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- 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.
- Three dimensional structure of the light-harvesting chlorophyll a/b protein complex from plant chloroplasts (2002)
- The light-harvesting chlorophyll a/b protein complex (LHC-II) is the major collector of solar energy in all plants and it binds about half of the chlorophyll in green plants. LHCII is a trimer in the photosynthetic membrane; each monomer consists of 232 amino acids, binds and orients a minimum of 12 chlorophyll molecules and three caroteinoids (two luteins and one neoxanthin) for light-harvesting and energy transfer. Although, the structure of LHC-II has been determined at 3.4 Å resolution by electron microscopy of two-dimensional crystals (Kühlbrandt et al., 1994), this is not sufficient to allow a complete understanding of the mechanism of energy transfer from LHC-II to the reaction centre, since the effective resolution in the z dimension is 4.9 Å. In fact, the chemical difference between Chl a and Chl b, which has a formyl group instead of the methyl group at the 7-position in the chlorin ring, is too small to be detected at this level of resolution. In addition, the orientation of the chlorophyll tetrapyrroles have not been determined unambiguously. This information is essential for a detailed understanding of the energy transfer within the complex and to the reaction centres of photosystem II and I (PSII and PSI). X-ray crystallography of three dimensional (3D) crystals may yield a more complete structure at high resolution. 3D crystals have been grown from LHC-II isolated from pea leaves using a standard purification procedure (Burke et al., 1978). The thylakoid membranes are solubilised in Triton X-100 and further purified by sucrose gradient ultra centrifugation. The LHC-II fraction is salt precipitated and pellets resuspended at the chlorophyll a/b ratio 2.8 mg/ml in 0.9 % Nonyl-glucoside. Crystals are currently obtained by vapour diffusion in hanging drops. These crystals are thin hexagonal plates, have a fairly large unit cell and diffract quite weakly. The high level of the background is due both to the detergent, necessary for protein solubilisation, and lipids, required for the trimer and crystals formation. However, three data sets, each from one single crystal have been collected up to 3.2 Å resolution over a rotation range of 135°. The crystals were exposed to a very highly collimated and brilliant beam (ID-14 EH1 at ESRF, Grenoble, France) and were kept under a stream of cold nitrogen to prevent radiation damage. Data were successfully integrated using the program XDS by Kabsch (1993). The crystals were found to belong to the space group P6 22 3 and have unit cell dimensions of a=128.45, b=128.45, c=135.32, a= ß=90º, ?=120. The solution of the phase problem was tackled by molecular replacement using, as a search model, the LHC-II structure solved by electron cryo-microscopy studies of twodimensional crystals (Kühlbrandt et al. 1994). Three different programs were tested: the most used AMoRe (Navaza et al., 1994) and the brute force based program Brute (Fujinaga
- Thermodynamic and kinetic characterisation of the interaction between mitochondrial cytochrome bc 1 complex and cytochrome c and implications for transient binding and electron transfer (2009)
- In mitochondrial respiration, the soluble protein cytochrome c accepts an electron from the membrane bound cytochrome bc1. The interaction between cytochrome bc1 and cytochrome c is highly transient in nature, enabling turnover numbers greater than 160 s-1. Yeast cytochrome bc1 has been successfully crystallised with bound cytochrome c with the help of an antibody fragment (Lange and Hunte 2002; Solmaz and Hunte 2008). In all crystal structures of the complex, the homodimeric cytochrome bc1 binds only one cytochrome c, with the binding site located on subunit cytochrome c1. Univalent cytochrome c binding is correlated with conformational changes of the Rieske protein head domain and subunit QCR6p. The interface of the complex is small. The haem moieties are centrally located in a mainly non-polar contact site that includes a cation–! interaction and is surrounded by complementary charged residues. The crystal structure is in agreement with the general architecture of the interfaces of transient redox complexes and also reveals several interesting features unique to the cytochrome bc1. On the basis of the crystal structures, an extensive thermodynamic and kinetic characterisation of the interaction was carried out in this work to challenge the static snapshot of the bound proteins in the crystal structure as the relevant physiological electron transfer. The thermodynamic parameters of the interaction between the redox partners were determined using isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). The association constant for cytochrome bc1 and cytochrome c in oxidised state under physiological ionic strength of 120 mM at 25 °C, was determined to be 5 " 103 M-1 by direct ITC titration. So, the partners interact with an affinity of 200 #M. In spite of the low affinity the complex has a life time ($ = 1/koff) of 5 #second, sufficiently long to enable the theoretically calculated electron transfer rates of 1.0 " 106 to 2.6 " 107 s%1 with a lifetime ($ = 1/rate) of 1-0.04 μseconds and experimentally determined rate of 7.7 " 104 s%1 with a lifetime of 13 μseconds. The low affinity makes it difficult to ascertain the stoichiometry of binding. The enthalpy of the interaction is endothermic, which is consistent with the nature of an interface where hydrophobic interactions are dominant. The enthalpy and entropy is 3.6 kJmol-1 and 83 kJmol-1K-1, respectively. The importance of key interface residues was also investigated. The role of the interface residue G89 of cytochrome c which might have a role in the dissociation of the complex has been probed by site-directed mutagenesis. The interface contains a cation-! interaction between F230 of cytochrome bc1 and R19 of cytochrome c, which is thought to provide the specificity to the interaction between the otherwise promiscuous partners. To analyse the role of this interaction pair in electron transfer, F230L and F230W mutants were used to measure direct electron transfer rates by flash photolysis and steady state kinetics. The findings indicate that another ! system can work as functional substitution of F230, while deleting the ! system has a deleterious effect on the complex formation. The inability of F230L to achieve the transient and steady state turnover rates as wild type protein indicates a scenario where the variant achieves an altered bound state with inefficient electron transfer pathways and higher edge-to-edge distance. The role of supernumerary subunit QCR6p in complex formation was investigated by steady state kinetics measurements. Subunit QCR6p does not interact directly with cytochrome c but is positioned in such a way that it could electrostatically steer cytochrome c in a reactive ensemble. The highly acidic and disordered N-terminus of QCR6p could interact with a patch of conserved lysine residues on cytochrome c. The role of subunit QCR6p has been assessed using QCR6p deleted cytochrome bc1 and a lysine variant of cytochrome c. The results show that QCR6p not only affects the kinetics of the interaction but is also important for the stability of cytochrome bc1. The kinetic and thermodynamic data obtained during this study provide evidence for the functional importance of non-catalytic cytochrome bc1 subunit QCR6p, show that the entropy driven interaction is indeed of low affinity and highly transient in nature and indicate that the interface is well suited to ensure the high turnover of the electron transfer chain where cytochrome c interacts with multiple partners using overlapping interfaces. The suggested role of the cation-! interaction as a highly specific interaction has been validated.
- The interaction of the cytochrome bc 1 complex with its substrate cytochrome c : high resolution structure and implications for transient binding (2005)
- 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.
- Substrate binding does not only mean catalysis: internal regulation in the cytochrome bc1 complex from Paracoccus denitrificans (2011)
- The ubiquinol:cytochrome c oxidoreductase is a key component of several aerobic respiratory chains in different organisms. It is an integral membrane protein complex, made up of three catalytic subunits (cytochrome b, cytochrome c1 and Rieske iron sulphur protein) and up to eight additional subunits in mitochondria. The complex oxidizes one quinol molecules and reduces two cytochrome c during the Q cycle, originally described by Peter Mitchell. Electrons are split between the low and the high potential chain and protons are released on the positive side of the membrane, increasing the protonmotive force needed by the ATP-synthase for energy transduction. The cytochrome bc1 complex from P. denitrificans is a perfect model for structural and functional studies. Bacteria are easy to grow and the genetic material is readily accessible for genetic manipulation. Moreover, the P. denitrificans aerobic respiratory chain is very close to the mitochondrial one: the complexes involved in electron transfer resemble the ones found in mitochondria, but lack most of the additional subunits. As a unique feature, P. denitrificans has a strongly acidic domain at the N-terminal region of the cytochrome c1, a sequence of 150 aminoacids which does not correlate with any known protein. An analogous composition can be found in the eukaryotic cytochrome bc1 complex as a part of an accessory subunit, proposed to be involved in facilitating electron transfer between the complex and the electron acceptor cytochrome c. In order to study the function of this domain in the P. denitrificans cytochrome bc1 complex, a deletion mutant has been previously cloned and modified with an affinity tag as a C-terminal extension of cytochrome b. The complex is purified by affinity chromatography and characterized by steady-state kinetics using not only horse heart cytochrome c but also the endogenous electron acceptor, the membrane bound cytochrome c552, employed here as a soluble fragment. Steady–state kinetics indicate that the deletion of the long acidic domain had effects neither on the turnover rate nor on the apparent affinity for the substrate. To understand wether the deletion affects the reaction between the cytochrome bc1 complex and the substrate, laser flash photolysis experiments are performed, showing that the interaction observed was not changed in the complex missing the acidic domain. The results presented in this work confirm the ones previously obtained by Julia Janzon using soluble fragments of the same interaction partners. The deletion, however, affected the oligomerization state of the complex, as shown by LILBID (Laser Induced Liquid Bead Ion Desorption) analysis. The wild type complex has a tetrameric structure, better described as a “dimer of dimers”. The deletion of the acidic domain on the cytochrome c1 results in the separation of the two dimers, yielding the canonical dimer. Therefore, the complex deleted in the acidic domain is used for cloning and expression of a heterodimeric complex, containing an inactivating mutation in the quinol oxidation site in only one monomer, thus allowing a selective switch-off for half the complex. Such a complex is needed for the verification of an internal regulation mechanism, the half-of-the-sites reactivity. According to it, the dimeric structure of the cytochrome bc1 complex has functional implications, since the two monomers can communicate and work in a coordinated manner. This approach confirms that substrate oxidation does effectively take place only in one of the two monomers constituting the dimer, and that the binding of substrate at the Qo and Qi site regulates the switch between active and inactive monomer. Moreover, this mechanism works also as an effective protection against the reaction of quinone intermediates with oxygen and the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), responsable for cellular aging. The motion of the ISP head domain is also addressed in this work; in particular the mechanism which regulates the movements towards the cytochrome c1 and the electron bifurcation at the quinol oxidation site. Laser flash kinetics in presence of several inhibitors and the substrate allow studying the response of the ISP to the binding of different species at the quinol oxidation site. The binding of ligand at the Qo site in the complex triggers the conformational switch in the ISP head domain, supporting the mechanism proposed in the literature according to which the Qo site is able to “sense” the presence of substrate and transfer the information to the ISP, regulating its mobility. The internal electron pathway between the ISP and the cytochrome c1 has been analyzed also by stopped-flow kinetics, in presence and absence of inhibitors. The results indicate that two kinetic phases describe the reduction of cytochrome c1 by the ISP, and a model for the simulation of the data is proposed.
- Structure-function relationships in the cytochrome bc1 complex from Saccharomyces cerevisiae (2004)
- The cytochrome bc1 complex is a cornerstone in bioenergetic electron transfer chains, where it carries out tasks as diverse as respiration, photosynthesis, and nitrogen fixation. This homodimeric multisubunit membrane protein has been studied extensively for several decades and the enzyme mechanism is described with the modified protonmotive Q cycle. Still, the molecular and kinetic description of the catalytic cycle is not complete and questions remain regarding the bifurcation of electron transfer at the quinol oxidation (Qo) site, substrate occupancy, pathways of proton conduction, and the nature of the Rieske protein domain movement. We used competitive inhibitors to study the molecular architecture at the Qo site with X-ray crystallography. The structure of the enzyme with the substrate analog 5-n-heptyl-6-hydroxy-4,7-dioxobenzothiazole (HHDBT) bound at the Qo site was determined at 2.5 Å resolution. Spectroscopic studies showed that HHDBT is negatively charged when bound at the active site. Mechanistic interpretations from inhibitor binding are in line with single occupancy model for quinol oxidation and structural analysis supports the proposed proton transfer pathway. For functional insight into the enzyme mechanism, redox-sensitive protonation changes were studied by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The protein purification procedure was optimized for less delipidation and the isolated enzyme was more active. Furthermore, two new phospholipids were identified in the X-ray structures, including a cardiolipin. Strikingly, conserved lipid binding cavities were observed in structural comparison with homologous enzymes. The functional role of tightly bound phospholipids will be discussed. Finally, the Qo site is a target for various compounds of agricultural and pharmaceutical importance. Importantly, the X-ray structures permit detailed analysis of the molecular reasons for acquired resistance to and treatment failure of Qo site inhibitors, such as atovaquone, that is used to treat malaria and pneumonia, as discussed herein.
- 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.
- Structural rearrangements and subunit interactions in P2X receptors (2009)
- P2X receptors represent the third superfamily of ligand gated ion channels with ATP as their natural ligand. Most of the mammalian P2X receptors are non-selective cation channels, which upon activation, mediate membrane depolarization and have physiological roles ranging from fast excitatory synaptic transmission, modulation of pain-sensation, LTP to apoptosis etc. In spite of them being an attractive drug target, their potential as a drug target is limited by the lack of basic understanding of the structure-function relationship of these receptors. In my thesis, I have investigated the behavior of homomeric P2X receptor subunits with the help of photolabeling and fluorescence techniques coupled to electrophysiological measurements using Xenopus laevis oocytes heterologous expression system. Concurrent photolabeling by BzATP and current recordings from the same set of receptors in real time has revealed that the gating process in homomeric P2X receptors is contributed individually by each subunit in an additive manner. Our study for the first time describes the agonist potency of Alexa-ATP (a fluorescent ATP analog) on P2X1 receptors. The use of Alexa-ATP in our experiments elucidated that receptor subunits are not independent but interacting with each other in a cooperative manner. The type of cooperativity, however, depended on the type and concentrations of allosteric/competing ligands. Based on our results, in my thesis we propose an allosteric model for ligand-receptor interactions in P2X receptors. When simulated, the model could replicate our experimental findings thus, further validating our model. Further, correlation between occupancy of P2X1 receptors (determined using binding curve for Alexa-ATP) with the steady-state desensitization suggests that binding of three agonist molecules per receptor are required to desensitize P2X1 receptors. We further extended the approach of fluorescence with electrophysiological measurement to assign the role for different domains in P2X1 receptors with the help of environmental sensitive, cysteine reactive fluorophore (TMRM). Cysteine rich domain-1 of P2X1 receptors (C117-C165) was found to be involved in structural rearrangements after agonist and antagonist binding. In contrast to the present understanding, that the binding of an antagonist cannot induce desensitization in P2X1 receptors and the receptors need to open first before undergoing desensitization, we propose based on our results that a competitive antagonist can also induce desensitization in P2X1 receptors by bypassing the open state. We have attempted to answer few intriguing questions in the field of P2X receptor research and we think that our answers provide many avenues to the basic understanding of functioning of P2X receptors.