Yiqun Deng

Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, NY, United States

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Publications (17)113.12 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The entry of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) into a target cell entails a series of conformational changes in the gp41 transmembrane glycoprotein that mediates the fusion of the viral and target cell membranes. A trimer-of-hairpins structure formed by the association of two heptad repeat (HR) regions of the gp41 ectodomain has been implicated in a late step of the fusion pathway. Earlier native and intermediate states of the protein are postulated to mediate the antiviral activity of the fusion inhibitor enfuvirtide and of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (NAbs), but the details of these structures remain unknown. Here, we report the identification and crystal structure of a dimerization domain in the C-terminal ectodomain of gp41 (residues 630 to 683, or C54). Two C54 monomers associate to form an asymmetric, antiparallel coiled coil with two distinct C-terminal alpha-helical overhangs. This dimer structure is conferred largely by interactions within a central core that corresponds to the sequence of enfuvirtide. The mutagenic alteration of the dimer interface severely impairs the infectivity of Env-pseudotyped viruses. Moreover, the C54 structure binds tightly to both the 2F5 and 4E10 NAbs and likely represents a potential intermediate conformation of gp41. These results should enhance our understanding of the molecular basis of the gp41 fusogenic structural transitions and thereby guide rational, structure-based efforts to design new fusion inhibitors and vaccine candidates intended to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies.
    Journal of Virology 10/2009; 84(1):201-9. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Peptides based on the second heptad repeat (HR2) of viral class I fusion proteins are effective inhibitors of virus entry. One such fusion inhibitor has been approved for treatment of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (T20, enfuvirtide). Resistance to T20 usually maps to the peptide binding site in HR1. To better understand fusion inhibitor potency and resistance, we combined virological, computational, and biophysical experiments with comprehensive mutational analyses and tested resistance to T20 and second and third generation inhibitors (T1249 and T2635). We found that most amino acid substitutions caused resistance to the first generation peptide T20. Only charged amino acids caused resistance to T1249, and none caused resistance to T2635. Depending on the drug, we can distinguish four mechanisms of drug resistance: reduced contact, steric obstruction, electrostatic repulsion, and electrostatic attraction. Implications for the design of novel antiviral peptide inhibitors are discussed.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2009; 284(39):26941-50. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The conserved membrane-proximal external region (MPER) of the HIV-1 gp41 envelope protein is the established target for very rare but broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (NAbs) elicited during natural human infection. Nevertheless, attempts to generate an HIV-1 neutralizing antibody response with immunogens bearing MPER epitopes have met with limited success. Here we show that the MPER peptide (residues 662-683) forms a labile alpha-helical trimer in aqueous solution and report the crystal structure of this autonomous folding subdomain stabilized by addition of a C-terminal isoleucine zipper motif. The structure reveals a parallel triple-stranded coiled coil in which the neutralization epitope residues are buried within the interface between the associating MPER helices. Accordingly, both the 2F5 and 4E10 NAbs recognize the isolated MPER peptide but fail to bind the trimeric MPER subdomain. We propose that the trimeric MPER structure represents the prefusion conformation of gp41, preceding the putative prehairpin intermediate and the postfusion trimer-of-hairpins structure. As such, the MPER trimer should inform the design of new HIV-1 immunogens to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies.
    Biochemistry 03/2009; 48(13):2915-23. · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Protein-protein interactions play an essential role in the assembly of the macromolecular complexes that form functional networks and control cellular behavior. Elucidating principles of molecular recognition governing potentially complex interfaces is a challenging goal for structural and systems biology. Extensive studies of alpha-helical coiled coils have provided fundamental insight into the determinants of one seemingly tractable class of oligomeric protein interfaces. We report here that two different valine-containing mutants of the GCN4 leucine zipper that fold individually as four-stranded coiled coils associate preferentially in mixtures to form an antiparallel, heterotetrameric structure. X-ray crystallographic analysis reveals that the coinciding hydrophobic interfaces of the hetero- and homotetramers differ in detail, thereby controlling their partnering and structural specificity. Equilibrium disulfide exchange and thermal denaturation experiments show that the 50-fold preference for heterospecificity is determined by interfacial van der Waals interactions and hydrophobicity. Parallel studies of two alanine-containing variants confirm the above-mentioned interpretation of the basis and mechanism of this heterospecificity. Our results suggest that coiled-coil recognition is an inherently geometric process in which heterotypic interaction specificity derives from a complementarity of both shape and chemistry.
    Chemistry & Biology 10/2008; 15(9):908-19. · 6.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) entry is an attractive target for therapeutic intervention. Two drugs that inhibit this process have been approved: the fusion inhibitor T20 (enfuvirtide [Fuzeon]) and, more recently, the CCR5 blocker maraviroc (Selzentry). T1249 is a second-generation fusion inhibitor with improved antiviral potency compared to the first-generation peptide T20. We selected T1249-resistant HIV-1 variants in vitro by serial virus passage in the presence of increasing T1249 doses after passage with wild-type and T20-resistant variants. Sequence analysis revealed the acquisition of substitutions within the HR1 region of the gp41 ectodomain. The virus acquired mutations of residue V38 to either E or R in 10 of 19 cultures. Both E and R at position 38 were confirmed to cause resistance to T1249, as well as cross-resistance to T20 and C34, but not to the third-generation fusion inhibitor T2635. We also observed substitutions at residues 79 and 90 (Q79E and K90E), which provide modest resistance to T1249 and, interestingly, T2635. Thus, the gp41 amino acid position implicated in T20 resistance (V38 replaced by A, G, or W) is also responsible for T1249 resistance (V38 replaced by E, R, or K). These results indicate that T20 and T1249 exhibit very similar inhibition modes that call for similar but not identical resistance mutations. All T1249-resistant viruses with changes at position 38 are cross resistant to T20, but not vice versa. Furthermore, substitutions at position 38 do not provide resistance to the third-generation inhibitor T2635, while substitution at positions 79 and 90 do, suggesting different resistance mechanisms.
    Journal of Virology 08/2008; 82(13):6678-88. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Predictive understanding of how the folded, functional shape of a native protein is encoded in the linear sequence of its amino acid residues remains an unsolved challenge in modern structural biology. Antiparallel four-stranded coiled coils are relatively simple protein structures that embody a heptad sequence repeat and rich diversity for tertiary packing of alpha-helices. To explore specific sequence determinants of the lac repressor coiled-coil tetramerization domain, we have engineered a set of buried nonpolar side chains at the a-, d-, and e-positions into the hydrophobic interior of the dimeric GCN4 leucine zipper. Circular dichroism and equilibrium ultracentrifugation studies show that this core variant (GCN4-pAeLV) forms a stable tetrameric structure with a reversible and highly cooperative thermal unfolding transition. The X-ray crystal structure at 1.9 A reveals that GCN4-pAeLV is an antiparallel four-stranded coiled coil of the lac repressor type in which the a, d, and e side chains associate by means of combined knobs-against-knobs and knobs-into-holes packing with a characteristic interhelical offset of 0.25 heptad. Comparison of the side chain shape and packing in the antiparallel tetramers shows that the burial of alanine residues at the e positions between the neighboring helices of GCN4-pAeLV dictates both the antiparallel orientation and helix offset. This study fills in a gap in our knowledge of the determinants of structural specificity in antiparallel coiled coils and improves our understanding of how specific side chain packing forms the teritiary structure of a functional protein.
    Biochemistry 01/2008; 46(51):14951-9. · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Peptides derived from the carboxyl-terminal heptad repeat of the gp41 envelope glycoprotein ectodomain (C-peptides) can inhibit HIV-1 membrane fusion by binding to the amino-terminal trimeric coiled coil of the same protein. The fusion inhibitory peptide T-20 contains an additional tryptophan-rich sequence motif whose binding site extends beyond the gp41 coiled-coil region yet provides the key determinant of inhibitory activity in T-20. Here we report the design of a recombinant peptide inhibitor (called C52L) that includes both the C-peptide and tryptophan-rich regions. By calorimetry, C52L binds to a peptide mimic of the amino-terminal coiled coil with a Kd of 80 nM, reflecting the large degree of helicity in C52L as measured by circular dichroism spectroscopy. The C52L peptide potently inhibits in vitro infection of human T cells by diverse primary HIV-1 isolates irrespective of coreceptor preference, with nanomolar IC50 values. Significantly, C52L is fully active against T-20-resistant variants in a single-cycle HIV-1 infectivity assay. Moreover, because it can be expressed in bacteria, the C52L peptide might be more economical to manufacture on a large scale than T-20-like peptides produced by chemical synthesis. Hence the C52L fusion inhibitor may find a practical application, for example as a vaginal or rectal microbicide to prevent HIV-1 infection in the developing world.
    Biochemistry 05/2007; 46(14):4360-9. · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The hydrophobic core of the GCN4 leucine-zipper dimerization domain is formed by a parallel helical association between nonpolar side chains at the a and d positions of the heptad repeat. Here we report a self-assembling coiled-coil array formed by the GCN4-pAe peptide that differs from the wild-type GCN4 leucine zipper by alanine substitutions at three charged e positions. GCN4-pAe is incompletely folded in normal solution conditions yet self-assembles into an antiparallel tetraplex in crystals by formation of unanticipated hydrophobic seams linking the last two heptads of two parallel double-stranded coiled coils. The GCN4-pAe tetramers in the lattice associate laterally through the identical interactions to those in the intramolecular dimer-dimer interface. The van der Waals packing interaction in the solid state controls extended supramolecular assembly of the protein, providing an unusual atomic scale view of a mesostructure.
    Protein Science 03/2007; 16(2):323-8. · 2.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Specific helix-helix interactions are fundamental in assembling the native state of proteins and in protein-protein interfaces. Coiled coils afford a unique model system for elucidating principles of molecular recognition between alpha helices. The coiled-coil fold is specified by a characteristic seven amino acid repeat containing hydrophobic residues at the first (a) and fourth (d) positions. Nonpolar side chains spaced three and four residues apart are referred to as the 3-4 hydrophobic repeat. The presence of apolar amino acids at the e or g positions (corresponding to a 3-3-1 hydrophobic repeat) can provide new possibilities for close-packing of alpha-helices that includes examples such as the lac repressor tetramerization domain. Here we demonstrate that an unprecedented coiled-coil interface results from replacement of three charged residues at the e positions in the dimeric GCN4 leucine zipper by nonpolar valine side chains. Equilibrium circular dichroism and analytical ultracentrifugation studies indicate that the valine-containing mutant forms a discrete alpha-helical tetramer with a significantly higher stability than the parent leucine-zipper molecule. The 1.35 A resolution crystal structure of the tetramer reveals a parallel four-stranded coiled coil with a three-residue interhelical offset. The local packing geometry of the three hydrophobic positions in the tetramer conformation is completely different from that seen in classical tetrameric structures yet bears resemblance to that in three-stranded coiled coils. These studies demonstrate that distinct van der Waals interactions beyond the a and d side chains can generate a diverse set of helix-helix interfaces and three-dimensional supercoil structures.
    Biochemistry 01/2007; 45(51):15224-31. · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63) has recently been identified as a causative agent of acute respiratory tract illnesses in infants and young children. The HCoV-NL63 spike (S) protein mediates virion attachment to cells and subsequent fusion of the viral and cellular membranes. This viral entry process is a primary target for vaccine and drug development. HCoV-NL63 S is expressed as a single-chain glycoprotein and consists of an N-terminal receptor-binding domain (S1) and a C-terminal transmembrane fusion domain (S2). The latter contains two highly conserved heptad-repeat (HR) sequences that are each extended by 14 amino acids relative to those of the SARS coronavirus or the prototypic murine coronavirus, mouse hepatitis virus. Limited proteolysis studies of the HCoV-NL63 S2 fusion core identify an alpha-helical domain composed of a trimer of the HR segments N57 and C42. The crystal structure of this complex reveals three C42 helices entwined in an oblique and antiparallel manner around a central triple-stranded coiled coil formed by three N57 helices. The overall geometry comprises distinctive high-affinity conformations of interacting cross-sectional layers of the six helices. As a result, this structure is unusually stable, with an apparent melting temperature of 78 degrees C in the presence of the denaturant guanidine hydrochloride at 5 M concentration. The extended HR regions may therefore be required to prime the group 1 S glycoproteins for their fusion-activating conformational changes during viral entry. Our results provide an initial basis for understanding an intriguing interplay between the presence or absence of proteolytic maturation among the coronavirus groups and the membrane fusion activity of their S glycoproteins. This study also suggests a potential strategy for the development of improved HCoV-NL63 fusion inhibitors.
    Biochemistry 01/2007; 45(51):15205-15. · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Coiled-coil proteins contain a characteristic seven-residue sequence repeat whose positions are designated a to g. The interacting surface between alpha-helices in a classical coiled coil is formed by interspersing nonpolar side chains at the a and d positions with hydrophilic residues at the flanking e and g positions. To explore how the chemical nature of these core amino acids dictates the overall coiled-coil architecture, we replaced all eight e and g residues in the GCN4 leucine zipper with nonpolar alanine side chains. Surprisingly, the alanine-containing mutant forms a stable alpha-helical heptamer in aqueous solution. The 1.25-A resolution crystal structure of the heptamer reveals a parallel seven-stranded coiled coil enclosing a large tubular channel with an unusual heptad register shift between adjacent staggered helices. The overall geometry comprises two interleaved hydrophobic helical screws of interacting cross-sectional a and d layers that have not been seen before. Moreover, asparagines at the a positions play an essential role in heptamer formation by participating in a set of buried interhelix hydrogen bonds. These results demonstrate that heptad repeats containing four hydrophobic positions can direct assembly of complex, higher-order coiled-coil structures with rich diversity for close packing of alpha-helices.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2006; 103(42):15457-62. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alpha-helical coiled coils play a crucial role in mediating specific protein-protein interactions. However, the rules and mechanisms that govern helix-helix association in coiled coils remain incompletely understood. Here we have engineered a seven heptad "Phe-zipper" protein (Phe-14) with phenylalanine residues at all 14 hydrophobic a and d positions, and generated a further variant (Phe-14(M)) in which a single core Phe residue is substituted with Met. Phe-14 forms a discrete alpha-helical pentamer in aqueous solution, while Phe-14(M) folds into a tetrameric helical structure. X-ray crystal structures reveal that in both the tetramer and the pentamer the a and d side-chains interlock in a classical knobs-into-holes packing to produce parallel coiled-coil structures enclosing large tubular cavities. However, the presence of the Met residue in the apolar interface of the tetramer markedly alters its local coiled-coil conformation and superhelical geometry. Thus, short-range interactions involving the Met side-chain serve to preferentially select for tetramer formation, either by inhibiting a nucleation step essential for pentamer folding or by abrogating an intermediate required to form the pentamer. Although specific trigger sequences have not been clearly identified in dimeric coiled coils, higher-order coiled coils, as well as other oligomeric multi-protein complexes, may require such sequences to nucleate and direct their assembly.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 09/2006; 361(1):168-79. · 3.91 Impact Factor
  • Yiqun Deng, Jie Liu, Qi Zheng, Wei Yong, Min Lu
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    ABSTRACT: Entry of SARS coronavirus into its target cell requires large-scale structural transitions in the viral spike (S) glycoprotein in order to induce fusion of the virus and cell membranes. Here we describe the identification and crystal structures of four distinct alpha-helical domains derived from the highly conserved heptad-repeat (HR) regions of the S2 fusion subunit. The four domains are an antiparallel four-stranded coiled coil, a parallel trimeric coiled coil, a four-helix bundle, and a six-helix bundle that is likely the final fusogenic form of the protein. When considered together, the structural and thermodynamic features of the four domains suggest a possible mechanism whereby the HR regions, initially sequestered in the native S glycoprotein spike, are released and refold sequentially to promote membrane fusion. Our results provide a structural framework for understanding the control of membrane fusion and should guide efforts to intervene in the SARS coronavirus entry process.
    Structure 06/2006; 14(5):889-99. · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Coiled-coil sequences in proteins commonly share a seven-amino acid repeat with nonpolar side chains at the first (a) and fourth (d) positions. We investigate here the role of a 3-3-1 hydrophobic repeat containing nonpolar amino acids at the a, d, and g positions in determining the structures of coiled coils using mutants of the GCN4 leucine zipper dimerization domain. When three charged residues at the g positions in the parental sequence are replaced by nonpolar alanine or valine side chains, stable four-helix structures result. The X-ray crystal structures of the tetramers reveal antiparallel, four-stranded coiled coils in which the a, d, and g side chains interlock in a combination of knobs-into-knobs and knobs-into-holes packing. Interfacial interactions in a coiled coil can therefore be prescribed by hydrophobic-polar patterns beyond the canonical 3-4 heptad repeat. The results suggest that the conserved, charged residues at the g positions in the GCN4 leucine zipper can impart a negative design element to disfavor thermodynamically more stable, antiparallel tetramers.
    Structure 03/2006; 14(2):247-55. · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Coiled-coil motifs are ubiquitous mediators of specific protein-protein interactions through the formation of interlocking hydrophobic seams between alpha-helical chains. Residues that form these seams occur at the first (a) and fourth (d) positions of a characteristic 7-aa repeat and are primarily aliphatic. The potential of aromatic residues to promote helix association in a coiled coil was explored by engineering a "Trp-zipper" protein with Trp residues at all 14 a and d positions. The protein forms a discrete, stable, alpha-helical pentamer in water at physiological pH. Its 1.45-A crystal structure reveals a parallel, five-stranded coiled coil, a previously uncharacterized type of "knobs-into-holes" packing interaction between interfacial Trp side chains, and an unusual approximately 8-A-diameter axial channel lined with indole rings that is filled with polyethylene glycol 400 and water and sulfate ion molecules. The engineered Trp-zipper pentamer enlarges current views of coiled-coil assembly, molecular recognition, and protein engineering, and may serve as a soluble model for membrane ion channels.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2004; 101(46):16156-61. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The fusion inhibitor T20 belongs to a new class of anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) drugs designed to block entry of the virus into the host cell. However, the success of T20 has met with the inevitable emergence of drug-resistant HIV-1 variants. We describe an evolutionary pathway taken by HIV-1 to escape from the selective pressure of T20 in a treated patient. Besides the appearance of T20-resistant variants, we report for the first time the emergence of drug-dependent viruses with mutations in both the HR1 and HR2 domains of envelope glycoprotein 41. We propose a mechanistic model for the dependence of HIV-1 entry on the T20 peptide. The T20-dependent mutant is more prone to undergo the conformational switch that results in the formation of the fusogenic six-helix bundle structure in gp41. A premature switch will generate nonfunctional envelope glycoproteins (dead spikes) on the surface of the virion, and T20 prevents this abortive event by acting as a safety pin that preserves an earlier prefusion conformation.
    Journal of Virology 12/2004; 78(22):12428-37. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hematophagous arthropods secrete a salivary apyrase that inhibits platelet activation by catabolizing ADP released from damaged tissues and blood cells. We report the X-ray crystal structures of a human enzyme of the soluble apyrase family in its apo state and bound to a substrate analog. The structures reveal a nucleotide binding domain comprising a five-blade beta propeller, binding determinants of the substrate and the active site, and an unusual calcium binding site with a potential regulatory function. Using a comparative structural biology approach, we were able to redesign the human apyrase so as to enhance its ADPase activity by more than 100-fold. The engineered enzyme is a potent inhibitor of platelet aggregation and may serve as the basis for the development of a new class of antithrombotic agents.
    Cell 04/2004; 116(5):649-59. · 31.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hematophagous arthropods secrete a salivary apyrase that inhibits platelet activation by catabolizing ADP released from damaged tissues and blood cells. We report the X-ray crystal structures of a human enzyme of the soluble apyrase family in its apo state and bound to a substrate analog. The structures reveal a nucleotide binding domain comprising a five-blade beta propeller, binding determinants of the substrate and the active site, and an unusual calcium binding site with a potential regulatory function. Using a comparative structural biology approach, we were able to redesign the human apyrase so as to enhance its ADPase activity by more than 100-fold. The engineered enzyme is a potent inhibitor of platelet aggregation and may serve as the basis for the development of a new class of antithrombotic agents.
    Cell 04/2004; 116(5):649-59. · 31.96 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

441 Citations
113.12 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2004–2009
    • Weill Cornell Medical College
      • Department of Biochemistry
      New York City, NY, United States
    • Cornell University
      • • Department of Microbiology and Immunology
      • • Department of Biochemistry
      Ithaca, NY, United States