Li-Chung Ma

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States

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Publications (25)152.72 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Nonstructural protein 1 of influenza A virus (NS1A) is a conserved virulence factor comprised of an N-terminal double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-binding domain and a multifunctional C-terminal effector domain (ED), each of which can independently form symmetric homodimers. Here we apply (19)F NMR to NS1A from influenza A/Udorn/307/1972 virus (H3N2) labeled with 5-fluorotryptophan, and we demonstrate that the (19)F signal of Trp187 is a sensitive, direct monitor of the ED helix:helix dimer interface. (19)F relaxation dispersion data reveal the presence of conformational dynamics within this functionally important protein:protein interface, whose rate is more than three orders of magnitude faster than the kinetics of ED dimerization. (19)F NMR also affords direct spectroscopic evidence that Trp187, which mediates intermolecular ED:ED interactions required for cooperative dsRNA binding, is solvent exposed in full-length NS1A at concentrations below aggregation. These results have important implications for the diverse roles of this NS1A epitope during influenza virus infection.
    Structure 02/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.str.2014.01.010 · 6.79 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2014; 106(2):188a. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2013.11.1124 · 3.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cyanobacterial phycobiliproteins have evolved to capture light energy over most of the visible spectrum due to their bilin chromophores, which are linear tetrapyrroles that have been covalently attached by enzymes called bilin lyases. We report here the crystal structure of a bilin lyase of the CpcS family from Thermosynechococcus elongatus (TeCpcS-III). TeCpcS-III is a 10-stranded beta barrel with two alpha helices and belongs to the lipocalin structural family. TeCpcS-III catalyzes both cognate as well as non-cognate bilin attachment to a variety of phycobiliprotein subunits. TeCpcS-III ligates phycocyanobilin, phycoerythrobilin and phytochromobilin to the alpha and beta subunits of allophycocyanin and to the beta subunit of phycocyanin at the Cys82-equivalent position in all cases. The active form of TeCpcS-III is a dimer, which is consistent with the structure observed in the crystal. Using the UnaG protein and its association with bilirubin as a guide, a model for the association between the native substrate, phycocyanobilin, and TeCpcS was produced.
    Biochemistry 11/2013; 52(48). DOI:10.1021/bi401192z · 3.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This article describes the development of a simple and robust fluorescence polarization (FP)-based binding assay and adaptation to high-throughput identification of small molecules blocking dsRNA binding to NS1A protein (nonstructural protein 1 from type A influenza strains). This homogeneous assay employs fluorescein-labeled 16-mer dsRNA and full-length NS1A protein tagged with glutathione S-transferase to monitor the changes in FP and fluorescence intensity simultaneously. The assay was optimized for high-throughput screening in a 384-well format and achieved a z' score greater than 0.7. Its feasibility for high-throughput screening was demonstrated using the National Institutes of Health clinical collection. Six of 446 small molecules were identified as possible ligands in an initial screening. A series of validation tests confirmed epigallocatechine gallate (EGCG) to be active in the submicromolar range. A mechanism of EGCG inhibition involving interaction with the dsRNA-binding motif of NS1A, including Arg38, was proposed. This structural information is anticipated to provide a useful basis for the modeling of antiflu therapeutic reagents. Overall, the FP-based binding assay demonstrated its superior capability for simple, rapid, inexpensive, and robust identification of NS1A inhibitors and validation of their activity targeting NS1A.
    Journal of Biomolecular Screening 01/2012; 17(4):448-59. DOI:10.1177/1087057111431488 · 2.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ribosome consists of small and large subunits each composed of dozens of proteins and RNA molecules. However, the functions of many of the individual protomers within the ribosome are still unknown. In this article, we describe the solution NMR structure of the ribosomal protein RP-L35Ae from the archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus. RP-L35Ae is buried within the large subunit of the ribosome and belongs to Pfam protein domain family PF01247, which is highly conserved in eukaryotes, present in a few archaeal genomes, but absent in bacteria. The protein adopts a six-stranded anti-parallel β-barrel analogous to the "tRNA binding motif" fold. The structure of the P. furiosus RP-L35Ae presented in this article constitutes the first structural representative from this protein domain family.
    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 01/2012; 80(7):1901-6. DOI:10.1002/prot.24071 · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Interferon-induced ISG15 conjugation plays an important antiviral role against several viruses, including influenza viruses. The NS1 protein of influenza B virus (NS1B) specifically binds only human and nonhuman primate ISG15s and inhibits their conjugation. To elucidate the structural basis for the sequence-specific recognition of human ISG15, we determined the crystal structure of the complex formed between human ISG15 and the N-terminal region of NS1B (NS1B-NTR). The NS1B-NTR homodimer interacts with two ISG15 molecules in the crystal and also in solution. The two ISG15-binding sites on the NS1B-NTR dimer are composed of residues from both chains, namely residues in the RNA-binding domain (RBD) from one chain, and residues in the linker between the RBD and the effector domain from the other chain. The primary contact region of NS1B-NTR on ISG15 is composed of residues at the junction of the N-terminal ubiquitin-like (Ubl) domain and the short linker region between the two Ubl domains, explaining why the sequence of the short linker in human and nonhuman primate ISG15s is essential for the species-specific binding of these ISG15s. In addition, the crystal structure identifies NS1B-NTR binding sites in the N-terminal Ubl domain of ISG15, and shows that there are essentially no contacts with the C-terminal Ubl domain of ISG15. Consequently, NS1B-NTR binding to ISG15 would not occlude access of the C-terminal Ubl domain of ISG15 to its conjugating enzymes. Nonetheless, transfection assays show that NS1B-NTR binding of ISG15 is responsible for the inhibition of interferon-induced ISG15 conjugation in cells.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2011; 108(33):13468-73. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1107032108 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Non-structural protein 1 from influenza A virus, NS1A, is a key multifunctional virulence factor composed of two domains: an N-terminal double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-binding domain and a C-terminal effector domain (ED). Isolated RNA-binding and effector domains of NS1A both exist as homodimers in solution. Despite recent crystal structures of isolated ED and full-length NS1A proteins from different influenza virus strains, controversy remains over the actual biologically relevant ED dimer interface. Here, we report the biophysical properties of the NS1A ED from H3N2 influenza A/Udorn/307/1972 (Ud) virus in solution. Several lines of evidence, including 15N NMR relaxation, NMR chemical shift perturbations, static light scattering, and analytical sedimentation equilibrium, demonstrate that Ud NS1A ED forms a relatively weak dimer in solution (Kd = 90 ± 2 μm), featuring a symmetric helix-helix dimer interface. Mutations within and near this interface completely abolish dimerization, whereas mutations consistent with other proposed ED dimer interfaces have no effect on dimer formation. In addition, the critical Trp-187 residue in this interface serves as a sensitive NMR spectroscopic marker for the concentration-dependent dimerization of NS1A ED in solution. Finally, dynamic light scattering and gel shift binding experiments demonstrate that the ED interface plays a role in both the oligomerization and the dsRNA binding properties of the full-length NS1A protein. In particular, mutation of the critical tryptophan in the ED interface substantially reduces the propensity of full-length NS1A from different strains to oligomerize and results in a reduction in dsRNA binding affinity for full-length NS1A.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2011; 286(29):26050-26060. · 4.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Non-structural protein 1 from influenza A virus, NS1A, is a key multifunctional virulence factor composed of two domains: an N-terminal double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-binding domain and a C-terminal effector domain (ED). Isolated RNA-binding and effector domains of NS1A both exist as homodimers in solution. Despite recent crystal structures of isolated ED and full-length NS1A proteins from different influenza virus strains, controversy remains over the actual biologically relevant ED dimer interface. Here, we report the biophysical properties of the NS1A ED from H3N2 influenza A/Udorn/307/1972 (Ud) virus in solution. Several lines of evidence, including (15)N NMR relaxation, NMR chemical shift perturbations, static light scattering, and analytical sedimentation equilibrium, demonstrate that Ud NS1A ED forms a relatively weak dimer in solution (K(d) = 90 ± 2 μm), featuring a symmetric helix-helix dimer interface. Mutations within and near this interface completely abolish dimerization, whereas mutations consistent with other proposed ED dimer interfaces have no effect on dimer formation. In addition, the critical Trp-187 residue in this interface serves as a sensitive NMR spectroscopic marker for the concentration-dependent dimerization of NS1A ED in solution. Finally, dynamic light scattering and gel shift binding experiments demonstrate that the ED interface plays a role in both the oligomerization and the dsRNA binding properties of the full-length NS1A protein. In particular, mutation of the critical tryptophan in the ED interface substantially reduces the propensity of full-length NS1A from different strains to oligomerize and results in a reduction in dsRNA binding affinity for full-length NS1A.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 05/2011; 286(29):26050-60. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M111.248765 · 4.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A library of quinoxaline derivatives were prepared to target non-structural protein 1 of influenza A (NS1A) as a means to develop anti-influenza drug leads. An in vitro fluorescence polarization assay demonstrated that these compounds disrupted the dsRNA-NS1A interaction to varying extents. Changes of substituent at positions 2, 3 and 6 on the quinoxaline ring led to variance in responses. The most active compounds (35 and 44) had IC(50) values in the range of low micromolar concentration without exhibiting significant dsRNA intercalation. Compound 44 was able to inhibit influenza A/Udorn/72 virus growth.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 05/2011; 21(10):3007-11. DOI:10.1016/j.bmcl.2011.03.042 · 2.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human interferon-stimulated gene 15 protein (ISG15), also called ubiquitin cross-reactive protein (UCRP), is the first identified ubiquitin-like protein containing two ubiquitin-like domains fused in tandem. The active form of ISG15 is conjugated to target proteins via the C-terminal glycine residue through an isopeptide bond in a manner similar to ubiquitin. The biological role of ISG15 is strongly associated with the modulation of cell immune function, and there is mounting evidence suggesting that many viral pathogens evade the host innate immune response by interfering with ISG15 conjugation to both host and viral proteins in a variety of ways. Here we report nearly complete backbone (1)H(N), (15)N, (13)C', and (13)C(α), as well as side chain (13)C(β), methyl (Ile-δ1, Leu, Val), amide (Asn, Gln), and indole N-H (Trp) NMR resonance assignments for the 157-residue human ISG15 protein. These resonance assignments provide the basis for future structural and functional solution NMR studies of the biologically important human ISG15 protein.
    Biomolecular NMR Assignments 05/2011; 5(2):215-9. DOI:10.1007/s12104-011-9303-8 · 0.82 Impact Factor
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    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 01/2011; 79(1):335-9. DOI:10.1002/prot.22869 · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We describe the core Protein Production Platform of the Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium (NESG) and outline the strategies used for producing high-quality protein samples. The platform is centered on the cloning, expression and purification of 6X-His-tagged proteins using T7-based Escherichia coli systems. The 6X-His tag allows for similar purification procedures for most targets and implementation of high-throughput (HTP) parallel methods. In most cases, the 6X-His-tagged proteins are sufficiently purified (>97% homogeneity) using a HTP two-step purification protocol for most structural studies. Using this platform, the open reading frames of over 16,000 different targeted proteins (or domains) have been cloned as>26,000 constructs. Over the past 10 years, more than 16,000 of these expressed protein, and more than 4400 proteins (or domains) have been purified to homogeneity in tens of milligram quantities (see Summary Statistics, http://nesg.org/statistics.html). Using these samples, the NESG has deposited more than 900 new protein structures to the Protein Data Bank (PDB). The methods described here are effective in producing eukaryotic and prokaryotic protein samples in E. coli. This paper summarizes some of the updates made to the protein production pipeline in the last 5 years, corresponding to phase 2 of the NIGMS Protein Structure Initiative (PSI-2) project. The NESG Protein Production Platform is suitable for implementation in a large individual laboratory or by a small group of collaborating investigators. These advanced automated and/or parallel cloning, expression, purification, and biophysical screening technologies are of broad value to the structural biology, functional proteomics, and structural genomics communities.
    Journal of Structural Biology 10/2010; 172(1):21-33. DOI:10.1016/j.jsb.2010.07.011 · 3.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The world is currently undergoing a pandemic caused by an H1N1 influenza A virus, the so-called 'swine flu'. The H5N1 ('bird flu') influenza A viruses, now circulating in Asia, Africa and Europe, are extremely virulent in humans, although they have not so far acquired the ability to transfer efficiently from human to human. These health concerns have spurred considerable interest in understanding the molecular biology of influenza A viruses. Recent structural studies of influenza A virus proteins (or fragments) help enhance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the viral proteins and the effects of drug resistance to improve drug design. The structures of domains of the influenza RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and the nonstructural NS1A protein provide opportunities for targeting these proteins to inhibit viral replication.
    Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 04/2010; 17(5):530-8. DOI:10.1038/nsmb.1779 · 11.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Disordered or unstructured regions of proteins, while often very important biologically, can pose significant challenges for resonance assignment and three-dimensional structure determination of the ordered regions of proteins by NMR methods. In this article, we demonstrate the application of (1)H/(2)H exchange mass spectrometry (DXMS) for the rapid identification of disordered segments of proteins and design of protein constructs that are more suitable for structural analysis by NMR. In this benchmark study, DXMS is applied to five NMR protein targets chosen from the Northeast Structural Genomics project. These data were then used to design optimized constructs for three partially disordered proteins. Truncated proteins obtained by deletion of disordered N- and C-terminal tails were evaluated using (1)H-(15)N HSQC and (1)H-(15)N heteronuclear NOE NMR experiments to assess their structural integrity. These constructs provide significantly improved NMR spectra, with minimal structural perturbations to the ordered regions of the protein structure. As a representative example, we compare the solution structures of the full length and DXMS-based truncated construct for a 77-residue partially disordered DUF896 family protein YnzC from Bacillus subtilis, where deletion of the disordered residues (ca. 40% of the protein) does not affect the native structure. In addition, we demonstrate that throughput of the DXMS process can be increased by analyzing mixtures of up to four proteins without reducing the sequence coverage for each protein. Our results demonstrate that DXMS can serve as a central component of a process for optimizing protein constructs for NMR structure determination.
    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 09/2009; 76(4):882-94. DOI:10.1002/prot.22394 · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The structure of human protein HSPC034 has been determined by both solution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography. Refinement of the NMR structure ensemble, using a Rosetta protocol in the absence of NMR restraints, resulted in significant improvements not only in structure quality, but also in molecular replacement (MR) performance with the raw X-ray diffraction data using MOLREP and Phaser. This method has recently been shown to be generally applicable with improved MR performance demonstrated for eight NMR structures refined using Rosetta (Qian et al., Nature 2007;450:259-264). Additionally, NMR structures of HSPC034 calculated by standard methods that include NMR restraints have improvements in the RMSD to the crystal structure and MR performance in the order DYANA, CYANA, XPLOR-NIH, and CNS with explicit water refinement (CNSw). Further Rosetta refinement of the CNSw structures, perhaps due to more thorough conformational sampling and/or a superior force field, was capable of finding alternative low energy protein conformations that were equally consistent with the NMR data according to the Recall, Precision, and F-measure (RPF) scores. On further examination, the additional MR-performance shortfall for NMR refined structures as compared with the X-ray structure were attributed, in part, to crystal-packing effects, real structural differences, and inferior hydrogen bonding in the NMR structures. A good correlation between a decrease in the number of buried unsatisfied hydrogen-bond donors and improved MR performance demonstrates the importance of hydrogen-bond terms in the force field for improving NMR structures. The superior hydrogen-bond network in Rosetta-refined structures demonstrates that correct identification of hydrogen bonds should be a critical goal of NMR structure refinement. Inclusion of nonbivalent hydrogen bonds identified from Rosetta structures as additional restraints in the structure calculation results in NMR structures with improved MR performance.
    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 04/2009; 75(1):147-67. DOI:10.1002/prot.22229 · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Influenza A viruses are responsible for seasonal epidemics and high mortality pandemics. A major function of the viral NS1A protein, a virulence factor, is the inhibition of the production of IFN-beta mRNA and other antiviral mRNAs. The NS1A protein of the human influenza A/Udorn/72 (Ud) virus inhibits the production of these antiviral mRNAs by binding the cellular 30-kDa subunit of the cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor (CPSF30), which is required for the 3' end processing of all cellular pre-mRNAs. Here we report the 1.95-A resolution X-ray crystal structure of the complex formed between the second and third zinc finger domain (F2F3) of CPSF30 and the C-terminal domain of the Ud NS1A protein. The complex is a tetramer, in which each of two F2F3 molecules wraps around two NS1A effector domains that interact with each other head-to-head. This structure identifies a CPSF30 binding pocket on NS1A comprised of amino acid residues that are highly conserved among human influenza A viruses. Single amino acid changes within this binding pocket eliminate CPSF30 binding, and a recombinant Ud virus expressing an NS1A protein with such a substitution is attenuated and does not inhibit IFN-beta pre-mRNA processing. This binding pocket is a potential target for antiviral drug development. The crystal structure also reveals that two amino acids outside of this pocket, F103 and M106, which are highly conserved (>99%) among influenza A viruses isolated from humans, participate in key hydrophobic interactions with F2F3 that stabilize the complex.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2008; 105(35):13093-8. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0805213105 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have determined the solution NMR structure of SACOL2532, a putative GCN5-like N-acetyltransferase (GNAT) from Staphylococcus aureus. SACOL2532 was shown to bind both CoA and acetyl-CoA, and structures with and without bound CoA were determined. Based on analysis of the structure and sequence, a subfamily of small GCN5-related N-acetyltransferase (GNAT)-like proteins can be defined. Proteins from this subfamily, which is largely congruent with COG2388, are characterized by a cysteine residue in the acetyl-CoA binding site near the acetyl group, by their small size in relation to other GNATs, by a lack of obvious substrate binding site, and by a distinct conformation of bound CoA in relation to other GNATs. Subfamily members are found in many bacterial and eukaryotic genomes, and in some archaeal genomes. Whereas other GNATs transfer the acetyl group of acetyl-CoA directly to an aliphatic amine, the presence of the conserved cysteine residue suggests that proteins in the COG2388 GNAT-subfamily transfer an acetyl group from acetyl-CoA to one or more presently unidentified aliphatic amines via an acetyl (cysteine) enzyme intermediate. The apparent absence of a substrate-binding region suggests that the substrate is a macromolecule, such as another protein, or that a second protein subunit providing a substrate-binding region must combine with SACOL2532 to make a fully functional N-acetyl transferase.
    Journal of Structural and Functional Genomics 09/2008; 9(1-4):7-20. DOI:10.1007/s10969-008-9041-z
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    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 07/2008; 72(1):526-30. DOI:10.1002/prot.22064 · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report here the crystal structure at 2.0 A resolution of the AGR_C_4470p protein from the Gram-negative bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The protein is a tightly associated dimer, each subunit of which bears strong structural homology with the two domains of the heme utilization protein ChuS from Escherichia coli and HemS from Yersinia enterocolitica. Remarkably, the organization of the AGR_C_4470p dimer is the same as that of the two domains in ChuS and HemS, providing structural evidence that these two proteins evolved by gene duplication. However, the binding site for heme, while conserved in HemS and ChuS, is not conserved in AGR_C_4470p, suggesting that it probably has a different function. This is supported by the presence of two homologs of AGR_C_4470p in E. coli, in addition to the ChuS protein.
    Protein Science 04/2007; 16(3):535-8. DOI:10.1110/ps.062663307 · 2.86 Impact Factor