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- Expression and characterization of P-type ATPases for structural studies (2007)
- Two types of proteins transport ions across the membrane – ion channels and ion pumps. Ion pumps transport ions against their electrochemical gradient by co-transporting another ion or a substrate molecule through a concentration gradient or by coupling this process to an energy source like ATP. Those that couple ATP hydrolysis to ion transport are called ion motive ATPases and can be classified as ‘V’, ‘F’ and ‘P’ types. In this thesis, two sub-classes of P-type ATPases, PIIIA and PIB were studied. Attempts were made to over-express and crystallize the plant proton pump AHA2 (a PIIIA-ATPase). Also, the two putative copper transporting ATPases, CtrA3 (CopB-like) and CtrA2 (CopA-like) from Aquifex aeolicus (both PIB pumps) were over-expressed in E. coli and characterized. PIIIA-type pumps transport protons across the membrane and are found exclusively in plants and fungi, and probably some archaea. One of the most characterized proton pump biochemically is the A. thaliana proton pump AHA2. An 8Å projection map of this enzyme is already available (Jahn 2001). PIBATPases, also called CPX type pumps transport heavy metal ions such as Cu+, Cu2+, Zn2+, Pb2+, Cd2+, Co2+ across biological membranes and play an important role in homeostasis and biotolerance of these metals. CopA and CopB are two such proteins that transport copper across cell membrane found in many prokaryotes. CopB-like proteins are found almost exclusively in bacteria, with CPH sequence motif, while CopA-like proteins have CPC sequence motif, also found in eukaryotic copper transporters including human ATP7A and ATP7B. CopB extrudes Cu2+ across the membrane. CopA is activated by and transports Cu+ but the direction of transport is debated. Attempts were made to over-express the plant proton pump AHA2 in yeast Pichia pastoris. However, the yeast expressed only a truncated protein, which could not be used for further studies. It can be concluded that P. pastoris strain SMD1163 is not a good host for expression of AHA2. Focus was then shifted to AHA2 that has been over-expressed and purified from S. cerevisiae strain RS72. Growth and purification protocols had to be changed from published methods because of laboratory constraints and this probably had an effect on the protein produced. The protein purified from S. cerevisiae could not be crystallized reproducibly for structural studies by electron microscopy. CtrA3 was expressed in E. coli and purified using Ni2+-NTA matrix. Like CopB of A. fulgidus (Mana Capelli 2003), it was active only in the presence of Cu2+ and to some extent in Ag+. The protein was maximally active at 75°C, at pH 7 and in presence of cysteine. Lipids were essential for the activity of CtrA3. However, when the protein was purified in Cymal-6, CtrA3 could not hydrolyze ATP, even when lipids were added to the reaction mixture. For reconstitution of CtrA3 into liposomes for 2D crystallization, several lipids were tested. To screen the lipids compatible for protein incorporation, CtrA3 was dialyzed with different lipids at a high lipid-to-protein ratio of 10:1 and centrifuged by sucrose density gradient. Protein incorporated in lipids localized with liposome fraction in the gradient. Most of the CtrA3 was incorporated into DPPC with no aggregation. This lipid was used for reconstitution of CtrA3 at low LPRs, and at an LPR of 0.3-0.5, the protein formed 2D crystals. A NaCl concentration of 50mM was necessary for the formation of crystals. However, salt removal by dialysis prior to harvesting was essential for obtaining wellordered lattices of CtrA3. Addition of preservatives like trehalose and tannin or direct plunging in liquid ethane for cryo-microscopy destroyed the crystal lattice. Similar to CtrA3, the gene responsible for expression of CtrA2 was amplified from genomic DNA of A. aeolicus and expressed in E. coli and purified by Ni2+-NTA. Functional characterization of CtrA2 was done by analyzing ATP hydrolysis activity of the enzyme. Similar to CopA of A. fulgidus (Mandal 2002), CtrA2 was activated in the presence of Ag+ and to some extent, Cu+. It is possible that both the copper ATPases of A. aeolicus have different ion selectivity- CtrA3, specific for Cu2+ and CtrA2, specific for Cu+. Maximal activity of CtrA2 was also at 75°C. Cysteine was essential for activity of CtrA2, but the protein was not dependent on addition of lipids for activation. Reconstitution of CtrA2 was done similar to CtrA3 for screening of lipids for 2D crystallization. Of the lipids tested, DOPC reconstituted the protein best. However, screening at low LPRs did not yield any crystals. Even though both CtrA3 and CtrA2 are similar heavy metal transporting Ptype ATPases from the same organism and have 36% identity, they behaved completely different in their expression levels in E. coli, purification profiles, activity and reconstitution in lipids.
- 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.
- Functional and structural studies on the Atmungsferment Cytochrome c oxidase from Paracoccus denitrificans (2008)
- Cytochrome c oxidase (CcO), also called Complex IV of the aerobic respiratory chain, is located in the plasma membrane of prokaryotes and in the inner mitochondrial membrane of eukaryotes. The redox energy of dioxygen reduction is used to translocate protons across the membrane resulting in an electrochemical proton gradient. The generated proton gradient is exploited by the adenosine-5’-triphosphate synthase. In this work, bacterial four-subunit aa3-Type CcO from Paracoccus denitrificans (ATCC 13543, 4 SU-wt ATCC CcO) was used for analyses. 1) The recombinant homologously produced 4 SU-wt CcO (4 SU-wt rec CcO) was functionally compared with the native 4 SU-wt ATCC CcO. The 4 SU-wt rec CcO showed functional deficiencies as determined by UV-vis spectroscopy and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) studies. Total X-ray Reflection Fluorescence measurements show in both wild type CcOs the same ratio of the redoxactive Fe and Cu (2 Fe : 3 Cu) indicating full complement of the functional metals. If CcO contains only subunit I and II, it loses its functional integrity during continuous turnover activity. The importance of subunit III for integrity of CcO was demonstrated using 2 SU-wt rec CcO. Crystallisation trials of suicide inactivated 2 SU-wt rec CcOs have been ineffective using standard crystallisation conditions. Crystals of active 2 SU-wt rec CcO (positive control) have been obtained under these conditions and this result indicates possible structural changes in suicide inactivated 2 SU-wt rec CcO. The structure of active 2 SU-wt rec CcO was determined to 2.25 Å resolution. 2) Terminal oxidases require four electrons for the cleavage of the dioxygen bond (O=O). In general, the catalytic cycle of CcO is described by the electron input and thus by the different redox states of the metal centres: the O, E, R, P and F state. The two-electron reduced R intermediate is able to donate four electrons for dioxygen reduction forming the P state. The P intermediate is an oxoferryl state implying the lack of an electron for the R -> P transition, because the metal centres can only provide three electrons (Fe+II forms Fe+IV and Cu+II forms Cu+I). The P state, where the dioxygen bond is already broken, shows an oxoferryl state (FeIV=O2-) and a nearby tyrosine is proposed to form a tyrosyl radical representing the donor of the missing electron. H2O2-induced artificial intermediates provide the opportunity to investigated different catalytic intermediates in detail. Mixing equimolar amounts of H2O2 to CcO in the O state induces the "two-electron" reduced PH state at high pH and the electronically equal "two-electron" reduced F• H state at low pH. The addition of an excess amount of H2O2 leads to the three-electron reduced FH state. Functional studies using the 4 SU-wt ATCC CcO have demonstrated a bound peroxide (O- - O-) intermediate during the catalytic cycle. Using EPR it was previously shown that Y167 hosts a radical species in PH/F• H state which suggests that Y167 could provide this "missing electron". While X-ray structural models of CcO and Fourier-transformed infrared (FTIR) measurements of oxygenated ("pulsed") 4 SU-wt ATCC CcO suggest a bound peroxide in the O state, UV-vis and EPR spectroscopic studies indicate that other intermediates may also contain such peroxide species. Equimolar and excess amounts of H2O2 induce the PH/F• H and FH states, respectively and catalase treatment of the FH state leads, contrary to the natural direction of the catalytic cycle, to the apparent transition of the FH -> PH/F• H states, which is accompanied by reappearance of an EPR signal from the Y167• radical. The novel PFH/F• FH states are presented here and we postulate that the FH state hosts a superoxide (or peroxide) adduct at CuB in the binuclear site. In addition, the novel P10 state is also introduced having a maximum at lambda = 612 nm in the difference absorption spectrum (minus the O state). The P10 state is induced by mixing CcO in the O state with a pH 10 buffer. This pH 10 induced state resembles standard P states such as PCO, PH and PR. However, the P10 state evolves out of the O state without addition of reduction equivalents. Using EPR spectroscopy it was shown that Y167 hosts a radical species in the P10 state such as in the PH state. In summary, all functional data presented here provide evidence for a peroxide bound during the O state. Finally, a new model for the natural catalytic cycle is proposed. If the O state contains a peroxide, it is also likely that the E and R state contain this species. Even the oxoferryl intermediates P and F states may complex a peroxide at CuB in the binuclear site. 3) The amino acid residue Y167, which hosts the radical in the PH/F•H states, is not directly part of the binuclear site of CcO. For identification of the primary electron donor, two tryptophan variants of CcO, W272F and W164F, which are located nearby the binuclear site, were produced. Evidence is provided that W272 is a kinetically fast electron donor for the O2 molecule. The electron is replenished by Y167, or probably by Y280 in the natural cycle. The Y167 radical is detectable by EPR spectroscopy after treatment with equimolar amounts of H2O2 in the active variant W164F, but is absent in the inactive variant W272F. 4) CcO contains two proton conducting pathways, the D- and the K-pathway. Proteoliposomes of the variants H28A and D30N, mutations located at the entrance of the D-pathway, both show the identical proton pumping activity as the 4 SU-wt rec CcO (pumped H+/e- = 1). The variant N113D shows abolished proton pumping (pumped H+/e- = 0), but a relative high cytochrome c oxidation activity (63 %). G196D displays no cytochrome c oxidation and proton pumping activity. Overall, the addition or removal of a negative charge within the D-pathway such as in D124N, N131D, N113D and G196D leads to a decoupled phenotype indicating the high degree of electrostatic coupling in CcO.
- 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.
- Funktionelle Charakterisierung der C-terminalen-Domänen des Korepressors N-CoR (2006)
- Although in general cells are genetically identical in multicellular organisms, the differential expression of genomic information enables cell type definition and specific organ function. In eukaryotic cells, the DNA is associated with histone and non-histones proteins into a restrictive structure called chromatin. Assembly into chromatin does not only protect and package the linear double stranded DNA into the nucleus but is fundamental for the execution of diverse genetic programs. Posttranslational modifications of histones regulate the accessibility of the DNA to transcription factors and serve as scaffold for binding of regulatory proteins. Nuclear receptors are transcription factors that bind specific target sequences on the DNA and recruit transcriptional coregulators at the promoter. These are able to modify the chromatin structure in an activating or repressing manner. The contribution of corepressors to the biological actions of nuclear receptors has turned out to be essential. Impaired corepressor function can be the cause of endocrine malfunctions, neoplastic diseases or severe developmental abnormalities. To better understand the role of the nuclear receptor corepressor N-CoR the unknown function of the extreme C-terminus was investigated. In this thesis the interaction of N-CoR with the non-POU-domain containing octamer-binding protein Non0/p54nrb, that was found tobe a potential interaction partner in a yeast-two-hybrid screen, was confirmed. This protein contains two RNA recognition motifs (RRM) and is described as a multifunctional protein since it is involved in transcription Initiation as well as in pre-mRNA processing. The RRM1 motif was determined to be essential and sufficient for the interaction with N-CoR. Obtaining dominant negative effect with the Non0/p54nrb RRM1 deletion mutant in functional reporter assays, data support that NonO modulates the capacity of N-CoR to repress and alters the recruitment of N-CoR by nuclear receptors to targeted Promoters. Additional analyses suggest that the N- and C- terminus of N-CoR are involved in intramolecular interactions and that they regulate each other. Taken results together a functional model is proposed that supports the biological relevance of the interaction of N-CoR with NonO and the function of N-CoR C-terminus acting as asensor that evaluates the ratio of corepressors and coactivators in the nuclear receptor environment. N-CoR repressive capacity would be altered by modulating factors like NonO that interacts with N-CoR C-terminus. The mechanism support that splicing and transcription regulation are physically and functionallylinked to ensure the appropriate amount of messager RNA to be transcript and process in response to stimulation intensity and cell context.
- Association of bacterial respiratory complexes (2006)
- The mitochondrial respiratory chain consists of NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (Complex-I), succinate:ubiquinone reductase (Complex-II), ubiquinol:cytochrome c reductase (Complex-III), cytochrome c oxidase (Complex-IV) and cytochrome c as an electron mediator between Complex-III and Complex-IV. Paracoccus denitrificans membranes were used as a model system for the association of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. More than 50 years ago, a model was given for a supercomplex assembly formed by stable associations between these complexes. This model gradually shifted by the model of random diffusion given by Hackenbrock et al. 1986 Different independent approaches were used to further analyze this situation in a native membrane environment, thus avoiding any perturbation caused by detergent solubilization: (a) measuring the distance and orientation of the different complexes by multi-frequency EPR Spectroscopy we started to analyze simple system, the interaction between CuA fragment derived from P. denitrificans and various c type cytochrome by Pulsed X band and G band (180 GHz) EPR. Partner proteins for the CuA (excess negative surface charge) were (i) horse heart cytochrome c which contain a large number of positive charges in heme crevice,(ii) the cytochrome c552 soluble fragment (physiological electron donor and have positive charges), and as a control (iii) the cytochrome c1 soluble fragment (negative surface potential, derived from bc1 complex) The measurements were performed at several magnetic field positions varying temperature between 5 to 30 K. Both the X band and the high-field measurements show the existence of a strong relaxation enhancement of the CuA by the specific binding of the P. denitrificans cytochrome c552 and horse heart cytochrome c. This relaxation enhancement is dependent on temperature and provides information about the distance and relative orientation of the two interacting spins within this protein-protein complex. (b) For quantitative information about lateral diffusion of cytochrome c oxidase in the native membrane Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) was used. In this experiment, diffusion coefficients for oxidase differ in the case of supercomplex for wild type membrane and for two deletion mutants lacking either Complex-I or Complex-III. (c) The optical absorption spectroscopy at microsecond level resolution was tried for the translational mobility of oxidase in membrane vesicles. Due to the presence of different hemes in the native membrane, carbon monoxide (CO) used as a probe for the experiment. The optimization of the experimental conditions were carried out to get the optimal signal.
- Structural studies of membrane transport proteins (2005)
- My graduate thesis is on the “ Structural studies of membrane transport proteins”. Transporters are membrane proteins that have multiple membrane-spanning a-helices. They are dynamic and diverse proteins, undergoing a large conformational change and transporting wide range of susbtrates. Based on their energy source they can be classified into primary and secondary transport systems. Primary transport systems are driven by the use of chemical (ATP) or light energy, while secondary transporters utilize ion gradients to transport substrates. I began my PhD dissertation on secondary transporters by two-dimensional crystallization and electron crystallographic analysis and recently my focus also has shifted towards 3D crystallization. The following projects constitute my PhD thesis: 1) 2D crystallization of MjNhaP1 and pH induced structural change: MjNhaP1, a Na+/H+ antiporter that is regulated by pH has been implicated in homeostasis of H+ and Na+ in Methanococcus jannaschii, a hyperthermophilic archaeon that grows optimally at 85°C. MjNhaP1 was cloned and expressed in E. coli. Two-dimensional crystals were obtained from purified protein at pH4. Electron cryo-microscopy yielded an 8Å projection map. The map of MjNhaP1 shows elongated densities in the centre of the dimer and a cluster of density peaks on either side of the dimer core, indicative of a bundle of 4-6 membrane-spanning helices. The effect of pH on the structure of MjNhaP1was studied in situ in 2D crystals revealing a major change in density within the helix bundle relative to the dimer interface. This change occurred at pH6 and above. The two conformations at low and high pH most likely represent the closed and open states of the antiporter, respectively. This is the first instance where a conformational change associated with the regulation of a secondary transporter appears to map structurally. Reconstruction of 3D map and high-resolution structure by x-ray crystallography would be necessary to understand the mechanism of ion transport and regulation by pH. 2) 2D crystallization of Proline transporter: Proline transporter (PutP) from E.coli belongs the sodium-solute symporter family that includes disease related sodium dependent glucose and iodide transporter in humans. Sodium and proline are co-transported with a stoichiometry of 1:1. Purified PutP was reconstituted to yield 2D crystals that were hexagonal in nature. The 2D crystals had tendency to stack indicating their willingness to form 3D crystals. A projection map of PutP from negatively stained crystals showed trimeric arrangement of protein. Other members of the SSF family have been shown to be monomers. My analysis of oligomeric state of PutP in detergent by blue native gel indicates a monomer in detergent solution. It is likely that PutP can function as a monomer but at higher concentration and in lipid bilayer it tends to form trimer. 3) Oligomeric state and crystallization of carnitine transporter from E.coli: E.coli carnitine transporter (CaiT) belongs to the BCCT (Betaine, Carnitine and Choline) superfamily that transports molecules with quaternary amine groups. CaiT is predicted to span the membrane 12 times and acts as a L-carnitine/g-butyrobetaine exchanger. Unlike other members in this transporter family, it does not require an ion gradient and does not respond to osmotic stress. Over-expression of the protein yielded ~2mg of protein/L of culture. The structure and oligomeric state of the protein were analyzed in detergent and lipid bilayers. Blue native gel electrophoresis indicated that CaiT was a trimer in detergent solution. Gel filtration and cross-linking studies further support this. Reconstitution of CaiT into lipid bilayers resulted in 2D crystals. Analysis of negatively stained 2D crystals confirmed that CaiT is a trimer in the membrane. Initial 3D crystallization trials have been successful and currently, the crystals diffract to 6Å and are being improved. 4) Monomeric porin OmpG: OmpG is a bacterial outer membrane b-barrel protein. It is monomeric and its size (33kDa) places it as a prime candidate for a structural solution, using the recently developed method of solid state NMR (work in collaboration with Prof.Hartmut Oskinat, FMP, Berlin). A long-term aim would be to study porins as templates for designing nanopores, for DNA sequencing and identification. I have expressed OmpG in inclusion bodies and refolded at an efficiency of >90% into a functional form using detergent. OmpG was then crystallized by 2D crystallization yielding an 8Å projection map whose structure was similar to native protein. In addition, these crystals were used for structure determination by solid state NMR. An initial spectrum of heavy isotopically labeled OmpG has allowed identification of specific amino acid residues including threonine and proline. Additionally, I obtained 3D crystals in detergent that diffract to 5.5Å and are being improved.
- Accessory subunits of complex I from Yarrowia lipolytica (2005)
- Mitochondial NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) the largest multiprotein enzyme of the respiratory chain, catalyses the transfer of two electrons from NADH to ubiquinone, coupled to the translocation of four protons across the membrane. In addition to the 14 strictly conserved central subunits it contains a variable number of accessory subunits. At present, the best characterized enzyme is complex I from bovine heart with a molecular mass of about 980 kDa and 32 accessory proteins. In this study, the subunit composition of mitochondrial complex I from the aerobic yeast Y. lipolytica has been analysed by a combination of proteomic and genomic approaches. The sequences of 37 complex I subunits were identified. The sum of their individual molecular masses (about 930 kDa) was consistent with the native molecular weight of approximately 900 kDa for Y. lipolytica complex I obtained by BN-PAGE. A genomic analysis with Y. lipolytica and other eukaryotic databases to search for homologues of complex I subunits revealed 31 conserved proteins among the examined species. A novel protein named “X” was found in purified Y. lipolytica complex I by MALDI-MS. This protein exhibits homology to the thiosulfate sulfurtransferase enzyme referred to as rhodanese. The finding of a rhodanese-like protein in isolated complex I of Y. lipolytica allows to assume a special regulatory mechanism of complex I activity through control of the status of its iron-sulfur clusters. The second part of this study was aimed at investigating the possible role of one of these extra subunits, 39 kDa (NUEM) subunit which is related to the SDRs-enzyme family. The members of this family function in different redox and isomerization reactions and contain a conserved NAD(P)H-binding site. It was proposed that the 39 kDa subunit may be involved in a biosynthetic pathway, but the role of this subunit in complex I is unknown. In contrast to the situation in N. crassa, deletion of the 39 kDa encoding gene in Y. lipolytica led to the absence of fully assembled complex I. This result might indicate a different pathway of complex I assembly in both organisms. Several site-directed mutations were generated in the nucleotide binding motif. These had either no effect on enzyme activity and NADPH binding, or prevented complex I assembly. Mutations of arginine-65 that is located at the end of the second b-strand and responsible for selective interaction with the 2’-phosphate group of NADPH retained complex I activity in mitochondrial membranes but the affinity for the cofactor was markedly decreased. Purification of complex I from mutants resulted in decrease or loss of ubiquinone reductase activity. It is very likely that replacement of R65 not only led to a decrease in affinity for NADPH but also caused instability of the enzyme due to steric changes in the 39 kDa subunit. These data indicate that NADPH bound to the 39 kDa subunit (NUEM) is not essential for complex I activity, but probably involved in complex I assembly in Y. lipolytica.
- Targeted cell entry of lentiviral vectors (2009)
- Lentiviral vectors mediate gene transfer into dividing and most non-dividing cells. Thereby, they stably integrate the transgene into the host cell genome. For this reason, lentiviral vectors are a promising tool for gene therapy. However, safety and efficiency of lentiviral mediated gene transfer still needs to be optimised. Ideally, cell entry should be restricted to the cell population relevant for a particular therapeutic application. Furthermore, lentiviral vectors able to transduce quiescent lymphocytes are desirable. Although many approaches were followed to engineer retroviral envelope proteins, an effective and universally applicable system for retargeting of lentiviral cell entry is still not available. Just before the experimental work of this thesis was started, retargeting of measles virus (MV) cell entry was achieved. This virus has two types of envelope glycoproteins, the hemagglutinin (H) protein responsible for receptor recognition and the fusion (F) protein mediating membrane fusion. For retargeting, the H protein was mutated in its interaction sites for the native MV receptors and a ligand or a single-chain antibody (scAb) was fused to its ectodomain. It was hypothesised that the retargeting system of MV can be transferred to lentiviral vectors by pseudotyping human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) derived vector particles with the MV glycoproteins. As the unmodified MV glycoproteins did not pseudotype HIV vectors, two F and 15 H protein variants carrying stepwise truncations or amino acid (aa) exchanges in their cytoplasmic tails were screened for their ability to form MV-HIV pseudotypes. The combinations Hcd18/Fcd30, Hcd19/Fcd30 and Hcd24+4A/Fcd30 led to most efficient pseudotype formation with titers above 10exp6 transducing units /ml, using concentrated particles. The F cytoplasmic tail was truncated by 30 aa and the H cytoplasmic tail was truncated by 18, 19 or 24 residues with four added alanines after the start methionine in the latter case. Western blot analysis indicated that particle incorporation of the MV glycoproteins was enhanced upon truncation of their cytoplasmic tails. With the MV-HIV vectors high titers on different cell lines expressing one or both MV receptors were obtained, whereas MV receptor-negative cells remained untransduced. Titers were enhanced using an optimal H to F plasmid ratio (1:7) during vector particle production. Based on the described pseudotyping with the MV glycoprotein variants, HIV vectors retargeted to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or the B cell surface marker CD20 were generated. For the production of the retargeted vectors MVaEGFR-HIV and MVaCD20-HIV, Fcd30 together with a native receptor blind Hcd18 protein, displaying at its ectodomain either the ligand EGF or a scAb directed against CD20 were used. With these vectors, gene transfer into target receptor-positive cells was several orders of magnitude more efficient than into control cells. The almost complete absence of background transduction of non-target cells was e.g. demonstrated in mixed cell populations, where the CD20-targeting vector selectively eliminated CD20-positive cells upon suicide gene transfer. Remarkably, transduction of activated primary human CD20-positive B cells was much more efficient with the MVaCD20-HIV vector than with the standard pseudotype vector VSV-G-HIV. Even more surprisingly, MVaCD20-HIV vectors were able to transduce quiescent primary human B cells, which until then had been resistant towards lentiviral gene transfer. The most critical step during the production of MV-HIV pseudotypes was the identification of H cytoplasmic tail mutants that allowed pseudotyping while retaining the fusion helper function. In contrast to previously inefficient targeting strategies, the reason for the success of this novel targeting system must be based on the separation of the receptor recognition and fusion functions onto two different proteins. Furthermore, with the CD20-targeting vector transduction of quiescent B cells was demonstrated for the first time. Own data and literature data suggest that CD20 binding and hyper-cross-linking by the vector particles results in calcium influx and thus activation of quiescent B cells. Alternatively this feature may be based on a residual binding activity of the MV glycoproteins to the native MV receptors that is insufficient for entry but induces cytoskeleton rearrangements dissolving the post-entry block of HIV vectors. Hence, in this thesis efficient retargeting of lentiviral vectors and transduction of quiescent cells was combined. This novel targeting strategy should be easily adaptable to many other target molecules by extending the modified MV H protein with appropriate specific domains or scAbs. It should now be possible to tailor lentiviral vectors for highly selective gene transfer into any desired target cell population with an unprecedented degree of efficiency.