Hartmut Luecke

Nanjing Agricultural University, Nan-ching, Jiangsu Sheng, China

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Publications (70)574.82 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: For the last two decades, CASP has assessed the state of the art in techniques for protein structure prediction and identified areas which required further development. CASP would not have been possible without the prediction targets provided by the experimental structural biology community. In the latest experiment, CASP10, over 100 structures were suggested as prediction targets, some of which appeared to be extraordinarily difficult for modeling. In this paper, authors of some of the most challenging targets discuss which specific scientific question motivated the experimental structure determination of the target protein, which structural features were especially interesting from a structural or functional perspective, and to what extent these features were correctly reproduced in the predictions submitted to CASP10. Specifically, the following targets will be presented: the acid-gated urea channel, a difficult to predict trans-membrane protein from the important human pathogen Helicobacter pylori; the structure of human interleukin IL-34, a recently discovered helical cytokine; the structure of a functionally uncharacterized enzyme OrfY from Thermoproteus tenax formed by a gene duplication and a novel fold; an ORFan domain of mimivirus sulfhydryl oxidase R596; the fibre protein gp17 from bacteriophage T7; the Bacteriophage CBA-120 tailspike protein; a virus coat protein from metagenomic samples of the marine environment; and finally an unprecedented class of structure prediction targets based on engineered disulfide-rich small proteins. © Proteins 2013;. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 12/2013; · 3.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Helicobacter pylori survival in acidic environments relies on cytoplasmic hydrolysis of gastric urea into ammonia and carbon dioxide, which buffer the pathogen's periplasm. Urea uptake is greatly enhanced and regulated by HpUreI, a proton-gated inner membrane channel protein essential for gastric survival of H. pylori. The crystal structure of HpUreI describes a static snapshot of the channel with two constriction sites near the center of the bilayer that are too narrow to allow passage of urea or even water. Here we describe the urea transport mechanism at atomic resolution, revealed by unrestrained microsecond equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations of the hexameric channel assembly. Two consecutive constrictions open to allow conduction of urea, which is guided through the channel by interplay between conserved residues that determine proton rejection and solute selectivity. Remarkably, HpUreI conducts water at rates equivalent to aquaporins, which might be essential for efficient transport of urea at small concentration gradients.
    Nature Communications 12/2013; 4:2900. · 10.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To gain insights into the mechanisms by which certain second-site suppressor mutations rescue the function of a significant number of cancer mutations of the tumor suppressor protein p53, X-ray crystallographic structures of four p53 core-domain variants were determined. These include an oncogenic mutant, V157F, two single-site suppressor mutants, N235K and N239Y, and the rescued cancer mutant V157F/N235K/N239Y. The V157F mutation substitutes a smaller hydrophobic valine with a larger hydrophobic phenylalanine within strand S4 of the hydrophobic core. The structure of this cancer mutant shows no gross structural changes in the overall fold of the p53 core domain, only minor rearrangements of side chains within the hydrophobic core of the protein. Based on biochemical analysis, these small local perturbations induce instability in the protein, increasing the free energy by 3.6 kcal mol(-1) (15.1 kJ mol(-1)). Further biochemical evidence shows that each suppressor mutation, N235K or N239Y, acts individually to restore thermodynamic stability to V157F and that both together are more effective than either alone. All rescued mutants were found to have wild-type DNA-binding activity when assessed at a permissive temperature, thus pointing to thermodynamic stability as the critical underlying variable. Interestingly, thermodynamic analysis shows that while N239Y demonstrates stabilization of the wild-type p53 core domain, N235K does not. These observations suggest distinct structural mechanisms of rescue. A new salt bridge between Lys235 and Glu198, found in both the N235K and rescued cancer mutant structures, suggests a rescue mechanism that relies on stabilizing the β-sandwich scaffold. On the other hand, the substitution N239Y creates an advantageous hydrophobic contact between the aromatic ring of this tyrosine and the adjacent Leu137. Surprisingly, the rescued cancer mutant shows much larger structural deviations than the cancer mutant alone when compared with wild-type p53. These suppressor mutations appear to rescue p53 function by creating novel intradomain interactions that stabilize the core domain, allowing compensation for the destabilizing V157F mutation.
    Acta Crystallographica Section D Biological Crystallography 10/2013; 69(Pt 10):2146-2156. · 12.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Proteorhodopsins (PRs), members of the microbial rhodopsin superfamily of seven-transmembrane-helix proteins that use retinal chromophores, comprise the largest subfamily of rhodopsins, yet very little structural information is available. PRs are ubiquitous throughout the biosphere and their genes have been sequenced in numerous species of bacteria. They have been shown to exhibit ion-pumping activity like their archaeal homolog bacteriorhodopsin (BR). Here, the first crystal structure of a proteorhodopsin, that of a blue-light-absorbing proteorhodopsin (BPR) isolated from the Mediterranean Sea at a depth of 12 m (Med12BPR), is reported. Six molecules of Med12BPR form a doughnut-shaped C6 hexameric ring, unlike BR, which forms a trimer. Furthermore, the structures of two mutants of a related BPR isolated from the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii at a depth of 75 m (HOT75BPR), which show a C5 pentameric arrangement, are reported. In all three structures the retinal polyene chain is shifted towards helix C when compared with other microbial rhodopsins, and the putative proton-release group in BPR differs significantly from those of BR and xanthorhodopsin (XR). The most striking feature of proteorhodopsin is the position of the conserved active-site histidine (His75, also found in XR), which forms a hydrogen bond to the proton acceptor from the same molecule (Asp97) and also to Trp34 of a neighboring protomer. Trp34 may function by stabilizing His75 in a conformation that favors a deprotonated Asp97 in the dark state, and suggests cooperative behavior between protomers when the protein is in an oligomeric form. Mutation-induced alterations in proton transfers in the BPR photocycle in Escherichia coli cells provide evidence for a similar cross-protomer interaction of BPR in living cells and a functional role of the inter-protomer Trp34-His75 interaction in ion transport. Finally, Wat402, a key molecule responsible for proton translocation between the Schiff base and the proton acceptor in BR, appears to be absent in PR, suggesting that the ion-transfer mechanism may differ between PR and BR.
    Acta Crystallographica Section D Biological Crystallography 10/2013; 69(Pt 10):1965-1980. · 12.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The tumour suppressor p53 is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancer. Reactivation of mutant p53 by small molecules is an exciting potential cancer therapy. Although several compounds restore wild-type function to mutant p53, their binding sites and mechanisms of action are elusive. Here computational methods identify a transiently open binding pocket between loop L1 and sheet S3 of the p53 core domain. Mutation of residue Cys124, located at the centre of the pocket, abolishes p53 reactivation of mutant R175H by PRIMA-1, a known reactivation compound. Ensemble-based virtual screening against this newly revealed pocket selects stictic acid as a potential p53 reactivation compound. In human osteosarcoma cells, stictic acid exhibits dose-dependent reactivation of p21 expression for mutant R175H more strongly than does PRIMA-1. These results indicate the L1/S3 pocket as a target for pharmaceutical reactivation of p53 mutants.
    Nature Communications 01/2013; 4:1407. · 10.74 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2013; 104(2):66-. · 3.67 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2013; 104(2):544-. · 3.67 Impact Factor
  • Gabriel Ozorowski, Saskia Milton, Hartmut Luecke
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    ABSTRACT: AHNAK, a large 629 kDa protein, has been implicated in membrane repair, and the annexin A2-S100A10 heterotetramer [(p11)(2)(AnxA2)(2))] has high affinity for several regions of its 1002-amino-acid C-terminal domain. (p11)(2)(AnxA2)(2) is often localized near the plasma membrane, and this C2-symmetric platform is proposed to be involved in the bridging of membrane vesicles and trafficking of proteins to the plasma membrane. All three proteins co-localize at the intracellular face of the plasma membrane in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner. The binding of AHNAK to (p11)(2)(AnxA2)(2) has been studied previously, and a minimal binding motif has been mapped to a 20-amino-acid peptide corresponding to residues 5654-5673 of the AHNAK C-terminal domain. Here, the 2.5 Å resolution crystal structure of this 20-amino-acid peptide of AHNAK bound to the AnxA2-S100A10 heterotetramer (1:2:2 symmetry) is presented, which confirms the asymmetric arrangement first described by Rezvanpour and coworkers and explains why the binding motif has high affinity for (p11)(2)(AnxA2)(2). Binding of AHNAK to the surface of (p11)(2)(AnxA2)(2) is governed by several hydrophobic interactions between side chains of AHNAK and pockets on S100A10. The pockets are large enough to accommodate a variety of hydrophobic side chains, allowing the consensus sequence to be more general. Additionally, the various hydrogen bonds formed between the AHNAK peptide and (p11)(2)(AnxA2)(2) most often involve backbone atoms of AHNAK; as a result, the side chains, particularly those that point away from S100A10/AnxA2 towards the solvent, are largely interchangeable. While the structure-based consensus sequence allows interactions with various stretches of the AHNAK C-terminal domain, comparison with other S100 structures reveals that the sequence has been optimized for binding to S100A10. This model adds new insight to the understanding of the specific interactions that occur in this membrane-repair scaffold.
    Acta Crystallographica Section D Biological Crystallography 01/2013; 69(Pt 1):92-104. · 12.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Half the world's population is chronically infected with Helicobacter pylori, causing gastritis, gastric ulcers and an increased incidence of gastric adenocarcinoma. Its proton-gated inner-membrane urea channel, HpUreI, is essential for survival in the acidic environment of the stomach. The channel is closed at neutral pH and opens at acidic pH to allow the rapid access of urea to cytoplasmic urease. Urease produces NH(3) and CO(2), neutralizing entering protons and thus buffering the periplasm to a pH of roughly 6.1 even in gastric juice at a pH below 2.0. Here we report the structure of HpUreI, revealing six protomers assembled in a hexameric ring surrounding a central bilayer plug of ordered lipids. Each protomer encloses a channel formed by a twisted bundle of six transmembrane helices. The bundle defines a previously unobserved fold comprising a two-helix hairpin motif repeated three times around the central axis of the channel, without the inverted repeat of mammalian-type urea transporters. Both the channel and the protomer interface contain residues conserved in the AmiS/UreI superfamily, suggesting the preservation of channel architecture and oligomeric state in this superfamily. Predominantly aromatic or aliphatic side chains line the entire channel and define two consecutive constriction sites in the middle of the channel. Mutation of Trp 153 in the cytoplasmic constriction site to Ala or Phe decreases the selectivity for urea in comparison with thiourea, suggesting that solute interaction with Trp 153 contributes specificity. The previously unobserved hexameric channel structure described here provides a new model for the permeation of urea and other small amide solutes in prokaryotes and archaea.
    Nature 12/2012; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Annexin A2 (AnxA2), a Ca2+-regulated phospholipid binding protein involved in membrane-cytoskeleton contacts and membrane transport, exists in two physical states, as a monomer or in a heterotetrameric complex mediated by S100A10. Formation of the AnxA2-S100A10 complex is of crucial regulatory importance because only the complex is firmly anchored in the plasma membrane, where it functions in the plasma membrane targeting/recruitment of certain ion channels and receptors. The S100A10 binding motif is located in the first 12 residues of the AnxA2 N-terminal domain, but conflicting reports exist as to the importance of N-terminal AnxA2 acetylation with regard to S100A10 binding. We show here that AnxA2 is subject to N-terminal modification when expressed heterologously in Escherichia coli. Met1 is removed and Ser2 is acetylated, yielding the same modification as the authentic mammalian protein. Bacterially expressed and N-terminally acetylated AnxA2 binds S100A10 with an affinity comparable to AnxA2 from porcine tissue and is capable of forming the AnxA2-S100A10 heterotetramer. Complex formation is competitively inhibited by acetylated but not by non-acetylated peptides covering the N-terminal AnxA2 sequence. These results demonstrate that N-terminal acetylation of AnxA2 is required for S100A10 binding and that this common eukaryotic modification is also obtained upon expression in bacteria.
    Biological Chemistry 10/2012; 393(10):1141-50. · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Annexin A2 (AnxA2), a 38-kDa member of the Ca2+-binding annexin family, has been implicated in numerous cancer pathways. Withaferin A (WithfA), a natural plant compound, has been reported previously to bind covalently to Cys133 of the AnxA2 core domain leading to a reduction of the invasive capabilities of cancer cells by altering their cytoskeleton. We show here that AnxA2 has an inhibitory effect on actin polymerization, and a modification with WithfA significantly increases this inhibitory role of AnxA2. Using mass spectrometry and single-site mutants, we localized the WithfA-AnxA2 interaction to the N-terminal domain of AnxA2 where WithfA binds covalently to Cys9. Whereas binding to F-actin filaments has been mapped to the C terminus of AnxA2, our results suggest that the N-terminal domain modified by WithfA may also play a role in the AnxA2-actin interaction. The binding of WithfA may regulate the AnxA2-mediated actin dynamics in two distinct ways: (i) the increase of F-actin bundling activity by the Anx2/p11 heterotetramer and (ii) the decrease of actin polymerization as a result of the increased affinity of AnxA2 to the barbed end of actin microfilaments. We demonstrate the susceptibility of Cys9 of AnxA2 to chemical modifications and exclude Cys133 as a binding site for WithfA.
    Biological Chemistry 10/2012; 393(10):1151-63. · 2.68 Impact Factor
  • Hiromi Arai, Charles Glabe, Hartmut Luecke
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    ABSTRACT: Although rabbit antibodies are widely used in research, no structures of rabbit antigen-binding fragments (Fab) have been reported. M204 is a rabbit monoclonal antibody that recognizes a generic epitope that is common to prefibrillar amyloid oligomers formed from many different amyloidogenic sequences. Amyloid oligomers are widely suspected to be a primary causative agent of pathogenesis in several age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. The detailed structure of these amyloid oligomers is not known nor is the mechanism for the recognition of the generic epitope by conformation-dependent monoclonal antibodies. As a first approach to understanding the mechanism of conformation-dependent antibody recognition, we have crystallized the Fab of M204. We have determined the structure of the Fab of M204 at 1.54Å resolution. The crystal structure reveals details of the M204 antigen combining site and features unique to rabbit Fabs such as an interdomain disulfide bond on its light chain. Based on the structural features of the antigen-combining site of the M204, we rule out a "steric zipper" formation, as found in numerous amyloid fibril structures, as a mechanism of antibody-antigen recognition. The details of the first rabbit immunoglobulin Fab structure might also be useful for exploiting the potential of rabbit monoclonal antibodies for the development of humanized rabbit antibodies as therapeutic agents.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 08/2012; 1820(12):1908-14. · 4.66 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2012; 102(3):167-. · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bacteriorhodopsin (BR) and sensory rhodopsin II (SRII), homologous photoactive proteins in haloarchaea, have different molecular functions. BR is a light-driven proton pump, whereas SRII is a phototaxis receptor that transmits a light-induced conformational change to its transducer HtrII. Despite these distinctly different functions, a single residue substitution, Ala215 to Thr215 in the BR retinal-binding pocket, enables its photochemical reactions to transmit signals to HtrII and mediate phototaxis. We pursued a crystal structure of the signaling BR mutant (BR_A215T) to determine the structural changes caused by the A215T mutation and to assess what new photochemistry is likely to be introduced into the BR photoactive site. We crystallized BR_A215T from bicelles and solved its structure to 3.0 Å resolution to enable an atomic-level comparison. The analysis was complemented by molecular dynamics simulation of BR mutated in silico. Three main conclusions regarding the roles of photoactive site residues in signaling emerge from the comparison of BR_A215T, BR, and SRII structures: (i) the Thr215 residue in signaling BR is positioned nearly identically with respect to the retinal chromophore as in SRII, consistent with its role in producing a steric conflict with the retinal C₁₄ group during photoisomerization, proposed earlier to be essential for SRII signaling from vibrational spectroscopy and motility measurements; (ii) Tyr174-Thr204 hydrogen bonding, critical in SRII signaling and mimicked in signaling BR, is likely auxiliary, for example, to maintain Thr204 in the proper position for the steric trigger to occur; and (iii) the primary role of Arg72 in SRII is spectral tuning and not signaling.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 11/2011; 415(3):455-63. · 3.91 Impact Factor
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    Anja Rosengarth, Hartmut Luecke
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    ABSTRACT: Annexins are structurally divided into a highly conserved core domain and a variable N-terminal domain. The core domain mediates the calcium-dependent phospholipid binding of annexins, whereas the N-terminal domain, which is unique in sequence and length for each member of this protein family, is responsible for the specificity among the different members. Annexin Al has been shown to possess membrane aggregation and fusion activity in the presence of calcium in vitro. Due to the high sequence homology of the core domain among different annexins, the property of membrane aggregation has been attributed to the N-terminal domain. For instance, a chimera protein comprising the core of annexin 5, which by itself does not exhibit membrane aggregation properties, and the N-terminal domain of annexin Al is able to induce membrane aggregation. Numerous three-dimensional structures of annexins have been solved using x-ray crystallography, however, none reveal the tertiary structure of an N-terminal domain or its interaction with the core domain. We have solved the x-ray structure of full-length annexin Al with an N-terminal domain comprising 42 amino acids in the absence of calcium ions at 1.8 Å resolution. Residues 2–26 of the N-terminal domain exhibit a mainly a-helical conformation with a kink at residue 17. Helix NA (residues 2 to 16) inserts into repeat III of the core domain thereby replacing the old helix D. Helix D on the other hand unfolds into an extended loop that forms a flap over the top of helix NA of the N-terminal domain. As a result, the type II calcium-binding site located in core repeat III is destroyed because the “capping residue” for calcium ion coordination is not in the proper conformationllocation any more. Also presented in this article is the structure of full-length annexin Al in the presence of 1 mM CaCl2. The structure of full-length annexin Al in the absence of calcium ions is thought to represent the “inactive” form of the protein. We provide a model for the annexin A1-induced membrane aggregation and discuss it in light of the literature published to date.
    07/2011: pages 114-126;
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    ABSTRACT: Light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domains are blue light-activated signaling modules integral to a wide range of photosensory proteins. Upon illumination, LOV domains form internal protein-flavin adducts that generate conformational changes which control effector function. Here we advance our understanding of LOV regulation with structural, biophysical, and biochemical studies of EL222, a light-regulated DNA-binding protein. The dark-state crystal structure reveals interactions between the EL222 LOV and helix-turn-helix domains that we show inhibit DNA binding. Solution biophysical data indicate that illumination breaks these interactions, freeing the LOV and helix-turn-helix domains of each other. This conformational change has a key functional effect, allowing EL222 to bind DNA in a light-dependent manner. Our data reveal a conserved signaling mechanism among diverse LOV-containing proteins, where light-induced conformational changes trigger activation via a conserved interaction surface.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2011; 108(23):9449-54. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RNA uridylylation reactions catalyzed by terminal uridylyl transferases (TUTases) play critical roles in the formation of the mitochondrial transcriptome in trypanosomes. Two mitochondrial RNA editing TUTases have been described: RNA editing TUTase 1 catalyzes guide RNA, ribosomal RNA, and mRNA 3'-uridylylation, and RNA editing TUTase 2 acts as a subunit of the RNA editing core complex (also referred to as the 20S editosome) to perform guided U-insertion mRNA editing. Although RNA editing TUTase 1 and RNA editing TUTase 2 carry out distinct functions and possess dissimilar enzymatic properties, their catalytic N-terminal domain and base recognition C-terminal domain display a high degree of similarity, while their middle domains are less conserved. MEAT1 (mitochondrial editosome-like complex associated TUTase 1), which interacts with an editosome-like assembly and is exclusively U-specific, nonetheless shows limited similarity with editing TUTases and lacks the middle domain. The crystal structures of apo MEAT1 and UTP-bound MEAT1 refined to 1.56 A and 1.95 A, respectively, reveal an unusual mechanism of UTP selection and domain organization previously unseen in TUTases. In addition to established invariant UTP-binding determinants, we have identified and verified critical contributions of MEAT1-specific residues using mutagenesis. Furthermore, MEAT1 possesses a novel bridging domain, which extends from the C-terminal domain and makes hydrophobic contacts with the N-terminal domain, thereby creating a cavity adjacent to the UTP-binding site. Unlike the minimal TUT4 TUTase, MEAT1 shows no appreciable conformational change upon UTP binding and apparently does not require RNA substrate to select a cognate nucleoside triphosphate. Because MEAT1 is essential for the viability of the bloodstream and insect forms of Trypanosoma brucei, the unique organization of its active site renders this protein an attractive target for trypanocide development.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 06/2010; 399(3):464-75. · 3.91 Impact Factor
  • Hiromi Arai, Hartmut Luecke, Charles Glabe
    Biophysical Journal 01/2010; 98(3). · 3.67 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
574.82 Total Impact Points


  • 2013
    • Nanjing Agricultural University
      • College of Life Sciences
      Nan-ching, Jiangsu Sheng, China
  • 1997–2013
    • University of California, Irvine
      • • Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
      • • Department of Physiology & Biophysics
      Irvine, CA, United States
  • 2002–2011
    • University of Texas Medical School
      • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
      Houston, Texas, United States
  • 2000–2010
    • CSU Mentor
      Long Beach, California, United States
  • 2001
    • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
      • Life Sciences Division
      Berkeley, CA, United States
  • 1995
    • Carnegie Institution for Science
      Washington, West Virginia, United States