Changes in Apaf-1 Conformation That Drive Apoptosome Assembly
ABSTRACT Apoptosome assembly is highly regulated in the intrinsic cell death pathway. To better understand this step, we created an improved model of the human apoptosome using a crystal structure of full length Apaf-1 and a single particle, electron density map at ∼9.5 Å resolution. The apoptosome model includes N-terminal domains of Apaf-1, cognate β-propellers, and cytochrome c. A direct comparison of Apaf-1 in the apoptosome and as a monomer reveals conformational changes that occur during the first two steps of assembly. This includes an induced-fit mechanism for cytochrome c binding to regulatory β-propellers, which is dependent on shape and charge complementarity, and a large rotation of the nucleotide binding module during nucleotide exchange. These linked conformational changes create an extended Apaf-1 monomer and drive apoptosome assembly. Moreover, the N-terminal CARD in the inactive Apaf-1 monomer is not shielded from other proteins by β-propellers. Hence, the Apaf-1 CARD may be free to interact with a procaspase-9 CARD either before or during apoptosome assembly. Irrespective of the timing, the end product of assembly is a holo-apoptosome with an acentric CARD-CARD disk and tethered pc-9 catalytic domains. Subsequent activation of pc-9 leads to a proteolytic cascade and cell death.
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ABSTRACT: Binding of cytochrome c, released from the damaged mitochondria, to the apoptotic protease activating factor 1 (Apaf-1) is a key event in the apoptotic signaling cascade. The binding triggers a major domain rearrangement in Apaf-1, which leads to oligomerization of Apaf-1/cytochrome c complexes into an apoptosome. Despite the availability of crystal structures of cytochrome c and Apaf-1 and cryo-electron microscopy models of the entire apoptosome, the binding mode of cytochrome c to Apaf-1, as well as the nature of the amino acid residues of Apaf-1 involved remain obscure. We investigated the interaction between cytochrome c and Apaf-1 by combining several modeling approaches. We have applied protein-protein docking and energy minimization, evaluated the resulting models of the Apaf-1/cytochrome c complex, and carried out a further analysis by means of molecular dynamics simulations. We ended up with a single model structure where all the lysine residues of cytochrome c that are known as functionally-relevant were involved in forming salt bridges with acidic residues of Apaf-1. This model has revealed three distinctive bifurcated salt bridges, each involving a single lysine residue of cytochrome c and two neighboring acidic resides of Apaf-1. Salt bridge-forming amino acids of Apaf-1 showed a clear evolutionary pattern within Metazoa, with pairs of acidic residues of Apaf-1, involved in bifurcated salt bridges, reaching their highest numbers in the sequences of vertebrates, in which the cytochrome c-mediated mechanism of apoptosome formation seems to be typical. The reported model of an Apaf-1/cytochrome c complex provides insights in the nature of protein-protein interactions which are hard to observe in crystallographic or electron microscopy studies. Bifurcated salt bridges can be expected to be stronger than simple salt bridges, and their formation might promote the conformational change of Apaf-1, leading to the formation of an apoptosome. Combination of structural and sequence analyses provides hints on the evolution of the cytochrome c-mediated apoptosis. This article was reviewed by Andrei L. Osterman, Narayanaswamy Srinivasan, Igor N. Berezovsky, and Gerrit Vriend (nominated by Martijn Huynen).Biology Direct 05/2015; 10(1). DOI:10.1186/s13062-015-0059-4 · 4.04 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Apoptosis is executed by a cascade of caspase activation. The autocatalytic activation of an initiator caspase, exemplified by caspase-9 in mammals or its ortholog, Dronc, in fruit flies, is facilitated by a multimeric adaptor complex known as the apoptosome. The underlying mechanism by which caspase-9 or Dronc is activated by the apoptosome remains unknown. Here we report the electron cryomicroscopic (cryo-EM) structure of the intact apoptosome from Drosophila melanogaster at 4.0 Å resolution. Analysis of the Drosophila apoptosome, which comprises 16 molecules of the Dark protein (Apaf-1 ortholog), reveals molecular determinants that support the assembly of the 2.5-MDa complex. In the absence of dATP or ATP, Dronc zymogen potently induces formation of the Dark apoptosome, within which Dronc is efficiently activated. At 4.1 Å resolution, the cryo-EM structure of the Dark apoptosome bound to the caspase recruitment domain (CARD) of Dronc (Dronc-CARD) reveals two stacked rings of Dronc-CARD that are sandwiched between two octameric rings of the Dark protein. The specific interactions between Dronc-CARD and both the CARD and the WD40 repeats of a nearby Dark protomer are indispensable for Dronc activation. These findings reveal important mechanistic insights into the activation of initiator caspase by the apoptosome. © 2015 Pang et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.Genes & Development 02/2015; 29(3):277-87. DOI:10.1101/gad.255877.114 · 12.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Signal transduction ATPases with numerous domains (STAND) get activated through inducer-dependent assembly into multimeric platforms. This switch relies on the conversion of their nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD) from a closed, ADP-bound form to an open, ATP-bound form. The NOD closed form is stabilized by contacts with the arm, a domain that connects the NOD to the inducer-binding domain called the sensor. How the inducer triggers NOD opening remains unclear. Here, I pinpointed the NOD-arm interface of the MalT STAND transcription factor, and I generated a MalT variant in which this interface can be covalently locked on demand, thereby trapping the NOD in the closed state. By characterizing this locked variant, I found that the inducer is recognized in two steps: it first binds to the sole sensor with low affinity, which then triggers the recruitment of the arm to form a high-affinity arm-sensor inducer-binding site. Strikingly, this high-affinity binding step was incompatible with arm-NOD contacts maintaining the NOD closed. Through this toggling between two mutually exclusive states reminiscent of a single-pole double-throw switch, the arm couples inducer binding to NOD opening, shown here to precede nucleotide exchange. This scenario likely holds for other STANDs like mammalian NLR innate immunity receptors. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.Nucleic Acids Research 03/2015; 43(6). DOI:10.1093/nar/gkv158 · 8.81 Impact Factor