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- Association of bacterial respiratory complexes (2006)
- The mitochondrial respiratory chain consists of NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (Complex-I), succinate:ubiquinone reductase (Complex-II), ubiquinol:cytochrome c reductase (Complex-III), cytochrome c oxidase (Complex-IV) and cytochrome c as an electron mediator between Complex-III and Complex-IV. Paracoccus denitrificans membranes were used as a model system for the association of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. More than 50 years ago, a model was given for a supercomplex assembly formed by stable associations between these complexes. This model gradually shifted by the model of random diffusion given by Hackenbrock et al. 1986 Different independent approaches were used to further analyze this situation in a native membrane environment, thus avoiding any perturbation caused by detergent solubilization: (a) measuring the distance and orientation of the different complexes by multi-frequency EPR Spectroscopy we started to analyze simple system, the interaction between CuA fragment derived from P. denitrificans and various c type cytochrome by Pulsed X band and G band (180 GHz) EPR. Partner proteins for the CuA (excess negative surface charge) were (i) horse heart cytochrome c which contain a large number of positive charges in heme crevice,(ii) the cytochrome c552 soluble fragment (physiological electron donor and have positive charges), and as a control (iii) the cytochrome c1 soluble fragment (negative surface potential, derived from bc1 complex) The measurements were performed at several magnetic field positions varying temperature between 5 to 30 K. Both the X band and the high-field measurements show the existence of a strong relaxation enhancement of the CuA by the specific binding of the P. denitrificans cytochrome c552 and horse heart cytochrome c. This relaxation enhancement is dependent on temperature and provides information about the distance and relative orientation of the two interacting spins within this protein-protein complex. (b) For quantitative information about lateral diffusion of cytochrome c oxidase in the native membrane Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) was used. In this experiment, diffusion coefficients for oxidase differ in the case of supercomplex for wild type membrane and for two deletion mutants lacking either Complex-I or Complex-III. (c) The optical absorption spectroscopy at microsecond level resolution was tried for the translational mobility of oxidase in membrane vesicles. Due to the presence of different hemes in the native membrane, carbon monoxide (CO) used as a probe for the experiment. The optimization of the experimental conditions were carried out to get the optimal signal.
- The interaction of the cytochrome bc 1 complex with its substrate cytochrome c : high resolution structure and implications for transient binding (2005)
- Structural studies of membrane transport proteins (2005)
- My graduate thesis is on the “ Structural studies of membrane transport proteins”. Transporters are membrane proteins that have multiple membrane-spanning a-helices. They are dynamic and diverse proteins, undergoing a large conformational change and transporting wide range of susbtrates. Based on their energy source they can be classified into primary and secondary transport systems. Primary transport systems are driven by the use of chemical (ATP) or light energy, while secondary transporters utilize ion gradients to transport substrates. I began my PhD dissertation on secondary transporters by two-dimensional crystallization and electron crystallographic analysis and recently my focus also has shifted towards 3D crystallization. The following projects constitute my PhD thesis: 1) 2D crystallization of MjNhaP1 and pH induced structural change: MjNhaP1, a Na+/H+ antiporter that is regulated by pH has been implicated in homeostasis of H+ and Na+ in Methanococcus jannaschii, a hyperthermophilic archaeon that grows optimally at 85°C. MjNhaP1 was cloned and expressed in E. coli. Two-dimensional crystals were obtained from purified protein at pH4. Electron cryo-microscopy yielded an 8Å projection map. The map of MjNhaP1 shows elongated densities in the centre of the dimer and a cluster of density peaks on either side of the dimer core, indicative of a bundle of 4-6 membrane-spanning helices. The effect of pH on the structure of MjNhaP1was studied in situ in 2D crystals revealing a major change in density within the helix bundle relative to the dimer interface. This change occurred at pH6 and above. The two conformations at low and high pH most likely represent the closed and open states of the antiporter, respectively. This is the first instance where a conformational change associated with the regulation of a secondary transporter appears to map structurally. Reconstruction of 3D map and high-resolution structure by x-ray crystallography would be necessary to understand the mechanism of ion transport and regulation by pH. 2) 2D crystallization of Proline transporter: Proline transporter (PutP) from E.coli belongs the sodium-solute symporter family that includes disease related sodium dependent glucose and iodide transporter in humans. Sodium and proline are co-transported with a stoichiometry of 1:1. Purified PutP was reconstituted to yield 2D crystals that were hexagonal in nature. The 2D crystals had tendency to stack indicating their willingness to form 3D crystals. A projection map of PutP from negatively stained crystals showed trimeric arrangement of protein. Other members of the SSF family have been shown to be monomers. My analysis of oligomeric state of PutP in detergent by blue native gel indicates a monomer in detergent solution. It is likely that PutP can function as a monomer but at higher concentration and in lipid bilayer it tends to form trimer. 3) Oligomeric state and crystallization of carnitine transporter from E.coli: E.coli carnitine transporter (CaiT) belongs to the BCCT (Betaine, Carnitine and Choline) superfamily that transports molecules with quaternary amine groups. CaiT is predicted to span the membrane 12 times and acts as a L-carnitine/g-butyrobetaine exchanger. Unlike other members in this transporter family, it does not require an ion gradient and does not respond to osmotic stress. Over-expression of the protein yielded ~2mg of protein/L of culture. The structure and oligomeric state of the protein were analyzed in detergent and lipid bilayers. Blue native gel electrophoresis indicated that CaiT was a trimer in detergent solution. Gel filtration and cross-linking studies further support this. Reconstitution of CaiT into lipid bilayers resulted in 2D crystals. Analysis of negatively stained 2D crystals confirmed that CaiT is a trimer in the membrane. Initial 3D crystallization trials have been successful and currently, the crystals diffract to 6Å and are being improved. 4) Monomeric porin OmpG: OmpG is a bacterial outer membrane b-barrel protein. It is monomeric and its size (33kDa) places it as a prime candidate for a structural solution, using the recently developed method of solid state NMR (work in collaboration with Prof.Hartmut Oskinat, FMP, Berlin). A long-term aim would be to study porins as templates for designing nanopores, for DNA sequencing and identification. I have expressed OmpG in inclusion bodies and refolded at an efficiency of >90% into a functional form using detergent. OmpG was then crystallized by 2D crystallization yielding an 8Å projection map whose structure was similar to native protein. In addition, these crystals were used for structure determination by solid state NMR. An initial spectrum of heavy isotopically labeled OmpG has allowed identification of specific amino acid residues including threonine and proline. Additionally, I obtained 3D crystals in detergent that diffract to 5.5Å and are being improved.
- Accessory subunits of complex I from Yarrowia lipolytica (2005)
- Mitochondial NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) the largest multiprotein enzyme of the respiratory chain, catalyses the transfer of two electrons from NADH to ubiquinone, coupled to the translocation of four protons across the membrane. In addition to the 14 strictly conserved central subunits it contains a variable number of accessory subunits. At present, the best characterized enzyme is complex I from bovine heart with a molecular mass of about 980 kDa and 32 accessory proteins. In this study, the subunit composition of mitochondrial complex I from the aerobic yeast Y. lipolytica has been analysed by a combination of proteomic and genomic approaches. The sequences of 37 complex I subunits were identified. The sum of their individual molecular masses (about 930 kDa) was consistent with the native molecular weight of approximately 900 kDa for Y. lipolytica complex I obtained by BN-PAGE. A genomic analysis with Y. lipolytica and other eukaryotic databases to search for homologues of complex I subunits revealed 31 conserved proteins among the examined species. A novel protein named “X” was found in purified Y. lipolytica complex I by MALDI-MS. This protein exhibits homology to the thiosulfate sulfurtransferase enzyme referred to as rhodanese. The finding of a rhodanese-like protein in isolated complex I of Y. lipolytica allows to assume a special regulatory mechanism of complex I activity through control of the status of its iron-sulfur clusters. The second part of this study was aimed at investigating the possible role of one of these extra subunits, 39 kDa (NUEM) subunit which is related to the SDRs-enzyme family. The members of this family function in different redox and isomerization reactions and contain a conserved NAD(P)H-binding site. It was proposed that the 39 kDa subunit may be involved in a biosynthetic pathway, but the role of this subunit in complex I is unknown. In contrast to the situation in N. crassa, deletion of the 39 kDa encoding gene in Y. lipolytica led to the absence of fully assembled complex I. This result might indicate a different pathway of complex I assembly in both organisms. Several site-directed mutations were generated in the nucleotide binding motif. These had either no effect on enzyme activity and NADPH binding, or prevented complex I assembly. Mutations of arginine-65 that is located at the end of the second b-strand and responsible for selective interaction with the 2’-phosphate group of NADPH retained complex I activity in mitochondrial membranes but the affinity for the cofactor was markedly decreased. Purification of complex I from mutants resulted in decrease or loss of ubiquinone reductase activity. It is very likely that replacement of R65 not only led to a decrease in affinity for NADPH but also caused instability of the enzyme due to steric changes in the 39 kDa subunit. These data indicate that NADPH bound to the 39 kDa subunit (NUEM) is not essential for complex I activity, but probably involved in complex I assembly in Y. lipolytica.
- Targeted cell entry of lentiviral vectors (2009)
- Lentiviral vectors mediate gene transfer into dividing and most non-dividing cells. Thereby, they stably integrate the transgene into the host cell genome. For this reason, lentiviral vectors are a promising tool for gene therapy. However, safety and efficiency of lentiviral mediated gene transfer still needs to be optimised. Ideally, cell entry should be restricted to the cell population relevant for a particular therapeutic application. Furthermore, lentiviral vectors able to transduce quiescent lymphocytes are desirable. Although many approaches were followed to engineer retroviral envelope proteins, an effective and universally applicable system for retargeting of lentiviral cell entry is still not available. Just before the experimental work of this thesis was started, retargeting of measles virus (MV) cell entry was achieved. This virus has two types of envelope glycoproteins, the hemagglutinin (H) protein responsible for receptor recognition and the fusion (F) protein mediating membrane fusion. For retargeting, the H protein was mutated in its interaction sites for the native MV receptors and a ligand or a single-chain antibody (scAb) was fused to its ectodomain. It was hypothesised that the retargeting system of MV can be transferred to lentiviral vectors by pseudotyping human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) derived vector particles with the MV glycoproteins. As the unmodified MV glycoproteins did not pseudotype HIV vectors, two F and 15 H protein variants carrying stepwise truncations or amino acid (aa) exchanges in their cytoplasmic tails were screened for their ability to form MV-HIV pseudotypes. The combinations Hcd18/Fcd30, Hcd19/Fcd30 and Hcd24+4A/Fcd30 led to most efficient pseudotype formation with titers above 10exp6 transducing units /ml, using concentrated particles. The F cytoplasmic tail was truncated by 30 aa and the H cytoplasmic tail was truncated by 18, 19 or 24 residues with four added alanines after the start methionine in the latter case. Western blot analysis indicated that particle incorporation of the MV glycoproteins was enhanced upon truncation of their cytoplasmic tails. With the MV-HIV vectors high titers on different cell lines expressing one or both MV receptors were obtained, whereas MV receptor-negative cells remained untransduced. Titers were enhanced using an optimal H to F plasmid ratio (1:7) during vector particle production. Based on the described pseudotyping with the MV glycoprotein variants, HIV vectors retargeted to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or the B cell surface marker CD20 were generated. For the production of the retargeted vectors MVaEGFR-HIV and MVaCD20-HIV, Fcd30 together with a native receptor blind Hcd18 protein, displaying at its ectodomain either the ligand EGF or a scAb directed against CD20 were used. With these vectors, gene transfer into target receptor-positive cells was several orders of magnitude more efficient than into control cells. The almost complete absence of background transduction of non-target cells was e.g. demonstrated in mixed cell populations, where the CD20-targeting vector selectively eliminated CD20-positive cells upon suicide gene transfer. Remarkably, transduction of activated primary human CD20-positive B cells was much more efficient with the MVaCD20-HIV vector than with the standard pseudotype vector VSV-G-HIV. Even more surprisingly, MVaCD20-HIV vectors were able to transduce quiescent primary human B cells, which until then had been resistant towards lentiviral gene transfer. The most critical step during the production of MV-HIV pseudotypes was the identification of H cytoplasmic tail mutants that allowed pseudotyping while retaining the fusion helper function. In contrast to previously inefficient targeting strategies, the reason for the success of this novel targeting system must be based on the separation of the receptor recognition and fusion functions onto two different proteins. Furthermore, with the CD20-targeting vector transduction of quiescent B cells was demonstrated for the first time. Own data and literature data suggest that CD20 binding and hyper-cross-linking by the vector particles results in calcium influx and thus activation of quiescent B cells. Alternatively this feature may be based on a residual binding activity of the MV glycoproteins to the native MV receptors that is insufficient for entry but induces cytoskeleton rearrangements dissolving the post-entry block of HIV vectors. Hence, in this thesis efficient retargeting of lentiviral vectors and transduction of quiescent cells was combined. This novel targeting strategy should be easily adaptable to many other target molecules by extending the modified MV H protein with appropriate specific domains or scAbs. It should now be possible to tailor lentiviral vectors for highly selective gene transfer into any desired target cell population with an unprecedented degree of efficiency.
- Biochemical, structural and functional characterization of diheme-containing quinol:fumarate reductases : the role of heme propionates and the enzymes from pathogenic e-proteobacteria (2005)
- The quinol:fumarate reductase (QFR) is the terminal reductase of anaerobic fumarate respiration, the most commonly occurring type of anaerobic respiration. This membrane protein complex couples the oxidation of menaquinol to menaquinone to the reduction of fumarate to succinate. The three-dimensional crystal structure of the QFR from Wolinella succinogenes has previoulsy been solved at 2.2 Å resolution. Although the diheme-containing QFR from W. succinogenes is known to catalyze an electroneutral process, structural and functional characterization of parental and variant enzymes has revealed active site locations which indicate electrogenic catalysis across the membrane. A solution to this apparent controversy was proposed with the so-called “Epathway hypothesis”. According to this, transmembrane electron transfer via the heme groups is strictly coupled to a parallel, compensatory transfer of protons via a transiently established pathway, which is inactive in the oxidized state of the enzyme. Proposed constituents of the E-pathway are the side chain of Glu C180, and the ring C propionate of the distal heme. Previous experimental evidence strongly supports such a role for the former constituent. One aim of this thesis is to investigate by a combination of specific 13C-heme propionate labeling and FTIR difference spectroscopy whether the ring C propionate of the distal heme is involved in redox-coupled proton transfer in the QFR from W. succinogenes. In addition to W. succinogenes, the primary structures of the QFR enzymes of two other e- proteobacteria are known. These are Campylobacter jejuni and Helicobacter pylori, which unlike W. succinogenes are human pathogens. The QFR from H. pylori has previously been established to be a potential drug target, and the same is likely for the QFR from C. jejuni. The two pathogenic species colonize mucosal surfaces causing several diseases. The possibility of studying these QFRs from these bacteria and creating more efficient drugs specifically active for this enzyme depends substantially on the availability of large amounts of high-quality protein. Further, biochemical and structural studies on QFR enzymes from e- proteobacteria species other than W. succinogenes can be valuable to enlighten new aspects or corroborate the current understanding of this class of membrane proteins.
- Production of recombinant human endothelin B receptor in different hosts and its subsequent solubilization and purification (2003)
- The endothelin B receptor belongs to the rhodopsin-like G-protein coupled receptors family. It plays an important role in vasodilatation and is found in the membranes of the endothelial cells enveloping blood vessels. During the course of this work, the production of recombinant human ETB receptor in yeast, insect and mammalian cells was evaluated. A number of different receptor constructs for production in the yeast P. pastoris was prepared. Various affinity tags were appended to the receptor N-and C-termini to enable receptor detection and purification. The clone pPIC9KFlagHisETBBio, with an expression level of 60 pmol/mg, yielded the highest amount of active receptor (1.2 mg of receptor per liter of shaking culture). The expression level of the same clone in fermentor culture was 17 pmol/mg, and from a 10L fermentor it was possible to obtain 3 kg of cells that contained 20-39 mg of the receptor. For receptor production in insect cells, Sf9 (S. frugiperda) suspension cells were infected with the recombinant baculovirus pVlMelFlagHisETBBio. The peak of receptor production was reached at 66 h post infection, and radioligand binding assays on insect cell membranes showed 30 pmoL of active receptor /mg of membrane protein. Subsequently, the efficiency of different detergents in solubilizing the active receptor was evaluated. N-dodecyl-beta-D-maltoside (LM), lauryl-sucrose and digitonine/cholate performed best, and LM was chosen for further work. The ETB receptor was produced in mammalian cells using the Semliki Forest Virus expression system. Radioligand binding assays on membranes from CHO cells infected with the recombinant virus pSFV3CAPETBHis showed 7 pmol of active receptor /mg of membrane protein. Since the receptor yield from mammalian cells was much lower than in yeast and insect cells, this system was not used for further large-scale receptor production. After production in yeast and insect cells, the ETB receptor was saturated with its ligand, endothelin-1, in order to stabilize its native form. The receptor was subsequently solubilized with n-dodecyl-beta-D-maltoside and subjected to purification on various affinity matrices. Two-step affinity purification via Ni2+-NTA and monomeric avidin proved the most efficient way to purify milligram amounts of the receptor. The purity of the receptor preparation after this procedure was over 95%, as judged from silver stained gels. However, the tendency of the ETB receptor produced in yeast to form aggregates was a constant problem. Attempts were made to stabilize the active, monomeric form of the receptor by testing a variety of different buffer conditions, but further efforts in this direction will be necessary in order to solve the aggregation problem. In contrast to preparations from yeast, the purification of the ETB receptor produced in insect cells yielded homogeneous receptor preparations, as shown by gel filtration analysis. This work has demonstrated that the amounts of receptor expressed in yeast and insect cells and the final yield of receptor, isolated by purification, represent a good basis for beginning 3D and continuing 2D crystallization trials.
- Regulation of IL-18 binding protein by IFN-gamma (2003)
- In this study we investigated the regulation of IL-18BPa by IFN-y in the context of colon cancer and human autoimmune diseases. IL-18BPa is a naturally occuring inhibitor that counteracts IL-18 bioactivity. By enhancing IFN-y production IL-18 has been introduced as pivotal mediator of TH1 immune responses. Indeed, many IL-18 effects are mediated by IFN-y. IL-18 bioactivity is connected with the pathogenesis of different inflammatory diseases, for instance, septic shock, colitis, Crohn's disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, and organ transplant rejection. In addition, IL-18 has tumor-suppressive properties. IFN-y induced IL-18BPa expression was shown on protein and mRNA level in different colon carcinoma cell lines, organ cultures of colonic intestinal biopsy specimens, HaCaT keratinocytes as well as rheumatoid arthritis fibroblastlike synoviocytes (RA-FLS). The IFN-y-mediated induction of IL-18BPa appears to be a more general phenomenom. The capability of IFN-y to induce IL-18BPa also has been confirmed on the promoter level by performing luciferase reporter gene studies with two IL- 18BP promoter fragments. A GAS-site proximal to the transcription start site has been identified to be relevant for IFN-y-mediated induction of these two IL18BP promoter fragments. The induction of IL-18BPa is most likely mediated by STAT-1 in DLD-1 colon carcinoma cells. Sodium butyrate inhibited IFN-y-induced IL-18BPa expression in these cells. On the basis of our observations, we postulate a negative feedback mechanism, by which IFN-y-dependent and -independent IL-18 action might be counterregulated. In this model sodium butyrate is an additional player, that may interrupt the postulated negative feedback loop. A coculture system was performed to simulate an inflammatory TH1 response. This model which is more close to the in vivo situation, confirmed upregulation of IL-18BPa by endogenously produced IFN-y. The role of IL-18BPa is manifold and depends on IL-18 function in each particular case. In autoimmune diseases, for instance, which are often characterized by a TH1 polarized immune response, IL-18BPa might counterregulate IL-18 and/or IL-18-induced IFN-y bioactivity. Important examples are Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. In CD therapeutic use of IL-18BPa may therefore restore a hypothetically disturbed IL-18/IL-18BP balance. Concerning RA, IL-18BPa expression might contribute to protective functions of IFN-y, observed in different murine models for arthritis and in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Moreover, IL-18BPa might inhibit IL-18-mediated induction of subsequent cardinal inflammatory cytokines responsible for the pathogenesis of these diseases. Indeed, the pharmaceutical industry successfully used IL-18BP as therapeutic agent in a murine model of RA and in phase I clinical trials. On the contrary, in the context of carcinogenesis IFN-y- mediated IL-18BPa expression might be disadvantageous. By counterregulating the IL-18 arm of immune defenses against tumors, IL-18BP may have the potential to promote carcinogenesis. Our hypothesis is underlined by the observation that sodium butyrate, known to be protective in colon cancer, inhibited IFN-y-induced IL-18BPa expression. In parallel, IL-18-induced IFN-y is also responsible for iNOS induction. iNOS-derived NO provides a second possible way for inhibition of IFN-y-dependent and -independent tumor suppressive effects of IL-18. Finally, IFN-y-induced IL-18BPa expression was confirmed on the promoter level. This induction on the promoter level was associated with STAT-1 binding to the GAS element proximal to the start of transcription. It is tempting to speculate that blockage of the cytokine cascade upstream of IL-1 and TNF- a on the level of IL-18 may be of therapeutic benefit. Our data reflect the relationship between inflammation and cancer, in that inflammatory cells and cytokines found in tumors are likely to contribute to tumor growth, progression, and immunosuppression than they are to mount an effective host antitumour response.
- 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
- Overexpression, biochemical characterization and crystallization of Chitin Synthase 2 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae (2008)
- Life-threatening fungal infections are becoming increasingly common for immunocompromised patients such as those with AIDS, or those undergoing organ transplantation or chemotheraphy, as well as for other health-vulnerable patients. Excellent targets for antifungal drugs are chitin synthases, which are essential for survival of the fungus and lacking in humans. To design new antifungal drugs, knowledge of the three-dimensional structure and mechanism of action of chitin synthases are crucial. Chitin synthases are members of an important family of enzymes that synthesize structural polysaccharides, such as cellulose, β(1,3)-glucan, β(1,4)-mannan and hyaluronan. Therefore, chitin synthases could be used as a model system to understand these more complex enzymes, which are also of major medical and commercial importance. Chitin synthase 2 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ScChS2), the protein under study, is an integral membrane protein that synthesizes the primary septum between mother and daughter cells in budding yeast. It is essential for proper cell separation and expected to be highly regulated. An important aspect is that ScChS2 shows 55% sequence identity and is functionally analogous to chitin synthase 1 from the human opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans, this enzyme is also essential for cell survival (Munro, Winter et al. 2001). ...