4. Conclusions: Our data highlight the versatility of NSD1, NSD2, and NSD3 for recognizing and methylating several histone lysine marks on histones H3 and H4. Our work provides a basis to design selective and specific NSDs inhibitors. We discuss the relevance of our findings for the development of NSD inhibitors amenable for novel chemotherapies.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Structural insights into Escherichia coli polymyxin B resistance protein D with X-ray crystallography and small-angle X-ray scattering
    [Dec 2014]

    Background: Polymyxin B resistance protein D (PmrD) plays a key role in the polymyxin B-resistance pathway, as it is the signaling protein that can act as a specific connecter between PmrA/PmrB and PhoP/PhoQ. We conducted structural analysis to characterize Escherichia coli (E. coli) PmrD, which exhibits different features compared with PmrD in other bacteria. Results: The X-ray crystal structure of E. coli PmrD was determined at a 2.00 Å resolution, revealing novel information such as the unambiguous secondary structures of the protein and the presence of a disulfide bond. Furthermore, various assays such as native gel electrophoresis, surface plasmon resonance (SPR), size-exclusion chromatography, dynamic light scattering (DLS), and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) measurements, were performed to elucidate the structural and functional role of the internal disulfide bond in E. coli PmrD. Conclusions: The structural characteristics of E. coli PmrD were clearly identified via diverse techniques. The findings help explain the different protective mechanism of E. coli compared to other Gram-negative bacteria.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Structure and functional characterization of pyruvate decarboxylase from Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus
    [Nov 2014]

    Background: Bacterial pyruvate decarboxylases (PDC) are rare. Their role in ethanol production and in bacterially mediated ethanologenic processes has, however, ensured a continued and growing interest. PDCs from Zymomonas mobilis (ZmPDC), Zymobacter palmae (ZpPDC) and Sarcina ventriculi (SvPDC) have been characterized and ZmPDC has been produced successfully in a range of heterologous hosts. PDCs from the Acetobacteraceae and their role in metabolism have not been characterized to the same extent. Examples include Gluconobacter oxydans (GoPDC), G. diazotrophicus (GdPDC) and Acetobacter pasteutrianus (ApPDC). All of these organisms are of commercial importance. Results: This study reports the kinetic characterization and the crystal structure of a PDC from Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus (GdPDC). Enzyme kinetic analysis indicates a high affinity for pyruvate (K M 0.06 mM at pH 5), high catalytic efficiencies (1.3 • 106 M−1•s−1 at pH 5), pHopt of 5.5 and Topt at 45°C. The enzyme is not thermostable (T½ of 18 minutes at 60°C) and the calculated number of bonds between monomers and dimers do not give clear indications for the relatively lower thermostability compared to other PDCs. The structure is highly similar to those described for Z. mobilis (ZmPDC) and A. pasteurianus PDC (ApPDC) with a rmsd value of 0.57 Å for Cα when comparing GdPDC to that of ApPDC. Indole-3-pyruvate does not serve as a substrate for the enzyme. Structural differences occur in two loci, involving the regions Thr341 to Thr352 and Asn499 to Asp503. Conclusions: This is the first study of the PDC from G. diazotrophicus (PAL5) and lays the groundwork for future research into its role in this endosymbiont. The crystal structure of GdPDC indicates the enzyme to be evolutionarily closely related to homologues from Z. mobilis and A. pasteurianus and suggests strong selective pressure to keep the enzyme characteristics in a narrow range. The pH optimum together with reduced thermostability likely reflect the host organisms niche and conditions under which these properties have been naturally selected for. The lack of activity on indole-3-pyruvate excludes this decarboxylase as the enzyme responsible for indole acetic acid production in G. diazotrophicus.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • A PDB-wide, evolution-based assessment of protein¿protein interfaces
    [Oct 2014]

    Background: Thanks to the growth in sequence and structure databases, more than 50 million sequences are now available in UniProt and 100,000 structures in the PDB. Rich information about protein–protein interfaces can be obtained by a comprehensive study of protein contacts in the PDB, their sequence conservation and geometric features. Results: An automated computational pipeline was developed to run our Evolutionary Protein–Protein Interface Classifier (EPPIC) software on the entire PDB and store the results in a relational database, currently containing > 800,000 interfaces. This allows the analysis of interface data on a PDB-wide scale. Two large benchmark datasets of biological interfaces and crystal contacts, each containing about 3000 entries, were automatically generated based on criteria thought to be strong indicators of interface type. The BioMany set of biological interfaces includes NMR dimers solved as crystal structures and interfaces that are preserved across diverse crystal forms, as catalogued by the Protein Common Interface Database (ProtCID) from Xu and Dunbrack. The second dataset, XtalMany, is derived from interfaces that would lead to infinite assemblies and are therefore crystal contacts. BioMany and XtalMany were used to benchmark the EPPIC approach. The performance of EPPIC was also compared to classifications from the Protein Interfaces, Surfaces, and Assemblies (PISA) program on a PDB-wide scale, finding that the two approaches give the same call in about 88% of PDB interfaces. By comparing our safest predictions to the PDB author annotations, we provide a lower-bound estimate of the error rate of biological unit annotations in the PDB. Additionally, we developed a PyMOL plugin for direct download and easy visualization of EPPIC interfaces for any PDB entry. Both the datasets and the PyMOL plugin are available at http://www.eppic-web.org/ewui/\#downloads. Conclusions: Our computational pipeline allows us to analyze protein–protein contacts and their sequence conservation across the entire PDB. Two new benchmark datasets are provided, which are over an order of magnitude larger than existing manually curated ones. These tools enable the comprehensive study of several aspects of protein–protein contacts in the PDB and represent a basis for future, even larger scale studies of protein–protein interactions.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Molecular dynamics simulations of the Nip7 proteins from the marine deep- and shallow-water Pyrococcus species
    [Oct 2014]

    Background: The identification of the mechanisms of adaptation of protein structures to extreme environmental conditions is a challenging task of structural biology. We performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the Nip7 protein involved in RNA processing from the shallow-water (P. furiosus) and the deep-water (P. abyssi) marine hyperthermophylic archaea at different temperatures (300 and 373 K) and pressures (0.1, 50 and 100 MPa). The aim was to disclose similarities and differences between the deep- and shallow-sea protein models at different temperatures and pressures. Results: The current results demonstrate that the 3D models of the two proteins at all the examined values of pressures and temperatures are compact, stable and similar to the known crystal structure of the P. abyssi Nip7. The structural deviations and fluctuations in the polypeptide chain during the MD simulations were the most pronounced in the loop regions, their magnitude being larger for the C-terminal domain in both proteins. A number of highly mobile segments the protein globule presumably involved in protein-protein interactions were identified. Regions of the polypeptide chain with significant difference in conformational dynamics between the deep- and shallow-water proteins were identified. Conclusions: The results of our analysis demonstrated that in the examined ranges of temperatures and pressures, increase in temperature has a stronger effect on change in the dynamic properties of the protein globule than the increase in pressure. The conformational changes of both the deep- and shallow-sea protein models under increasing temperature and pressure are non-uniform. Our current results indicate that amino acid substitutions between shallow- and deep-water proteins only slightly affect overall stability of two proteins. Rather, they may affect the interactions of the Nip7 protein with its protein or RNA partners.
    Categories: Journal Articles