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- Electrophysiological and spectroscopical characterization of the Na,K-ATPase (2005)
- The technique of site-specific fluorescence labelling with Tetramethylrhodaminemaleimide (TMRM) in combination with two electrode voltage-clamp technique (TEVC), an approach that has been named voltage clamp fluorometry (VCF), has been used in this work to study the Na,K-ATPase. The TMRM dye has the ability to attach covalently to cysteine residues and it responds to changes in the hydrophobicity of its local environment. We exploited this property using a construct of the Na-pump in which the native, extracellularly accessible cysteines were removed and cysteine residues were introduced by site-directed mutagenesis in specific positions of the Na-pump. In this way it was possible to detect site-specific conformational rearrangements of the Na-pump in a time-resolved fashion within a native membrane environment. In particular this technique allows to resolve reactions with low electrogenicity that cannot be satisfactorily analyzed with purely electrophysiological techniques and to identify the conformations of the enzyme under specific ionic composition of the measuring buffers. We used VCF to study the influence that several cations like Na+, K+, NMG+, TEA+ and BTEA+ exert on the distribution of the Na,K-ATPase between several enzymatic intermediates and on some of the reactions related to cation transport. To this end we utilized the mutants N790C in the loop M5-M6 and the mutant E307C, T309C, L311C and E312C in the loop M3-M4. From the correspondence of the fluorescence changes with the activation and inhibition of pumping current, by K+ and ouabain respectively, and from the fact that in Na+/Na+ exchange conditions the voltage distribution of charge movement and fluorescence changes evoked by voltage jumps are in reasonable agreement we conclude that through the fluorescence signals measured from these mutants, we can indeed monitor conformational changes linked to transport activity of the enzyme. For the mutants N790 and L311, it was found that the Na+ dependence of the amplitude and kinetics of the fluorescence signal associated with the E1P-E2P transition is in agreement with the prediction of an access channel model describing the regulation of the access of extracellular Na+ to its binding site. In particular for the mutants E307 and T309 it was found that in Na+/Na+ exchange conditions, the conformational change tracked by the fluorescence was much slower than the charge relaxation at hyperpolarized potentials while the kinetics was very similar at depolarized potentials. This implies that at hyperpolarized potentials the conformational change connected to the E1P-E2P transition does not give a large contribution to the electrogenicity of the process which is also consistent with the access channel model. On the mutant N790C it was found that the external pH does not seem to have any effect on the E1P-E2P equilibrium even if it seems to modulate the fluorescence quantum yield of the dye. Fluorescence quenching experiments with iodide and D2O indicate that at hyperpolarized potentials the local environment of the mutant N790C, experiences a small change in the accessibility to water without major changes in the local electrostatic field ...
- Electrogenic substrate binding to the Na +/proline transporter of E. coli (2005)
- The Na+/proline transporter of E. Coli (PutP) is responsible for the uptake of proline which is subsequently used not only as a carbon and nitrogen source and a constituent of proteins but also as a particularly effective osmoprotectant. However, for a long time there was little known about the single steps in the reaction cycle of this transporter and only few details about its structure-function relationship are available. Aim of the present work was to achieve a deeper understanding about the kinetic properties of the Na+/proline transporter and to get insights into the structure-function relationship of the substrate binding. To answer these questions different techniques were used. By using the novel SSM technique combining the preparation of PutP proteoliposomes it was possible to demonstrate for the first time the electrogenic substrate binding to PutP transporter. Due to rapid solution exchange measurements on the SSM it was additionally possible to obtain time resolved information about the kinetic details of the cytoplasmic substrate binding sites which were not available by previous steady state and equilibrium binding measurements. Pre-steady-state charge translocation was observed after rapid addition of one or both of the cosubstrates Na+ and/or proline to the PutP-WT proteoliposomes adsorbed on the SSM. Thereby it was possible to link the observed electrical signals with the binding activity of PutP. The observed Na+ and/or proline induced charge displacement were assigned to an electrogenic Na+ and/or proline binding process at the cytoplasmic face of the enzyme with a rate constant of k > 50 s-1 proceeding the rate limiting step of the reaction cycle. Furthermore, based on the kinetic analysis of the electrical signals obtained from the measurements of PutP on SSM, the following characteristics of the substrates binding in PutP were deduced: (1) both Na+ and proline can bind individually to the transporter. Under physiological conditions, an ordered binding mechanism prevails; while at sufficiently high concentrations, each substrate can bind in the absence of the other; (2) substrate binding is electrogenic not only for Na+, but also for the uncharged cosubstrate proline. The charge displacement associated with Na+ binding and proline binding is of comparable size and independent of the presence of the respective cosubstrate. In addition, it was concluded that Na+ accesses its binding site through a high-field access channel resulting in a charge translocation, whereas the binding of the electroneutral proline induces a conformation alteration involving the displacement of charged amino acid residue(s) of the protein; (3) Na+ and proline binding sites interact cooperatively with each other by increasing the affinity and/or the speed of binding of the respective cosubstrate; (4) proline binding proceeds in a two step process: low affinity (~ 0.9 mM) electroneutral substrate binding followed by a nearly irreversible electrogenic conformational transition; (5) membrane impermeable PCMBS inhibits both Na+ and proline binding to the inside-out orientated PutP transporter, indicating that rather than selectively blocking a specific binding site, PCMBS probably locks the enzyme in an inactive state. The possible targets for this SH-reagent are cysteines 281 and 344 located close to the cytoplasmic surface of the protein. Beyond it, transient electrical currents of PutP were also observed on the BLM after rapid addition of proline in the presence of Na+. This was possible by combining the conventional BLM technique with high-speed flash-photolysis of caged-proline. Indeed the signals on the BLM indicate the detection of a different underlying reaction process in comparison to the data achieved by the SSM technique. This has paved the way for supplemental information about the reaction cycle since it was possible to assign the flash-photolysis BLM signals to the proline binding step followed by the internalization of Na+ and proline into the liposome. Thereby it was found, that the presence of Na+ is indispensable and the time constant for the process is ~ 63 ms. Moreover, structure-function information about the Na+ and proline binding sites of PutP was obtained by investigating the functionally important amino acid residues Asp55, Gly63 and Asp187 with site-directed mutagenesis and the combined SSM technique. One finding is that the mutated proteins PutP-D55C and PutP-G63C showed no activity on the SSM. Therefore, it can be assumed that either both Asp55 and Gly63 are crucial for the structure of PutP protein, or they are located at or close to the Na+ and proline binding sites. Furthermore, the results obtained from PutP-D187N and PutP-D187C mutants on SSM suggest that Asp187 of PutP is likely to be involved in the Na+ binding at the cytoplasmic side of the backward running carrier. Taken together the results of the present work have substantially broadened the known picture of the Na+/proline transporter PutP thereby several steps of the reaction cycle were elucidated, and moreover, valuable insights into the structure-function relationship of the transporter have become available.
- Characterization of Aquifex aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase and its heterologous production in Escherichia coli (2013)
- 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.
- Characterization of the two isoforms of cbb3-type cytochrome c oxidase from Pseudomonas stutzeri ZoBell (2014)
- Heme-copper oxidases (HCOs) are the terminal enzymes of the aerobic respiratory chain in the inner mitochondrial membrane or the plasma membrane in many prokaryotes. These multi-subunit membrane protein complexes catalyze the reduction of oxygen to water, coupling this exothermic reaction to the establishment of an electrochemical proton gradient across the membrane in which they are embedded. The energy stored in the electrochemical proton gradient is used e.g. by the FOF1-ATP synthase to generate ATP from ADP and inorganic phosphate. The superfamily of HCOs is phylogenetically classified into three major families: A, B and C. The A-family HCOs, represented by the well-studied aa3-type cytochrome c oxidases (aa3-CcOs), are found in mitochondria and many bacteria. The B-family of HCOs contains a number of bacterial and archaeal oxidases. The C-family comprises only the cbb3-type cytochrome c oxidase (cbb3-CcO) and is most distantly related to the mitochondrial respiratory oxidases.
- 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.
- Function of plant photosystem II subunits in photoprotection (2013)
- 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.
- 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.
- Three-dimensional structure of the glycine-betaine transporter BetP by cryo electron crystallography (2008)
- The soil bacterium Corynebacterium glutamicum has five secondary transporters for compatible solutes allowing it to cope with osmotic stress. The most abundant of them, the transporter BetP, performs a high affinity uptake of glycine-betain when encountering hyperosmotic stress. BetP belongs to the betaine/carnitine/choline/transporter (BCCT) family, and is predicted to have twelve transmembrane helices with both termini facing the cytoplasm. The goal of this thesis is to facilitate understanding of BetP function by determining a three dimensional (3D) model of its structure. Two-dimensional (2D) crystallization of wild-type (WT) BetP has been successfully performed by reconstitution into a mixture of E. coli lipids and bovine cardiolipin, which resulted in vesicular crystals diffracting to 7.5 Å resolution (Ziegler, Morbach et al. 2004). Diffraction patterns of these crystals however showed unfocused spots, generally due to high mosaicity. Better results were obtained by using the constitutively active mutant BetPdeltaC45 in which the first 45 amino acids of the positively charged C-terminus were removed. BetPdeltaC45 crystals obtained under the same conditions for BetP WT were concluded to be pseudo crystals, based on the inconsistence of symmetry. These crystals had BetPdeltaC45 molecules randomly up/downwards inserted into membrane crystals, and cannot be used for structure determination, even though they diffracted up to 7 Å. The problem of pseudo crystal formation could be solved by changing the lipids used for 2D crystallization to a native lipid extract from C. glutamicum cells. This change of lipids improved the crystals to well-ordered packing with exclusive p121_b symmetry. To understand the role of lipids in crystal packing and order, lipids were extracted at different stages during crystallization, and identified by using multiple precursor ion scanning mass spectrometry. The results show that phosphatidyl glycerol (PG) 16:0-18:1 is the most dominant lipid species in C. glutamicum membranes, and that BetP has a preference for the fatty acid moieties 16:0-18:1. Crystallization with synthetic PG 16:0-18:1 proved that an excess of this lipid prevents pseudo crystal formation, but these crystals did not reach the quality as previously achieved by using the C. glutamicum lipids. Apart from the effect of lipids in crystallinity, the concentration and type of salts influenced crystal growth and morphology. High salt conditions (>400 mM LiCl or KCl) yielded tubular crystals, whereas low salt conditions (<300 mM LiCl, NaCl or KCl) led to formation of up to 10 µm large sheet-like crystals. The intermediate concentration gave a mixture of sheet-like and tubular crystals. In terms of resolution, sheets diffracted better than tubes. The sheet-like crystals used for 3D map reconstruction were obtained from a dialysis buffer containing 200 mM NaCl combined with using C. glutamicum lipids. Electron microscopic images were taken from frozen-hydrated crystals using a helium-cooled JEOL 300 SFF microscope or a liquid nitrogen-cooled FEI Tecnai G2 microscope at 300 kV, which allowed optimal data collection and minimized radiation damage to the sample. More than 1000 images of tilt angles up to 50° were taken and evaluated using optical diffraction of a laser beam. The best 200 images were processed with the MRC image processing software package, and 79 images from different tilt angles were merged to the final data set used for calculation of a 3D map at a planar resolution of 8 Å. The structure shows BetPdeltaC45 as a trimer with each monomer consisting of 12 transmembrane alpha-helices. Protein termini and loop regions could not be determined due to the limited resolution of the map. Six of the twelve helices line a central cavity forming a potential substrate-binding chamber. Each monomer shows a central cavity in different sizes and shapes. Thus, the constitutively active BetPdeltaC45 thus forms an unusual asymmetric homotrimer. BetP most likely reflects three different conformational states of secondary transporters: the cytoplasmically open (C), the occluded (O), and the periplasmically open (P) states. The C and O states are similar to BetP WT projection structure, while the P state is discrepant and highly flexible due to the shape and size of the central cavity as well as the lowest intensity of the density. The observation of the P state corresponds well to the constitutively active property of BetPdeltaC45. For the high resolution structure of the C and O states are available, this work presents the first structural information of the P state of a secondary transporter.
- 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, 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.