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- Investigation of three accessory subunits of complex I from Yarrowia lipolytica (2010)
- The nicotinamide-adenine-dinucleotide (NADH):ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) from the strictly aerobic yeast Y. lipolytica contains at least 26 “accessory” subunits however the significance of most of them remains unknown. The aim of this study was to characterize the role of three accessory subunits of complex I, recently identified: two mitochondrial acyl carrier proteins, ACPM1 and ACPM2 and a sulfurtransferase (st1) subunit. ACPMs are small (approx. 10 kDa) acidic proteins that are homologous to the corresponding central components of prokaryotic fatty acid synthase complexes. Genomic deletions of the two genes ACPM1 and ACPM2 resulted in strains that were not viable or retained only trace amounts of assembled mitochondrial complex I, respectively, as assessed using two-dimensional blue native/sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (BN/SDS) PAGE. This suggested different functions for the two proteins that despite high similarity could not be complemented by the respective other homolog still expressed in the deletion strains. To test whether complex I was affected by deletion of the ACPM2 gene, its activities in mitochondrial membranes were measured. Consequently, specific inhibitor sensitive dNADH: decylubiquinone (DBQ) oxidoreductase activity was lost completely and a strong decrease in dNADH: hexa-ammine-ruthenium (HAR) oxidoreductase activity was measured. Remarkably, the same phenotypes were observed if just the conserved serine carrying the phosphopantethein moiety was exchanged with alanine. Although this suggested a functional link to the lipid metabolism of mitochondria, using HPLC chromatography no changes in the lipid composition of the organelles were found. Proteomic analysis revealed that both ACPMs were tightly bound to purified mitochondrial complex I. Western blot analysis revealed that the affinity tagged ACPM1 and ACPM2 proteins were exclusively detectable in mitochondrial membranes but not in the mitochondrial matrix as reported for other organisms. Hence it has been concluded that the ACPMs can serve all their possible functions in mitochondrial lipid metabolism and complex I assembly and stabilization as subunits bound to complex I. A protein exhibiting rhodanese (thiosulfate:cyanide sulfurtransferase) activity was found to be associated with homogenous preparation of complex I. From a rhodanese deletion strain, functional complex I that lacked the additional protein but was fully assembled and displayed no functional defects or changes in EPR signature was purified. In contrast to previous suggestions, this indicated that the sulfurtransferase associated with Y. lipolytica complex I is not required for assembly of its iron–sulfur clusters.
- Functional and structural characterization of Aquifex aeolicus sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase (2010)
- This work presents the first complete structure of the membrane protein sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase (SQR), obtained by X-ray crystallography. Its description is complemented by the results of biochemical and functional experiments. SQRs are ubiquitous flavoprotein disulfide reductases (FDRs), present in all domains of life, including in humans. Their physiological role extends from sulfide detoxification to sulfide-dependent respiration and photosynthesis (in archaea and bacteria), to heavy metal tolerance (in yeast) and possibly to sulfide signalling (in higher eukaryotes). Until now understanding the function of SQRs was difficult because of the poor level of sequence conservation in this enzyme family, the limited functional characterization available and the absence of any structural data. SQR was identified in the native membranes of the hyperthermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus by peptide mass fingerprinting (PMF) and by a spectrophotometric activity assay. The protein was solubilized in the detergent dodecyl-beta-D-maltoside (DDM) and purified to homogeneity in a functionally active state. It binds one FAD molecule per protein monomer and FAD is its only cofactor. Its structure was determined in the “as-purified”, substrate-bound and inhibitor-bound forms at resolutions of 2.3, 2.0 and 2.9 Å, respectively. It is composed of two Rossmann-fold domains and of one membrane-attachment region. Despite the overall monomeric architecture being similar to that of FDRs, the structure reveals properties that had not been observed in FDRs until now and that have strong implications for the SQR catalytic mechanism. Surprisingly, A. aeolicus SQR is trimeric in the crystal structure and in solution, as determined by density-matched analytical ultracentrifugation, cross-linking and single particle electron microscopy. The trimer creates an appropriate surface for binding lipids and thus ensures that SQR exclusively reduces hydrophobic quinones. SQR inserts to a depth of about 12 Å into the membrane as an integral monotopic membrane protein. The interaction is mediated by an amphipathic helix-turn-helix tripodal motif and two lipid clamps. A channel in the membrane-binding domain extends towards the si-side of FAD and represents the quinone-binding site. The quinone ring is sandwiched between the conserved amino acids Phe 385 and Ile 346 and is possibly protonated upon reduction via Glu 318, Lys 382 and/or neighboring solvent molecules. Sulfide polymerization occurs on the re-side of FAD, where the highly conserved Cys 156 and Cys 347 appear to be covalently bound to the putative product of the reaction, a polysulfur chain which takes the form of an S8 ring in some monomers. Finally, the structure shows that FAD is covalently connected to the protein in an unprecedented way, via a putative disulfide bridge between the 8-methyl group of the isoalloxazine moiety and Cys 124. The high resolution insight into the protein and all unexpected structural observations presented in this work suggest that the catalytic mechanism of SQRs is significantly different from that of FDRs. In agreement with the structural and functional data, two reaction schemes are proposed for A. aeolicus SQR. They both provide a detailed description of how sulfide and quinones reach and bind the active site, how electrons are transferred from sulfide to quinone via FAD and how the elongating polysulfur product is attached to the polypeptide and is finally released. The two hypotheses differ in defining the structure of the covalent protein-FAD intermediate that forms during the reaction cycle and whose identity still remains experimentally undetermined. Remarkably, the structure of the active site and the FAD-binding mode of A. aeolicus SQR are not conserved in another SQR structure which also became available recently, that of the archaeon Acidianus ambivalens. The variability in SQRs suggests that not all of these enzymes follow the same catalytic mechanism, despite having been considered homologous. Consequently, the currently available but contradictory sequence-based classifications of the SQR family were revised. A structure-based alignment calculated on the increasing number of available sequences allowed to define new SQR groups and their characteristic sequence fingerprints in agreement with the reported structural and functional data. In conclusion, the results obtained in this work offer for the first time a detailed look into the intriguing but complicated reactions catalysed by SQRs and provide a stimulus for further genetic, biochemical and structural investigation.
- Heterologous production and characterization of selected secondary active transporters from the CDF, KUP, MOP, FNT, RhtB and SulP families (2010)
- Genes coding for membrane proteins make up 25%-30% of the genome in most organisms. Membrane proteins play an important role in cell functioning and their importance is enhanced by the fact that a large number of drugs are targeted at membrane proteins. Paradoxically, experimentally determined structures of membrane protein correspond to only about 1.7% of protein structures deposited in the protein data bank (PDB). This is largely due to the fact that membrane proteins are difficult to deal with owing to their amphipathic nature. The low abundance of membrane proteins in native tissue makes heterologous overexpression of these genes a necessity. This thesis work aimed at heterologous production of several secondary active transporter proteins for structural and functional characterizations and establishing alternative strategies to overcome the obstacles associated with heterologous overproduction. Four members of the heavy metal transporting cation diffusion facilitator (CDF) family from S. typhimurium and A. aeolicus were heterologously overproduced in E. coli and functionally characterized by an in vivo complementation assay using the zinc transport deficient E. coli GG48 strain. Out of these four, Aq_2073 from A. aeolicus was produced in large scale with substantial yield and purity sufficient to carry out structural studies. After extensive stability studies with different detergents, pHs and temperatures, the protein was subjected to 3D and 2D crystallization trials. Several C- terminal truncated constructs were made and the simultaneous crystallization screenings were carried out. These resulted in initial needle like crystals in 3D crystallization trials or optimum sized vesicles with crystalline patches in 2D crystallization trials but no obvious crystal. The protein showed significant increase in melting temperature in the presence of cadmium, when tested by differential scanning calorimetry. Another transporter, STM3880 of the potassium uptake permease (KUP) family from S. typhimurium, was heterologously overproduced in E. coli, purified by affinity chromatography, reconstituted into artificial liposome and functionally characterized by solid supported membrane based electrophysiology. In order to establish alternative expression strategies, continuous exchange cell free expression (CECF) of proteins from four different families was carried out. This method found to be aptly complementing the cell-based production approach. Targets from resistance to homoserine/threonine (RhtB) family not expressing in vivo could be expressed and purified using CECF. STM1781 of the sulfate permease (SulP) family was expressed, purified and characterized for stability while the cell-based production resulted in extensive degradation. PF0780 of multidrug/oligosaccharidyllipid/polysaccharide flippase (MOP) family was also purified to homogeneity and the stability was comparable to in vivo produced protein. Moreover, the effect of maltose binding protein (MBP) fusion at N-terminus on production and membrane integration was tested with three selected targets. The analysis revealed decreased yields in the presence of MBP if the protein had both termini in the cytoplasm. This work succeed in heterologously overproducing and establishing purification protocols for several secondary active transporters aiming at structural and functional characterization in a structural genomics framework. It also showed that integration of alternative strategies, like employing both cell-based and cell-free heterologous expression systems, expands the overall expression space coverage and in turn increases the chance of success of a structural genomics styled project.
- Biochemical, structural and functional characterization of diheme-containing succinate:quinone reductase (SQR) from Bacillus licheniformis (2010)
- Succinate:quinone oxidoreductases (SQORs) are integral membrane protein complexes, which couple the two-electron oxidation of succinate to fumarate (succinate → fumarate + 2H+ + 2e-) to the two-electron reduction of quinone to quinol (quinone + 2H+ + 2e- → quinol) as well as catalyzing the opposite reaction, the reduction of fumarate by quinol. In mitochondria and some aerobic bacteria, succinate:ubiquinone reductase, also known as complex II of the aerobic respiratory chain or as succinate dehydrogenase from the tricarboxylic acid (TCA or Krebs) cycle, catalyzes the oxidation of succinate by ubiquinone, which is mildly exergonic under standart conditions and not directly associated with energy storage in the form of a transmembrane electrochemical proton potential (Δp). Gram-positive bacteria do not contain ubiquinone but rather menaquinone, a quinone with significantly lower oxidation-reduction (“redox”) midpoint potential. In these cases, the catalyzed oxidation of succinate by quinone is endergonic under standard conditions. Consequently, these bacteria face a thermodynamic problem in supporting the catalysis of this reaction in vivo. Based on experimental evidence obtained on whole cells and purified membranes, it had previously been proposed that the SQR from Gram-positive bacteria supports this reaction at the expense of the protonmotive force, Δp. Nonetheless, it has been argued that the observed Δp dependence is not associated specifically with the activity of SQR because the occurrence of artifacts in experiments with bacterial membranes and whole cells can not be fully excluded. Clearly, definitive insight into the mechanism of catalysis of this intriguing reaction required a corresponding functional characterization of an isolated, membranebound SQR from a Gram-positive bacterium. The first aim of the present work addresses the question if the general feasibility of the energetically uphill electron transfer from succinate to menaquinone is associated specifically to a single enzyme complex, the SQR. The prerequisite to achieve this goal was stable preparation of this enzyme.
- Crystallization and structural characterization of protein complexes involved in the energy metabolism of Yarrowia lipolytica (2009)
- 1. Fab co-complexes of proton pumping NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) Fab fragments suitable for co-crystallization with complex I were generated using an immobilized papainbased protocol. The binding of the antibody fragments to complex I was verified using Surface Plasmon Resonance and size exclusion chromatography. The binding constants of the antibodies and their respective Fab fragments were found to be in the nanomolar range. This work presents the first report on successful crystallization of complex I (proton pumping NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase) from Yarrowia lipolytica with proteolytic Fab fragments. The quality of the crystals was significantly improved when compared to the initial experiments and the best crystals diffracted X-rays to a resolution of ~7 Å. The activity of complex I remained uninfluenced by antibody fragment binding. The initial diffraction data suggest that the complex I/Fab co-complex crystals represent a space group different to the one observed for the native protein. Ongoing experiments are aimed at further enhancements of the diffraction quality of the crystals. Providing a different space group the CI/Fab co-complexes may become a very useful approach for structure determination of the enzyme. Moreover, the bound Fab offers an additional possibility to generate phase information. The antibody-mediated crystallization represents a valuable tool in structural characterization of the NADH:oxidoreductase subcomplexes or even single subunits. 2. UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase from Yarrowia lipolytica displays affinity towards Ni2+ NTA and was first detected in a contaminated sample of complex I. Following, separation from complex I, Ugp1p was purified using anion exchange chromatography. Sequence similarity studies revealed high identity to other known pyrophosphorylases. As indicated by laser-based mass spectrometry method (LILBID) Ugp1p from Y. lipolytica builds octamers similarly to the enzyme from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The initial crystals grew as thin needles favorably in sitting drop setups. The size of the crystals was increased by employment of a micro batch technique. The improved crystals diffracted X-rays to a resolution of 3.2 Å at the synchrotron beamline. Structural characterization is under way using a molecular replacement approach based on the published structure of baker’s yeast UGPase.
- Wechselwirkung des Cytochrom-bc1-Komplexes aus Saccharomyces cerevisiae mit seinen Substraten sowie mit der Cytochrom-c-Oxidase (2004)
- The cytochrome bc1 complex or ubiquinol:cytochrome c oxidoreductase (QCR) catalyses electron transfer from ubiquinol to cytochrome c in respiration and photosynthesis coupled to a vectorial proton transport across the membrane, in which the enzyme resides. In both bacteria and eukaryotic organisms, QCR participates in supramolecular assembly of membrane proteins that comprise the respiratory or photosynthetic chain. In the present work, proton transfer pathways, substrate binding and the supramolecular assembly of the respiratory chain in yeast were probed by structure-based site-directed mutagenesis and characterization of the variants. Both active sites centre P, the place of quinol oxidation, and centre N, where quinone reduction takes place, lack direct access to the bulk solvent necessary for proton release and uptake. Based on the X-ray structure, proton transfer pathways were postulated. Analysis at centre P showed, that E272 and Y132 of cytochrome b are important for QCR catalysis as indicated by increased superoxide production and lowered Cyc1p reductase activity in these variants. Pre-steady state heme reduction kinetics in combination with stigmatellin resistance indicated that charge and length of the side chain at position 272 are crucial for efficient docking of the ISP to form the enzyme substrate complex and for electron bifurcation at centre P. Variants of Y312 and F129, both residues of cytochrome b, showed an increased Km indicating participation of these residues in coordination of ubiquinol or the possible intermediate semiquinone anion radical. F129 proved to be crucial for a functional Q-cycle as indicated by respiratory negative growth phenotype and a lowered H+/e- stoichiometry of F129 variants. At centre N, the postulated CL/K and E/R proton transfer pathways are located at opposite sites of the bound ubiquinone. Variants in the surface residues R218 (cytochrome b) and E52 (Qcr7) of the E/R pathway and E82 (Qcr7) of the CL/K pathway showed instability upon purification indicating an important role of these residues for QCR integrity. The slowed down centre N reduction kinetics in H85 (CL/K), R218 and N208 (both E/R) variant was attributed to a destabilised semiquinone anion consistent with the observed decreased sensitivity towards the site-specific inhibitor antimycin and an increased Km. Variants of residues of both pathway, E82Q and R218M, exhibited a decreased H+/e- stoichiometry indicating a crucial role of both residue for maintaining a working Q-cycle and supporting the proposed protonation of the substrate via the Cl/K and the E/R pathway. Long-range interaction between centre N and centre P were observed by altered reduction kinetics of the high potential chain and increased superoxide production in the centre N variants. The role of the cation-pi-interaction between F230 of Cyt1p and R19 of cytochrome c in binding of the redox carrier to QCR was analysed. In F230L hydrophobic interaction were partially lost as was deduced from the ionic strength dependence of Cyc1p reductase activity and Cycp1 binding, as detected by ionic strength sensitive Kd and Km for Cyc1p. The decreased enzymatic rate of F230W could be explained by a disturbed binding of Cyc1p to the variant enzyme. F230 may influence the heme mid point potential and thereby the electron transfer rate to Cyc1p. Reduction of Cobp via both centre P and centre N was disturbed suggesting an interaction between high and low potential chain. Supramolecular association between QCR and cytochrome c oxidase (COX) in yeast mitochondria was probed by affinity chromatography of a his-tagged QCR in the presence of the mild detergent digitonin. In comparison to purification with laurylmaltoside, the presence of both QCR and COX subunits was detected in the elution fractions by SDS-PAGE, Cyc1p reductase and TMPD oxidase activity assays and immunoblot analysis. The CL-dependent formation of the supercomplex between QCR and COX was analysed by replacement variants in the CL-binding site of QCR in CL containing and CL free environment. With an increasing number of replacements of the three lysines the CL-binding pocket supercomplex formation was not abolished, when CL is present as shown by BN-PAGE analysis. This was supported by the synergetic decrease in enzyme activity for both enzymes upon increased number of replacements. In the CL-free environment, no supracomplex formation was observed for a wildtype CL binding site. By replacements of two lysines in the CL-binding pocket, supercomplex formation could be recovered as revealed by BN-PAGE. This indicates, that CL may serve as a charge neutralizer for the lysines near the presumed interaction domain between complex III and complex IV. The obtained results for centre P provide new information of residues critical for stabilisation of ubiquinol and controlling electron short circuit reactions. The observations for centre N variants clearly support the proposed two proton transfer pathways and the role of the bound phospholipids in centre N kinetics. Variants in the Cyc1p binding site suggest a role for F230 both in Cyc1p binding and electron transfer. Clear interaction between the high and low potential chain in both Cyt1p and centre N variants strongly support long-range interactions in the complex. Studies on the supramolecular association of complex III and complex IV indicate a new role of Cl in stabilising a supracomplex.
- Production, biochemical characterization and preliminary structural studies of human Endothelin B receptor in its ligand-bound state (2007)
- G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) comprise the largest superfamily of cell surface receptors and possess a signature motif of seven transmembrane helices. The endothelin B (ETB) receptor is a member of rhodopsin like GPCR family. It plays an important role in vasodilation and is found in the membranes of the endothelial cells enveloping blood vessels. Knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of G-protein coupled receptors in general would significantly add to our understanding of their molecular mechanisms and would be useful in the search for new specific drugs. However, three-dimensional structural analysis will require milligram quantities of pure and homogeneous protein. This dissertation is a study of the production, biochemical characterization and preliminary structural studies of the human ETB G-protein coupled receptor. The present work aimed at elucidating the structure and mechanistic details of function of the receptor by using a combination of X-ray crystallographic and NMR methods for collecting structural data. To obtain homogenous and monodisperse receptor protein preparation for structural and functional studies, we implemented the baculovirus expression system for the production of ETB receptor for the present work. The two step affinity purification ensured capture of full-length receptor. Silver stained SDS-PAGE of the purified receptor-ligand complex indicated greater than 90% protein purity. Based on previous reports, we used the high affinity ligand (endothelin -1) binding to the receptor for co-crystallization of receptor-ligand complex by locking the receptor in the activated conformation. As a prerequisite for 3D crystallization trials, the stability of the detergent solubilized receptor-ligand complex was assessed with respect to pH, temperature and time. Receptor-ligand complex did not show any degradation and aggregation over 6 days at 4°C and 18°C. Interestingly, change of pH suggested that receptor-ligand complex is unstable at lower pH due to possible charge induced conformational changes. In our work, we introduced the idea of using fluorophore labeled ligand for simple visual recognition of the receptor-ligand complex during purification and crystallization. On the other hand, we alternatively used biotinylated endothelin-1 to produce an adequate amount of ligand bound receptor complex, thus ensuring homogeneity of the purified complex for use in structural studies. Thus far, preliminary crystals have been obtained for both the unlabelled ET-1 and fluorophore labeled ET-1 complexed with ETB receptor. Moreover, we performed the systematic investigation of the protein/peptide binding partner for the receptor-ligand complex with the chief aims of stabilizing structure and increasing the possibilities of 3D-crystal contacts. Thus subsequent to formation of receptor-ligand complex, the additional in vitro formation of a ternary arrestin-receptor-ligand complex was also attempted for use in structural studies. We successfully demonstrated that arrestin mutant (R169E) forms a tight complex with ETB receptor regardless of its phosphorylation state. A second approach to get insight into the ETB receptor ligand binding site relied on the use of spin isotope labeled ET-1 ligand peptide by employing solid state MAS NMR method. Preliminary data provided compelling evidence that the C-terminal region of the peptide is immobilized in an ordered environment and presumably bound to the receptor. This indicates that the approach is feasible, although there are difficulties in sample preparation for further spectral measurements and data collection which are currently being discussed in ongoing investigations. At this point of our research work, we initiated a collaborative effort to obtain high yields of pure, active receptor without post translational modifications, from an E. coli cell lysate based in vitro expression system. We successfully optimized the production of homogenous and monodisperse endothelin B receptor in mg amounts. Thus this could potentially provide an alternative source of high quality receptor production in large quantities for immediate crystallization trials. Thus we hope that the results from these investigations can be applied in a more general sense to the production and crystallization of other G protein-coupled receptors.
- Establishment of an Escherichia coli cell-free expression system for the large scale production of selected membrane proteins (2007)
- Membrane proteins play vital role in a variety of cellular processes, such as signal transduction, transport and recognition. In turn they are involved in numerous human diseases and currently represent one of the most prevalent drug targets. A comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms mediated by membrane proteins requires information about their structures at near-atomic resolution, although structural studies of membrane proteins remain behind those of soluble proteins. A bottleneck in the study of membrane proteins resides in the difficulties that are encountered during their high-level production in cell based systems. However, many toxic effects attributed to the over production of membrane proteins are eliminated by cell-free expression, as viable host cells are no longer required. Therefore, the objective of this study was to obtain adequate amounts of selected membrane transport proteins for their structural studies using a cell-free expression system. For the establishment of the cell-free system for membrane proteins, the transporters YbgR and YiiP from Salmonella typhimurium LT2, PF0558 and PF1373 from Pyrococcus furiosus, from the cation diffusion family (CDF), BetP from Corynebacterium glutamicum from the betaine/carnitine/choline transporter (BCCT) family and Aq-2030 from Aquifex aeolicus VF5 from the monovalent cation/proton antiporter-2 (CPA2) family were selected. An Escherichia coli S-30 extract based cellfree system was established by generating the best expression constructs of the target proteins, preparing T7 RNA polymerase and an S-30 extract with high translation efficiency. The functionality of the S-30 extract was shown by the cell-free expression of correctly folded Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). Essential factors of the cell-free system such as the Mg2+ concentration, the bacterial S-30 extract proportion in the reaction mixture and the time-course of cell-free reactions have been optimized. For the cell-free production of membrane proteins in soluble form, the possibility to supplement cell-free reactions with detergents was explored. A wide range of non-ionic or zwitterionic detergents, were found to be compatible with cell-free synthesis, while ionic detergents and non-ionic detergents at high concentrations had an inhibitory effect. Moreover, high concentrations of polyoxyethylene-alkyl-ethers (Brij) detergents were found to have enhancing effect on the production levels as well as on the solubility of cell-free produced proteins. As membrane proteins tend to misfold and aggregate in a membrane-free translation system, the possibility to supplement the cell-free reactions with inner membrane vesicles (IMVs) to obtain correctly folded target transport proteins was explored. All the target proteins were successfully produced in the batch cell-free reactions and were found to be incorporated in the IMVs. A continuous exchange cell-free (CECF) system was established, where consumable substrates (amino acids, nucleotides and energy regenerating compounds) were supplied to the cell-free reaction mixture through a dialysis membrane, which in consequence resulted in high-level production of target proteins compared to the batch system. The osmosensing and osmoregulated sodium-coupled symporter BetP from C. glutamicum was chosen for the large scale production in CECF set-up. The protein is easily produced in E. coli and is functional as assayed by its transport activity, after purification and reconstitution in liposomes. It is therefore possible to compare in-vivo and cell-free production. High-level cell-free production of BetP was achieved in CECF mode in different forms: (i) as precipitate, (ii) as soluble form in detergent, and (iii) incorporated in IMVs. Cell-free production of BetP resulted in the yield of about 0.5 mg of purified BetP from 1 ml of CECF reaction. The yield of purified BetP was increased to 1.6 fold by addition of 1% polyoxyethylene-(20)-cetyl-ether (Brij58) detergent in the reaction mixture. Moreover, the high level cell-free production of BetP (0.5 mg purified BetP/ml reaction mixture) incorporated in IMVs was shown for the first time in this work.However, it was observed that oligomerization of BetP was not efficient in the cell-free system. Factors that can promote the folding of membrane proteins such as lipids and chaperones were investigated. Addition of lipids and molecular chaperone GroE facilitated correct folding of BetP resulting in increased yield and stability of cell-free produced BetP. The results obtained indicate that most of the cell-free produced BetP exists in functional oligomeric form. The possibility of obtaining milligram amounts of BetP, a 12 trans-membrane protein from the cell-free reactions holds promise for structural and functional studies of other membrane proteins. In any case, the strategies adapted in this study should prove extremely valuable for the production of membrane proteins in the E. coli cell-free expression system.
- Production of the human adenosine A2A receptor in Pichia pastoris, its solubilization and purification, and the selection of a specific single-chain Fv fragment by phage display (2006)
- G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) comprise the largest membrane protein family and play an essential role in signal transduction through the cell membrane. They are currently the targets of approximately 50 % of the pharmaceuticals on the market (Klabunde and Hessler, 2002). However, only one high-resolution GPCR structure has been determined up to now, that of bovine rhodopsin (Palczewski et al., 2000). The GPCR activation and regulation mechanisms are still unknown and other GPCR structures are thus required. MePNet (Membrane Protein Network) was a European consortium dedicated to structural studies of GPCRs. The approach was to produce 100 GPCRs in three expression systems (Escherichia coli, Pichia pastoris and Semliki Forest Virus infected mammalian cells) in order to select at each step of the process (production, solubilization, purification) the constructs that fulfilled quantity and quality (functionality) requirements for crystallization trials. In our team, we screened 38 of the 100 targets in P. pastoris. For each receptor, the clone with the highest production level was identified by dot-blot. The size and homogeneity of each receptor were then analyzed by Western-blot. The human adenosine A2A receptor showed a well-defined and pronounced single band and was thus selected for further characterization. The adenosine A2A receptor is a GPCR mainly localized in the central nervous system and, as it antagonizes dopaminergic activity, it has great potential as a drug target for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Functional characterization by binding assays with the specific antagonist [3H]-ZM241385 demonstrated a Bmax of 56 +/- 3 pmol/mg i.e. pmol of binder per milligram of total membrane protein, and a KD of 0.40 +/- 0.02 nM. Receptor production was then improved by lowering the induction temperature, decreasing the induction time and adding DMSO to the medium. For large-scale production, fermention reached around 300 g cells (wet weight)/L culture, which provided 43 mg of functional receptor in membranes per liter of culture. Functional solubilization was achieved with dodecyl-β-D-maltoside and the soluble yield was increased to 70-80 % of the membrane content by addition of cholesteryl hemisuccinate and increasing the ionic strength. The receptor was successfully purified via Ni-NTA and monomeric avidin chromatography in the presence of the antagonist ZM241385. This strategy produced a pure, homogeneous and stable receptor preparation with functionality demonstrated by radioligand binding assays. The total receptor yield after purification was routinely around 20 % of the membrane functional receptor content and 2 g of membranes provided 4 mg of pure receptor for crystallization trials. GPCRs are very difficult targets for crystallization, and co-crystallization with antibody fragments has been shown to be a successful method for crystallization of membrane proteins. In order to develop such a tool for the adenosine A2A receptor, a single-chain Fv (scFv) fragment specific to the purified receptor was selected by phage display. The receptor was functionally immobilized on the surface of streptavidin beads and after two rounds of selection, 6 different phages were identified several times. After production in E. coli and purification via Ni-NTA affinity chromatography, 4 out of the 6 scFv fragments were sufficiently enriched to be tested by ELISA. For the ELISA, the receptor was functionally immobilized via the biotinylation domain of the construct in a 96-well streptavidin-coated plate. The antibody fragments binding to the receptor were identified based on interaction with HRP-conjugated protein L. One scFv fragment gave a positive ELISA signal 10 fold above background and titration of the scFv fragment binding to the receptor was specific and saturable. However no complex of scFv fragment and receptor was observed on gel filtration. In order to have a more sensitive detection method, the scFv fragment was labeled with fluorescein: a complex was then observed up on gel filtration but the binding appeared to be non-specific. A pull-down assay with immobilized non-labeled scFv fragment finally confirmed the specificity of the binding, but also the low affinity of the interaction. Affinity maturation of this specific scFv fragment by a random mutagenesis and selection process should improve this parameter in order to obtain an adapted tool for co-crystallization.