[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Porins are β-barrel outer-membrane proteins through which small solutes and metabolites diffuse that are also exploited during cell death. We have studied how the bacteriocin colicin E9 (ColE9) assembles a cytotoxic translocon at the surface of Escherichia coli that incorporates the trimeric porin OmpF. Formation of the translocon involved ColE9's unstructured N-terminal domain threading in opposite directions through two OmpF subunits, capturing its target TolB on the other side of the membrane in a fixed orientation that triggers colicin import. Thus, an intrinsically disordered protein can tunnel through the narrow pores of an oligomeric porin to deliver an epitope signal to the cell to initiate cell death.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis form communities (called biofilms) on inserted medical devices, leading to infections that affect many millions of patients worldwide and cause substantial morbidity and mortality. As biofilms are resistant to antibiotics, device removal is often required to resolve the infection. Thus, there is a need for new therapeutic strategies and molecular data that might assist their development. Surface proteins S. aureus surface protein G (SasG) and accumulation-associated protein (S. epidermidis) promote biofilm formation through their "B" regions. B regions contain tandemly arrayed G5 domains interspersed with approximately 50 residue sequences (herein called E) and have been proposed to mediate intercellular accumulation through Zn(2+)-mediated homodimerization. Although E regions are predicted to be unstructured, SasG and accumulation-associated protein form extended fibrils on the bacterial surface. Here we report structures of E-G5 and G5-E-G5 from SasG and biophysical characteristics of single and multidomain fragments. E sequences fold cooperatively and form interlocking interfaces with G5 domains in a head-to-tail fashion, resulting in a contiguous, elongated, monomeric structure. E and G5 domains lack a compact hydrophobic core, and yet G5 domain and multidomain constructs have thermodynamic stabilities only slightly lower than globular proteins of similar size. Zn(2+) does not cause SasG domains to form dimers. The work reveals a paradigm for formation of fibrils on the 100-nm scale and suggests that biofilm accumulation occurs through a mechanism distinct from the "zinc zipper." Finally, formation of two domains by each repeat (as in SasG) might reduce misfolding in proteins when the tandem arrangement of highly similar sequences is advantageous.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2012; 109(17):E1011-8. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: How proteins achieve high-affinity binding to a specific protein partner while simultaneously excluding all others is a major biological problem that has important implications for protein design. We report the crystal structure of the ultra-high-affinity protein-protein complex between the endonuclease domain of colicin E2 and its cognate immunity (Im) protein, Im2 (K(d)∼10(-)(15) M), which, by comparison to previous structural and biophysical data, provides unprecedented insight into how high affinity and selectivity are achieved in this model family of protein complexes. Our study pinpoints the role of structured water molecules in conjoining hotspot residues that govern stability with residues that control selectivity. A key finding is that a single residue, which in a noncognate context massively destabilizes the complex through frustration, does not participate in specificity directly but rather acts as an organizing center for a multitude of specificity interactions across the interface, many of which are water mediated.
Journal of Molecular Biology 03/2012; 417(1-2):79-94. · 3.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is more than 80 years since Gratia first described 'a remarkable antagonism between two strains of Escherichia coli'. Shown subsequently to be due to the action of proteins (or peptides) produced by one bacterium to kill closely related species with which it might be cohabiting, such bacteriocins have since been shown to be commonplace in the internecine warfare between bacteria. Bacteriocins have been studied primarily from the twin perspectives of how they shape microbial communities and how they penetrate bacteria to kill them. Here, we review the modes of action of a family of bacteriocins that cleave nucleic acid substrates in E. coli, known collectively as nuclease colicins, and the specific immunity (inhibitor) proteins that colicin-producing organisms make in order to avoid committing suicide. In a process akin to targeting in mitochondria, nuclease colicins engage in a variety of cellular associations in order to translocate their cytotoxic domains through the cell envelope to the cytoplasm. As well as informing on the process itself, the study of nuclease colicin import has also illuminated functional aspects of the host proteins they parasitize. We also review recent studies where nuclease colicins and their immunity proteins have been used as model systems for addressing fundamental problems in protein folding and protein-protein interactions, areas of biophysics that are intimately linked to the role of colicins in bacterial competition and to the import process itself.
Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics 11/2011; 45(1):57-103. · 11.88 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The porins OmpF and OmpC are trimeric β-barrel proteins with narrow channels running through each monomer that exclude molecules > 600 Da while mediating the passive diffusion of small nutrients and metabolites across the Gram-negative outer membrane (OM). Here, we elucidate the mechanism by which an entire soluble protein domain (> 6 kDa) is delivered through the lumen of such porins. Following high-affinity binding to the vitamin B(12) receptor in Escherichia coli, the bacteriocin ColE9 recruits OmpF or OmpC using an 83-residue intrinsically unstructured translocation domain (IUTD) to deliver a 16-residue TolB-binding epitope (TBE) in the center of the IUTD to the periplasm where it triggers toxin entry. We demonstrate that the IUTD houses two OmpF-binding sites, OBS1 (residues 2-18) and OBS2 (residues 54-63), which flank the TBE and bind with K(d)s of 2 and 24 μM, respectively, at pH 6.5 and 25 ºC. We show the two OBSs share the same binding site on OmpF and that the colicin must house at least one of them for antibiotic activity. Finally, we report the structure of the OmpF-OBS1 complex that shows the colicin bound within the porin lumen spanning the membrane bilayer. Our study explains how colicins exploit porins to deliver epitope signals to the bacterial periplasm and, more broadly, how the inherent flexibility and narrow cross-sectional area of an IUP domain can endow it with the ability to traverse a biological membrane via the constricted lumen of a β-barrel membrane protein.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2010; 107(50):21412-7. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Coronaviruses encode two classes of cysteine proteases, which have narrow substrate specificities and either a chymotrypsin- or papain-like fold. These enzymes mediate the processing of the two precursor polyproteins of the viral replicase and are also thought to modulate host cell functions to facilitate infection. The papain-like protease 1 (PL1(pro)) domain is present in nonstructural protein 3 (nsp3) of alphacoronaviruses and subgroup 2a betacoronaviruses. It participates in the proteolytic processing of the N-terminal region of the replicase polyproteins in a manner that varies among different coronaviruses and remains poorly understood. Here we report the first structural and biochemical characterization of a purified coronavirus PL1(pro) domain, that of transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV). Its tertiary structure is compared with that of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus PL2(pro), a downstream paralog that is conserved in the nsp3's of all coronaviruses. We identify both conserved and unique structural features likely controlling the interaction of PL1(pro) with cofactors and substrates, including the tentative mapping of substrate pocket residues. The purified recombinant TGEV PL1(pro) was shown to cleave a peptide mimicking the cognate nsp2|nsp3 cleavage site. Like its PL2(pro) paralogs from several coronaviruses, TGEV PL1(pro) was also found to have deubiquitinating activity in an in vitro cleavage assay, implicating it in counteracting ubiquitin-regulated host cell pathways, likely including innate immune responses. In combination with the prior characterization of PL2(pro) from other alphacoronaviruses, e.g., human coronaviruses 229E and NL63, our results unequivocally establish that these viruses employ two PL(pro)s with overlapping specificities toward both viral and cellular substrates.
Journal of Virology 10/2010; 84(19):10063-73. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The structure of the X (or ADRP) domain of a pathogenic variant of feline coronavirus (FCoV) has been determined in tetragonal and cubic crystal forms to 3.1 and 2.2 A resolution, respectively. In the tetragonal crystal form, glycerol-3-phosphate was observed in the ADP-ribose-binding site. Both crystal forms contained large solvent channels and had a solvent content of higher than 70%. Only very weak binding of this domain to ADP-ribose was detected in vitro. However, the structure with ADP-ribose bound was determined in the cubic crystal form at 3.9 A resolution. The structure of the FCoV X domain had the expected macro-domain fold and is the first structure of this domain from a coronavirus belonging to subgroup 1a.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Coronaviruses are a family of positive-stranded RNA viruses that includes important pathogens of humans and other animals. The large coronavirus genome (26-31 kb) encodes 15-16 nonstructural proteins (nsps) that are derived from two replicase polyproteins by autoproteolytic processing. The nsps assemble into the viral replication-transcription complex and nsp3, nsp4 and nsp6 are believed to anchor this enzyme complex to modified intracellular membranes. The largest part of the coronavirus nsp4 subunit is hydrophobic and is predicted to be embedded in the membranes. In this report, a conserved C-terminal domain ( approximately 100 amino-acid residues) has been delineated that is predicted to face the cytoplasm and has been isolated as a soluble domain using library-based construct screening. A prototypical crystal structure at 2.8 A resolution was obtained using nsp4 from feline coronavirus. Unmodified and SeMet-substituted proteins were crystallized under similar conditions, resulting in tetragonal crystals that belonged to space group P4(3). The phase problem was initially solved by single isomorphous replacement with anomalous scattering (SIRAS), followed by molecular replacement using a SIRAS-derived composite model. The structure consists of a single domain with a predominantly alpha-helical content displaying a unique fold that could be engaged in protein-protein interactions.