Year of publication
- English (31) (remove)
- 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.
- First insights into the phosphorylation of Toc34 proteins (2011)
- The translocation of nuclear-encoded precursor proteins into chloroplasts is a highly ordered process involving the action of several components to regulate this molecular ensemble. Not only GTP hydrolysis and GDP release but also the phosphorylation of TOC GTPases is a widely discussed mechanism to regulate protein import. The receptor component (Toc34) and its isoform of A. thaliana (atToc33) were found to be regulated by phosphorylation. Although the phosphorylation of Toc33 is already known for several years, several questions regarding the molecular components involved in the regulation of the phosphorylation process, precisely what is the protein kinase and where this kinase is initially localized, so far remained unclear. This thesis aimed at the defining of the phosphorylation status of TOC GTPases in monomeric and/or dimeric states, the identification of the nature of Toc33-PK (protein kinase), and in the same context it aimed at gaining first insights into the physiological significance of Toc33 phosphorylation. To this end, (I) An in vitro and in vivo system for investigating of TOC GTPases Phosphorylation (in monomeric or dimeric state) was developed. Since no information is available about the phosphorylation status of the Toc159 isoforms, the second receptor of the TOC complex, it was interesting to investigate whether these isoforms undergo phosphorylation or not. The results indicated that atToc159 isoforms are able to be phosphorylated by the kinase activity in purified outer envelope membranes (OEMs) of pea, but not atToc132. Moreover, an artificial dimer of psToc34 based on the interaction of a C-terminally fused leucine zipper was not phosphorylated. This result reflected the inability of the OEM kinase to phosphorylate the dimers of TOC GTPases. Also, In vivo labeling of atToc33 was developed and occurred in a dose-dependent manner. Therefore, this results evidenced that in vitro phosphorylation of atToc33 (both endogenous wild type and recombinant expressed proteins) is not artificial labeling but represents a physiological relevance. CD (circular dichroism) measurements revealed that recombinant GTPase domain of atToc33 is preferentially phosphorylated in its folded state. Therefore, it could be suggested that folding of atToc33rec is a prerequisite for its phosphorylation and the phosphorylation event occurs as a posttranslational modification most likely after insertion of Toc33 (Toc34) into the OE of chloroplasts. Secondly, (II) Isolation and identification of Toc33-PK from OEMs of chloroplasts was performed. Four independent strategies were developed to identify the Toc33-protein kinase: UV-induced and chemically-based crosslinking, different applied chromatographic techniques, identification of PK-Toc33 interaction by means of HDN-PAGE (histidine- and deoxycholate-based native PAGE), and finally mass spectrometric approaches were performed on fractions including the potential kinase activity. UV-induced crosslinking procedure was developed and resulted in covalent bonding of nine proteins to [a-32P] ATP, while chemically-based one was not significant. The applied chromatographic and HDN-PAGE approaches, including mass spectrometry, have revealed the identification of 13 protein kinases. Of these identified kinases, phototropin2 (Phot2, AT5G58140), leucine-rich repeat PK (LRR-PK, AT4G28650.1), and receptor-like transmembrane PK (RLK, AT5G56040.2) were selected as the most promising candidates (ca. kinase type and one transmembrane helix for membrane localization). (III) The physiological significance of Toc33 phosphoryation was shown to link this process with the environmental changes (especially, the light conditions). Identification of chloroplast OE-located PKs performed by nLC-MALDI-MS/MS resulted in the detection of Phot2. Furthermore, the subcellular localization of Phot2 in OEM of chloroplasts was confirmed by immunoblotting experiments using a-Phot2 antibody. The kinase activity of Phot2 towards TOC GTPases was characterized and revealed that fused GST-KD (kinase domain) protein able to specifically phosphorylate atToc33rec, but not atToc159rec. Also, endogenous atPhot2 was upregulated and heavily detected in the ppi1-S181A plant line (where serine to alanine exchange was performed to abolish the phosphorylation of atToc33). Hence, we suggested that certain signal cascades may directly or indirectly link Toc33 receptor phosphorylation, protein levels of Phot2 (as promising PK candidate), and irradiation conditions (as an inducing signal of the subsequent phosphorylation events). Light-dependent phosphorylation of Toc33 was shown either after de-etiolation conditions or after high light intensities of blue light was performed. Therefore, phosphorylation of Toc33 might be identified as an external regulatory signal to regulate preproteins import into chloroplasts in response to environmental conditions (e.g. light changes) or as a signal of chloroplast biogenesis.
- Functional analysis of human transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) and its modulation by lipids (2011)
- The adaptive immune system of jawed vertebrates is based on recognition and elimination of cells that are either invaded by intracellular pathogens or malignantly transformed. One essential component of these processes is the cell surface presentation of antigenic peptides via major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules to cytotoxic T-cells (CTLs). Cells degrade defective ribosomal products and misfolded or unwanted proteins by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. The resulting degradation products are recognized and translocated by the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumen, where they are loaded onto MHC I molecules. Assembled peptide-MHC complexes are then shuttled by the secretory pathway to the cell surface for antigen presentation to CTLs, leading in the case of viral infection or malignant transformation to lysis and apoptosis of the target cell. Due to the fact that the TAP complex represents a key control point within the antigen presentation pathway, several viruses have evolved sophisticated strategies to evade immune surveillance by interfering with TAP function. Detailed studies of the TAP mechanism or its viral inhibition have been severely impeded by difficulties in expressing sufficient amounts of functional heterodimeric TAP complex. Thus, the overexpression of TAP in the methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris was established for functional analysis of this important ABC complex. Biomass production was scaled up by fermentation using classical batch and feed methods. Extensive screening of optimal solubilization and purification conditions allowed the isolation of the heterodimeric transport complex. Notably, only the very mild detergent digitonin preserved TAP function. Hereby, the optimal solubilization and purification strategy yielded in 30 mg TAP transporter per liter culture. Remarkably, the protein amount was 50-fold increased compared to previously described expression/purification in cultured insect cells. The high yield and quality of TAP produced in P. pastoris allowed an extensive analysis of substrate binding and transport kinetics of the transport complex in the membrane, its solubilized and purified state, as well as the reconstituted state. Thereby, a strong and direct effect of the lipid bilayer on ATP hydrolysis and peptide transport was discovered. These important results were extended further by successful functional reconstitution of the antigen translocation machinery in different lipid environments. For the first time, a stimulation of the transport activity by phosphatidylinositol (PI) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) was observed, whereas cholesterol was identified as an inhibitor of TAP activity. Purification of TAP and subsequent thin-layer chromatography (TLC)/liquid chromatography Fourier transform-mass spectrometry (LC FT-MS) fingerprinting of residual lipids exhibited specifically associated glycerophospholipids; mainly PC, PE, and PI species. Strikingly, these lipids not only represent the primary class of phospholipids of the ER but were also shown to be essential for functional reactivation of delipidated, and thus inactive, TAP. The results demonstrate that transport of antigenic peptides by the ABC transporter TAP strictly requires specific glycerophospholipids. In addition to the biochemical characterization of heterologous produced TAP, the soluble domain of the viral inhibitor US6 from human cytomegalovirus was expressed in E. coli. Optimization of the purification and refolding strategy yielded in functional protein, with a 35-fold increased protein amount compared to previous purification procedures. Protein activity was analyzed by specific inhibition of ATP binding to TAP. Furthermore, high protein yields allowed detailed investigation of TAP-dependent spatial and mechanistic separation of MHC I restricted cross-presentation in professional antigen presenting cells (pAPC).
- In vivo selection of retroviral display libraries for tumor homing (2010)
- The display of foreign polypeptides and proteins on the surface of viruses or cells provides an important tool for the engineering of biomolecules and the analysis of their interactions with binding partners. The most extensively used display platform is the coat protein of the filamentous bacteriophage (Smith, 1985). Phage display libraries have often been selected for polypeptides, e.g. single chain (sc) antibodies that bind to a protein of interest, but in vivo selection could only be demonstrated for peptides so far. An alternative display platform is the retrovirus murine leukemia virus (MLV). Here, polypeptides are displayed at the N-terminus of the viral envelope glycoprotein. Proof of principle for this platform was demonstrated for protease substrate libraries, which can be selected through coupling proteolytic activation with viral infectivity (Buchholz et al., 1998). Selection of the library CX4A on living cells resulted in viruses with more than three orders of magnitude improved spreading efficiency through tumor cells (Hartl et al., 2005). Also scAb libraries have recently been displayed and selected using retroviruses (Urban et al., 2005). The library scFvlibxMo displays the repertoire of phage display preselected sc antibodies for laminin-1 binding. The retrovirus based selection process resulted in laminin-specific sc antibodies with improved expression levels in mammalian cells. This thesis describes the in vivo (i.e. in mouse tumor models) selection of the C-X4-A and scFvlibxMo for tumor homing upon systemic delivery. For selection of the protease substrate library C-X4-A a subcutaneous tumor was induced in SCID mice followed by three systemic injections of the library. The selection process was monitored over a period of 34 days. After the incubation period mice were sacrificed and virus load in organs and tumor determined. PCR analysis after 34 days showed that virus from the library had preferentially infected the tumor. Sequence analysis showed the selection of protease substrates with the most prominent one with a frequency of over 65%. The four most prominent protease substrate variants where reconstituted into the original viral backbone for further investigation (C-SK-A, C-HI-A, C-HM-A and C-HS-A). Interestingly, these viruses exhibited a reduced spreading capacity in vitro on HT1080 cells as compared to the C-AK-A virus, which had previously been selected on HT1080 1 Summary 9 cells. When assayed for tumor homing, however, viruses C-HI-A and C-HS-A had clearly improved in comparison to C-AK-A. Tumor tissue had been infected at rates of over 55% while virus load of extratumoral organs was very low (infection rates <0.7 for C-HS-A and <0.02 for C-HI-A). Tumor targeting capacity had thus been improved over 10-fold by the in vivo selection of the C-X4-A library. The experimental set up for the in vivo selection of the scFvlibxMo library was performed according to that of the C-X4-A library. Fingerprint analysis of the selected viruses that infected tumor tissue resulted in the identification of seven antibody variants showing unique CDR3 sequences. Two prominent clones (M49T-A and M49T-B) were cloned back into the MoMLV genome for further analysis of the reconstituted viruses. While variant B bound laminin-1 efficiently, variant A was unable to do so, although it was selected at highest frequency (76%). Both reconstituted viruses were equally well infectious and spread through HT1080rec1 cells at a similar efficiency as MoMLV. In an in vivo competition experiment the selected viruses clearly out-competed a laminin-1 binding reference virus L36xMo for tumor homing. To understand the molecular driving forces behind the in vivo selection process the epitope of the selected scFv M49T-A was identified using a phage peptide library approach. In silico analysis led to the identification of a small group of possible antigens, including tenascin, fibronectin and collagen. The data described in this thesis demonstrate that the retrovirus display platform is capable of allowing the in vivo selection of protease substrates and scFvs. Notably, the replication competence of the system introduced an additional level of complexity to the library. The performed in vivo selections significantly enhanced tumor tropism. Selective infection of tumor cells combined with transfer of anti-tumoral genes is an attractive strategy for cancer therapy being in focus of current research. The viruses selected in this thesis build prime candidates for targeted retrovirus based tumor therapy.
- Investigation of three accessory subunits of complex I from Yarrowia lipolytica (2010)
- The nicotinamide-adenine-dinucleotide (NADH):ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) from the strictly aerobic yeast Y. lipolytica contains at least 26 “accessory” subunits however the significance of most of them remains unknown. The aim of this study was to characterize the role of three accessory subunits of complex I, recently identified: two mitochondrial acyl carrier proteins, ACPM1 and ACPM2 and a sulfurtransferase (st1) subunit. ACPMs are small (approx. 10 kDa) acidic proteins that are homologous to the corresponding central components of prokaryotic fatty acid synthase complexes. Genomic deletions of the two genes ACPM1 and ACPM2 resulted in strains that were not viable or retained only trace amounts of assembled mitochondrial complex I, respectively, as assessed using two-dimensional blue native/sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (BN/SDS) PAGE. This suggested different functions for the two proteins that despite high similarity could not be complemented by the respective other homolog still expressed in the deletion strains. To test whether complex I was affected by deletion of the ACPM2 gene, its activities in mitochondrial membranes were measured. Consequently, specific inhibitor sensitive dNADH: decylubiquinone (DBQ) oxidoreductase activity was lost completely and a strong decrease in dNADH: hexa-ammine-ruthenium (HAR) oxidoreductase activity was measured. Remarkably, the same phenotypes were observed if just the conserved serine carrying the phosphopantethein moiety was exchanged with alanine. Although this suggested a functional link to the lipid metabolism of mitochondria, using HPLC chromatography no changes in the lipid composition of the organelles were found. Proteomic analysis revealed that both ACPMs were tightly bound to purified mitochondrial complex I. Western blot analysis revealed that the affinity tagged ACPM1 and ACPM2 proteins were exclusively detectable in mitochondrial membranes but not in the mitochondrial matrix as reported for other organisms. Hence it has been concluded that the ACPMs can serve all their possible functions in mitochondrial lipid metabolism and complex I assembly and stabilization as subunits bound to complex I. A protein exhibiting rhodanese (thiosulfate:cyanide sulfurtransferase) activity was found to be associated with homogenous preparation of complex I. From a rhodanese deletion strain, functional complex I that lacked the additional protein but was fully assembled and displayed no functional defects or changes in EPR signature was purified. In contrast to previous suggestions, this indicated that the sulfurtransferase associated with Y. lipolytica complex I is not required for assembly of its iron–sulfur clusters.
- Functional and structural characterization of Aquifex aeolicus sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase (2010)
- This work presents the first complete structure of the membrane protein sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase (SQR), obtained by X-ray crystallography. Its description is complemented by the results of biochemical and functional experiments. SQRs are ubiquitous flavoprotein disulfide reductases (FDRs), present in all domains of life, including in humans. Their physiological role extends from sulfide detoxification to sulfide-dependent respiration and photosynthesis (in archaea and bacteria), to heavy metal tolerance (in yeast) and possibly to sulfide signalling (in higher eukaryotes). Until now understanding the function of SQRs was difficult because of the poor level of sequence conservation in this enzyme family, the limited functional characterization available and the absence of any structural data. SQR was identified in the native membranes of the hyperthermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus by peptide mass fingerprinting (PMF) and by a spectrophotometric activity assay. The protein was solubilized in the detergent dodecyl-beta-D-maltoside (DDM) and purified to homogeneity in a functionally active state. It binds one FAD molecule per protein monomer and FAD is its only cofactor. Its structure was determined in the “as-purified”, substrate-bound and inhibitor-bound forms at resolutions of 2.3, 2.0 and 2.9 Å, respectively. It is composed of two Rossmann-fold domains and of one membrane-attachment region. Despite the overall monomeric architecture being similar to that of FDRs, the structure reveals properties that had not been observed in FDRs until now and that have strong implications for the SQR catalytic mechanism. Surprisingly, A. aeolicus SQR is trimeric in the crystal structure and in solution, as determined by density-matched analytical ultracentrifugation, cross-linking and single particle electron microscopy. The trimer creates an appropriate surface for binding lipids and thus ensures that SQR exclusively reduces hydrophobic quinones. SQR inserts to a depth of about 12 Å into the membrane as an integral monotopic membrane protein. The interaction is mediated by an amphipathic helix-turn-helix tripodal motif and two lipid clamps. A channel in the membrane-binding domain extends towards the si-side of FAD and represents the quinone-binding site. The quinone ring is sandwiched between the conserved amino acids Phe 385 and Ile 346 and is possibly protonated upon reduction via Glu 318, Lys 382 and/or neighboring solvent molecules. Sulfide polymerization occurs on the re-side of FAD, where the highly conserved Cys 156 and Cys 347 appear to be covalently bound to the putative product of the reaction, a polysulfur chain which takes the form of an S8 ring in some monomers. Finally, the structure shows that FAD is covalently connected to the protein in an unprecedented way, via a putative disulfide bridge between the 8-methyl group of the isoalloxazine moiety and Cys 124. The high resolution insight into the protein and all unexpected structural observations presented in this work suggest that the catalytic mechanism of SQRs is significantly different from that of FDRs. In agreement with the structural and functional data, two reaction schemes are proposed for A. aeolicus SQR. They both provide a detailed description of how sulfide and quinones reach and bind the active site, how electrons are transferred from sulfide to quinone via FAD and how the elongating polysulfur product is attached to the polypeptide and is finally released. The two hypotheses differ in defining the structure of the covalent protein-FAD intermediate that forms during the reaction cycle and whose identity still remains experimentally undetermined. Remarkably, the structure of the active site and the FAD-binding mode of A. aeolicus SQR are not conserved in another SQR structure which also became available recently, that of the archaeon Acidianus ambivalens. The variability in SQRs suggests that not all of these enzymes follow the same catalytic mechanism, despite having been considered homologous. Consequently, the currently available but contradictory sequence-based classifications of the SQR family were revised. A structure-based alignment calculated on the increasing number of available sequences allowed to define new SQR groups and their characteristic sequence fingerprints in agreement with the reported structural and functional data. In conclusion, the results obtained in this work offer for the first time a detailed look into the intriguing but complicated reactions catalysed by SQRs and provide a stimulus for further genetic, biochemical and structural investigation.
- Heterologous production and characterization of selected secondary active transporters from the CDF, KUP, MOP, FNT, RhtB and SulP families (2010)
- Genes coding for membrane proteins make up 25%-30% of the genome in most organisms. Membrane proteins play an important role in cell functioning and their importance is enhanced by the fact that a large number of drugs are targeted at membrane proteins. Paradoxically, experimentally determined structures of membrane protein correspond to only about 1.7% of protein structures deposited in the protein data bank (PDB). This is largely due to the fact that membrane proteins are difficult to deal with owing to their amphipathic nature. The low abundance of membrane proteins in native tissue makes heterologous overexpression of these genes a necessity. This thesis work aimed at heterologous production of several secondary active transporter proteins for structural and functional characterizations and establishing alternative strategies to overcome the obstacles associated with heterologous overproduction. Four members of the heavy metal transporting cation diffusion facilitator (CDF) family from S. typhimurium and A. aeolicus were heterologously overproduced in E. coli and functionally characterized by an in vivo complementation assay using the zinc transport deficient E. coli GG48 strain. Out of these four, Aq_2073 from A. aeolicus was produced in large scale with substantial yield and purity sufficient to carry out structural studies. After extensive stability studies with different detergents, pHs and temperatures, the protein was subjected to 3D and 2D crystallization trials. Several C- terminal truncated constructs were made and the simultaneous crystallization screenings were carried out. These resulted in initial needle like crystals in 3D crystallization trials or optimum sized vesicles with crystalline patches in 2D crystallization trials but no obvious crystal. The protein showed significant increase in melting temperature in the presence of cadmium, when tested by differential scanning calorimetry. Another transporter, STM3880 of the potassium uptake permease (KUP) family from S. typhimurium, was heterologously overproduced in E. coli, purified by affinity chromatography, reconstituted into artificial liposome and functionally characterized by solid supported membrane based electrophysiology. In order to establish alternative expression strategies, continuous exchange cell free expression (CECF) of proteins from four different families was carried out. This method found to be aptly complementing the cell-based production approach. Targets from resistance to homoserine/threonine (RhtB) family not expressing in vivo could be expressed and purified using CECF. STM1781 of the sulfate permease (SulP) family was expressed, purified and characterized for stability while the cell-based production resulted in extensive degradation. PF0780 of multidrug/oligosaccharidyllipid/polysaccharide flippase (MOP) family was also purified to homogeneity and the stability was comparable to in vivo produced protein. Moreover, the effect of maltose binding protein (MBP) fusion at N-terminus on production and membrane integration was tested with three selected targets. The analysis revealed decreased yields in the presence of MBP if the protein had both termini in the cytoplasm. This work succeed in heterologously overproducing and establishing purification protocols for several secondary active transporters aiming at structural and functional characterization in a structural genomics framework. It also showed that integration of alternative strategies, like employing both cell-based and cell-free heterologous expression systems, expands the overall expression space coverage and in turn increases the chance of success of a structural genomics styled project.
- Biochemical, structural and functional characterization of diheme-containing succinate:quinone reductase (SQR) from Bacillus licheniformis (2010)
- Succinate:quinone oxidoreductases (SQORs) are integral membrane protein complexes, which couple the two-electron oxidation of succinate to fumarate (succinate → fumarate + 2H+ + 2e-) to the two-electron reduction of quinone to quinol (quinone + 2H+ + 2e- → quinol) as well as catalyzing the opposite reaction, the reduction of fumarate by quinol. In mitochondria and some aerobic bacteria, succinate:ubiquinone reductase, also known as complex II of the aerobic respiratory chain or as succinate dehydrogenase from the tricarboxylic acid (TCA or Krebs) cycle, catalyzes the oxidation of succinate by ubiquinone, which is mildly exergonic under standart conditions and not directly associated with energy storage in the form of a transmembrane electrochemical proton potential (Δp). Gram-positive bacteria do not contain ubiquinone but rather menaquinone, a quinone with significantly lower oxidation-reduction (“redox”) midpoint potential. In these cases, the catalyzed oxidation of succinate by quinone is endergonic under standard conditions. Consequently, these bacteria face a thermodynamic problem in supporting the catalysis of this reaction in vivo. Based on experimental evidence obtained on whole cells and purified membranes, it had previously been proposed that the SQR from Gram-positive bacteria supports this reaction at the expense of the protonmotive force, Δp. Nonetheless, it has been argued that the observed Δp dependence is not associated specifically with the activity of SQR because the occurrence of artifacts in experiments with bacterial membranes and whole cells can not be fully excluded. Clearly, definitive insight into the mechanism of catalysis of this intriguing reaction required a corresponding functional characterization of an isolated, membranebound SQR from a Gram-positive bacterium. The first aim of the present work addresses the question if the general feasibility of the energetically uphill electron transfer from succinate to menaquinone is associated specifically to a single enzyme complex, the SQR. The prerequisite to achieve this goal was stable preparation of this enzyme.
- 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.
- Mechanisms of energy transfer and conversion in plant light-harvesting complex II (2009)
- The light-harvesting complex of photosystem II (LHC-II) is the major antenna complex in plant photosynthesis. It accounts for roughly 30% of the total protein in plant chloroplasts, which makes it arguably the most abundant membrane protein on Earth, and binds about half of plant chlorophyll (Chl). The complex assembles as a trimer in the thylakoid membrane and binds a total of 54 pigment molecules, including 24 Chl a, 18 Chl b, 6 lutein (Lut), 3 neoxanthin (Neo) and 3 violaxanthin (Vio). LHC-II has five key roles in plant photosynthesis. It: (1) harvests sunlight and transmits excitation energy to the reaction centres of photosystems II and I, (2) regulates the amount of excitation energy reaching each of the two photosystems, (3) has a structural role in the architecture of the photosynthetic supercomplexes, (4) contributes to the tight appression of thylakoid membranes in chloroplast grana, and (5) protects the photosynthetic apparatus from photo damage by non photochemical quenching (NPQ). A major fraction of NPQ is accounted for its energy-dependent component qE. Despite being critical for plant survival and having been studied for decades, the exact details of how excess absorbed light energy is dissipated under qE conditions remain enigmatic. Today it is accepted that qE is regulated by the magnitude of the pH gradient (ΔpH) across the thylakoid membrane. It is also well documented that the drop in pH in the thylakoid lumen during high-light conditions activates the enzyme violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE), which converts the carotenoid Vio into zeaxanthin (Zea) as part of the xanthophyll cycle. Additionally, studies with Arabidopsis mutants revealed that the photosystem II subunit PsbS is necessary for qE. How these physiological responses switch LHC-II from the active, energy transmitting to the quenched, energy-dissipating state, in which the solar energy is not transmitted to the photosystems but instead dissipated as heat, remains unclear and is the subject of this thesis. From the results obtained during this doctoral work, five main conclusions can be drawn concerning the mechanism of qE: 1. Substitution of Vio by Zea in LHC-II is not sufficient for efficient dissipation of excess excitation energy. 2. Aggregation quenching of LHC-II does not require Vio, Neo nor a specific Chl pair. 3. With one exception, the pigment structure in LHC-II is rigid. 4. The two X-ray structures of LHC-II show the same energy transmitting state of the complex. 5. Crystalline LHC-II resembles the complex in the thylakoid membrane. Models of the aggregation quenching mechanism in vitro and the qE mechanism in vivo are presented as a corollary of this doctoral work. LHC-II aggregation quenching in vitro is attributed to the formation of energy sinks on the periphery of LHC-II through random interaction with other trimers, free pigments or impurities. A similar but unrelated process is proposed to occur in the thylakoid membrane, by which excess excitation energy is dissipated upon specific interaction between LHC-II and a PsbS monomer carrying Zea. At the end of this thesis, an innovative experimental model for the analysis of all key aspects of qE is proposed in order to finally solve the qE enigma, one of the last unresolved problems in photosynthesis research.