BMC Structural Biology

The latest research articles published by BMC Structural Biology
  • Crystal structure and biophysical characterization of the nucleoside diphosphate kinase from Leishmania braziliensis
    [Feb 2015]

    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.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Structural importance of the C-terminal region in pig aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C1 and their effects on enzymatic activity
    [Jan 2015]

    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.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • 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 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.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • 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