The Archaeology of Reform at a German Prisoner of War Camp in a Canadian National Park during the Second World War (1943–1945)
- During the height of the Second World War pressure from Great Britain resulted in the transfer of thousands of German prisoners of war (PoWs) from British to Canadian control. To house them, Canada built a system of PoW camps, including Riding Mountain Camp in southwestern Manitoba. The PoWs sent there soon realized their good fortune: they lived in warm barracks, ate abundant food, and were able to purchase goods from a mail order catalog. But while the PoWs were well treated, they were at the same time subjected to a concerted reeducation campaign organized by the Allies. This reveals that these Canadian camps were not merely warehouses for the PoWs, but in fact, classic reforming institutions.
Initially subjected to ideological training under Nazism, the PoWs were next subjected to another kind of education under the Canadians. Evidence collected from oral history interviewing, archival research, and three seasons of field archaeology combine to reveal that material culture was a key nexus in this competition for the minds of the PoWs. In addition to providing books and teaching courses on history and political science, the Canadians introduced the PoWs to a democratic, capitalistic way of life by familiarizing them with North American consumer goods and by allowing them to fraternize with Canadian civilians. The Nazi bureaucracy, in turn, used material things to try to keep the PoWs from turning to the other side. For example, by sending them crisp new Wehrmacht uniforms from Germany, heartening Christmas cards, and packages filled with German goods adorned with Nazi symbolism.
Function of plant photosystem II subunits in photoprotection
- Plants absorb sunlight via photosynthetic pigments and convert light energy intochemical energy in the process of photosynthesis. These pigments are mainly bound to antenna protein complexes that funnel the excitation energy to the photosynthetic reaction centres. The peripheral antenna of plant photosystem II (PSII) consists of the major light-harvesting complex of PSII (LHC-II) and the minor LHCs CP29, CP26 and CP24. Light intensity can change frequently and plants need to adapt to high-light conditions in order to avoid photodamage. When more photons are absorbed than can be utilised by the photosynthetic machinery, excessive excitation energy is dissipated as heat by short-term adaptation processes collectively known as non-photochemical quenching (NPQ). A decrease in PSII antenna chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence yield and a reduction in the average Chl fluorescence lifetime are associated with NPQ. The main component of NPQ is the so-called energy-dependent quenching (qE), and it is triggered by the rapid drop in thylakoid lumenal pH resulting from the plant’s photosynthetic activity. This process is thought to take place at the PSII antenna complexes, which therefore not only capture and transfer light energy but are also involved in balancing the energy flow. The decrease in lumenal pH acivates the enzyme violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE), which converts the xanthophyll violaxanthin (Vio) into zeaxanthin (Zea) in the xanthophyll cycle. In addition, the PSII subunit PsbS was discovered to be essential for qE by screening qE-deficient Arabidopsis thaliana mutants. This membrane protein is considered a member of the LHC superfamily, which also includes LHC-II and the minor LHCs. Previous studies on PsbS isolated either from native source or refolded in vitro have produced inconsistent results on its pigment binding capacity. Interestingly, a pH-dependent change in the quaternary structure of PsbS under high light conditions has been reported. This observed dimer-tomonomer transition very likely follows the protonation of lumenal glutamates upon the drop in pH and is accompanied by a change in PSII supercomplex localisation. PsbS dimers are preferentially found in association with the PSII core, whereas PsbS monomers co-localise with LHC-II.Despite the identification of !pH, Zea and PsbS as key players in qE, both the nature of the quencher(s) as well as the underlying molecular mechanism leading to excess energy dissipation still remain unknown. Several models have been put forward to explain the reversible switch in the antenna from an energy-transmitting to a quenched state. Proposals include a simple pigment exchange of Vio for Zea, and aggregation or an internal conformational change of LHC-II. Charge transfer (CT)quenching in the minor LHCs or quenching by carotenoid dark state (Car S1)-Chl interactions have also been suggested. However, none of these qE models has so far been capable of accommodating all the physiological observations and available experimental data. Most importantly, the function of PsbS remains an enigma. A recent qE model suggested that monomerisation of PsbS enables the protein to transiently bind a carotenoid and form a quenching unit with a Chl of a PSII LHC. In view of the various proposed qE mechanisms, this thesis aimed at understanding the interplay of the different qE components and the contribution of the PSII subunits LHC-II, the minor LHCs and PsbS to qE. The initial approach was to investigate the properties of the PSII subunits in the most simple in vitro model system, namely in detergent solution. For this purpose, LHC-II was isolated either from native source or refolded from recombinantly produced protein. Investigation of the minor LHCs and PsbS required heterologous expression and refolding. In addition, experiments were performed on aggregated LHC-II. Aggregates of LHC-II have been used as a popular model system for qE because they exhibit highly quenched Chl fluorescence. At the final stage of this doctoral work, a more sophisticated model system to approximate the thylakoid membrane was developed by reconstitution of the PSII subunits LHC-II and PsbS into liposomes. This system not only allowed for investigation of these membrane proteins in their native environment, but also for mimicking the xanthophyll cycle by distribution of Zea within the membrane as well as !pH by outside buffer exchange. The role of Zea in qE was first investigated with detergent solubilised antenna proteins. The requirement of this xanthophyll for qE is well-known, but the specific contribution to the molecular quenching mechansim is unclear. Previous work had shown that replacement of Vio for Zea in LHC-II was not sufficient to induce Chl fluorescence quenching in Zea-LHC-II, as suggested by the so-called molecular gearshift mechanism. However, by means of selective two-photon excitation spectroscopy, an increase in electronic interactions between Car S1 and Chls was observed for LHC-II upon lowering the pH of the detergent buffer. Electronic Car S1-Chl coupling became even stronger when Zea-LHC-II was probed. The extent of Car S1-Chl coupling correlated directly with the extent of Chl fluorescence quenching, in a similar way as observed previously in live plants under high-light conditions. However, very similar results were obtained with LHC-II aggregates. This implied that the increase in electronic interactions and fluorescence quenching was independent of Zea and low pH. Further experiments on aggregates of LHC-II Chl mutants indicated that the targeted pigments were also not essential for the observed effects. It is proposed that the same molecular mechanism causes an increase in electronic Car S1-Chl interactions and Chl fluorescence quenching in Zea-LHC-II at low pH as well as in aggregated LHC-II. Most likely, surface exposed pigments form random quenching centres in both cases. On the other hand, it was possible that Zea could act as a direct quencher of excess excitation energy in the minor LHCs. However, enrichment of refolded CP29, CP26 and CP24 with Zea did not lead to a change in the Chl excited state lifetime. Formation of a carotenoid radical cation, previously implied in CT quenching, was also not observed, although artificial generation of such a radical cation was principally possible as shown for CP29. During the course of this work, a study reporting the formation of Zea radical cations in minor LHCs was published. Therefore, Zea-enriched minor LHCs were again investigated on the experimental apparatus used in the reported study. Indeed, the presence of at least one carotenoid radical cation for each minor complex was detected. It is suggested that either the preparation method of incubating the refolded minor LHCs with Zea in contrast to refolding the complexes with only Zea and lutein causes the observed differences or that the observed spectral radical cation signatures are due to experimental artifacts. While the experiments with LHC-II and the minor LHCs gave useful insights into the putative qE mechanism, the quencher site and the mode of action of Zea could still not be unambiguously identified. Most importantly, these studies could not explain the function of the qE keyplayer PsbS. Therefore, the focus of the work was shifted to PsbS protein production, purification and characterisation. In view of inconsistent reports on the pigment binding capacity of this PSII subunit, refolding trials with and without photosynthetic pigments were conducted. The formation of a specific pigmentprotein complex typical for other LHCs was not observed and neither was the earlier reported “activation” of Zea for qE by binding to this protein. Nevertheless, PsbS refolded without pigments displayed secondary structure content in agreement with previous studies, indicating pigment-independent folding. Reconstitution of pigmentfree, refolded PsbS into liposomes confirmed that the protein is stable in the absence of pigments. Zea distributed in PsbS-containing liposomes also showed no spectral alteration that would indicate its “activation”. With the ability to reconstitute PsbS, it was then possible to proceed to modelling qE in a proteoliposome system. For this purpose, PsbS was co-reconstituted with LHC-II, which has been reported to interact with PsbS. One-photon excitation (OPE) and two-photon excitation (TPE) spectroscopy measurements were performed on LHC-II- and LHC-II/PsbS-containing liposomes. This enabled both quantification of Chl fluorescence quenching as well as determination of the extent of electronic Car S1-Chl interactions. The effect of Zea was investigated by incorporating it in the proteoliposome membrane. It was shown that Zea alone was not able to induce significant Chl fluorescence quenching when only LHC-II was present. However, when LHC-II and PsbS were co-reconstituted, pronounced Chl fluorescence quenching and an increase in electronic Car S1-Chl interactions were observed and both effects were enhanced when Zea was present. Western blot analysis indicated the presence of a LHC-II/PsbS-heterodimer in these proteoliposomes. In addition to the OPE and TPE measurements, the average Chl fluorescence lifetime was determined in detergent-free buffer at neutral pH and directly after buffer exchange to low pH. No significant changes in the average lifetime were observed for LHC-II proteoliposomes when either Zea was present or after exchange for low pH buffer. This indicated that Zea alone cannot act as a direct quencher, which concurs with the OPE measurements. Moreover, the complex was also properly reconstituted as no aggregation or significant Chl fluorescence quenching were observed. The average lifetime was not significantly affected in LHC-II/PsbS-proteoliposomes, independent of Zea or pH. However, a shortlived component in the presence of a long-lived component was not resolvable with the time resolution of the fluorescence lifetime apparatus.
Implications for qE model systems and the in vivo quenching mechanism are discussed based on the experiments in detergent solution, on LHC-II aggregates and with the proteoliposome model system.
Characterising postural sway fluctuations in humans using linear and nonlinear methods
- Introduction: Postural control is a prerequisite to many everyday and sporting activities which requires the interaction of multiple sensorimotor processes. As long as we have no balance disorders, the maintenance of an erect standing position is taken for granted with automatic running control processes. It is well known that with increasing age or disease balance problems occur which often cause fall-related injuries. To assess balance performance, posturography is widely applied in which body sway is traditionally viewed as a manifestation of random fluctuations. Thus, the amount of sway is solely used as an index of postural stability, that is, less sway is an indication of better control. But, traditional measures of variability fail to account for the temporal organisation of postural sway. The concept of nonlinear dynamics suggests that variability in the motor output is not random but structured. It provides the stimulus to reveal the functionality of postural sway. This thesis evaluates nonlinear analysis tools in addition to classic linear methods in terms of age-related modifications of postural control and under different standing conditions in order to broaden the existing knowledge of postural control processes.
Methods: Static posturographic analyses were conducted which included the recording of centre of pressure (COP) time series by means of a force plate. Linear and nonlinear methods were used to quantify postural sway variability in order to evaluate both the amount and structure of sway. Classic time and frequency domain COP parameters were computed. In addition, wavelet transform (WT), multiscale entropy, detrended fluctuation analysis, and scaled windowed variance method were applied to COP signals in order to derive structural COP parameters. Two experiments were performed. 1) 16 young (26.1 ± 6.7 years), healthy subjects were asked to adopt a bipedal stance under single- and dual-task conditions. Three trials were conduced each with a different sampling duration: 30, 60, and 300 seconds [s]. 2) 26 young (28.15 ± 5.86 years) and 13 elderly (72 ± 7 years) subjects stood quietly for 60 s on five different surfaces which imposed different biomechanical constraints: level ground (LG), one foot on a step (ST), uphill (UH), downhill (DH), and slope (SL). Additional to COP recordings, limb load symmetry was assessed via foot pressure insoles.
Results: We found a higher sensitivity of structural COP parameters to modulations of postural control and partly an improved evaluation of sway dynamics in longer COP recordings. WT revealed a reweighing of frequency bands in response to altered standing conditions. Scaling exponents and entropy values of COP signals were task-dependent. Higher entropy values were found under the dual-task and condition ST. The time scales affected under the altered standing positions differed between groups and sway directions. Mainly larger posturograms were found in the elderly. Age effects were especially revealed in position ST and concerning medial-lateral COP signals. Load asymmetry was stronger in elderly subjects for LG, UH, and DH positions.
Discussion: Modifications of multiple time scales corresponds to an interplay of control subsystems to cope with the altered task demands. The affected time scales are age-dependent suggesting a change of control processes. Higher irregularity under the dual-task indicates a more complex motor output which is interpreted as less attentional investment into postural control. Larger complexity is evident for ST in contrast to LG position. ST obviously challenges lateral sway which is counteracted differently between groups. Load asymmetry suggests that especially elderly subjects adopt a step-initiation strategy.
Conclusion: A continued application of nonlinear methods is necessary to broaden the understanding of postural control mechanisms and to identify classifiers for balance dysfunctions. Structural COP parameters provide a more comprehensive indication of postural control system properties between groups and task demands. COP recordings of at least 60 s are recommended to adequately quantify COP signal structure. The analysis of postural strategies in everyday activities increases the ecological validity of postural control studies and can provide valuable information regarding the development of effective rehabilitation programs.
Taxonomic revision, molecular phylogeny and zoogeography of the huntsman spider genus Eusparassus (Araneae: Sparassidae)
- The spider genus Eusparassus Simon, 1903 (Araneae: Sparassidae: Eusparassinae; stone huntsman spider) is revised worldwide to include 30 valid species distributed exclusively in Africa and Eurasia. The type species E. dufouri Simon, 1932 is redescribed and a neotype is designated from Portugal. An extended diagnosis for the genus is presented. Eight new species are described: Eusparassus arabicus Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from Arabian Peninsula, E. educatus Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from Namibia, E. reverentia Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from Burkina Faso and Nigeria, E. jaegeri Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from South Africa and Botswana, E. jocquei Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from Zimbabwe, E. borakalalo Moradmand, 2013 (female) from South Africa, E. schoemanae Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from South Africa and Namibia and E. mesopotamicus Moradmand and Jäger, 2012 (male and female) from Iraq, Iran and Turkey. 22 species are re-described six of them are transferred from the genus Olios Walckenaer, 1837. Six species-groups are proposed: the dufouri-group [8 species: E. dufouri, E. levantinus Urones, 2006, E. barbarus (Lucas, 1846), E. atlanticus Simon, 1909, E. syrticus Simon, 1909, E. oraniensis (Lucas, 1846), E. letourneuxi (Simon, 1874), E. fritschi (Koch, 1873); Iberian Peninsula to parts of north-western Africa], walckenaeri-group [3 species: E. walckenaeri (Audouin, 1826), E. laevatus (Simon, 1897), E. arabicus; eastern Mediterranean to Arabia and parts of north-eastern Africa], doriae-group [7 species: E. doriae (Simon, 1874), E. kronebergi Denis, 1958, E. maynardi (Pocock, 1901), E. potanini (Simon, 1895), E. fuscimanus Denis, 1958, E. oculatus (Kroneberg, 1846) and E. mesopotamicus; Middle East to Central and South Asia], vestigator-group (3 species: E. vestigator (Simon, 1897), E. reverentia, E. pearsoni (Pocock, 1901); central to eastern Africa and an isolated area in NW India], jaegeri-group [4 species: E. jaegeri, E. jocquei, E. borakalalo, E. schoemanae; southern and south-eastern Africa], tuckeri-group [2 species: E. tuckeri (Lawrence, 1927), E. educatus; south-western Africa). Two species, E. pontii Caporiacco, 1935 and E. xerxes (Pocock, 1901) cannot be placed in any of the above groups. Two species are transferred from Eusparassus to Olios: O. flavovittatus (Caporiacco, 1935) and O. quesitio Moradmand, 2013. 14 species are recognized as misplaced in Eusparassus, thus nearly half of the described species prior to this revision were placed mistakenly in this genus. Neotypes are designated for E. walckenaeri from Egypt, E. barbarus, E. oraniensis and E. letourneuxi (all three from Algeria) to establish their identity. The male and female of Cercetius perezi Simon, 1902, which was known only from the immature holotype, are described for the first time. It is recognized that the monotypic and little used generic name Cercetius Simon, 1902 — a species, which had been known only from the immature holotype — as a synonym of the widely used name Eusparassus. The case proposal 3596 (conservation of name Eusparassus) is under consideration by ICZN.
The first comprehensive molecular phylogeny of the family Sparassidae with focus on the genus Eusparassus is investigated using four molecular markers (mitochondrial COI and 16S; nuclear H3 and 28S). The monophyly of Eusparassus and the dufouri, walckenaeri and doriae species-groups are recovered with the latter two groups more closely related. The monophyly of the tuckeri-group is not supported and the position of E. jaegeri as the only available member of the jaegeri-group is not resolved within the Eusparassus clade. DNA samples of the vestigator-group were not accessible for this study. The origination of the genus Eusparassus around 70 million years ago (MA) is estimated according to molecular clock analyses. Using this recent result in combination with some biogeographic and geological data, the Namib Desert is proposed as the place of ancestral origin for Eusparassus and putative Eusparassinae genera.
Further analyses are done on the phylogenetic relationships of Sparassidae and its subfamilies. The Eusparassinae are not confirmed as monophyletic, with the two original genera Eusparassus and Pseudomicrommata in separate clades and only the latter clusters with most other assumed Eusparassinae, here termed the "African clade". Monophyly of the subfamilies Sparianthinae, Heteropodinae sensu stricto, Palystinae and Deleninae is recovered. The Sparianthinae are supported as the most basal clade, diverging considerably early (143 MA) from all other Sparassidae. The Sparassinae and genus Olios are found to be polyphyletic. The Sparassidae are confirmed as monophyletic and as most basal group within the RTA-clade. The divergence time of Sparassidae from the RTA-clade is estimated with 186 MA in the Jurassic. No affiliation of Sparassidae to other members of the "Laterigradae" (Philodromidae, Selenopidae and Thomisidae) is observed, thus the crab-like posture of this group was proposed a result of convergent evolution. Only the families Philodromidae and Selenopidae are found members of a supported clade. Including a considerable amount of RTA-clade representatives, the higher-level clade Dionycha is not but monophyly of the RTA-clade itself is supported.
Stratigraphy and properties of soil profiles along transects in Burkina Faso and Benin and their influence on phytodiversity
Cheikh Amadou Tidiane Anne
- This thesis aims to analyse in a first step the physical and chemical properties of soil profiles along pedomorphological transects in different land used conditions (protected, partly protected as well as cultivated and pastured areas) in North West Benin and in South East Burkina Faso. The information about soils, which are carried out in consideration of the pedogenesis processes like weathering types, saprolitisation, formation of laterite crusts and denudation within the planation surfaces are therefore correlated in a second step with the structure and dynamic of woody plant around individual soil profiles. The relationship soil properties and woody plant is investigated in order to assess the reciprocal influence between the diversity of woody plants and soil characteristics within a small scale study and under different land use conditions.
A common vertical and lateral differentiation of physical and chemical properties regardless of the partly protected, protected and cultivated status of the sites can be noticed. Thus, in the cultivated site of Kikideni and in the partly protected zone of Natiabouani (South East Burkina Faso) sandy loam and sandy clay loam soil surfaces are widespread because of the occurrence of similar erosion processes like sheet wash, rill and gully erosion while in the central part of the Pendjari National Park loamy soil textures are prevailing. In fact, the steepness of the relief and the length of the slopes in the Pendjari Park seem to limit the development of some erosion forms as gully. Furthermore, the classification of soils reflects the variation of pedological processes along the transects and thus the occurrence of different soil types. The status of the sites may play an insignificant role in the differentiation of soil properties within the scale of small pedomorphological transects. A direct comparison of the vegetation type in the land use respectively partly protected and in the total protected sites (National Park of Pendjari) reveals a transition from the shrub savanna to the tree savanna. In conclusion it is important to insist on the fact that the variations of soil parameters within small slopes and the different sites are more conditioned by varying erosion processes and drainage conditions than the status protected or land use sites while the composition and diversity of plants is influenced by the status of the sites, the prevailing management tools, the pedogenetic conditions as well as the presence of wild animals like elephants. The ordination diagram shows that the organic matter is better correlated to the subgroup representing principally the sites of the hunting zone of the Pendjari Park and might be an explaining factor to the distribution of these sample sites groups. CEC ratios in the partly protected site of Natiabouani represent the highest measured in all sites. Nevertheless, statistical analysis of the CCA (canonical correspondence analysis) indicates generally a low correlation. This tendency is consolidated by the Monte Carlo test (p=0.14) which is a good indicator of species and environmental conditions. The detailed analysis of soil properties and the vegetation dynamic as well as their relationship within small pedomorphological transects represent an important pedological and botanical data collection involving different compartments. This thesis contributes to the better understanding of the savanna landscapes of West Africa and may provide essential scientific background for each development project directed towards interdisciplinary and integrative researches.
Biophysical Studies of Lipid Membranes by Solid State NMR and Molecular Dynamics Simulations
- Biological membranes separate the cell interior from the outside and have diverse functions from signal transduction, apoptosis to transportations of ions and small molecules in and out of the cell. Most of these functions are fulfilled by proteins incorporated in the membrane. However, lipids as the main component of membrane not only serve as structural element for bilayer formation but they are also directly involved e.g. signalling processes and bilayer properties are important to mediate protein interactions. To fully understand the role of lipids, it is necessary to develop a molecular understanding of how certain membrane components modify bulk bilayer structure and dynamics. Membranes are known to have many different motions in different conditions and time scales. Temperature, pH, water content and many other conditions change membrane dynamics in a high degree. In addition to this, time scales of motions in membranes vary from ns to ms range corresponding to fast motion and slow motion, respectively. Therefore, membranes are needed to be studied systematically by varying the conditions and using methods to investigate motions in various time scales separately. The aim of this study was therefore perform a combined solid-state NMR / molecular dynamics study on model membranes. Different substrates, such as potential drugs, polarizing agents and signaling lipids were incorporated into bilayers and their location within the membrane and their effect onto the membrane was probed. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), pirinixic acid derivatives, ceramides and polarizing agents were the substrates for membranes in this study. There were several experimental methods that were applied in order to investigate effects of these substrates on membrane dynamics. Different kind of phospholipids including POPC, DMPC and DPPC were used. In addition to experimental work, with the information gathered from solid state NMR experiments molecular dynamics simulations were performed to obtain more information about the membranes at the molecular level. As a result, combination of solid-state NMR with molecular dynamics simulations provides very systematic way of investigating membrane dynamics in a large range of time scales.
Pirinixic acid derivatives were special interest of this study because of their activity on peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) as an agonist as well as on enzymes of microsomal prostaglandin E2 synthase-1 (PGE2s) -1 and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) as dual inhibitor. Two potent pirinixic acid derivatives, 2-(4-chloro-6-(quinolin-6-ylamino)pyrimidin-2-ylthio)octanoic acid (compound 2) and 2-(4-chloro-6-(quinolin-6-ylamino)pyrimidin-2-ylthio)octanoate (compound 3), have been worked and their insertion depts were investigated by combining of solid state NMR and molecular dynamics simulations. Both experimental and theoretical results pointed out that compound 3 was inserted the phospholipid bilayer more deeply than 2. NSAIDs – lipid mixtures have been also studied here. It is known that consumption of NSAIDs as in mixture with lipids results much fewer side effects than consumption of the drugs alone. Thus, it is crucial to understand interactions of NSAIDs with lipids and investigate the possible complex formation of drugs with lipids. In this study, interactions of three widely used NSAIDs, ibuprofen, diclofenac and piroxicam, with DPPC were investigated by solid-state NMR. 1H and 31P NMR results depicted that ibuprofen and diclofenac had interactions with lipids, which is an indication of drug-lipid complex formation whereas piroxicam didn’t show any interactions with lipids suggesting that no complex formation occurred in the case of piroxicam. Ceramides are known to play key roles in many cell processes and many studies showed that the functions of ceramides are related with the ceramide effects on biological membranes. Therefore, in this study, influences of ceramides on biophysics of lipid bilayers were investigated by using various solid state NMR techniques and molecular dynamics simulations. Results from molecular dynamics simulations clearly showed that ceramide and lipids have strong interactions. More evidences about ceramide-lipid interactions were provided from 1H and 14N NMR results. In addition, it was indicated by both simulation and experimental methods that ceramide increased the rigidity of DMPC by increasing chain order parameters. BTbk is a biradical, which is used as polarizing agent for dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) experiments and found to be more efficient than other widely used polarizing agents such as TOTAPOL. Since it is a hydrophobic compound, which prefers to stay inside lipid bilayer it is important to investigate the location and orientation of bTbk along the bilayer in order to understand its enhancement profile in DNP measurements. In this study, both NMR relaxation time measurements and molecular dynamics simulations revealed that bTbk tends to stay more close to hydrophobic chain of lipids than the interfacial part of lipids at bilayer surface.
In the first part of this work, a brief introduction on lipid membranes as well as a theoretical summary on both methods of solid-state NMR and molecular dynamics simulations is given. Then, in the second part methodology is introduced for both solid-state NMR spectrometer and theoretical calculations. Afterwards, results of different membrane systems are discussed in the following parts for both solid state NMR and MD. Finally, in the last part, a summary and the conclusion of the overall results together with some future plans are explained.
Astrocyte-derived Wnt growth factors regulate blood-brain barrier integrity
Cathrin Jacqueline Czupalla
Insights into a Lipid Regulator by Solid-State MAS NMR: Kinetic and Structure-Functional Studies on Diacylglycerol Kinase
Sandra Johanna Ullrich
- In this thesis the integral membrane protein diacylglycerol kinase (DAGK) from E.coli is investigated with solid-state NMR. The aim is to gain an insight into the enzyme’s mechanism through integration of kinetic, structural and dynamic data. The biological function of DAGK is the transfer of the γ-phosphate group from Mg*ATP to diacylglycerol (DAG) building phosphatidic acid (PA) as port of the membrane-derived oligosaccharide cycle[31,34]. Surprisingly, DAGK does not share structural or sequential similarities with other kinases. Typical sequence motives found in other kinases, which catalyze phosphoryl transfer reactions, are not found. In its physiological form DAGK is a homo-trimer with nine transmembrane helices, three catalytic centers and a size of 39.6 kDa.
First, the set-up of a real-time 31P MAS NMR experiment is shown. This experiment allows measuring in real-time the simultaneous ATP hydrolysis in the aqueous phase and lipid substrate phos-phorylation in the membrane phase with atomic resolution under magic angle spinning. After fast transfer of the sample into the NMR spectrometer the enzymatic reaction is started with a temperature jump. This approach of real-time MAS NMR in a dual-phase system was demonstrated for the lipid substrate analogs dioleoyl- (DOG) and dibutyrylglycerol (DBG), with a C8 and C4 aliphatic chain, respectively. The combination of 31P direct and cross polarization functions as a dynamic filter. In the 31P direct polarized experiment nuclei in both phases are detected, while in the 31P cross polar-ized experiment, only nuclei in the membrane phase are detected. Rates for substrate turnover, i.e. degradation of γP-, βP, αP-ATP and build-up of βP-, αP-ADP, free phosphate as side reaction, and PA are obtained, which reveal a Michaelis-Menten behavior with regard to Mg*ATP and DBG. Here Mg*ATP and DBG follow a random-equilibrium model, where every substrate can bind indepen-dently from the other substrate. Analyses of the peak integrals from educts and products of the enzymatic reaction, revealed the stoichiometry of the reaction: 1.5 ATP molecules are used to phos-phorylate one DBG molecule. The excess of ATP is attributed to the basal ATPase activity. Further-more, experiments with ATPγS, usually regarded as a non-hydrolysable ATP-analog, where carried out. Surprisingly, DAGK hydrolyzes ATPγS and also transfers the thio-phosphate group to the lipid acceptor DBG, which points to a certain degree of plasticity in the active center. A phosphorylated enzyme intermediate was not detected. These results suggest the building of a ternary complex of Mg*ATP, DBG and DAGK performing a direct-phosphoryl transfer reaction, without passing through a phosphorylated enzyme intermediate. Experiments with the transition state analog ortho-vanadate (Vi) showed a decoupling of the ATP hydrolysis activity from lipid substrate phosphorylation. This indicates a specific transfer site for the γ-phosphate group from ATP to DAG, which can be blocked by Vi.
A general disadvantage of NMR spectroscopy compared to other spectroscopic methods is its inherent low sensitivity. One possible starting point for the improvement of signal-to-noise per unit time is the reduction of the spin-lattice relaxation time of protons. Usually 95 % of the experi-mental time is required for the relaxation of the 1H to equilibrium. The addition of paramagnetic species can be used to reduce the 1H T1. In a comprehensive study four different paramagnetic agents were tested: Cu2+-EDTA, Cu2+-EDTA-tag, Gd3+-TTAHA and Gd3+-DOTA. The titration of these paramagnetic complexes showed the principle feasibility of this approach, but differences between the tested species exist. The most promising complex is Gd3+-DOTA which, at a concentration of 2 mM, causes a 10-time improvement of signal-to-noise ratio per unit time. This allowed measuring 2D 13C-13C correlation spectra of proteoliposomes in one tenth of the usual required experimental time (i.e. 10 hours vs. 4 days) with good signal-to-noise.
For the investigation of structural or dynamic changes in the protein upon substrate interaction with MAS NMR, the spectral properties CP efficiency and resolution of the DAGK in liposomes needed to be improved. The most critical step during sample preparation is the reconstitution of the membrane protein from detergent micelles into a membrane of synthetic lipids under detergent removal. For this procedure the important criteria are enzymatic activity, measured in a coupled ATPase assay, and homogeneity of the proteoliposomes, which was tested e.g. on a discontinuous sucrose step gradient. Therefore an extensive study was carried out, in which different detergents, lipids and lipid mixtures, techniques for detergent removal and different protein-to-lipid ratios were tested. A direct correlation between high ATPase activity and good resolution was not found. Moreover, active DAGK in a mixture of DMPC and cholesterol, which emulates the membrane features of a membrane containing DAG, showed the best CP efficiency and resolution.
The assignment of the protein backbone and amino acid side chains the first mandatory step towards the investigation of structural and dynamical features influencing and defining the enzymatic mechanism by MAS NMR. As the assignment procedure is very time consuming for a total protein, a special labeling scheme for DAGK was developed, which allows assigning most of the protein areas presumably involved in enzyme catalysis. The assignment of DAGK with solution NMR was not transferable to the MAS NMR spectra. Most important for the assignment process were the unique pairs, two consecutive amino acids which only appear once in the amino acid sequence. These unique pairs served as anchor points. Five different multinuclear MAS NMR experiments (DARR, NCO, NCA, NCACX, NCOCX) were required for the sequential assignment. It was possible to assign 35 % of the total amino acid sequence with one sample and 8 experiments acquired at 850 MHz. The secondary structure analysis showed subtle differences to the DAGK assignment with solution NMR, which can be attributed to the different environment in lipid bilayers and detergent micelles.
Data about structural and dynamical changes under substrate interaction can reveal details about the enzymatic mechanism. Therefore changes in chemical shift in 2D heteronuclear correlation experiments in the apo-state and under substrate saturated conditions with the substrates Mg*AMP-PNP, a non-hydrolysable ATP-analog, DOG, a mixture of Mg*AMP-PNP and DOG as well as inhibited by Vi were recorded. The most significant peak changes were observed at the interface membrane-cytoplasm as well as the the N-terminal amphipathic helix. The residues revealing chemical shift perturbations correlate with conserved residues or such residues, for which importance for catalysis and/or folding could be shown in mutation studies. Especially noticeable were the changes at the amino acids Asn 72, Lys 64, His 87, Tyr 86 and Asp 95.
Beside changes of the chemical shift, changes of line width or signal doubling were observable. These changes can point to a correlation with dynamic reorientations in the μs-ms time regime, which are most relevant for enzymatic processes. The protein backbone dynamics in the apo-state as well as saturated with the substrates or inhibited with Vi were investigated with a 15N-CODEX experiment, which is based on the reorientation of the CSA tensor upon dynamical changes. Specific effects of the different substrates or analogs on the protein backbone dynamic were revealed complementing the structural data and the chemical shift perturbation experiments.
Mechanisms of nanofractal structure formation and post-growth evolution
Veronika V. Dick
- Nanotechnology is a rapidly developing branch of science, which is focused on the study of phenomena at the nanometer scale, in particular related to the possibilities of matter manipulation. One of the main goals of nanotechnology is the development of controlled, reproducible, and industrially transposable nanostructured materials.
The conventional technique of thin-film growth by deposition of atoms, small atomic clusters and molecules on surfaces is the general method, which is often used in nanotechnology for production of new materials. Recent experiments show, that patterns with different morphology can be formed in the course of nanoparticles deposition process on a surface. In this context, predicting of the final architecture of the growing materials is a fundamental problem worth studying.
Another factor, which plays an important role in industrial applications of new materials, is the question of post-growth stability of deposited structures. The understanding of the post-growth relaxation processes would give a possibility to estimate the lifetime of the deposited material depending on the conditions at which the material was fabricated. Controllable post-growth manipulations with the architecture of deposited structures opens new path for engineering of nanostructured materials.
The task of this thesis is to advance understanding mechanisms of formation and post-growth evolution of nanostructured materials fabricated by atomic clusters deposition on a surface. In order to achieve this goal the following main problems were addressed:
1. The properties of isolated clusters can significantly differ from those of analogous clusters occurring on a solid surface. The difference is caused by the interaction between the cluster and the solid. Therefore, the understanding of structural and dynamical properties of an atomic cluster on a surface is a topic of intense interest from the scientific and technological point of view. In the thesis, stability, energy, and geometry of an atomic cluster on a solid surface were studied using a liquid drop approach which takes into account the cluster-solid interaction. Geometries of the deposited clusters are compared with those of isolated clusters and the differences are discussed.
2. The formation scenarios of patterns on a surface in the course of the process of cluster deposition depend strongly on the dynamics of deposited clusters. Therefore, an important step towards predicting pattern morphology is to study dynamics of a single cluster on a surface. The process of cluster diffusion on a surface was modeled with the use of classical molecular dynamics technique, and the diffusion coefficients for the silver nanoclusters were obtained from the analysis of trajectories of the clusters. The dependence of the diffusion coefficient on the system’s temperature and cluster-surface interaction was established. The results of the calculations are compared with the available experimental results for the diffusion coefficient of silver clusters on graphite surface.
3. The methods of classical molecular dynamics cannot be used for modeling the self-assembly processes of atomic clusters on a surface, because these processes occur on the minutes timescale, what would require an unachievable computer resource for the simulation. Based on the results of molecular dynamics simulations for a single cluster on a surface a Monte-Carlo based approach has been developed to describe the dynamics of the self-assembly of nanoparticles on a surface. This method accounts for the free particle diffusion on a surface, aggregation into islands and detachment from these islands. The developed method is allowed to study pattern formation of structures up to thousands nm, as well as the stability of these structures. Developed method was implemented in MBN Explorer computer package.
4. The process of the pattern formation on a surface was modeled for several different scenarios. Based on the analysis of results of simulations was suggested a criterion, which can be used to distinguish between different patterns formed on a surface, for example: between fractals or compact islands.This criteria can be used to predict the final morphology of a growing structure.
5. The post-growth evolution of patterns on a surface was also analyzed. In particular, attention in the thesis is payed to a systematical theoretical analysis of the post-growth processes occurring in nanofractals on a surface. The time evolution of fractal morphology in the course of the post-growth relaxation was analyzed, the results of these calculations were compared with experimental data available for the post-growth relaxation of silver cluster fractals on graphite substrate.
All the aforementioned problems are discussed in details in the thesis.
Characterization of Aquifex aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase and its heterologous production in Escherichia coli
- This work presents a biochemical, functional and structural characterization of Aquifex aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase obtained using both a native form (AAF1FO) and a heterologous form (EAF1FO) of this enzyme.
F1FO ATP synthases catalyze the synthesis of ATP from ADP and inorganic phosphate driven by ion motive forces across the membrane and therefore play a key cellular function. Because of their central role in supporting life, F1FO ATP synthases are ubiquitous and have been remarkably conserved throughout evolution. For their biological importance, F1FO ATP synthases have been extensively studied for many decades and many of them were characterized from both a functional and a structural standpoint. However, important properties of ATP synthases – specifically properties pertaining to their membrane embedded subunits – have yet to be determined and no structures are available to date for the intact enzyme complex. Therefore, F1FO ATP synthases are still a major focus of research worldwide. Our research group had previously reported an initial characterization of AAF1FO and had indicated that this enzyme presents unique features, i.e. a bent central stalk and a putatively heterodimeric peripheral stalk. Based on such a characterization, this enzyme revealed promising for structural and functional studies on ATP synthases and became the focus of this doctoral thesis. Two different lines of research were followed in this work.
First, the characterization of AAF1FO was extended by bioinformatic, biochemical and enzymatic analyses. The work on AAF1FO led to the identification of a new detergent that maintains a higher homogeneity and integrity of the complex, namely the detergent trans-4-(trans-4’-propylcyclohexyl)cyclohexyl-α-D-maltoside (α-PCC). The characterization of AAF1FO in this new detergent showed that AAF1FO is a proton-dependent, not a sodium ion-dependent ATP synthase and that its ATP hydrolysis mechanism needs to be triggered and activated by high temperatures, possibly inducing a conformational switch in subunit γ. Moreover, this approach suggested that AAF1FO may present unusual features in its membrane subunits, i.e. short N-terminal segments in subunits a and c with implications for the membrane insertion mechanism of these subunits.
Investigating on these unique features of A. aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase could not be done using A. aeolicus cells, because these require a harsh and dangerous environment for growth and they are inaccessible to genetic manipulations. Therefore, a second approach was pursued, in which an expression system was created to produce the enzyme in the heterologous host E. coli. This second approach was experimentally challenging, because A. aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase is a 500-kDa multimeric membrane enzyme with a complicated and still not entirely determined stoichiometry and because its encoding genes are scattered throughout A. aeolicus genome, rather than being organized in one single operon. However, an artificial operon suitable for expression was created in this work and led to the successful production of an active and fully assembled form of Aquifex aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase. Such artificial operon was created using a stepwise approach, in which we expressed and studied first individual subunits, then subcomplexes, and finally the entire F1FO ATP synthase complex. We confirmed experimentally that subunits b1 and b2 form a heterodimeric subcomplex in the E. coli membranes, which is a unique case among ATP synthases of non-photosynthetic organisms. Moreover, we determined that the b1b2 subcomplex is sufficient to recruit the soluble F1 subcomplex to the membranes, without requiring the presence of the other membrane subunits a and c. The latter subunits can be produced in our expression system only when the whole ATP synthase is expressed, but not in isolation nor in the context of smaller FO subcomplexes. These observations led us to propose a novel mechanism for the assembly of ATP synthases, in which first the F1 subcomplex attaches to the membrane via subunit b1b2, and then cring and subunits a assemble to complete the FO subcomplex. Furthermore, we could purify the heterologous ATP synthase (EAF1FO) to homogeneity by chromatography and electro-elution. Enzymatic assays showed that the purified form of EAF1FO is as active as AAF1FO. Peptide mass fingerprinting showed that EAF1FO is composed of the same subunits as AAF1FO and all soluble and membrane subunits could be identified. Finally, single-particle electron microscopy analysis revealed that the structure of EAF1FO is identical to that of AAF1FO. Therefore, the EAF1FO expression system serves as a reliable platform for investigating on properties of AAF1FO.
Specifically, in this work, EAF1FO was used to study the membrane insertion mechanism of rotary subunit c. Subunits c possess different lengths and levels of hydrophobicity across species and by analyzing their N-terminal variability, four phylogenetic groups of subunits c were distinguished (groups 1 to 4). As a member of group 2, the subunit c from A. aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase is characterized by an N-terminal segment that functions as a signal peptide with SRP recognition features, a unique case for bacterial F1FO ATP synthases. By accurately designing mutants of EAF1FO, we determined that such a signal peptide is strictly necessary for membrane insertion of subunit c and we concluded that A. aeolicus subunit c inserts into E. coli membranes using a different pathway than E. coli subunit c. Such a property may be common to other ATP synthases from extremophilic organisms, which all cluster in the same phylogenetic group.
In conclusion, the successful production of the fully assembled and active F1FO ATP synthase from A. aeolicus in E. coli reported in this work provides a novel genetic system to study A. aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase. To a broader extent, it will also serve in the future as a solid reference for designing strategies aimed at producing large multi-subunit complexes with complicated stoichiometry.