Year of publication
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- Development and application of optogenetic methods to functionally characterize synaptic transmission and neural circuits in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (2011)
- 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.
- Reggie proteins : oligomerization, interdependency and influence on cell-matrix-adhesions (2008)
- Reggie-1 (flotillin-2) and reggie-2 (flotillin-1) are membrane microdomain proteins which are associated with the membrane by means of acylation. They influence different cellular signaling processes, such as neuronal, T-cell and insulin signaling. Upon stimulation of the EGF receptor, reggie-1 becomes phosphorylated and undergoes tyrosine 163 dependent translocation from the plasma membrane to endosomal compartments. In addition, reggie-1 was shown to influence actindependent processes. Reggie-2 has been demonstrated to affect caveolin- and clathrin-independent endocytosis. Both proteins form homo- and hetero-oligomers, but the function of these oligomers has remained elusive. Moreover, it has not been clarified if functions of reggie-1 are also influenced by reggie-2 and vice versa. The first aim of the study was to further investigate the interplay and the heterooligomerization of reggie proteins and their functional effects. Both reggie proteins were individually depleted by means of siRNA. In different siRNA systems and various cell lines, reggie-1 depleted cells showed reduced protein amounts of reggie-1 and reggie-2, but reggie-2 knock down cells still expressed reggie-1 protein. The decrease of reggie-2 in reggie-1 depleted cells was only detected at protein but not at mRNA level. Furthermore, reggie-2 expression could be rescued by expression of siRNA resistant wild type reggie-1-EGFP constructs, but not by the soluble myristoylation mutant G2A. This mutant was also not able to associate with endogenous reggie-1 or reggie-2, which demonstrates that membrane association of reggie-1 is necessary for hetero-oligomerization. In addition, fluorescence microscopy studies and membrane fractionations showed that correct localization of overexpressed reggie-2 was dependent on co-overexpressed reggie-1. Thus, hetero-oligomerization is crucial for membrane association of reggie-2 and for its protein stability or protein expression. Moreover, the binding of reggie-2 to reggie-1 required tyrosine 163 of reggie-1 which was previously shown to be important for endosomal translocation of reggie-1. Since reggie-2 was implicated to function in clathrin- and caveolin-independent endocytosis pathways, the effect of reggie-2 depletion on reggie-1 endocytosis was investigated. Indeed, reggie-1 was dependent on reggie-2 for endosomal localization and EGF-induced endocytosis. By FRET-FLIM analysis it could be shown that reggie heterooligomers are dynamic in size or conformation upon EGF stimulation. Thus, it can be concluded that reggie proteins are interdependent in different aspects, such as protein stability or expression, membrane association and subcellular localization. In addition, these results demonstrate that the hetero-oligomers are dynamic and reggie proteins influence each other in terms of function. A further aim was the characterization of reggie-1 and reggie-2 function in actindependent processes, where so far only reggie-1 was known to play a role. Depletion of either of the proteins reduced cell migration, cell spreading and the number of focal adhesions in steady state cells. Thus, also reggie-2 affects actin-dependent processes. Further investigation of the focal adhesions during cell spreading revealed that depletion of reggie-1 displayed different effects as compared to reggie-2 knock down. Reggie-1 depleted cells had elongated cell-matrix-adhesions and showed reduced activation of FAK and ERK2. On the other hand, depletion of reggie-2 resulted in a restricted localization of focal adhesion at the periphery of the cell and decreased ERK2 phosphorylation, but it did not affect FAK autophosphorylation. Hence, reggie proteins influence the regulation of cell-matrix-adhesions differently. A link between reggie proteins and focal adhesions is the actin cross-linking protein -actinin. The interaction of -actinin with reggie-1 could be verified by means of co-immunoprecipitations and FRET-FLIM analysis. Reggie-1 binds -actinin especially in membrane ruffles and in other locations where actin remodeling takes place. Moreover, -actinin showed a different localization pattern during cell spreading in reggie-1 depleted cells, as compared to the control cells. These results provide further insights into the function of both reggie proteins. Their interplay and hetero-oligomerization was shown to be crucial for their role in endocytosis. In addition, both reggie proteins influence actin-dependent processes and differentially affect focal adhesion regulation.
- 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). ...
- 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.