BMC Structural Biology
The latest research articles published by BMC Structural Biology
Structural and functional studies of S-adenosyl-L-methionine binding proteins: a ligand-centric approach
Background: The post-genomic era poses several challenges. The biggest is the identification of biochemical function for protein sequences and structures resulting from genomic initiatives. Most sequences lack a characterized function and are annotated as hypothetical or uncharacterized. While homology-based methods are useful, and work well for sequences with sequence identities above 50%, they fail for sequences in the twilight zone (<30%) of sequence identity. For cases where sequence methods fail, structural approaches are often used, based on the premise that structure preserves function for longer evolutionary time-frames than sequence alone. It is now clear that no single method can be used successfully for functional inference. Given the growing need for functional assignments, we describe here a systematic new approach, designated ligand-centric, which is primarily based on analysis of ligand-bound/unbound structures in the PDB. Results of applying our approach to S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) binding proteins are presented. Results: Our analysis included 1,224 structures that belong to 172 unique families of the Protein Information Resource Superfamily system. Our ligand-centric approach was divided into four levels: residue, protein/domain, ligand, and family levels. The residue level included the identification of conserved binding site residues based on structure-guided sequence alignments of representative members of a family, and the identification of conserved structural motifs. The protein/domain level included structural classification of proteins, Pfam domains, domain architectures, and protein topologies. The ligand level included ligand conformations, ribose sugar puckering, and the identification of conserved ligand-atom interactions. The family level included phylogenetic analysis. Conclusion: We found that SAM bound to a total of 18 different fold types (I-XVIII). We identified 4 new fold types and 11 additional topological arrangements of strands within the well-studied Rossmann fold Methyltransferases (MTases). This extends the existing structural classification of SAM binding proteins. A striking correlation between fold type and the conformation of the bound SAM (classified as types) was found across the 18 fold types. Several site-specific rules were created for the assignment of functional residues to families and proteins that do not have a bound SAM or a solved structure.
Structural basis for hypermodification of the wobble uridine in tRNA by bifunctional enzyme MnmC
Background: Methylaminomethyl modification of uridine or 2-thiouridine (mnm5U34 or mnm5s2U34) at the wobble position of tRNAs specific for glutamate, lysine and arginine are observed in Escherichia coli and allow for specific recognition of codons ending in A or G. In the biosynthetic pathway responsible for this post-transcriptional modification, the bifunctional enzyme MnmC catalyzes the conversion of its hypermodified substrate carboxymethylaminomethyl uridine (cmnm5U34) to mnm5U34. MnmC catalyzes the flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD)-dependent oxidative cleavage of carboxymethyl group from cmnm5U34 via an imine intermediate to generate aminomethyl uridine (nm5U34), which is subsequently methylated by S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) to yield methylaminomethyl uridine (mnm5U34). Results: The X-ray crystal structures of SAM/FAD-bound bifunctional MnmC from Escherichia coli and Yersinia pestis, and FAD-bound bifunctional MnmC from Yersinia pestis were determined and the catalytic functions verified in an in vitro assay. Conclusion: The crystal structures of MnmC from two Gram negative bacteria reveal the overall architecture of the enzyme and the relative disposition of the two independent catalytic domains: a Rossmann-fold domain containing the SAM binding site and an FAD containing domain structurally homologous to glycine oxidase from Bacillus subtilis. The structures of MnmC also reveal the detailed atomic interactions at the interdomain interface and provide spatial restraints relevant to the overall catalytic mechanism.
Disturbance of DNA conformation by the binding of testosterone-based platinum drugs via groove-face and intercalative interactions: a molecular dynamics simulation study
Background: To explore novel platinum-based anticancer agents that are distinct from the structure and interaction mode of the traditional cisplatin by forming the bifunctional intrastrand 1,2 GpG adduct, the monofunctional platinum + DNA adducts with extensive non-covalent interactions had been studied. It was reported that the monofunctional testosterone-based platinum(II) agents present the high anticancer activity. Moreover, it was also found that the testosterone-based platinum agents could cause the DNA helix to undergo significant unwinding and bending over the non-testosterone-based platinum agents. However, the interaction mechanisms of these platinum agents with DNA at the atomic level are not yet clear so far. Results: In the present work, we used molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and DNA conformational dynamics calculations to study the DNA distortion properties of the testosterone-based platinum + DNA, the improved testosterone-based platinum + DNA and the non-testosterone-based platinum + DNA adducts. The results show that the intercalative interaction of the improved flexible testosterone-based platinum agent with DNA molecule could cause larger DNA conformational distortion than the groove-face interaction of the rigid testosterone-based platinum agent with DNA molecule. Further investigations for the non-testosterone-based platinum agent reveal the occurrence of insignificant change of DNA conformation due to the absence of testosterone ligand in such agent. Based on the DNA dynamics analysis, the DNA base motions relating to DNA groove parameter changes and hydrogen bond destruction of DNA base pairs were also discussed in this work. Conclusions: The flexible linker in the improved testosterone-based platinum agent causes an intercalative interaction with DNA in the improved testosterone-based platinum + DNA adduct, which is different from the groove-face interaction caused by a rigid linker in the testosterone-based platinum agent. The present investigations provide useful information of DNA conformation affected by a testosterone-based platinum complex at the atomic level.
The role of Cysteine 6.47 in class A GPCRs
Background: The CWxP motif of transmembrane helix 6 (x: any residue) is highly conserved in class A GPCRs. Within this motif, W6.48 is a big star in the theory of the global “toggle switch” because of its key role in the activation mechanism of GPCRs upon ligand binding. With all footlights focused on W6.48, the reason why the preceding residue, C6.47, is largely conserved is still unknown. The present study is aimed to fill up this lack of knowledge by characterizing the role of C6.47 of the CWxP motif. Results: A complete analysis of available crystal structures has been made alongside with molecular dynamics simulations of model peptides to explore a possible structural role for C6.47. Conclusions: We conclude that C6.47 does not modulate the conformation of the TM6 proline kink and propose that C6.47 participates in the rearrangement of the TM6 and TM7 interface accompanying activation.
Background: Predicting protein structure from sequence is one of the most significant and challenging problems in bioinformatics. Numerous bioinformatics techniques and tools have been developed to tackle almost every aspect of protein structure prediction ranging from structural feature prediction, template identification and query-template alignment to structure sampling, model quality assessment, and model refinement. How to synergistically select, integrate and improve the strengths of the complementary techniques at each prediction stage and build a high-performance system is becoming a critical issue for constructing a successful, competitive protein structure predictor. Results: Over the past several years, we have constructed a standalone protein structure prediction system MULTICOM that combines multiple sources of information and complementary methods at all five stages of the protein structure prediction process including template identification, template combination, model generation, model assessment, and model refinement. The system was blindly tested during the ninth Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction (CASP9) in 2010 and yielded very good performance. In addition to studying the overall performance on the CASP9 benchmark, we thoroughly investigated the performance and contributions of each component at each stage of prediction. Conclusions: Our comprehensive and comparative study not only provides useful and practical insights about how to select, improve, and integrate complementary methods to build a cutting-edge protein structure prediction system but also identifies a few new sources of information that may help improve the design of a protein structure prediction system. Several components used in the MULTICOM system are available at: http://sysbio.rnet.missouri.edu/multicom_toolbox/.