[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The presence of DNA in the cytoplasm is a danger signal that triggers immune and inflammatory responses. Cytosolic DNA binds to and activates cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP) synthase (cGAS), which produces the second messenger cGAMP. cGAMP binds to the adaptor protein STING and activates a signaling cascade that leads to the production of type I interferons and other cytokines. Here, we report the crystal structures of human cGAS in its apo form, representing its autoinhibited conformation as well as in its cGAMP- and sulfate-bound forms. These structures reveal switch-like conformational changes of an activation loop that result in the rearrangement of the catalytic site. The structure of DNA-bound cGAS reveals a complex composed of dimeric cGAS bound to two molecules of DNA. Functional analyses of cGAS mutants demonstrate that both the protein-protein interface and the two DNA binding surfaces are critical for cGAS activation. These results provide insights into the mechanism of DNA sensing by cGAS.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT To adapt to stresses encountered in stationary phase, Gram-negative bacteria utilize the alternative sigma factor RpoS. However, some species lack RpoS; thus, it is unclear how stationary-phase adaptation is regulated in these organisms. Here we defined the growth-phase-dependent transcriptomes of Haemophilus ducreyi, which lacks an RpoS homolog. Compared to mid-log-phase organisms, cells harvested from the stationary phase upregulated genes encoding several virulence determinants and a homolog of hfq. Insertional inactivation of hfq altered the expression of ~16% of the H. ducreyi genes. Importantly, there were a significant overlap and an inverse correlation in the transcript levels of genes differentially expressed in the hfq inactivation mutant relative to its parent and the genes differentially expressed in stationary phase relative to mid-log phase in the parent. Inactivation of hfq downregulated genes in the flp-tad and lspB-lspA2 operons, which encode several virulence determinants. To comply with FDA guidelines for human inoculation experiments, an unmarked hfq deletion mutant was constructed and was fully attenuated for virulence in humans. Inactivation or deletion of hfq downregulated Flp1 and impaired the ability of H. ducreyi to form microcolonies, downregulated DsrA and rendered H. ducreyi serum susceptible, and downregulated LspB and LspA2, which allow H. ducreyi to resist phagocytosis. We propose that, in the absence of an RpoS homolog, Hfq serves as a major contributor of H. ducreyi stationary-phase and virulence gene regulation. The contribution of Hfq to stationary-phase gene regulation may have broad implications for other organisms that lack an RpoS homolog. IMPORTANCE Pathogenic bacteria encounter a wide range of stresses in their hosts, including nutrient limitation; the ability to sense and respond to such stresses is crucial for bacterial pathogens to successfully establish an infection. Gram-negative bacteria frequently utilize the alternative sigma factor RpoS to adapt to stresses and stationary phase. However, homologs of RpoS are absent in some bacterial pathogens, including Haemophilus ducreyi, which causes chancroid and facilitates the acquisition and transmission of HIV-1. Here, we provide evidence that, in the absence of an RpoS homolog, Hfq serves as a major contributor of stationary-phase gene regulation and that Hfq is required for H. ducreyi to infect humans. To our knowledge, this is the first study describing Hfq as a major contributor of stationary-phase gene regulation in bacteria and the requirement of Hfq for the virulence of a bacterial pathogen in humans.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Lyme disease agent Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted via a tick vector, is dependent on its tick and mammalian hosts for a number of essential nutrients. Like other bacterial diderms, it must transport these biochemicals from the extracellular milieu across two membranes, ultimately to the B. burgdorferi cytoplasm. In the current study, we established that a gene cluster comprising genes bb0215 through bb0218 is cotranscribed and is therefore an operon. Sequence analysis of these proteins suggested that they are the components of an ABC-type transporter responsible for translocating phosphate anions from the B. burgdorferi periplasm to the cytoplasm. Biophysical experiments established that the putative ligand-binding protein of this system, BbPstS (BB0215), binds to phosphate in solution. We determined the high-resolution (1.3 Å) crystal structure of the protein in the absence of phosphate, revealing that the protein's fold is similar to other phosphate-binding proteins, and residues that are implicated in phosphate binding in other such proteins are conserved in BbPstS. Taken together, the gene products of bb0215-0218 function as a phosphate transporter for B. burgdorferi.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Expression of the lspB-lspA2 operon encoding a virulence-related two-partner secretion system in Haemophilus ducreyi 35000HP is directly regulated by the CpxRA regulatory system [Labandeira-Rey M, Mock JR, Hansen E. Regulation of expression of the Haemophilus ducreyi LspB and LspA2 proteins by CpxR. Infect. Immun. 77: 3402-3411 (2009)]. In the present study, we show that this secretion system is also regulated by the small nucleoid-associated protein Fis. Inactivation of the H. ducreyi fis gene resulted in a reduction in expression of both the H. ducreyi LspB and LspA2 proteins. DNA microarray experiments showed that a H. ducreyi fis deletion mutant exhibited altered expression of genes encoding other important H. ducreyi virulence factors including DsrA and Flp1, suggesting a possible global role for Fis in control of virulence in this obligate human pathogen. While the H. ducreyi Fis protein has a high degree of sequence and structural similarity to the Fis proteins of other bacteria, its temporal pattern of expression was very different from that of enterobacterial Fis proteins. The use of a lacZ-based transcriptional reporter provided evidence which indicated that the H. ducreyi Fis homolog is a positive regulator of gyrB, a gene that is negatively regulated by Fis in enteric bacteria. Taken together, the Fis protein expression data and the observed regulatory effects of Fis in H. ducreyi suggest that this small DNA binding protein has a regulatory role in H. ducreyi which may differ in substantial ways from that of other Fis proteins.
Infection and immunity 08/2013; · 4.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tumor-suppressive Hippo pathway controls tissue homeostasis through balancing cell proliferation and apoptosis. Activation of the kinases Mst1 and Mst2 (Mst1/2) is a key upstream event in this pathway and remains poorly understood. Mst1/2 and their critical regulators RASSFs contain Salvador/RASSF1A/Hippo (SARAH) domains that can homo- and heterodimerize. Here, we report the crystal structures of human Mst2 alone and bound to RASSF5. Mst2 undergoes activation through transautophosphorylation at its activation loop, which requires SARAH-mediated homodimerization. RASSF5 disrupts Mst2 homodimer and blocks Mst2 autoactivation. Binding of RASSF5 to already activated Mst2, however, does not inhibit its kinase activity. Thus, RASSF5 can act as an inhibitor or a potential positive regulator of Mst2, depending on whether it binds to Mst2 before or after activation-loop phosphorylation. We propose that these temporally sensitive functions of RASSFs enable the Hippo pathway to respond to and integrate diverse cellular signals.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cohesin, along with positive regulators, establishes sister-chromatid cohesion by forming a ring to circle chromatin. The wings apart-like protein (Wapl) is a key negative regulator of cohesin and forms a complex with precocious dissociation of sisters protein 5 (Pds5) to promote cohesin release from chromatin. Here we report the crystal structure and functional characterization of human Wapl. Wapl contains a flexible, variable N-terminal region (Wapl-N) and a conserved C-terminal domain (Wapl-C) consisting of eight HEAT (Huntingtin, Elongation factor 3, A subunit, and target of rapamycin) repeats. Wapl-C folds into an elongated structure with two lobes. Structure-based mutagenesis maps the functional surface of Wapl-C to two distinct patches (I and II) on the N lobe and a localized patch (III) on the C lobe. Mutating critical patch I residues weaken Wapl binding to cohesin and diminish sister-chromatid resolution and cohesin release from mitotic chromosomes in human cells and Xenopus egg extracts. Surprisingly, patch III on the C lobe does not contribute to Wapl binding to cohesin or its known regulators. Although patch I mutations reduce Wapl binding to intact cohesin, they do not affect Wapl-Pds5 binding to the cohesin subcomplex of sister chromatid cohesion protein 1 (Scc1) and stromal antigen 2 (SA2) in vitro, which is instead mediated by Wapl-N. Thus, Wapl-N forms extensive interactions with Pds5 and Scc1-SA2. Wapl-C interacts with other cohesin subunits and possibly unknown effectors to trigger cohesin release from chromatin.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sedimentation velocity (SV) is a method based on first-principles that provides a precise hydrodynamic characterization of macromolecules in solution. Due to recent improvements in data analysis, the accuracy of experimental SV data emerges as a limiting factor in its interpretation. Our goal was to unravel the sources of experimental error and develop improved calibration procedures. We implemented the use of a Thermochron iButton® temperature logger to directly measure the temperature of a spinning rotor, and detected deviations that can translate into an error of as much as 10% in the sedimentation coefficient. We further designed a precision mask with equidistant markers to correct for instrumental errors in the radial calibration, which were observed to span a range of 8.6%. The need for an independent time calibration emerged with use of the current data acquisition software (Zhao et al., doi 10.1016/j.ab.2013.02.011) and we now show that smaller but significant time errors of up to 2% also occur with earlier versions. After application of these calibration corrections, the sedimentation coefficients obtained from eleven instruments displayed a significantly reduced standard deviation of ∼ 0.7%. This study demonstrates the need for external calibration procedures and regular control experiments with a sedimentation coefficient standard.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Syphilis, caused by the bacterial spirochete Treponema pallidum, remains a prominent sexually transmitted infection worldwide. Despite sequencing of the genome of this obligate human pathogen 15 years ago, the functions of a large number of the gene products of T. pallidum are still unknown, particularly with respect to those of the organism's periplasmic lipoproteins. To better understand their functions, a structural biology approach has been pursued. To this end, the soluble portion of the T. pallidum TP0435 lipoprotein (also known as Tp17) was cloned, hyper-expressed in Escherichia coli and purified to apparent homogeneity. The protein crystals obtained from this preparation diffracted to 2.4 Å resolution and had the symmetry of space group R3. In the hexagonal setting, the unit-cell parameters were a = b = 85.7, c = 85.4 Å.
Acta Crystallographica Section F Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications 04/2013; 69(Pt 4):453-5. · 0.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report systematic and large inaccuracies in the recorded elapsed time in data files from the analytical ultracentrifuge, leading to overestimates of the sedimentation coefficients of up to 10%. This far exceeds previously considered factors contributing to the uncertainty in this parameter, and has significant ramifications for derived parameters, such as hydrodynamic shape and molar mass estimates. The source of this error is at present unknown, but we found it to be quantitatively consistent across different instruments, increasing with rotor speed. Furthermore, its occurrence appears to correlate with the use of the latest data acquisition software from the manufacturer, in use in some of our laboratories for nearly two years. Many of the recently published sedimentation coefficients may need to be re-examined. The problem can be easily recognized by comparing the file time-stamps provided by the operating system with the elapsed scan times recorded within the data files. We therefore implemented a routine in SEDFIT that can automatically examine the data files, alert the user to significant discrepancies, and correct the scan times accordingly. This eliminates errors in the recorded scan times.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Treponema pallidum (Tp), an obligate parasite of humans and the causative agent of syphilis, has evolved the capacity to exploit host-derived metabolites for its survival. Flavin-containing compounds are essential cofactors that are required for metabolic processes in all living organisms, and riboflavin is a direct precursor of the cofactors FMN and FAD. Unlike many pathogenic bacteria, Tp cannot synthesize riboflavin; we recently described a flavin-uptake mechanism comprised of an ABC-type transporter. However, there is a paucity of information about flavin utilization in bacterial periplasms. Using a discovery-driven approach, we have identified the TP0796 lipoprotein as a previously uncharacterized Mg2+-dependent FAD pyrophosphatase within the ApbE superfamily. TP0796 likely plays a central role in flavin turnover by hydrolyzing exogenously acquired FAD yielding AMP and FMN. Biochemical and structural investigations revealed that the enzyme has a unique bimetal Mg2+catalytic center. Furthermore, the pyrophosphatase activity is product inhibited by AMP, indicating a possible role for this molecule in modulating FMN and FAD levels in the treponemal periplasm. The ApbE superfamily was previously thought to be involved in thiamine biosynthesis, but our characterization of TP0796 prompts a re-naming of this superfamily as a periplasmic FAD processing protein (Fpp). TP0796 is the first structurally and biochemically characterized FAD pyrophosphate enzyme in bacteria. This new paradigm for a bacterial flavin-utilization pathway may prove to be useful for future inhibitor design.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 02/2013; · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT Bacterial transporter proteins are involved in the translocation of many essential nutrients and metabolites. However, many of these key bacterial transport systems remain to be identified, including those involved in the transport of riboflavin (vitamin B(2)). Pathogenic spirochetes lack riboflavin biosynthetic pathways, implying reliance on obtaining riboflavin from their hosts. Using structural and functional characterizations of possible ligand-binding components, we have identified an ABC-type riboflavin transport system within pathogenic spirochetes. The putative lipoprotein ligand-binding components of these systems from three different spirochetes were cloned, hyperexpressed in Escherichia coli, and purified to homogeneity. Solutions of all three of the purified recombinant proteins were bright yellow. UV-visible spectra demonstrated that these proteins were likely flavoproteins; electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and thin-layer chromatography confirmed that they contained riboflavin. A 1.3-Å crystal structure of the protein (TP0298) encoded by Treponema pallidum, the syphilis spirochete, demonstrated that the protein's fold is similar to the ligand-binding components of ABC-type transporters. The structure also revealed other salient details of the riboflavin binding site. Comparative bioinformatics analyses of spirochetal genomes, coupled with experimental validation, facilitated the discovery of this new ABC-type riboflavin transport system(s). We denote the ligand-binding component as riboflavin uptake transporter A (RfuA). Taken together, it appears that pathogenic spirochetes have evolved an ABC-type transport system (RfuABCD) for survival in their host environments, particularly that of the human host. IMPORTANCE Syphilis remains a public health problem, but very little is known about the causative bacterium. This is because Treponema pallidum still cannot be cultured in the laboratory. Rather, T. pallidum must be cultivated in laboratory rabbits, a restriction that poses many insurmountable experimental obstacles. Approaches to learn more about the structure and function of T. pallidum's cell envelope, which is both the physical and functional interface between T. pallidum and its human host, are severely limited. One approach for elucidating T. pallidum's cell envelope has been to determine the three-dimensional structures of its membrane lipoproteins, molecules that serve many critical survival functions. Herein, we describe a previously unknown transport system that T. pallidum uses to import riboflavin, an essential nutrient for the organism's survival. Moreover, we found that this transport system is present in other pathogenic spirochetes. This is the first description of this new type of bacterial riboflavin transport system.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Plexins are cell surface receptors that bind semaphorins and transduce signals for regulating neuronal axon guidance and other processes. Plexin signaling depends on their cytoplasmic GTPase activating protein (GAP) domain, which specifically inactivates the Ras homolog Rap through an ill-defined non-canonical catalytic mechanism. The plexin GAP is activated by semaphorin-induced dimerization, the structural basis for which remained unknown. Here we present the crystal structures of the active dimer of zebrafish PlexinC1 cytoplasmic region in the apo state and in complex with Rap. The structures show that the dimerization induces a large-scale conformational change in plexin, which opens the GAP active site to allow Rap binding. Plexin stabilizes the switch II region of Rap in an unprecedented conformation, bringing Gln63 in Rap into the active site for catalyzing GTP hydrolysis. The structures also explain the unique Rap-specificity of plexins. Mutational analyses support that these mechanisms underlie plexin activation and signaling. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01279.001.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Multi-signal sedimentation velocity analytical ultracentrifugation (MSSV) is a powerful tool for the determination of the number, stoichiometry, and hydrodynamic shape of reversible protein complexes in two- and three-component systems. In this method, the evolution of sedimentation profiles of macromolecular mixtures is recorded simultaneously using multiple absorbance and refractive index signals and globally transformed into both spectrally and diffusion-deconvoluted component sedimentation coefficient distributions. For reactions with complex lifetimes comparable to the time-scale of sedimentation, MSSV reveals the number and stoichiometry of co-existing complexes. For systems with short complex lifetimes, MSSV reveals the composition of the reaction boundary of the coupled reaction/migration process, which we show here may be used to directly determine an association constant. A prerequisite for MSSV is that the interacting components are spectrally distinguishable, which may be a result, for example, of extrinsic chromophores or of different abundances of aromatic amino acids contributing to the UV absorbance. For interacting components that are spectrally poorly resolved, here we introduce a method for additional regularization of the spectral deconvolution by exploiting approximate knowledge of the total loading concentrations. While this novel mass conservation principle does not discriminate contributions to different species, it can be effectively combined with constraints in the sedimentation coefficient range of uncomplexed species. We show in theory, computer simulations, and experiment, how mass conservation MSSV as implemented in SEDPHAT can enhance or even substitute for the spectral discrimination of components. This should broaden the applicability of MSSV to the analysis of the composition of reversible macromolecular complexes.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(5):e62694. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Metal ion homeostasis is a critical function of many integral and peripheral membrane proteins. The genome of the etiologic agent of syphilis, Treponema pallidum, is compact and devoid of many metabolic enzymes. Nevertheless, it harbors genes coding for homologs of several enzymes that typically require either iron or zinc. The product of the tp0971 gene of T. pallidum, designated Tp34, is a periplasmic lipoprotein that is thought to be tethered to the inner membrane of this organism. Previous work on a water-soluble (non-acylated) recombinant version of Tp34 established that this protein binds to Zn(2+), which, like other transition metal ions, stabilizes the dimeric form of the protein. In this report, we employed analytical ultracentrifugation to establish that four transition metal ions (Ni(2+), Co(2+), Cu(2+), and Zn(2+)) readily induce the dimerization of Tp34; Cu(2+) (EC(50) = 1.7 μM) and Zn(2+) (EC(50) = 6.2 μM) were the most efficacious. Mutations of the crystallographically identified metal-binding residues hindered the ability of Tp34 to dimerize. X-ray crystallography performed on crystals of Tp34 that had been incubated with metal ions indicated that the binding site could accommodate the metals examined. The findings presented herein, coupled with bioinformatic analyses of related proteins, point to Tp34's likely role in metal ion homeostasis in T. pallidum.
Journal of bacteriology 10/2012; · 3.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stu2p/XMAP215/Dis1 family proteins are evolutionarily conserved regulatory factors that use αβ-tubulin-interacting tumor overexpressed gene (TOG) domains to catalyze fast microtubule growth. Catalysis requires that these polymerases discriminate between unpolymerized and polymerized forms of αβ-tubulin, but the mechanism by which they do so has remained unclear. Here, we report the structure of the TOG1 domain from Stu2p bound to yeast αβ-tubulin. TOG1 binds αβ-tubulin in a way that excludes equivalent binding of a second TOG domain. Furthermore, TOG1 preferentially binds a curved conformation of αβ-tubulin that cannot be incorporated into microtubules, contacting α- and β-tubulin surfaces that do not participate in microtubule assembly. Conformation-selective interactions with αβ-tubulin explain how TOG-containing polymerases discriminate between unpolymerized and polymerized forms of αβ-tubulin and how they selectively recognize the growing end of the microtubule.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Rpd3S histone deacetylase complex represses cryptic transcription initiation within coding regions by maintaining the hypo-acetylated state of transcribed chromatin. Rpd3S recognizes methylation of histone H3 at lysine 36 (H3K36me), which is required for its deacetylation activity. Rpd3S is able to function over a wide range of H3K36me levels, making this a unique system to examine how chromatin regulators tolerate the reduction of their recognition signal. Here, we demonstrated that Rpd3S makes histone modification-independent contacts with nucleosomes, and that Rpd3S prefers di-nucleosome templates since two binding surfaces can be readily accessed simultaneously. Importantly, this multivalent mode of interaction across two linked nucleosomes allows Rpd3S to tolerate a two-fold intramolecular reduction of H3K36me. Our data suggest that chromatin regulators utilize an intrinsic di-nucleosome-recognition mechanism to prevent compromised function when their primary recognition modifications are diluted.
The EMBO Journal 08/2012; 31(17):3564-74. · 9.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RIG-I and MDA5 detect viral RNA in the cytoplasm and activate signaling cascades leading to the production of type-I interferons. RIG-I is activated through sequential binding of viral RNA and unanchored lysine-63 (K63) polyubiquitin chains, but how polyubiquitin activates RIG-I and whether MDA5 is activated through a similar mechanism remain unresolved. Here, we showed that the CARD domains of MDA5 bound to K63 polyubiquitin and that this binding was essential for MDA5 to activate the transcription factor IRF3. Mutations of conserved residues in MDA5 and RIG-I that disrupt their ubiquitin binding also abrogated their ability to activate IRF3. Polyubiquitin binding induced the formation of a large complex consisting of four RIG-I and four ubiquitin chains. This hetero-tetrameric complex was highly potent in activating the antiviral signaling cascades. These results suggest a unified mechanism of RIG-I and MDA5 activation and reveal a unique mechanism by which ubiquitin regulates cell signaling and immune response.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) is a powerful classical method that enables researchers in many fields to study the thermodynamics of molecular interactions. Primary ITC data comprise the temporal evolution of differential power reporting the heat of reaction during a series of injections of aliquots of a reactant into a sample cell. By integration of each injection peak, an isotherm can be constructed of total changes in enthalpy as a function of changes in solution composition, which is rich in thermodynamic information on the reaction. However, the signals from the injection peaks are superimposed by the stochastically varying time-course of the instrumental baseline power, limiting the precision of ITC isotherms. Here, we describe a method for automated peak assignment based on peak-shape analysis via singular value decomposition in combination with detailed least-squares modeling of local pre- and postinjection baselines. This approach can effectively filter out contributions of short-term noise and adventitious events in the power trace. This method also provides, for the first time, statistical error estimates for the individual isotherm data points. In turn, this results in improved detection limits for high-affinity or low-enthalpy binding reactions and significantly higher precision of the derived thermodynamic parameters.