Christèle Huon

Institut Pasteur, Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France

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Publications (6)47.91 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels mediate fast chemical transmission of nerve signals. The structure of a bacterial proton-gated homolog has been established in its open and locally closed conformations at acidic pH. Here we report its crystal structure at neutral pH, thereby providing the X-ray structures of the two end-points of the gating mechanism in the same pentameric ligand-gated ion channel. The large structural variability in the neutral pH structure observed in the four copies of the pentamer present in the asymmetric unit has been used to analyze the intrinsic fluctuations in this state, which are found to prefigure the transition to the open state. In the extracellular domain (ECD), a marked quaternary change is observed, involving both a twist and a blooming motion, and the pore in the transmembrane domain (TMD) is closed by an upper bend of helix M2 (as in locally closed form) and a kink of helix M1, both helices no longer interacting across adjacent subunits. On the tertiary level, detachment of inner and outer β sheets in the ECD reshapes two essential cavities at the ECD-ECD and ECD-TMD interfaces. The first one is the ligand-binding cavity; the other is close to a known divalent cation binding site in other pentameric ligand-gated ion channels. In addition, a different crystal form reveals that the locally closed and open conformations coexist as discrete ones at acidic pH. These structural results, together with site-directed mutagenesis, physiological recordings, and coarse-grained modeling, have been integrated to propose a model of the gating transition pathway.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels mediate signal transduction through conformational transitions between closed-pore and open-pore states. To stabilize a closed conformation of GLIC, a bacterial proton-gated homolog from Gloeobacter violaceus whose open structure is known, we separately generated either four cross-links or two single mutations. We found all six mutants to be in the same 'locally closed' conformation using X-ray crystallography, sharing most of the features of the open form but showing a locally closed pore as a result of a concerted bending of all of its M2 helices. The mutants adopt several variant conformations of the M2-M3 loop, and in all cases an interacting lipid that is observed in the open form disappears. A single cross-linked mutant is functional, according to electrophysiology, and the locally closed structure of this mutant indicates that it has an increased flexibility. Further cross-linking, accessibility and molecular dynamics data suggest that the locally closed form is a functionally relevant conformation that occurs during allosteric gating transitions.
    Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 05/2012; 19(6):642-9. · 11.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The High Pathogenicity Island of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis IP32637 was previously shown to be horizontally transferable as part of a large chromosomal segment. We demonstrate here that at low temperature other chromosomal loci, as well as a non-mobilizable plasmid (pUC4K), are also transferable. This transfer, designated GDT4 (Generalized DNA Transfer at 4°C), required the presence of an IP32637 endogenous plasmid (pGDT4) that carries several mobile genetic elements and a conjugation machinery. We established that cure of this plasmid or inactivation of its sex pilus fully abrogates this process. Analysis of the mobilized pUC4K recovered from transconjugants revealed the insertion of one of the pGDT4-borne ISs, designated ISYps1, at different sites on the transferred plasmid molecules. This IS belongs to the IS6 family, which moves by replicative transposition, and thus could drive the formation of cointegrates between pGDT4 and the host chromosome and could mediate the transfer of chromosomal regions in an Hfr-like manner. In support of this model, we show that a suicide plasmid carrying ISYps1 is able to integrate itself, flanked by ISYps1 copies, at multiple locations into the Escherichia coli chromosome. Furthermore, we demonstrate the formation of RecA-independent cointegrates between the ISYps1-harboring plasmid and an ISYps1-free replicon, leading to the passive transfer of the non-conjugative plasmid. We thus demonstrate here a natural mechanism of horizontal gene exchange, which is less constrained and more powerful than the classical Hfr mechanism, as it only requires the presence of an IS6-type element on a conjugative replicon to drive the horizontal transfer of any large block of plasmid or chromosomal DNA. This natural mechanism of chromosome transfer, which occurs under conditions mimicking those found in the environment, may thus play a significant role in bacterial evolution, pathogenesis, and adaptation to new ecological niches.
    PLoS Genetics 03/2012; 8(3):e1002529. · 8.52 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2012; 102(3):113-. · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs), which mediate chemo-electric signal transduction in animals, have been recently found in bacteria. Despite clear sequence and 3D structure homology, the phylogenetic distance between prokaryotic and eukaryotic homologs suggests significant structural divergences, especially at the interface between the extracellular (ECD) and the transmembrane (TMD) domains. To challenge this possibility, we constructed a chimera in which the ECD of the bacterial protein GLIC is fused to the TMD of the human α1 glycine receptor (α1GlyR). Electrophysiology in Xenopus oocytes shows that it functions as a proton-gated ion channel, thereby locating the proton activation site(s) of GLIC in its ECD. Patch-clamp experiments in BHK cells show that the ion channel displays an anionic selectivity with a unitary conductance identical to that of the α1GlyR. In addition, pharmacological investigations result in transmembrane allosteric modulation similar to the one observed on α1GlyR. Indeed, the clinically active drugs propofol, four volatile general anesthetics, alcohols, and ivermectin all potentiate the chimera while they inhibit GLIC. Collectively, this work shows the compatibility between GLIC and α1GlyR domains and points to conservation of the ion channel and transmembrane allosteric regulatory sites in the chimera. This provides evidence that GLIC and α1GlyR share a highly homologous 3D structure. GLIC is thus a relevant model of eukaryotic pLGICs, at least from the anionic type. In addition, the chimera is a good candidate for mass production in Escherichia coli, opening the way for investigations of "druggable" eukaryotic allosteric sites by X-ray crystallography.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2011; 108(29):12143-8. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague, has recently diverged from the less virulent enteropathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Its emergence has been characterized by massive genetic loss and inactivation and limited gene acquisition. The acquired genes include two plasmids, a filamentous phage, and a few chromosomal loci. The aim of this study was to characterize the chromosomal regions acquired by Y. pestis. Following in silico comparative analysis and PCR screening of 98 strains of Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. pestis, we found that eight chromosomal loci (six regions [R1pe to R6pe] and two coding sequences [CDS1pe and CDS2pe]) specified Y. pestis. Signatures of integration by site specific or homologous recombination were identified for most of them. These acquisitions and the loss of ancestral DNA sequences were concentrated in a chromosomal region opposite to the origin of replication. The specific regions were acquired very early during Y. pestis evolution and were retained during its microevolution, suggesting that they might bring some selective advantages. Only one region (R3pe), predicted to carry a lambdoid prophage, is most likely no longer functional because of mutations. With the exception of R1pe and R2pe, which have the potential to encode a restriction/modification and a sugar transport system, respectively, no functions could be predicted for the other Y. pestis-specific loci. To determine the role of the eight chromosomal loci in the physiology and pathogenicity of the plague bacillus, each of them was individually deleted from the bacterial chromosome. None of the deletants exhibited defects during growth in vitro. Using the Xenopsylla cheopis flea model, all deletants retained the capacity to produce a stable and persistent infection and to block fleas. Similarly, none of the deletants caused any acute flea toxicity. In the mouse model of infection, all deletants were fully virulent upon subcutaneous or aerosol infections. Therefore, our results suggest that acquisition of new chromosomal materials has not been of major importance in the dramatic change of life cycle that has accompanied the emergence of Y. pestis.
    Infection and immunity 09/2010; 78(9):3930-41. · 4.21 Impact Factor