Russell J K Johnson

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, ENG, United Kingdom

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Publications (5)16.74 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We report here the detailed characterisation of a non-naturally occurring variant of human lysozyme, I59T, which possesses a destabilising point mutation at the interface of the alpha- and beta-domains. Although more stable in its native structure than the naturally occurring variants that give rise to a familial form of systemic amyloidosis, I59T possesses many attributes that are similar to these disease-associated species. In particular, under physiologically relevant conditions, I59T populates transiently an intermediate in which a region of the structure unfolds cooperatively; this loss of global cooperativity has been suggested to be a critical feature underlying the amyloidogenic nature of the disease-associated lysozyme variants. In the present study, we have utilised this variant to provide direct evidence for the generic nature of the conformational transition that precedes the ready formation of the fibrils responsible for lysozyme-associated amyloid disease. This non-natural variant can be expressed at higher levels than the natural amyloidogenic variants, enabling, for example, singly isotopically labelled protein to be generated much more easily for detailed structural studies by multidimensional NMR spectroscopy. Moreover, we demonstrate that the I59T variant can readily form fibrils in vitro, similar in nature to those of the amyloidogenic I56T variant, under significantly milder conditions than are needed for the wild-type protein.
    Protein Engineering Design and Selection 04/2010; 23(7):499-506. · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lysozyme is perhaps the protein whose structure, stability, and folding behavior has been studied most widely over many years to define general principles underlying these complex phenomena. The relatively recent and unexpected observation that lysozyme is one of the 20 or so proteins whose conversion into amyloid deposits is associated with debilitating medical conditions has enabled these studies to be extended to probe the nature and origins of the misfolding events that underlie this type of disease. In this chapter, we summarize the results of these investigations and discuss both the specific mechanism through which lysozyme forms amyloid fibrils and the manner in which this process can be inhibited for potential therapeutic benefit. In addition, we discuss briefly how studies of lysozyme have provided new insights into links between normal and aberrant folding and into the way living systems avoid the consequences of the inherent tendency of polypeptides to convert into intractable and frequently toxic aggregates.
    12/2006: pages 285-308;
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    ABSTRACT: We report the secreted expression by Pichia pastoris of two human lysozyme variants F57I and W64R, associated with systemic amyloid disease, and describe their characterization by biophysical methods. Both variants have a substantially decreased thermostability compared with wild-type human lysozyme, a finding that suggests an explanation for their increased propensity to form fibrillar aggregates and generate disease. The secreted yields of the F57I and W64R variants from P. pastoris are 200- and 30-fold lower, respectively, than that of wild-type human lysozyme. More comprehensive analysis of the secretion levels of 10 lysozyme variants shows that the low yields of these secreted proteins, under controlled conditions, can be directly correlated with a reduction in the thermostability of their native states. Analysis of mRNA levels in this selection of variants suggests that the lower levels of secretion are due to post-transcriptional processes, and that the reduction in secreted protein is a result of degradation of partially folded or misfolded protein via the yeast quality control system. Importantly, our results show that the human disease-associated mutations do not have levels of expression that are out of line with destabilizing mutations at other sites. These findings indicate that a complex interplay between reduced native-state stability, lower secretion levels, and protein aggregation propensity influences the types of mutation that give rise to familial forms of amyloid disease.
    FEBS Journal 03/2006; 273(4):711-20. · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although X-ray crystallography remains the most versatile method to determine the three-dimensional atomic structure of proteins and much progress has been made in model building and refinement techniques, it remains a challenge to elucidate accurately the structure of proteins in medium-resolution crystals. This is largely due to the difficulty of exploring an immense conformational space to identify the set of conformers that collectively best fits the experimental diffraction pattern. We show here that combining knowledge-based conformational sampling in RAPPER with molecular dynamics/simulated annealing (MD/SA) vastly improves the quality and power of refinement compared to MD/SA alone. The utility of this approach is highlighted by the automated determination of a lysozyme mutant from a molecular replacement solution that is in congruence with a model prepared independently by crystallographers. Finally, we discuss the implications of this work on structure determination in particular and conformational sampling and energy minimization in general.
    Structure 10/2005; 13(9):1311-9. · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: T70N human lysozyme is the only known naturally occurring destabilised lysozyme variant that has not been detected in amyloid deposits in human patients. Its study and a comparison of its properties with those of the amyloidogenic variants of lysozyme is therefore important for understanding the determinants of amyloid disease. We report here the X-ray crystal structure and the solution dynamics of T70N lysozyme, as monitored by hydrogen/deuterium exchange and NMR relaxation experiments. The X-ray crystal structure shows that a substantial structural rearrangement results from the amino acid substitution, involving residues 45-51 and 68-75 in particular, and gives rise to a concomitant separation of these two loops of up to 6.5A. A marked decrease in the magnitudes of the generalised order parameter (S2) values of the amide nitrogen atom, for residues 70-74, shows that the T70N substitution increases the flexibility of the peptide backbone around the site of mutation. Hydrogen/deuterium exchange protection factors measured by NMR spectroscopy were calculated for the T70N variant and the wild-type protein. The protection factors for many of backbone amide groups in the beta-domain of the T70N variant are decreased relative to those in the wild-type protein, whereas those in the alpha-domain display wild-type-like values. In pulse-labelled hydrogen/deuterium exchange experiments monitored by mass spectrometry, transient but locally cooperative unfolding of the beta-domain of the T70N variant and the wild-type protein was observed, but at higher temperatures than for the amyloidogenic variants I56T and D67H. These findings reveal that such partial unfolding is an intrinsic property of the human lysozyme structure, and suggest that the readiness with which it occurs is a critical feature determining whether or not amyloid deposition occurs in vivo.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 10/2005; 352(4):823-36. · 3.91 Impact Factor