BMC Structural Biology
The latest research articles published by BMC Structural Biology
Background: Over the last two decades, many approaches have been developed in bioinformatics that aim at one of the most promising, yet unsolved problems in modern life sciences - prediction of structural features of a protein. Such tasks addressed to transmembrane protein structures provide valuable knowledge about their three-dimensional structure. For this reason, the analysis of membrane proteins is essential in genomic and proteomic-wide investigations. Thus, many in-silico approaches have been utilized extensively to gain crucial advances in understanding membrane protein structures and functions. Results: It turned out that amino acid covariation within interacting sequence parts, extracted from a evolutionary sequence record of α-helical membrane proteins, can be used for structure prediction. In a recent study we discussed the significance of short membrane sequence motifs widely present in nature that act as stabilizing ’building blocks’ during protein folding and in retaining the three-dimensional fold. In this work, we used motif data to define evolutionary interaction pattern pairs. These were obtained from different pattern alignments and were used to evaluate which coupling mechanisms the evolution provides. It can be shown that short interaction patterns of homologous sequence records are membrane protein family-specific signatures. These signatures can provide valuable information for structure prediction and protein classification. The results indicate a good agreement with recent studies. Conclusions: Generally, it can be shown how the evolution contributes to realize covariation within discriminative interaction patterns to maintain structure and function. This points to their general importance for α-helical membrane protein structure formation and interaction mediation. In the process, no fundamentally energetic approaches of previous published works are considered. The low-cost rapid computational methods postulated in this work provides valuable information to classify unknown α-helical transmembrane proteins and to determine their structural similarity.
Crystal structure of the DNA polymerase III ß subunit (ß-clamp) from the extremophile Deinococcus radiodurans
Background: Deinococcus radiodurans is an extremely radiation and desiccation resistant bacterium which can tolerate radiation doses up to 5,000 Grays without losing viability. We are studying the role of DNA repair and replication proteins for this unusual phenotype by a structural biology approach. The DNA polymerase III β subunit (β-clamp) acts as a sliding clamp on DNA, promoting the binding and processivity of many DNA-acting proteins, and here we report the crystal structure of D. radiodurans β-clamp (Drβ-clamp) at 2.0 Å resolution. Results: The sequence verification process revealed that at the time of the study the gene encoding Drβ-clamp was wrongly annotated in the genome database, encoding a protein of 393 instead of 362 amino acids. The short protein was successfully expressed, purified and used for crystallisation purposes in complex with Cy5-labeled DNA. The structure, which was obtained from blue crystals, shows a typical ring-shaped bacterial β-clamp formed of two monomers, each with three domains of identical topology, but with no visible DNA in electron density. A visualisation of the electrostatic surface potential reveals a highly negatively charged outer surface while the inner surface and the dimer forming interface have a more even charge distribution. Conclusions: The structure of Drβ-clamp was determined to 2.0 Å resolution and shows an evenly distributed electrostatic surface charge on the DNA interacting side. We hypothesise that this charge distribution may facilitate efficient movement on encircled DNA and help ensure efficient DNA metabolism in D. radiodurans upon exposure to high doses of ionizing irradiation or desiccation.
High-resolution structure of a type IV pilin from the metal-reducing bacterium <it>Shewanella oneidensis</it>
Background: Type IV pili are widely expressed among Gram-negative bacteria, where they are involved in biofilm formation, serve in the transfer of DNA, motility and in the bacterial attachment to various surfaces. Type IV pili in Shewanella oneidensis are also supposed to play an important role in extracellular electron transfer by the attachment to sediments containing electron acceptors and potentially forming conductive nanowires. Results: The potential nanowire type IV pilin PilBac1 from S. oneidensis was characterized by a combination of complementary structural methods and the atomic structure was determined at a resolution of 1.67 Å by X-ray crystallography. PilBac1 consists of one long N-terminal α-helix packed against four antiparallel β-strands, thus revealing the core fold of type IV pilins. In the crystal, PilBac1 forms a parallel dimer with a sodium ion bound to one of the monomers. Interestingly, our PilBac1 crystal structure reveals two unusual features compared to other type IVa pilins: an unusual position of the disulfide bridge and a straight α-helical section, which usually exhibits a pronounced kink. This straight helix leads to a distinct packing in a filament model of PilBac1 based on an EM model of a Neisseria pilus. Conclusions: In this study we have described the first structure of a pilin from Shewanella oneidensis. The structure possesses features of the common type IV pilin core, but also exhibits significant variations in the α-helical part and the D-region.
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Crystal structure and biophysical characterization of the nucleoside diphosphate kinase from Leishmania braziliensis
Background: Nucleoside diphosphate kinase (NDK) is a housekeeping enzyme that plays key roles in nucleotide recycling and homeostasis in trypanosomatids. It is also secreted by the intracellular parasite Leishmania to modulate the host response. These functions make NDK an attractive target for drug design and for studies aiming at a better understanding of the mechanisms mediating host-pathogen interactions. Results: We report the crystal structure and biophysical characterization of the NDK from Leishmania braziliensis (LbNDK). The subunit consists of six α-helices along with a core of four β-strands arranged in a β2β3β1β4 antiparallel topology order. In contrast to the NDK from L. major, the LbNDK C-terminal extension is partially unfolded. SAXS data showed that LbNDK forms hexamers in solution in the pH range from 7.0 to 4.0, a hydrodynamic behavior conserved in most eukaryotic NDKs. However, DSF assays show that acidification and alkalization decrease the hexamer stability. Conclusions: Our results support that LbNDK remains hexameric in pH conditions akin to that faced by this enzyme when secreted by Leishmania amastigotes in the parasitophorous vacuoles (pH 4.7 to 5.3). The unusual unfolded conformation of LbNDK C-terminus decreases the surface buried in the trimer interface exposing new regions that might be explored for the development of compounds designed to disturb enzyme oligomerization, which may impair the important nucleotide salvage pathway in these parasites.
Structural importance of the C-terminal region in pig aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C1 and their effects on enzymatic activity
Background: Pig aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C1 (AKR1C1) belongs to AKR superfamily which catalyzes the NAD(P)H-dependent reduction of various substrates including steroid hormones. Previously we have reported two paralogous pig AKR1C1s, wild-type AKR1C1 (C-type) and C-terminal-truncated AKR1C1 (T-type). Also, the C-terminal region significantly contributes to the NADPH-dependent reductase activity for 5α-DHT reduction. Molecular modeling studies combined with kinetic experiments were performed to investigate structural and enzymatic differences between wild-type AKR1C1 C-type and T-type. Results: The results of the enzyme kinetics revealed that V max and k cat values of the T-type were 2.9 and 1.6 folds higher than those of the C-type. Moreover, catalytic efficiency was also 1.9 fold higher in T-type compared to C-type. Since x-ray crystal structures of pig AKR1C1 were not available, three dimensional structures of the both types of the protein were predicted using homology modeling methodology and they were used for molecular dynamics simulations. The structural comparisons between C-type and T-type showed that 5α-DHT formed strong hydrogen bonds with catalytic residues such as Tyr55 and His117 in T-type. In particular, C3 ketone group of the substrate was close to Tyr55 and NADPH in T-type. Conclusions: Our results showed that 5α-DHT binding in T-type was more favorable for catalytic reaction to facilitate hydride transfer from the cofactor, and were consistent with experimental results. We believe that our study provides valuable information to understand important role of C-terminal region that affects enzymatic properties for 5α-DHT, and further molecular mechanism for the enzyme kinetics of AKR1C1 proteins.
A three dimensional visualisation approach to protein heavy-atom structure reconstruction
Background: A commonly recurring problem in structural protein studies, is the determination of all heavy atom positions from the knowledge of the central α-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 Cα 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.
A three dimensional visualisation approach to protein heavy-atom structure reconstruction
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.