Ernesto A Roman

University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires F.D., Argentina

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Publications (8)23.36 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Friedreich's Ataxia (FRDA) is linked to a deficiency of frataxin (FXN), a mitochondrial protein involved in iron-sulfur cluster synthesis. FXN is a small protein with an α/β fold followed by the C-terminal region (CTR) with a nonperiodic structure that packs against the protein core. Here, we explore the impact of the alteration of the CTR on the stability and dynamics of FXN. We analyzed several pathological and rationally designed CTR mutants using complementary spectroscopic and biophysical approaches. The pathological mutation L198R yields a global destabilization of the structure correlating with a significant and highly localized alteration of dynamics, mainly involving residues that are in contact with L198 in wild-type FXN. Variant FXN90-195-closely related to the FRDA-associated mutant FXN81-193 -conserves a globular shape with a native-like structure. However, the truncation of the CTR results in an extreme alteration of global stability and protein dynamics over a vast range of timescales and encompassing regions far from the CTR, as shown by proton-water exchange rates and (15) N-relaxation measurements. Increased sensitivity to proteolysis, observed in vitro for both mutants, suggests a faster degradation rate in vivo whereas the enhanced tendency to aggregate exhibited by the truncated variant may account for the loss of functional FXN, both phenomena providing an explanation as to why the alteration of the CTR causes FRDA. These results contribute to understanding how stability and activity are linked to protein motions and they might be useful for the design of target-specific ligands to control local protein motions for stability enhancement. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    FEBS Journal 06/2014; · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    Ernesto A. Roman, F. Luis González Flecha
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding protein folding has been one of the great challenges in biochemistry and molecular biophysics. Over the past 50 years, many thermodynamic and kinetic studies have been performed addressing the stability of globular proteins. In comparison, advances in the membrane protein folding field lag far behind. Although membrane proteins constitute about a third of the proteins encoded in known genomes, stability studies on membrane proteins have been impaired due to experimental limitations. Furthermore, no systematic experimental strategies are available for folding these biomolecules in vitro. Common denaturing agents such as chaotropes usually do not work on helical membrane proteins, and ionic detergents have been successful denaturants only in few cases. Refolding a membrane protein seems to be a craftsman work, which is relatively straightforward for transmembrane β-barrel proteins but challenging for α-helical membrane proteins. Additional complexities emerge in multidomain membrane proteins, data interpretation being one of the most critical. In this review, we will describe some recent efforts in understanding the folding mechanism of membrane proteins that have been reversibly refolded allowing both thermodynamic and kinetic analysis. This information will be discussed in the context of current paradigms in the protein folding field.
    Biomolecules. 03/2014; 4(1):354-373.
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    ABSTRACT: Adaptation of life to low temperatures influences both protein stability and flexibility. Thus, proteins from psychrophilic organisms are excellent models to study relations between these properties. Here we focused on frataxin from Psychromonas ingrahamii (pFXN), an extreme psychrophilic sea ice bacterium that can grow at temperatures as low as -12°C. This α/β protein is highly conserved and plays a key role in iron homeostasis as an iron chaperone. In contrast to other frataxin homologs, chemical and temperature unfolding experiments showed that the thermodynamic stability of pFXN is strongly modulated by pHs: ranging from 5.5±0.9 (pH6.0) to 0.9±0.3kcalmol-1 (pH8.0). This protein was crystallized and its X-ray structure solved at 1.45Å. Comparison of B-factor profiles between Escherichia coli and P. ingrahamii frataxin variants (51% of identity) suggests that, although both proteins share the same structural features, their flexibility distribution is different. Molecular dynamics simulations showed that protonation of His44 or His67 in pFXN lowers the mobility of regions encompassing residues 20-30 and the C-terminal end, probably through favorable electrostatic interactions with residues Asp27, Glu42 and Glu99. Since the C-terminal end of the protein is critical for the stabilization of the frataxin fold, the predictions presented may be reporting on the microscopic origin of the decrease in global stability produced near neutral pH in the psychrophilic variant. We propose that suboptimal electrostatic interactions may have been an evolutionary strategy for the adaptation of frataxin flexibility and function to cold environments.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 02/2013; · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The N-terminal stretch of human frataxin (hFXN) intermediate (residues 42-80) is not conserved throughout evolution and, under defined experimental conditions, behaves as a random-coil. Overexpression of hFXN56-210 in Escherichia coli yields a multimer, whereas the mature form of hFXN (hFXN81-210) is monomeric. Thus, cumulative experimental evidence points to the N-terminal moiety as an essential element for the assembly of a high molecular weight oligomer. The secondary structure propensity of peptide 56-81, the moiety putatively responsible for promoting protein-protein interactions, was also studied. Depending on the environment (TFE or SDS), this peptide adopts α-helical or β-strand structure. In this context, we explored the conformation and stability of hFXN56-210. The biophysical characterization by fluorescence, CD and SEC-FPLC shows that subunits are well folded, sharing similar stability to hFXN90-210. However, controlled proteolysis indicates that the N-terminal stretch is labile in the context of the multimer, whereas the FXN domain (residues 81-210) remains strongly resistant. In addition, guanidine hydrochloride at low concentration disrupts intermolecular interactions, shifting the ensemble toward the monomeric form. The conformational plasticity of the N-terminal tail might impart on hFXN the ability to act as a recognition signal as well as an oligomerization trigger. Understanding the fine-tuning of these activities and their resulting balance will bear direct relevance for ultimately comprehending hFXN function.
    FEBS open bio. 01/2013; 3:310-20.
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2012; 102(3):59-. · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Frataxin (FXN) is an α/β protein that plays an essential role in iron homeostasis. Apparently, the function of human FXN (hFXN) depends on the cooperative formation of crucial interactions between helix α1, helix α2, and the C-terminal region (CTR) of the protein. In this work we quantitatively explore these relationships using a purified recombinant fragment hFXN90-195. This variant shows the hydrodynamic behavior expected for a monomeric globular domain. Circular dichroism, fluorescence, and NMR spectroscopies show that hFXN90-195 presents native-like secondary and tertiary structure. However, chemical and temperature induced denaturation show that CTR truncation significantly destabilizes the overall hFXN fold. Accordingly, limited proteolysis experiments suggest that the native-state dynamics of hFXN90-195 and hFXN90-210 are indeed different, being the former form much more sensitive to the protease at specific sites. The overall folding dynamics of hFXN fold was further explored with structure-based protein folding simulations. These suggest that the native ensemble of hFXN can be decomposed in at least two substates, one with consolidation of the CTR and the other without consolidation of the CTR. Explicit-solvent all atom simulations identify some of the proteolytic target sites as flexible regions of the protein. We propose that the local unfolding of CTR may be a critical step for the global unfolding of hFXN, and that modulation of the CTR interactions may strongly affect hFXN physiological function.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e45743. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this work, we studied how an amphipathic peptide of the surface of the globular protein thioredoxin, TRX94-108, acquires a native-like structure when it becomes involved in an apolar interaction network. We designed peptide variants where the tendency to form alpha-helical conformation is modulated by replacing each of the leucine amino acid residues by an alanine. The induction of structure caused by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) binding was studied by capillary zone electrophoresis, circular dichroism, DOSY-NMR, and molecular dynamics simulations (MDS). In addition, we analyzed the strength of the interaction between a C18 RP-HPLC matrix and the peptides. The results presented here reveal that (a) critical elements in the sequence of the wild-type peptide stabilize a SDS/peptide supramolecular cluster; (b) the hydrophobic nature of the interaction between SDS molecules and the peptide constrains the ensemble of conformations; (c) nonspecific apolar surfaces are sufficient to stabilize peptide secondary structure. Remarkably, MDS shed light on a contact network formed by a limited number of SDS molecules that serves as a structural scaffold preserving the helical conformation of this module. This mechanism might prevail when a peptide with low helical propensity is involved in structure consolidation. We suggest that folding of peptides sharing this feature does not require a preformed tightly-packed protein core. Thus, the formation of specific tertiary interactions would be the consequence of peptide folding and not its cause. In this scenario, folding might be thought of as a process that includes unspecific rounds of structure stabilization guiding the protein to the native state.
    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 10/2010; 78(13):2757-68. · 3.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Folding mechanisms and stability of membrane proteins are poorly understood because of the known difficulties in finding experimental conditions under which reversible denaturation could be possible. In this work, we describe the equilibrium unfolding of Archaeoglobus fulgidus CopA, an 804-residue alpha-helical membrane protein that is involved in transporting Cu(+) throughout biological membranes. The incubation of CopA reconstituted in phospholipid/detergent mixed micelles with high concentrations of guanidinium hydrochloride induced a reversible decrease in fluorescence quantum yield, far-UV ellipticity, and loss of ATPase and phosphatase activities. Refolding of CopA from this unfolded state led to recovery of full biological activity and all the structural features of the native enzyme. CopA unfolding showed typical characteristics of a two-state process, with DeltaG(w) degrees =12.9 kJ mol(-)(1), m=4.1 kJ mol(-1) M(-1), C(m)=3 M, and DeltaCp(w) degrees =0.93 kJ mol(-1) K(-1). These results point out to a fine-tuning mechanism for improving protein stability. Circular dichroism spectroscopic analysis of the unfolded state shows that most of the secondary and tertiary structures were disrupted. The fraction of Trp fluorescence accessible to soluble quenchers shifted from 0.52 in the native state to 0.96 in the unfolded state, with a significant spectral redshift. Also, hydrophobic patches in CopA, mainly located in the transmembrane region, were disrupted as indicated by 1-anilino-naphtalene-8-sulfonate fluorescence. Nevertheless, the unfolded state had a small but detectable amount of residual structure, which might play a key role in both CopA folding and adaptation for working at high temperatures.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 03/2010; 397(2):550-9. · 3.91 Impact Factor