Biologische Hochschulschriften (Goethe-Universität)
Investigation of conserved amino acids in the PSST and TYKY subunits of complex I from Yarrowia lipolytica
- Proton-translocating NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) transports two electrons from NADH to membranal ubiquinone: in this process protons are translocated across the membrane, producing 40% of the total proton gradient between matrix side and intermembrane space. Mitochondrial complex I contains at least 46 subunits in mammals, and has a molecular weight of around 1000 kDa. Electronic microscopy analysis showed that complex I has an L-form, which consists of two domains: a peripheral “arm” (hydrophilic domain) and a membrane “arm” (hydrophobic domain). The peripheral domain, which protrudes into the matrix, contains one non-covalently bound flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and the iron-sulfur clusters N1a, N1b, N2, N3, N4 and N5 as redox active groups. They transport electrons from NADH to ubiquinone. Cluster N2 is supposed to be the immediate electron donor to ubiquinone by virtue of its highest and pH dependent redox midpoint potential (Em,7 –150 mV). The exact location of the tetra-nuclear cluster N2 is still object of discussion. The TYKY and the PSST subunits contain three binding motifs for tetranuclear clusters which are formed by twelve cysteins. In an effort to investigate the “ubiquinone reduction module” of complex I, in the first part of this work site directed mutagenesis of the TYKY and PSST subunits has been carried out. Mutant strains were characterised in terms of complex I content, catalytic activity and EPR signature of cluster N2. The second part of this work was aimed at developing a substrate inducible version of the internal alternative NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (NDH2i). A substrate inducible NDH2i is expected to offer a “switch” between complex I activity dependent (no NDH2i activity) and independent (NDH2i activity) cell growth, by changing between activating and non-activating substrates. This strategy would allow the screening for two types of complex I mutants, which is a prerequisite for realising a random PCR mutagenesis of single subunits of complex I, that allows the production of a high number of point mutations in relatively short time. Y. lipolytica complex I deficiency mutant strains could be easily identified, by virtue of their inability to survive under complex I dependent growth conditions (no NDH2i activity). By this way, amino acids that have an important role for complex I structure or function could be identified by subsequent sequence analysis. Each of the twelve cysteines that form the above mentioned three binding motifs for iron-sulfur cluster have been mutagenised. In mutant mitochondrial membranes, no assembled complex I could be detected. From these data one may conclude that the mutagenised 6 SUMMARY 92 cysteines play an important role for complex I stability, or that are a prerequisite for complex I assembly in Y. lipolytica, but there is not direct evidence indicating that any of the four mutagenised residues acts as a ligand. Two aspartates in the PSST subunit, Asp-99 and Asp-115, were found to be essential for complex I catalytic activity. EPR spectroscopic analysis indicated that the electron transfer to N2 cluster was not blocked and implied that this was not the reason for the loss of catalytic activity. From these data it can be concluded that D99 and D115 play a vital role for complex I NADH:ubiquinone reductase activity, but are not ligands for cluster N2 and that their position is not close enough to the cluster to influence directly its electromagnetic environment. Three mutations, identified in the PSST and TYKY homologous subunits of patients affected with Leigh syndrome (V119M in PSST, P78L and R101H in TYKY) were reconstructed in the obligate aerobic yeast Y. lipolytica. This approach may help to understand the aetiology of the Leigh syndrome, in terms of the ability of complex I to oxidize NADH and to transport electrons. In fact, all three mutations showed effects on electron transport, reducing the VMax by about 50%. Mutant V119M in the PSST subunit, which had a lethal effect in two patients that were homozygous for this mutation, affects a fully conserved residue. Overall, the results from site directed mutagenesis carried out so far support the theory that the “catalytic core ” (N2 cluster and quinone binding site) of complex I has been evolved from the electron transfer module of the [Ni-Fe] hydrogenases. In fact, mutagenesis of residues that are fully conserved between complex I and [Ni-Fe] hydrogenases, showed dramatic effects on complex I in terms of assembly (cysteine mutants) or catalytic activity (D99-D115). Differently, changing aspartate 174 and glutamic acid 185 (not fully conserved, Fig 4.1A) had little or no effect on the Michaelis-Menten parameters and N2 EPR signal. In recent years Y. lipolytica has been developed as a yeast genetic system to study mitochondrial complex I. The present work introduced the promoter for the isocitrate lyase (pICL1) as a useful tool for the substrate selective expression of the internal version of the alternative NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (pICL1-NDH2i). This allows to rescue complex I deficiencies “in vivo” selectively by growth on acetate (or ethanol) medium. The integration of the pICL1-NDH2i construct into the genome of Y. lipolytica and subsequent deletion of nuclear-coded subunits like PSST, TYKY and 49 kDa, would contribute to further develop this organism as a useful genetic model for studying subunits of mitochondrial complex I by site directed mutagenesis.
Parasite-host interactions between Varroa destructor Anderson and Trueman and Apis mellifera L. : influence of parasitism on flight behaviour and on the loss of infested foragers
- Life of Varroa destructor, Anderson and Trueman, an ectoparasitic mite of honeybees, is divided into a reproductive phase in the bee brood and a phoretic phase during which the mite is attached to the adult bee. Phoretic mites leave the colony with workers involved in foraging tasks. Little information is available on the mortality of mites outside the colony. Mites may or not return to the colony as a result of death of the infested foragers, host change by drifting of foragers, or removal of mites outside the colony. That mites do not return to the colony was indicated by substantially higher infestation of outflying workers compared to the infestation of returning workers (Kutschker, 1999). The main objective of the study was to provide information whether V. destructor influences flight behaviour of foragers and consequently returning frequency of foragers to the colony. I first repeated the experiment of Kutschker (1999) examining the infestation of outflying and returning workers. Further, I registered flight duration of foragers using a video method. In this experiment I compared also the infestation and flight duration of bees of different genetic origin, Carnica from Oberursel and bees from Primorsky region. I investigated returning time of workers, returning frequency until evening, drifting to other colonies and orientation toward the nest entrance in the experiments in which workers were released in close vicinity of the colony. At last, I measured the loss of foragers in relation to colony infestation using a Bee Scan. Results from this study, listed below, showed considerable influence of V. destructor on flight behavior of foragers translating into loss of mites. Loss of mites with foragers add substantial component to mite mortality and was underestimated in previous studies. Such loss might be viewed as a mechanism of resistance against V. destructor. a) The mean infestation of outflying workers (0.019±0.018) was twice as the mean infestation of returning workers (0.009±0.018). The difference in the infestation between outflying and returning workers was more marked in highly infested colonies. b) Investigation of individually tagged workers by use of a two camera video recording device showed significantly higher infestation of outflying workers compared to returning workers. Mites were lost by the non returning of infested foragers (22%) and by loss of mites from foragers that returned to the colony without the mite (20%). A small portion of mites (1.8%) was gained. Loss of mites significantly exceeded mite gain. c) The flight duration of infested workers determined by using the same two camera video system was significantly higher in infested compared to uninfested workers of the same age that flew closest at time. The median flight duration of infested workers was 1.7 higher (214s) than the median duration of unifested workers (128s). d) Infested workers took 2.3 times longer to return to the colony than uninfested workers of the same age when released from the same locations, closest at time. The returning time increased with the distance of release. In a group of bees released simultaneously the infestation was higher in bees returning later and in those that did not return in the observation period of 15 min. e) Released workers did not return to the colony 1.5 more frequently than uninfested workers in evening. The difference in returning was significant for locations of 20 and 50m from the colony. No difference in returning between infested and uninfested workers were observed for the most distant location of 400m. f) No significant difference was found in returning time and/or in the returning frequency until evening between workers artificially infested overnight and naturally infested workers. Artificially infested workers returned later and less frequently than a control group indicating rapid influence of V. destructor on flight behavior of foragers. g) The orientation ability of infested workers toward the nest entrance was impaired. Infested workers compared to uninfested workers twice as often approached a dummy entrance before finding the nest entrance. h) No significant differences were found in drifting between infested and uninfested workers. Drifting in the neighboring nucleus colony occurred in about 1% occasions after release of marked workers. Similarly, more infested, but not significantly more infested workers (2.6%) entered a different colored hive than the same colored hive (1.9%). However, the number of drifting bees were to low to make results conclusive. i) The comparison between Carnica and Primorsky workers revealed higher infestation in Carnica compared to Primorsky. Further, Primorsky workers lost more mites during foraging due to mite loss from foragers and non returning of infested workers. No significant differences in flight duration were observed between the two bee stocks. j) Loss of foragers, as determined by the Bee Scan counts of outflying and returning foragers, and the infestation of outflying bees increased significantly over a period of 70 days. A colony with 7.7. higher infestation of outflying foragers lost 2.2. time more bees per flight per day compared to a low infested colony. k) The estimates of mite loss with foragers from mite population per day up to 3.1% exceeds approximately mite mortality of 1% within the colony as represented by counting dead mites on bottom board inserts.
Electrophysiological characterization of the ionotropic glutamate receptors in the mouse retinal amacrine cells
Olivia Nicola Dumitrescu
- The mammalian retina contains around 30 morphological varieties of amacrine cell types. These interneurons receive excitatory glutamatergic input from bipolar cells and provide GABA- and glycinergic inhibition to other cells in the retina. Amacrine cells exhibit widely varying light evoked responses, in large part defined by their presynaptic partners. We wondered whether amacrine functional diversity is based on a differential expression of glutamate receptors among cell populations and types. In whole cell patch-clamp experiments on mouse retinal slices, we used selective agonists and antagonists to discriminate responses mediated by NMDA/ non-NMDA (NBQX) and AMPA/ KA receptors (cyclothiazide, GYKI 52466, GYKI 53655, SYM 2081). We sampled a large variety of individual cell types, which were classified by their dendritic field size into either narrow-field or wide-field cells after filling with Lucifer yellow or neurobiotin. In addition, we used transgenic GlyT2-EGFP mice, whose glycinergic neurons express EGFP. This allowed us to classify amacrines on basis of their neurotransmitter into either glycinergic or GABAergic cells. All cells (n = 300) had good responses to non-NMDA agonists. Specific AMPA receptor responses could be obtained from almost all cells recorded: 94% of the AII (n = 17), 87% of the narrow-field (n = 45), 81% of the wide-field (n = 21), 85% of the glycinergic (n = 20) and 78% of the GABAergic cells (n = 9). KA receptor selective drugs were also effective on the majority of the AII (79%, n = 14), narrow-field (93%, n = 43), wide-field (85%, n = 26), glycinergic (94%, n = 16) and GABAergic amacrine cells (100%, n = 6). Among the cells tested for the two receptors (n = 65), we encountered both exclusive expression of AMPA or KA receptors and co-expression of the two types. Most narrow-field (70%, n = 27), glycinergic (81%, n = 16) and GABAergic cells (67%, n = 6) were found to have both AMPA and KA receptors. In contrast, only less than half of the wide-field cells (43%, n = 14) were found to co-express AMPA and KA receptors, most of them expressing exclusively AMPA (36%) or KA receptors (21%). We could elicit small NMDA responses from most of the wide-field (75%, n = 13) and GABAergic cells (67%, n = 3), whereas only 47% of the narrow-field (n = 15), 14% of the AII (n = 22) and no glycinergic cell (n = 2) reacted to NMDA. Abstract 83 Our data suggest that AMPA, KA and NMDA receptors are differentially expressed among different types of amacrine cells rather than among populations with different neurotransmitters or different dendritic coverage of the retina. Selective expression of kinetically different glutamate receptors among amacrine types may be involved in generating transient and sustained inhibitory pathways in the retina. Since AMPA and KA receptors are not generally clustered at the same postsynaptic sites, a single amacrine cell expressing both AMPA and KA receptors may provide inhibition with different temporal characteristics to individual synaptic partners.
Tomato heat stress transcription factor HsfB1 represents a novel type of general transcription coactivator with a histone-like motif interacting with HAC1/CBP
- In contrast to the class A heat stress transcription factors (Hsfs) of plants, a considerable number of Hsfs assigned to classes B and C have no evident function as transcription activators on their own. In the course of my PhD work I showed that tomato HsfB1, a heat stress induced member of class B Hsf family, is a novel type of transcriptional coactivator in plants. Together with class A Hsfs, e.g. tomato HsfA1, it plays an important role in efficient transcrition initiation during heat stress by forming a type of enhanceosome on fragments of Hsp promoter. Characterization of promoter architecture of hsp promoters led to the identification of novel, complex heat stress element (HSE) clusters, which are required for optimal synergistic interactions of HsfA1 and HsfB1. In addition, HsfB1 showed synergistic activation of the expression of a subset of viral and house keeping promoters. CaMV35S promoter, the most widely expressed constitutive promoter turned out to be the the most interesting candidate to study this effect in detail. Because, for most house-keeping promoters tested during this study, the activators responsible for constitutive expression are not known, but in case of CaMV35S promoter they are quite well known (the bZip proteins, TGA1/2). These proteins belong to the acidic activators, similar to class A Hsfs. Actually, on heat stress inducible promoters HsfA1 or other class A Hsfs are the synergistic partners of HsfB1, whereas on house-keeping or viral promoters, HsfB1 shows synergistic transcriptional activation in cooperation with the promoter specific acidic activators, e.g. with TGA proteins on 35S promoter. In agreement with this the binding sites for HsfB1 were identified in both house-keeping and 35S promoter. It has been suggested during this study that HsfB1 acts in the maintenance of transcription of a sub-set of house-keeping and viral genes during heat stress. The coactivator function of HsfB1 depends on a single lysine residue in the GRGK motif in its CTD. Since, this motif is highly conserved among histones as the acetylation motif, especially in histones H2A and H4,. It was suggested that the GRGK motif acts as a recruitment motif, and together with the other acidic activator is responsible for corecruitment of a histone acetyl transferase (HAT). So, the effect of mammalian CBP (a well known HAT) and its plant orthologs (HAC1) was tested on the stimulation of synergistic reporter gene activation obtained with HsfA1 and HsfB1. Both in plant and mammalian cells, CBP/HAC1 further stimulated the HsfA1/B1 synergistic effect. Corecruitment of HAC1 was proven by in vitro pull down assays, where the NTD of HAC1 interacted specifically both with HsfA1 and HsfB1. Formation of a ternary complex between HsfA1, HsfB1 and CBP/HAC1 was shown via coimmunoprecipitation and electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA). In conclusion, the work presented in my thesis presents a new model for transcriptional regulation during an ongoing heat stress.
Cell-free expression and molecular modeling of the γ-secretase complex and G-protein-coupled receptors
- Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which was first reported more than a century ago by Alhzeimer, is one of the commonest forms of dementia which affects >30 million people globally (>8 million in Europe). The origin and pathogenesis of AD is poorly understood and there is no cure available for the disease. AD is characterized by the accumulation of senile plaques composed of amyloid beta peptides (Ab 37-43) which is formed by the gamma secretase (GS) complex by cleaving amyloid precursor protein. Therefore GS can be an attractive drug target. Since GS processes several other substrates like Notch, CD44 and Cadherins, nonspecific inhibition of GS has many side effects. Due to the lack of crystal structure of GS, which is attributed to the extreme difficulties in purifying it, molecular modeling can be useful to understand its architecture. So far only low resolution cryoEM structures of the complex has been solved which only provides a rough structure of the complex at low 12-15 A resolution Furthermore the activity of GS in vitro can be achieved by means of cell-free (CF) expression.
GS comprises catalytic subunits namely presenilins and supporting elements containing Pen-2, Aph-1 and Nicastrin. The origin of AD is hidden in the regulated intramembrnae proteolysis (RIP) which is involved in various physiological processes and also in leukemia. So far growth factors, cytokines, receptors, viral proteins, cell adhesion proteins, signal peptides and GS has been shown to undergo RIP. During RIP, the target proteins undergo extracellular shredding and intramembrane proteolysis.
This thesis is based on molecular modeling, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, cell-free (CF) expression, mass spectrometry, NMR, crystallization, activity assay etc of the components of GS complex and G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs).
First I validated the NMR structure of PS1 CTF in detergent micelles and lipid bilayers using coarse-grained MD simulations using MARTINI forcefield implemented in Gromacs. CTF was simulated in DPC micelles, DPPC and DLPC lipid bilayer. Starting from random configuration of detergent and lipids, micelle and lipid bilyer were formed respectively in presence of CTF and it was oriented properly to the micelle and bilyer during the simulation. Around DPC molecules formed micelle around CTF in agreement of the experimental results in which 80-85 DPC molecules are required to form micelles. The structure obtained in DPC was similar to that of NMR structure but differed in bilayer simulations showed the possibility of substrate docking in the conserved PAL motif. Simulations of CTF in implicit membrane (IMM1) in CHAMM yielded similar structure to that from coarse grained MD.
I performed cell-free expression optimization, crystallization and NMR spectroscopy of Pen-2 in various detergent micelles. Additionally Pen-2 was modeled by a combination of rosetta membrane ab-initio method, HHPred distant homology modeling and incorporating NMR constraints. The models were validated by all atom and coarse grained MD simulations both in detergent micelles and POPC/DPPC lipid bilayers using MARTINI forcefield.
GS operon consisting of all four subunits was co-expressed in CF and purified. The presence of of GS subunits after pull-down with Aph-1 was determined by western blotting (Pen-2) and mass spectrometry (Presenilin-1 and Aph-1). I also studied interactions of especially PS1 CTF, APP and NTF by docking and MD.
I also made models and interfaces of Pen-2 with PS1 NTF and checked their stability by MD simulations and compared with experimental results. The goal is to model the interfaces between GS subunits using molecular modeling approaches based on available experimental data like cross-linking, mutations and NMR structure of C-terminal fragment of PS1 and transmembrane part of APP. The obtained interfaces of GS subunits may explain its catalysis mechanism which can be exploited for novel lead design. Due to lack of crystal/NMR structure of the GS subunits except the PS1 CTF, it is not possible to predict the effect of mutations in terms of APP cleavage. So I also developed a sequence based approach based on machine learning using support vector machine to predict the effect of PS1 CTF L383 mutations in terms of Aβ40/Aβ42 ratio with 88% accuracy. Mutational data derived from the Molgen database of Presenilin 1 mutations was using for training.
GPCRs (also called 7TM receptors) form a large superfamily of membrane proteins, which can be activated by small molecules, lipids, hormones, peptides, light, pain, taste and smell etc. Although 50% of the drugs in market target GPCRs , only few are targeted therapeutically. Such wide range of targets is due to involvement of GPCRs in signaling pathways related to many diseases i.e. dementia (like Alzheimer's disease), metabolic (like diabetes) including endocrinological disorders, immunological including viral infections, cardiovascular, inflammatory, senses disorders, pain and cancer.
Cannabinoid and adrenergic receptors belong to the class A (similar to rhodopsin) GPCRs. Docking of agonists and antagonists to CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors revealed the importance of a centrally located rotamer toggle switch, and its possible role in the mechanism of agonist/antagonist recognition. The switch is composed of two residues, F3.36 and W6.48, located on opposite transmembrane helices TM3 and TM6 in the central part of the membranous domain of cannabinoid receptors. The CB1 and CB2 receptor models were constructed based on the adenosine A2A receptor template. The two best scored conformations of each receptor were used for the docking procedure. In all poses (ligand-receptor conformations) characterized by the lowest ligand-receptor intermolecular energy and free energy of binding the ligand type matched the state of the rotamer toggle switch: antagonists maintained an inactive state of the switch, whereas agonists changed it. In case of agonists of β2AR, the (R,R) and (S,S) stereoisomers of fenoterol, the molecular dynamics simulations provided evidence of different binding modes while preserving the same average position of ligands in the binding site. The (S,S) isomer was much more labile in the binding site and only one stable hydrogen bond was created. Such dynamical binding modes may also be valid for ligands of cannabinoid receptors because of the hydrophobic nature of their ligand-receptor interactions. However, only very long molecular dynamics simulations could verify the validity of such binding modes and how they affect the process of activation.
Human N-formyl peptide receptors (FPRs) are G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) involved in many physiological processes, including host defense against bacterial infection and resolving inflammation. The three human FPRs (FPR1, FPR2 and FPR3) share significant sequence homology and perform their action via coupling to Gi protein. Activation of FPRs induces a variety of responses, which are dependent on the agonist, cell type, receptor subtype, and also species involved. FPRs are expressed mainly by phagocytic leukocytes. Together, these receptors bind a large number of structurally diverse groups of agonistic ligands, including N-formyl and nonformyl peptides of different composition, that chemoattract and activate phagocytes. For example, N-formyl-Met-Leu-Phe (fMLF), an FPR1 agonist, activates human phagocyte inflammatory responses, such as intracellular calcium mobilization, production of cytokines, generation of reactive oxygen species, and chemotaxis. This ligand can efficiently activate the major bactericidal neutrophil functions and it was one of the first characterized bacterial chemotactic peptides. Whereas fMLF is by far the most frequently used chemotactic peptide in studies of neutrophil functions, atomistic descriptions for fMLF-FPR1 binding mode are still scarce mainly because of the absence of a crystal structure of this receptor. Elucidating the binding modes may contribute to designing novel and more efficient non-peptide FPR1 drug candidates. Molecular modeling of FPR1, on the other hand, can provide an efficient way to reveal details of ligand binding and activation of the receptor. However, recent modelings of FPRs were confined only to bovine rhodopsin as a template.
To locate specific ligand-receptor interactions based on a more appropriate template than rhodopsin we generated the homology models of FPR1 using the crystal structure of the chemokine receptor CXCR4, which shares over 30% sequence identity with FPR1 and is located in the same γ branch of phylogenetic tree of GPCRs (rhodopsin is located in α branch). Docking and model refinement procedures were pursued afterward. Finally, 40 ns full-atom MD simulations were conducted for the Apo form as well as for complexes of fMLF (agonist) and tBocMLF (antagonist) with FPR1 in the membrane. Based on locations of the N- and C-termini of the ligand the FPR1 extracellular pocket can be divided into two zones, namely, the anchor and activation regions. The formylated M1 residue of fMLF bound to the activation region led to a series of conformational changes of conserved residues. Internal water molecules participating in extended hydrogen bond networks were found to play a crucial role in transmitting the agonist-receptor interactions. A mechanism of initial steps of the activation concurrent with ligand binding is proposed.
I accurately predicted the structure and ligand binding pose of dopamine receptor 3 (RMSD to the crystal structure: 2.13 Å) and chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4, RMSD to the crystal structure 3.21 Å) in GPCR-Dock 2010 competition. The homology model of the dopamine receptor 3 was 8 th best overall in the competition.
Characterization of Aquifex aeolicus F1FO ATP synthase and its heterologous production in Escherichia coli
- 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.
Biophysical Studies of Lipid Membranes by Solid State NMR and Molecular Dynamics Simulations
- Biological membranes separate the cell interior from the outside and have diverse functions from signal transduction, apoptosis to transportations of ions and small molecules in and out of the cell. Most of these functions are fulfilled by proteins incorporated in the membrane. However, lipids as the main component of membrane not only serve as structural element for bilayer formation but they are also directly involved e.g. signalling processes and bilayer properties are important to mediate protein interactions. To fully understand the role of lipids, it is necessary to develop a molecular understanding of how certain membrane components modify bulk bilayer structure and dynamics. Membranes are known to have many different motions in different conditions and time scales. Temperature, pH, water content and many other conditions change membrane dynamics in a high degree. In addition to this, time scales of motions in membranes vary from ns to ms range corresponding to fast motion and slow motion, respectively. Therefore, membranes are needed to be studied systematically by varying the conditions and using methods to investigate motions in various time scales separately. The aim of this study was therefore perform a combined solid-state NMR / molecular dynamics study on model membranes. Different substrates, such as potential drugs, polarizing agents and signaling lipids were incorporated into bilayers and their location within the membrane and their effect onto the membrane was probed. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), pirinixic acid derivatives, ceramides and polarizing agents were the substrates for membranes in this study. There were several experimental methods that were applied in order to investigate effects of these substrates on membrane dynamics. Different kind of phospholipids including POPC, DMPC and DPPC were used. In addition to experimental work, with the information gathered from solid state NMR experiments molecular dynamics simulations were performed to obtain more information about the membranes at the molecular level. As a result, combination of solid-state NMR with molecular dynamics simulations provides very systematic way of investigating membrane dynamics in a large range of time scales.
Pirinixic acid derivatives were special interest of this study because of their activity on peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) as an agonist as well as on enzymes of microsomal prostaglandin E2 synthase-1 (PGE2s) -1 and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) as dual inhibitor. Two potent pirinixic acid derivatives, 2-(4-chloro-6-(quinolin-6-ylamino)pyrimidin-2-ylthio)octanoic acid (compound 2) and 2-(4-chloro-6-(quinolin-6-ylamino)pyrimidin-2-ylthio)octanoate (compound 3), have been worked and their insertion depts were investigated by combining of solid state NMR and molecular dynamics simulations. Both experimental and theoretical results pointed out that compound 3 was inserted the phospholipid bilayer more deeply than 2. NSAIDs – lipid mixtures have been also studied here. It is known that consumption of NSAIDs as in mixture with lipids results much fewer side effects than consumption of the drugs alone. Thus, it is crucial to understand interactions of NSAIDs with lipids and investigate the possible complex formation of drugs with lipids. In this study, interactions of three widely used NSAIDs, ibuprofen, diclofenac and piroxicam, with DPPC were investigated by solid-state NMR. 1H and 31P NMR results depicted that ibuprofen and diclofenac had interactions with lipids, which is an indication of drug-lipid complex formation whereas piroxicam didn’t show any interactions with lipids suggesting that no complex formation occurred in the case of piroxicam. Ceramides are known to play key roles in many cell processes and many studies showed that the functions of ceramides are related with the ceramide effects on biological membranes. Therefore, in this study, influences of ceramides on biophysics of lipid bilayers were investigated by using various solid state NMR techniques and molecular dynamics simulations. Results from molecular dynamics simulations clearly showed that ceramide and lipids have strong interactions. More evidences about ceramide-lipid interactions were provided from 1H and 14N NMR results. In addition, it was indicated by both simulation and experimental methods that ceramide increased the rigidity of DMPC by increasing chain order parameters. BTbk is a biradical, which is used as polarizing agent for dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) experiments and found to be more efficient than other widely used polarizing agents such as TOTAPOL. Since it is a hydrophobic compound, which prefers to stay inside lipid bilayer it is important to investigate the location and orientation of bTbk along the bilayer in order to understand its enhancement profile in DNP measurements. In this study, both NMR relaxation time measurements and molecular dynamics simulations revealed that bTbk tends to stay more close to hydrophobic chain of lipids than the interfacial part of lipids at bilayer surface.
In the first part of this work, a brief introduction on lipid membranes as well as a theoretical summary on both methods of solid-state NMR and molecular dynamics simulations is given. Then, in the second part methodology is introduced for both solid-state NMR spectrometer and theoretical calculations. Afterwards, results of different membrane systems are discussed in the following parts for both solid state NMR and MD. Finally, in the last part, a summary and the conclusion of the overall results together with some future plans are explained.
Taxonomic revision, molecular phylogeny and zoogeography of the huntsman spider genus Eusparassus (Araneae: Sparassidae)
- The spider genus Eusparassus Simon, 1903 (Araneae: Sparassidae: Eusparassinae; stone huntsman spider) is revised worldwide to include 30 valid species distributed exclusively in Africa and Eurasia. The type species E. dufouri Simon, 1932 is redescribed and a neotype is designated from Portugal. An extended diagnosis for the genus is presented. Eight new species are described: Eusparassus arabicus Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from Arabian Peninsula, E. educatus Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from Namibia, E. reverentia Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from Burkina Faso and Nigeria, E. jaegeri Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from South Africa and Botswana, E. jocquei Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from Zimbabwe, E. borakalalo Moradmand, 2013 (female) from South Africa, E. schoemanae Moradmand, 2013 (male, female) from South Africa and Namibia and E. mesopotamicus Moradmand and Jäger, 2012 (male and female) from Iraq, Iran and Turkey. 22 species are re-described six of them are transferred from the genus Olios Walckenaer, 1837. Six species-groups are proposed: the dufouri-group [8 species: E. dufouri, E. levantinus Urones, 2006, E. barbarus (Lucas, 1846), E. atlanticus Simon, 1909, E. syrticus Simon, 1909, E. oraniensis (Lucas, 1846), E. letourneuxi (Simon, 1874), E. fritschi (Koch, 1873); Iberian Peninsula to parts of north-western Africa], walckenaeri-group [3 species: E. walckenaeri (Audouin, 1826), E. laevatus (Simon, 1897), E. arabicus; eastern Mediterranean to Arabia and parts of north-eastern Africa], doriae-group [7 species: E. doriae (Simon, 1874), E. kronebergi Denis, 1958, E. maynardi (Pocock, 1901), E. potanini (Simon, 1895), E. fuscimanus Denis, 1958, E. oculatus (Kroneberg, 1846) and E. mesopotamicus; Middle East to Central and South Asia], vestigator-group (3 species: E. vestigator (Simon, 1897), E. reverentia, E. pearsoni (Pocock, 1901); central to eastern Africa and an isolated area in NW India], jaegeri-group [4 species: E. jaegeri, E. jocquei, E. borakalalo, E. schoemanae; southern and south-eastern Africa], tuckeri-group [2 species: E. tuckeri (Lawrence, 1927), E. educatus; south-western Africa). Two species, E. pontii Caporiacco, 1935 and E. xerxes (Pocock, 1901) cannot be placed in any of the above groups. Two species are transferred from Eusparassus to Olios: O. flavovittatus (Caporiacco, 1935) and O. quesitio Moradmand, 2013. 14 species are recognized as misplaced in Eusparassus, thus nearly half of the described species prior to this revision were placed mistakenly in this genus. Neotypes are designated for E. walckenaeri from Egypt, E. barbarus, E. oraniensis and E. letourneuxi (all three from Algeria) to establish their identity. The male and female of Cercetius perezi Simon, 1902, which was known only from the immature holotype, are described for the first time. It is recognized that the monotypic and little used generic name Cercetius Simon, 1902 — a species, which had been known only from the immature holotype — as a synonym of the widely used name Eusparassus. The case proposal 3596 (conservation of name Eusparassus) is under consideration by ICZN.
The first comprehensive molecular phylogeny of the family Sparassidae with focus on the genus Eusparassus is investigated using four molecular markers (mitochondrial COI and 16S; nuclear H3 and 28S). The monophyly of Eusparassus and the dufouri, walckenaeri and doriae species-groups are recovered with the latter two groups more closely related. The monophyly of the tuckeri-group is not supported and the position of E. jaegeri as the only available member of the jaegeri-group is not resolved within the Eusparassus clade. DNA samples of the vestigator-group were not accessible for this study. The origination of the genus Eusparassus around 70 million years ago (MA) is estimated according to molecular clock analyses. Using this recent result in combination with some biogeographic and geological data, the Namib Desert is proposed as the place of ancestral origin for Eusparassus and putative Eusparassinae genera.
Further analyses are done on the phylogenetic relationships of Sparassidae and its subfamilies. The Eusparassinae are not confirmed as monophyletic, with the two original genera Eusparassus and Pseudomicrommata in separate clades and only the latter clusters with most other assumed Eusparassinae, here termed the "African clade". Monophyly of the subfamilies Sparianthinae, Heteropodinae sensu stricto, Palystinae and Deleninae is recovered. The Sparianthinae are supported as the most basal clade, diverging considerably early (143 MA) from all other Sparassidae. The Sparassinae and genus Olios are found to be polyphyletic. The Sparassidae are confirmed as monophyletic and as most basal group within the RTA-clade. The divergence time of Sparassidae from the RTA-clade is estimated with 186 MA in the Jurassic. No affiliation of Sparassidae to other members of the "Laterigradae" (Philodromidae, Selenopidae and Thomisidae) is observed, thus the crab-like posture of this group was proposed a result of convergent evolution. Only the families Philodromidae and Selenopidae are found members of a supported clade. Including a considerable amount of RTA-clade representatives, the higher-level clade Dionycha is not but monophyly of the RTA-clade itself is supported.
Investigation of the biosynthesis of bacterial natural products
- Natural products (NPs) have been a rich source for pharmaceutically used anti-infectives and other drugs. However, the application of anti-infectives inevitably causes the development of resistant and multiresistant pathogens, which have to be treated with novel anti-infectives. The industrial research for novel anti-infectives has been concentrating on members of the bacterial Actinomycetales for a long time. Due to several reasons, e.g. the rediscovery of already known NPs, pharmaceutical companies abandoned their NP-research and focused on drug development based on combinatorial chemistry. However, the limited structural diversity of merely synthetic compound libraries has not been a fruitful source for bioactive compounds. Hence the discovery of novel bioactive NPs as a source for anti-infectives is still of economical and humanitarian interest and will remain to be an important branch of research in the future. One strategy to circumvent the rediscovery of bioactive NPs is the analysis of yet unexplored bacterial taxa. Based on this assumption, this work aimed at the discovery of novel NPs from the entomopathogenic bacterial genera Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus and other promising taxa, as well as the investigation of their biosynthesis. ...
Identification and characterisation of a novel integral membrane protein, shrew-1 that complexes with adherens junctions in polarised cells
- In an attempt to search for potential candidate molecules involved in the pathogenesis of endometriosis, a novel 2910 bp cDNA encoding a putative 411 amino acid protein, shrew-1 was discovered. By computational analysis it was predicted to be an integral membrane protein with an outside-in transmembrane domain but no homology with any known protein or domain could be identified. Antibodies raised against the putative open-reading frame peptide of shrew-1 labelled a protein of ca. 48 kDa in extracts of shrew-1 mRNA positive tissues and also detected ectopically expressed shrew-1. In the course of my PhD work, I confirmed the prediction that shrew-1 is indeed a transmembrane protein, by expressing epitope-tagged shrew-1 in epithelial cells and analysing the transfected cells by surface biotinylation and immunoblots. Additionally, I could show that shrew-1 is able to target to E-cadherin-mediated adherens junctions and interacts with the E-cadherin-catenin complex in polarised MCF7 and MDCK cells, but not with the N-cadherin-catenin complex in non-polarised epithelial cells. A direct interaction of shrew-1 with beta-catenin could be shown in an in vitro pull-down assay. From this data, it could be assumed that shrew-1 might play a role in the function and/or regulation of the dynamics of E-cadherin-mediated junctional complexes. In the next part of my thesis, I showed that stable overexpression of shrew-1 in normal MDCK cells. causes changes in morphology of the cells and turns them invasive. Furthermore, transcription by ²-catenin was activated in these MDCK cells stably overexpressing shrew-1. It was probably the imbalance of shrew-1 protein at the adherens junctions that led to the misregulation of adherens junctions associated proteins, i.e. E-cadherin and beta-catenin. Caveolin-1 is another integral membrane protein that forms complexes with Ecadherin- beta-catenin complexes and also plays a role in the endocytosis of E-cadherin during junctional disruption. By immunofluorescence and biochemical studies, caveolin-1 was identified as another interacting partner of shrew-1. However, the functional relevance of this interaction is still not clear. In conclusion, it can be said that shrew-1 interacts with the key players of invasion and metastasis, E-cadherin and caveolin-1, suggesting its possible role in these processes and making it an interesting candidate to unravel other unknown mechanisms involved in the complex process of invasion.