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- Development and application of optogenetic methods to functionally characterize synaptic transmission and neural circuits in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (2011)
- Characterization of Aquifex aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase and its heterologous production in Escherichia coli (2013)
- This work presents a biochemical, functional and structural characterization of Aquifex aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase obtained using both a native form (AAF1FO) and a heterologous form (EAF1FO) of this enzyme. F1FO ATP synthases catalyze the synthesis of ATP from ADP and inorganic phosphate driven by ion motive forces across the membrane and therefore play a key cellular function. Because of their central role in supporting life, F1FO ATP synthases are ubiquitous and have been remarkably conserved throughout evolution. For their biological importance, F1FO ATP synthases have been extensively studied for many decades and many of them were characterized from both a functional and a structural standpoint. However, important properties of ATP synthases – specifically properties pertaining to their membrane embedded subunits – have yet to be determined and no structures are available to date for the intact enzyme complex. Therefore, F1FO ATP synthases are still a major focus of research worldwide. Our research group had previously reported an initial characterization of AAF1FO and had indicated that this enzyme presents unique features, i.e. a bent central stalk and a putatively heterodimeric peripheral stalk. Based on such a characterization, this enzyme revealed promising for structural and functional studies on ATP synthases and became the focus of this doctoral thesis. Two different lines of research were followed in this work. First, the characterization of AAF1FO was extended by bioinformatic, biochemical and enzymatic analyses. The work on AAF1FO led to the identification of a new detergent that maintains a higher homogeneity and integrity of the complex, namely the detergent trans-4-(trans-4’-propylcyclohexyl)cyclohexyl-α-D-maltoside (α-PCC). The characterization of AAF1FO in this new detergent showed that AAF1FO is a proton-dependent, not a sodium ion-dependent ATP synthase and that its ATP hydrolysis mechanism needs to be triggered and activated by high temperatures, possibly inducing a conformational switch in subunit γ. Moreover, this approach suggested that AAF1FO may present unusual features in its membrane subunits, i.e. short N-terminal segments in subunits a and c with implications for the membrane insertion mechanism of these subunits. Investigating on these unique features of A. aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase could not be done using A. aeolicus cells, because these require a harsh and dangerous environment for growth and they are inaccessible to genetic manipulations. Therefore, a second approach was pursued, in which an expression system was created to produce the enzyme in the heterologous host E. coli. This second approach was experimentally challenging, because A. aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase is a 500-kDa multimeric membrane enzyme with a complicated and still not entirely determined stoichiometry and because its encoding genes are scattered throughout A. aeolicus genome, rather than being organized in one single operon. However, an artificial operon suitable for expression was created in this work and led to the successful production of an active and fully assembled form of Aquifex aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase. Such artificial operon was created using a stepwise approach, in which we expressed and studied first individual subunits, then subcomplexes, and finally the entire F1FO ATP synthase complex. We confirmed experimentally that subunits b1 and b2 form a heterodimeric subcomplex in the E. coli membranes, which is a unique case among ATP synthases of non-photosynthetic organisms. Moreover, we determined that the b1b2 subcomplex is sufficient to recruit the soluble F1 subcomplex to the membranes, without requiring the presence of the other membrane subunits a and c. The latter subunits can be produced in our expression system only when the whole ATP synthase is expressed, but not in isolation nor in the context of smaller FO subcomplexes. These observations led us to propose a novel mechanism for the assembly of ATP synthases, in which first the F1 subcomplex attaches to the membrane via subunit b1b2, and then cring and subunits a assemble to complete the FO subcomplex. Furthermore, we could purify the heterologous ATP synthase (EAF1FO) to homogeneity by chromatography and electro-elution. Enzymatic assays showed that the purified form of EAF1FO is as active as AAF1FO. Peptide mass fingerprinting showed that EAF1FO is composed of the same subunits as AAF1FO and all soluble and membrane subunits could be identified. Finally, single-particle electron microscopy analysis revealed that the structure of EAF1FO is identical to that of AAF1FO. Therefore, the EAF1FO expression system serves as a reliable platform for investigating on properties of AAF1FO. Specifically, in this work, EAF1FO was used to study the membrane insertion mechanism of rotary subunit c. Subunits c possess different lengths and levels of hydrophobicity across species and by analyzing their N-terminal variability, four phylogenetic groups of subunits c were distinguished (groups 1 to 4). As a member of group 2, the subunit c from A. aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase is characterized by an N-terminal segment that functions as a signal peptide with SRP recognition features, a unique case for bacterial F1FO ATP synthases. By accurately designing mutants of EAF1FO, we determined that such a signal peptide is strictly necessary for membrane insertion of subunit c and we concluded that A. aeolicus subunit c inserts into E. coli membranes using a different pathway than E. coli subunit c. Such a property may be common to other ATP synthases from extremophilic organisms, which all cluster in the same phylogenetic group. In conclusion, the successful production of the fully assembled and active F1FO ATP synthase from A. aeolicus in E. coli reported in this work provides a novel genetic system to study A. aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase. To a broader extent, it will also serve in the future as a solid reference for designing strategies aimed at producing large multi-subunit complexes with complicated stoichiometry.
- Function of plant photosystem II subunits in photoprotection (2013)
- Plants absorb sunlight via photosynthetic pigments and convert light energy intochemical energy in the process of photosynthesis. These pigments are mainly bound to antenna protein complexes that funnel the excitation energy to the photosynthetic reaction centres. The peripheral antenna of plant photosystem II (PSII) consists of the major light-harvesting complex of PSII (LHC-II) and the minor LHCs CP29, CP26 and CP24. Light intensity can change frequently and plants need to adapt to high-light conditions in order to avoid photodamage. When more photons are absorbed than can be utilised by the photosynthetic machinery, excessive excitation energy is dissipated as heat by short-term adaptation processes collectively known as non-photochemical quenching (NPQ). A decrease in PSII antenna chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence yield and a reduction in the average Chl fluorescence lifetime are associated with NPQ. The main component of NPQ is the so-called energy-dependent quenching (qE), and it is triggered by the rapid drop in thylakoid lumenal pH resulting from the plant’s photosynthetic activity. This process is thought to take place at the PSII antenna complexes, which therefore not only capture and transfer light energy but are also involved in balancing the energy flow. The decrease in lumenal pH acivates the enzyme violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE), which converts the xanthophyll violaxanthin (Vio) into zeaxanthin (Zea) in the xanthophyll cycle. In addition, the PSII subunit PsbS was discovered to be essential for qE by screening qE-deficient Arabidopsis thaliana mutants. This membrane protein is considered a member of the LHC superfamily, which also includes LHC-II and the minor LHCs. Previous studies on PsbS isolated either from native source or refolded in vitro have produced inconsistent results on its pigment binding capacity. Interestingly, a pH-dependent change in the quaternary structure of PsbS under high light conditions has been reported. This observed dimer-tomonomer transition very likely follows the protonation of lumenal glutamates upon the drop in pH and is accompanied by a change in PSII supercomplex localisation. PsbS dimers are preferentially found in association with the PSII core, whereas PsbS monomers co-localise with LHC-II.Despite the identification of !pH, Zea and PsbS as key players in qE, both the nature of the quencher(s) as well as the underlying molecular mechanism leading to excess energy dissipation still remain unknown. Several models have been put forward to explain the reversible switch in the antenna from an energy-transmitting to a quenched state. Proposals include a simple pigment exchange of Vio for Zea, and aggregation or an internal conformational change of LHC-II. Charge transfer (CT)quenching in the minor LHCs or quenching by carotenoid dark state (Car S1)-Chl interactions have also been suggested. However, none of these qE models has so far been capable of accommodating all the physiological observations and available experimental data. Most importantly, the function of PsbS remains an enigma. A recent qE model suggested that monomerisation of PsbS enables the protein to transiently bind a carotenoid and form a quenching unit with a Chl of a PSII LHC. In view of the various proposed qE mechanisms, this thesis aimed at understanding the interplay of the different qE components and the contribution of the PSII subunits LHC-II, the minor LHCs and PsbS to qE. The initial approach was to investigate the properties of the PSII subunits in the most simple in vitro model system, namely in detergent solution. For this purpose, LHC-II was isolated either from native source or refolded from recombinantly produced protein. Investigation of the minor LHCs and PsbS required heterologous expression and refolding. In addition, experiments were performed on aggregated LHC-II. Aggregates of LHC-II have been used as a popular model system for qE because they exhibit highly quenched Chl fluorescence. At the final stage of this doctoral work, a more sophisticated model system to approximate the thylakoid membrane was developed by reconstitution of the PSII subunits LHC-II and PsbS into liposomes. This system not only allowed for investigation of these membrane proteins in their native environment, but also for mimicking the xanthophyll cycle by distribution of Zea within the membrane as well as !pH by outside buffer exchange. The role of Zea in qE was first investigated with detergent solubilised antenna proteins. The requirement of this xanthophyll for qE is well-known, but the specific contribution to the molecular quenching mechansim is unclear. Previous work had shown that replacement of Vio for Zea in LHC-II was not sufficient to induce Chl fluorescence quenching in Zea-LHC-II, as suggested by the so-called molecular gearshift mechanism. However, by means of selective two-photon excitation spectroscopy, an increase in electronic interactions between Car S1 and Chls was observed for LHC-II upon lowering the pH of the detergent buffer. Electronic Car S1-Chl coupling became even stronger when Zea-LHC-II was probed. The extent of Car S1-Chl coupling correlated directly with the extent of Chl fluorescence quenching, in a similar way as observed previously in live plants under high-light conditions. However, very similar results were obtained with LHC-II aggregates. This implied that the increase in electronic interactions and fluorescence quenching was independent of Zea and low pH. Further experiments on aggregates of LHC-II Chl mutants indicated that the targeted pigments were also not essential for the observed effects. It is proposed that the same molecular mechanism causes an increase in electronic Car S1-Chl interactions and Chl fluorescence quenching in Zea-LHC-II at low pH as well as in aggregated LHC-II. Most likely, surface exposed pigments form random quenching centres in both cases. On the other hand, it was possible that Zea could act as a direct quencher of excess excitation energy in the minor LHCs. However, enrichment of refolded CP29, CP26 and CP24 with Zea did not lead to a change in the Chl excited state lifetime. Formation of a carotenoid radical cation, previously implied in CT quenching, was also not observed, although artificial generation of such a radical cation was principally possible as shown for CP29. During the course of this work, a study reporting the formation of Zea radical cations in minor LHCs was published. Therefore, Zea-enriched minor LHCs were again investigated on the experimental apparatus used in the reported study. Indeed, the presence of at least one carotenoid radical cation for each minor complex was detected. It is suggested that either the preparation method of incubating the refolded minor LHCs with Zea in contrast to refolding the complexes with only Zea and lutein causes the observed differences or that the observed spectral radical cation signatures are due to experimental artifacts. While the experiments with LHC-II and the minor LHCs gave useful insights into the putative qE mechanism, the quencher site and the mode of action of Zea could still not be unambiguously identified. Most importantly, these studies could not explain the function of the qE keyplayer PsbS. Therefore, the focus of the work was shifted to PsbS protein production, purification and characterisation. In view of inconsistent reports on the pigment binding capacity of this PSII subunit, refolding trials with and without photosynthetic pigments were conducted. The formation of a specific pigmentprotein complex typical for other LHCs was not observed and neither was the earlier reported “activation” of Zea for qE by binding to this protein. Nevertheless, PsbS refolded without pigments displayed secondary structure content in agreement with previous studies, indicating pigment-independent folding. Reconstitution of pigmentfree, refolded PsbS into liposomes confirmed that the protein is stable in the absence of pigments. Zea distributed in PsbS-containing liposomes also showed no spectral alteration that would indicate its “activation”. With the ability to reconstitute PsbS, it was then possible to proceed to modelling qE in a proteoliposome system. For this purpose, PsbS was co-reconstituted with LHC-II, which has been reported to interact with PsbS. One-photon excitation (OPE) and two-photon excitation (TPE) spectroscopy measurements were performed on LHC-II- and LHC-II/PsbS-containing liposomes. This enabled both quantification of Chl fluorescence quenching as well as determination of the extent of electronic Car S1-Chl interactions. The effect of Zea was investigated by incorporating it in the proteoliposome membrane. It was shown that Zea alone was not able to induce significant Chl fluorescence quenching when only LHC-II was present. However, when LHC-II and PsbS were co-reconstituted, pronounced Chl fluorescence quenching and an increase in electronic Car S1-Chl interactions were observed and both effects were enhanced when Zea was present. Western blot analysis indicated the presence of a LHC-II/PsbS-heterodimer in these proteoliposomes. In addition to the OPE and TPE measurements, the average Chl fluorescence lifetime was determined in detergent-free buffer at neutral pH and directly after buffer exchange to low pH. No significant changes in the average lifetime were observed for LHC-II proteoliposomes when either Zea was present or after exchange for low pH buffer. This indicated that Zea alone cannot act as a direct quencher, which concurs with the OPE measurements. Moreover, the complex was also properly reconstituted as no aggregation or significant Chl fluorescence quenching were observed. The average lifetime was not significantly affected in LHC-II/PsbS-proteoliposomes, independent of Zea or pH. However, a shortlived component in the presence of a long-lived component was not resolvable with the time resolution of the fluorescence lifetime apparatus. Implications for qE model systems and the in vivo quenching mechanism are discussed based on the experiments in detergent solution, on LHC-II aggregates and with the proteoliposome model system.
- Structural determinants for substrate specificity of the promiscuous multidrug efflux pump AcrB (2013)
- Opportunistic Gram-negative pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter Baumanii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are becoming more and more multiresistant against many commonly available antibiotics [39, 40]. An important resistance mechanism of Gram-negative bacteria is the efflux of noxious compounds by tripartite systems [39, 41-44]. The best studied and most clinically relevant tripartite system is the AcrA-AcrB-TolC system of Escherichia coli, where substrate recognition and energy transduction takes place in the inner membrane protein AcrB. AcrB has a remarkably huge substrate spectrum and can recognize structurally diverse molecules, such as hexan in contrast to erythromycin, as its substrates . Therefore, overproduction of the tripartite system can render a Gram-negative pathogen resistant against multiple antibiotics at once. The mechanisms of how AcrB is able to recognize such an enormous spectrum of molecules as substrates, without compromising its specificity (e.g. by neglecting essential compounds like lipids or gluclose as its susbtates), remained puzzling. Structural insight into substrate specificity was so far limited to two co-crystal structures of AcrB, where minocycline and doxorubicin, respectively, were identified bound to an internal binding pocket of AcrB. This binding pocket is particularly deeply buried into internal parts of the T monomer of AcrB and was, therefore, denoted deep binding pocket (DBP). Analysis of several AcrB co-crystal structures with substrate molecules bound to the DBP [4, 23, 25] indicated that the substrate promiscuity involved multisite binding modes within the DBP. Multisite binding modes, where different substrate molecules can bind to slightly different positions and orientations to the same binding pocket, is a common feature of multidrug recognizing proteins such as QacR or BmrR [27-29]. Nevertheless, AcrB's substrate spectrum is much broader than substrate spectra of most other multidrug recognizing proteins. Therefore, it is likely that additional mechanisms are involved in mediating the observed high substrate promiscuity of AcrB. In our recently published high-resolution AcrB/doxorubicin co-crystal structure (pdb entry: 4DX7 ) we were able to identify two additional substrate binding pockets in the L monomer of AcrB: i) the access pocket (AP), with an opening towards the periplasm, and ii) a putative binding site in a groove between transmembrane helices 8 and 9 (TM8/TM9 groove), accessible from the lipid layer of the inner membrane. Both binding pockets are likely to be access sites for substrates towards AcrB. Furthermore, each of the binding pockets are possibly specialized to recognize a specific subset of the entire substrate spectrum of AcrB, i.e. highly hydrophobic substrates (e.g. n-dodecyl-ß-d-maltoside or sodium dodecylsulfate) might access AcrB towards the TM8/TM9 groove and water soluble substrates (e.g. berberine) might access AcrB towards the AP. Since substrates will accumulate in the membrane or the periplasm according to their hydrophilic or hydrophobic nature, substrates will be "pre-selected" by the medium, rather than by the protein itself, and guided to their appropriate access site. This process is proposed to be called "medium- mediated pre-selection". The AcrB/doxorubicin co-crystal structure (pdb entry: 4DX7 ) furthermore revealed that the AP and DBP are in next neighborhood to each other and are separated by a switch loop. This switch loop adopts distinct conformations in the L, T and O monomers. Specific switch loop conformations are strongly involved in coordinating the selective occupation of both binding pockets, the AP and the DBP. The conformation of the switch loop in the L monomer (L-switch loop) opens the AP and closes the DBP, whereas the conformation of the switch loop in the T monomer (T-switch Loop) opens the DBP and closes the AP. An analysis of all asymmetric AcrB structures indicated that the L-switch loop is able to adopt multiple distinct conformations, whereas the conformation of T-switch loop remained largely congruent in all crystal structures. Moreover, each distinct switch loop conformation, observed in co-crystal structures of AcrB with occupied AP [4, 23], was perfectly adapted to the bound substrate molecule. Therefore, the putatively flexible switch loop is likely to act as an adaptive module and mediates a high binding pocket plasticity without altering the global protein structure. This binding mode is called adaptor-mediated binding mechanism, where an flexible adaptive module (like the switch loop) is able to adapt the surface shape of an binding pocket to different substrate molecules. Furthermore, structural and biochemical analyses of an AcrB G616N variant, revealed the involvement of specific switch loop conformations in the substrate specificity of AcrB. A substitution of G616, located on the switch loop, to N616 was able to alter the conformation of the switch loop exclusively in the L monomers of AcrB, whereas the switch loop conformations in T and O monomers remained congruent to the conformations observed in crystal structures of wildtype AcrB. Moreover, cells producing the AcrB G616N and MexB, both bearing the G616N amino acid substitution, exhibited a reduced resistance against certain substrates, whereas the resistance against most other substrates remained on the level of wildtype AcrB. Correlations of the phenotypes with minimal projection areas, a novel 2-spatiodimensional parameter which approximates the size of a substrate molecule, revealed that AcrB variants with a G616N substitution have a reduced efflux activity for exclusively large substrate molecules. The rejection of large substrates is most likely connected with altered L-switch loop conformations....
- Electrogenic substrate binding to the Na +/proline transporter of E. coli (2005)
- The Na+/proline transporter of E. Coli (PutP) is responsible for the uptake of proline which is subsequently used not only as a carbon and nitrogen source and a constituent of proteins but also as a particularly effective osmoprotectant. However, for a long time there was little known about the single steps in the reaction cycle of this transporter and only few details about its structure-function relationship are available. Aim of the present work was to achieve a deeper understanding about the kinetic properties of the Na+/proline transporter and to get insights into the structure-function relationship of the substrate binding. To answer these questions different techniques were used. By using the novel SSM technique combining the preparation of PutP proteoliposomes it was possible to demonstrate for the first time the electrogenic substrate binding to PutP transporter. Due to rapid solution exchange measurements on the SSM it was additionally possible to obtain time resolved information about the kinetic details of the cytoplasmic substrate binding sites which were not available by previous steady state and equilibrium binding measurements. Pre-steady-state charge translocation was observed after rapid addition of one or both of the cosubstrates Na+ and/or proline to the PutP-WT proteoliposomes adsorbed on the SSM. Thereby it was possible to link the observed electrical signals with the binding activity of PutP. The observed Na+ and/or proline induced charge displacement were assigned to an electrogenic Na+ and/or proline binding process at the cytoplasmic face of the enzyme with a rate constant of k > 50 s-1 proceeding the rate limiting step of the reaction cycle. Furthermore, based on the kinetic analysis of the electrical signals obtained from the measurements of PutP on SSM, the following characteristics of the substrates binding in PutP were deduced: (1) both Na+ and proline can bind individually to the transporter. Under physiological conditions, an ordered binding mechanism prevails; while at sufficiently high concentrations, each substrate can bind in the absence of the other; (2) substrate binding is electrogenic not only for Na+, but also for the uncharged cosubstrate proline. The charge displacement associated with Na+ binding and proline binding is of comparable size and independent of the presence of the respective cosubstrate. In addition, it was concluded that Na+ accesses its binding site through a high-field access channel resulting in a charge translocation, whereas the binding of the electroneutral proline induces a conformation alteration involving the displacement of charged amino acid residue(s) of the protein; (3) Na+ and proline binding sites interact cooperatively with each other by increasing the affinity and/or the speed of binding of the respective cosubstrate; (4) proline binding proceeds in a two step process: low affinity (~ 0.9 mM) electroneutral substrate binding followed by a nearly irreversible electrogenic conformational transition; (5) membrane impermeable PCMBS inhibits both Na+ and proline binding to the inside-out orientated PutP transporter, indicating that rather than selectively blocking a specific binding site, PCMBS probably locks the enzyme in an inactive state. The possible targets for this SH-reagent are cysteines 281 and 344 located close to the cytoplasmic surface of the protein. Beyond it, transient electrical currents of PutP were also observed on the BLM after rapid addition of proline in the presence of Na+. This was possible by combining the conventional BLM technique with high-speed flash-photolysis of caged-proline. Indeed the signals on the BLM indicate the detection of a different underlying reaction process in comparison to the data achieved by the SSM technique. This has paved the way for supplemental information about the reaction cycle since it was possible to assign the flash-photolysis BLM signals to the proline binding step followed by the internalization of Na+ and proline into the liposome. Thereby it was found, that the presence of Na+ is indispensable and the time constant for the process is ~ 63 ms. Moreover, structure-function information about the Na+ and proline binding sites of PutP was obtained by investigating the functionally important amino acid residues Asp55, Gly63 and Asp187 with site-directed mutagenesis and the combined SSM technique. One finding is that the mutated proteins PutP-D55C and PutP-G63C showed no activity on the SSM. Therefore, it can be assumed that either both Asp55 and Gly63 are crucial for the structure of PutP protein, or they are located at or close to the Na+ and proline binding sites. Furthermore, the results obtained from PutP-D187N and PutP-D187C mutants on SSM suggest that Asp187 of PutP is likely to be involved in the Na+ binding at the cytoplasmic side of the backward running carrier. Taken together the results of the present work have substantially broadened the known picture of the Na+/proline transporter PutP thereby several steps of the reaction cycle were elucidated, and moreover, valuable insights into the structure-function relationship of the transporter have become available.
- Electrophysiological and spectroscopical characterization of the Na,K-ATPase (2005)
- The technique of site-specific fluorescence labelling with Tetramethylrhodaminemaleimide (TMRM) in combination with two electrode voltage-clamp technique (TEVC), an approach that has been named voltage clamp fluorometry (VCF), has been used in this work to study the Na,K-ATPase. The TMRM dye has the ability to attach covalently to cysteine residues and it responds to changes in the hydrophobicity of its local environment. We exploited this property using a construct of the Na-pump in which the native, extracellularly accessible cysteines were removed and cysteine residues were introduced by site-directed mutagenesis in specific positions of the Na-pump. In this way it was possible to detect site-specific conformational rearrangements of the Na-pump in a time-resolved fashion within a native membrane environment. In particular this technique allows to resolve reactions with low electrogenicity that cannot be satisfactorily analyzed with purely electrophysiological techniques and to identify the conformations of the enzyme under specific ionic composition of the measuring buffers. We used VCF to study the influence that several cations like Na+, K+, NMG+, TEA+ and BTEA+ exert on the distribution of the Na,K-ATPase between several enzymatic intermediates and on some of the reactions related to cation transport. To this end we utilized the mutants N790C in the loop M5-M6 and the mutant E307C, T309C, L311C and E312C in the loop M3-M4. From the correspondence of the fluorescence changes with the activation and inhibition of pumping current, by K+ and ouabain respectively, and from the fact that in Na+/Na+ exchange conditions the voltage distribution of charge movement and fluorescence changes evoked by voltage jumps are in reasonable agreement we conclude that through the fluorescence signals measured from these mutants, we can indeed monitor conformational changes linked to transport activity of the enzyme. For the mutants N790 and L311, it was found that the Na+ dependence of the amplitude and kinetics of the fluorescence signal associated with the E1P-E2P transition is in agreement with the prediction of an access channel model describing the regulation of the access of extracellular Na+ to its binding site. In particular for the mutants E307 and T309 it was found that in Na+/Na+ exchange conditions, the conformational change tracked by the fluorescence was much slower than the charge relaxation at hyperpolarized potentials while the kinetics was very similar at depolarized potentials. This implies that at hyperpolarized potentials the conformational change connected to the E1P-E2P transition does not give a large contribution to the electrogenicity of the process which is also consistent with the access channel model. On the mutant N790C it was found that the external pH does not seem to have any effect on the E1P-E2P equilibrium even if it seems to modulate the fluorescence quantum yield of the dye. Fluorescence quenching experiments with iodide and D2O indicate that at hyperpolarized potentials the local environment of the mutant N790C, experiences a small change in the accessibility to water without major changes in the local electrostatic field ...
- Funktionelle und strukturelle Untersuchungen an Matrix-Proteinen aus Retroviren (2005)
- The N-terminal domain (matrix protein or MA) of a retroviral Gag polyprotein precursor plays a critical role in several stages of the retrovirus life cycle. MA is involved in the effective membrane targeting, assembly and release of the immature viral particles from the infected cell. In order to understand the structural basis of these functions, the full length MA from Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus (MoMuLV) was purified and the solution structure of the MA MoMuLV was determined by means of heteronuclear high-resolution NMR spectroscopy and compared with that of the X-ray diffraction analysis as well as with the structures of several MA proteins from geterologous viruses. Structural features were also obtained from CD spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, sedimentation velocity, differential scanning calorimetry and other methods. It was found that the MA MoMuLV globular core (residues 8-98) is comprised of 7 well-defined helices (five alpha-helices and two 310 helices), with the general fold typical for MA proteins from other retroviral species. The N-terminus (residues Met1-Leu7) and the C-terminal proline-rich part (residues Pro103-Tyr131) are not structured in solution. Although MA MoMuLV has a low sequence identity compared with other matrix proteins for which the three-dimensional structure is known, it was shown that its overall topology and pattern of secondary structural units is similar to other retroviral matrix proteins. The monomeric state is observed for the correctly folded MA MoMuLV in a variety of external conditions and protein concentrations, indicating that virion assembly starts with the plasma membrane targeting of the nascent Gag precursor. The denaturation of MA MoMuLV is irreversible and is connected with protein aggregation. For Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus (MoMuLV) a proteolytic processing of the R-peptide (last 16 amino acids from the C-terminus of the Envelope protein (Env)) has been described as a second mode of fusion and activation preceding the receptor contact between the viral particle and the cellular membrane. An interaction between the R-peptide and MA MoMuLV has been proposed, since the R-peptide and MA are localized at the inner part of the membrane. Therefore the interaction between 15N labelled purified MA MoMuLV and synthesized R-peptide has been investigated using high-resolution NMR. It was found that in water solution MA MoMuLV and R-peptide do not form a tight complex, but in a mature virion in the presence of membranes or other protein factors it might be possible. In the case of HIV-1 the cytoplasmic part (EnvC) of the Env protein is much longer than in other retroviruses and again as for MoMuLV little is known about the interaction between EnvC and HIV MA. Hence, the full length HIV MA, and the last 150 amino acids from HIV Env have been subcloned with suitable expression vectors, purified and analysed by native gel electrophoresis, a pull down assay and by high resolution NMR for the purpose to detect the complex formation of EnvC and HIV MA. Finally, after all those experiments, it was found that a stable complex is not formed, but a weak interaction between the two proteins can not be excluded.
- The interaction of the cytochrome bc 1 complex with its substrate cytochrome c : high resolution structure and implications for transient binding (2005)
- Structure of NhaA, a Na +/H + antiporter from Escherichia coli and insights into mechanism of action and regulation by pH (2005)
- Sodium proton antiporters are ubiquitous membrane proteins found in the cytoplasmic and organelle membranes of cells of many different origins, including plants, animals and microorganisms. They are involved in cell energetics, and play primary roles in the homeostasis of intracellular pH, cellular Na+ content and cell volume. Adaptation to high salinity and/or extreme pH in plants and bacteria or in human heart muscles requires the action of such Na+/H+ antiporters. NhaA is the essential Na+/H+ antiporter for pH and Na+ homeostasis (at alkaline pH) in Escherichia coli and many other enterobacteria. NhaA is an electrogenic Na+/H+ antiporter that exchanges 2H+ for 1Na+ (or Li+). NhaA shares with many other prokaryotic and eukaryotic antiporters a very strong dependence on pH. In order to achieve three-dimensional structure of NhaA, the previously described NhaA protein preparation was modified: (i) the wild type bacterial strain (TA16) used for homologous over-expression of NhaA was replaced with a delta nhaA strain (RK20). As a result, the purity and homogeneity of the sample was significantly improved; (ii) the previously two-step purification procedure was shortened to a single step affinity chromatography purification; (iii) a wide-range screening of crystallisation conditions, more than 20,000, was performed; (iv) a Seleno-L-methionine (SeMet) NhaA derivative was produced in order to solve the phases during structure determination. In parallel, attempts of production and crystallisation of co-complexes composed of NhaA and antibody fragments have been made. Four different monoclonal antibodies were available against NhaA. Selected antibody fragments were produced and the stability of the complex analysed. Here, the crystal structure of the pH down-regulated secondary transporter NhaA of Escherichia coli is presented at 3.45 Å resolution. A negatively charged ion funnel opens to the cytoplasm and ends in the middle of the membrane at the putative ion-binding site. There, a unique assembly of two pairs of short helices connected by crossed, extended chains creates a balanced electrostatic environment. A possible mechanism is proposed: the binding of charged substrates causes electric imbalance inducing movements, which allow for a rapid alternating access mechanism. This ion exchange machinery is regulated by a conformational change elicited by a pH signal perceived at the cytoplasmic funnel entry. The structure represents a novel fold that provides two major insights: it reveals the structural basis for the mechanism of Na+/H+ exchange and its unique regulation by pH in NhaA and in many other similar antiporters. Furthermore, it is also important for the understanding of the architecture of membrane proteins in general. However, although many aspects of the ion-translocation mechanism and pH regulation are clarified by the NhaA structure, higher resolution structures with Li+ or Na+ bound are required for understanding the ligand binding and the translocation mechanism at the atomic level. The alkaline pH-induced conformation is essential to further understand the pH-control and proton access to the binding site.