[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyloid fibrils are self-assembled protein structures with important roles in biology (either pathogenic or physiological), and are attracting increasing interest in nanotechnology. However, because of their high aspect ratio and the presence of some polymorphism, that is, the possibility to adopt various structures, their characterization is challenging and basic information such as their mass is unknown. Here we show that charge-detection mass spectrometry, recently developed for large self-assembled systems such as viruses, provides such information in a straightforward manner.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Angewandte Chemie International Edition
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The transition of proteins from their soluble functional state to amyloid fibrils and aggregates is associated with the onset of several human diseases. Protein aggregation often requires some structural reshaping and the subsequent formation of intermolecular contacts. Therefore, the study of the conformation of excited protein states and their ability to form oligomers is of primary importance for understanding the molecular basis of amyloid fibril formation. Here, we investigated the oligomerization processes that occur along the folding of the amyloidogenic human protein β2-microglobulin. The combination of real-time 2D NMR data with real-time SAXS measurements allowed us to derive thermodynamic and kinetic information on protein oligomerization of different conformational states populated along the folding pathways. In particular we could demonstrate that a long-lived folding intermediate (I-state) has a higher propensity to oligomerize compared to the native state. Our data agree well with a simple 5-state kinetic model that involves only monomeric and dimeric species. The dimers have an elongated shape with the dimerization interface located at the apical side of β2-microglobulin close to Pro(32), the residue that has a trans conformation in the I-state and a cis conformation in the native (N) state. Our experimental data suggest that partial unfolding in the apical half of the protein close to Pro(32) leads to an excited state conformation with enhanced propensity for oligomerization. This excited state becomes more populated in the transient I-state due to the destabilization of the native conformation by the trans-Pro(32) configuration.
No preview · Article · May 2013 · Journal of Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent advances in NMR spectroscopy and the availability of high magnetic field strengths now offer the possibility to record real-time 3D NMR spectra of short-lived protein states, e.g., states that become transiently populated during protein folding. Here we present a strategy for obtaining sequential NMR assignments as well as atom-resolved information on structural and dynamic features within a folding intermediate of the amyloidogenic protein β2-microglobulin that has a half-lifetime of only 20 min.
Full-text · Article · May 2012 · Journal of the American Chemical Society
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The accumulation of amyloid fibers due to protein misfolding is associated with numerous human diseases. For example, the formation of amyloid deposits in neurodegenerative pathologies is correlated with abnormal apoptosis. We report here the in vitro formation of various types of aggregates by Bcl-xL, a protein of the Bcl-2 family involved in the regulation of apoptosis. Bcl-xL forms aggregates in three states, micelles, native-like fibrils, and amyloid fibers, and their biophysical characterization has been performed in detail. Bcl-xL remains in its native state within micelles and native-like fibrils, and our results suggest that native-like fibrils are formed by the association of micelles. Formation of amyloid structures, that is, nonnative intermolecular β-sheets, is favored by the proximity of proteins within fibrils at the expense of the Bcl-xL native structure. Finally, we provide evidence of a direct relationship between the amyloid character of the fibers and the tertiary-structure stability of the native Bcl-xL. The potential causality between the accumulation of Bcl-xL into amyloid deposits and abnormal apoptosis during neurodegenerative diseases is discussed.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Journal of Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The translocation domain of diphtheria toxin inserts in membrane and becomes functional when the pH inside endosomes is acid. At that stage, the domain is in a partially folded state; this prevents the use of high-resolution methods for the characterization of its functional structure. On that purpose, we report here the use of hydrogen/deuterium exchange experiments coupled to mass spectrometry. The conformation changes during the different steps of insertion into lipid bilayer are monitored with a resolution of few residues. Three parts of the translocation domain can be distinguished. With a high protection against exchange, the C-terminal hydrophobic helical hairpin is embedded in the membrane. Despite a lower protection, a significant effect in the presence of lipid vesicles shows that the N-terminal part is in interaction with the membrane interface. The sensitivity to the ionic strength indicates that electrostatic interactions are important for the binding. The middle part of the domain has an intermediate protection; this suggests that this part of the domain can be embedded within the membrane but remains quite dynamic. These results provide unprecedented insight into the structure reorganization of the protein to go from a soluble state to a membrane-inserted one.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Journal of Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding the driving forces governing protein assembly requires the characterization of interactions at molecular level. We focus on two homologous oppositely charged proteins, lysozyme and α-lactalbumin, which can assemble into microspheres. The assembly early steps were characterized through the identification of interacting surfaces monitored at residue level by NMR chemical shift perturbations by titrating one (15)N-labeled protein with its unlabeled partner. While α-lactalbumin has a narrow interacting site, lysozyme has interacting sites scattered on a broad surface. The further assembly of these rather unspecific heterodimers into tetramers leads to the establishment of well-defined interaction sites. Within the tetramers, most of the electrostatic charge patches on the protein surfaces are shielded. Then, hydrophobic interactions, which are possible because α-lactalbumin is in a partially folded state, become preponderant, leading to the formation of larger oligomers. This approach will be particularly useful for rationalizing the design of protein assemblies as nanoscale devices.
No preview · Article · Jun 2011 · Biomacromolecules
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Self-assembly in aqueous solution of two oppositely charged globular proteins, hen egg white lysozyme (LYS) and bovine calcium-depleted α-lactalbumin (apo α-LA), was investigated at pH 7.5. The aggregation rate of equimolar mixtures of the two proteins was determined using static and dynamic light scattering as a function of the ionic strength (15-70 mM) and protein concentration (0.28-2.8 g/L) at 25 and 45 °C. The morphology of formed supramolecular structures was observed by confocal laser scanning microscopy. When the two proteins are mixed, small aggregates were formed rapidly that subsequently grew by collision and fusion. The aggregation process led on larger length scales to irregularly shaped flocs at 25 °C, but to monodisperse homogeneous spheres at 45 °C. Both the initial rate of aggregation and the fraction of proteins that associated decreased strongly with decreasing protein concentration or increasing ionic strength but was independent of the temperature.
No preview · Article · Apr 2011 · Biomacromolecules
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During cell intoxication by diphtheria toxin, endosome acidification triggers the translocation of the catalytic (C) domain into the cytoplasm. This event is mediated by the translocation (T) domain of the toxin. Previous work suggested that the T domain acts as a chaperone for the C domain during membrane penetration of the toxin. Using partitioning experiments with lipid vesicles, fluorescence spectroscopy, and a lipid vesicle leakage assay, we characterized the dominant behavior of the T domain over the C domain during the successive steps by which these domains interact with a membrane upon acidification: partial unfolding in solution and during membrane binding, and then structural rearrangement during penetration into the membrane. To this end, we compared, for each domain, isolated or linked together in a CT protein (the toxin lacking the receptor-binding domain), each of these steps. The behavior of the T domain is marginally modified by the presence or absence of the C domain, whereas that of the C domain is greatly affected by the presence of the T domain . All of the steps leading to membrane penetration of the C domain are triggered at higher pH by the T domain , by 0.5-1.6 pH units. The T domain stabilizes the partially folded states of the C domain corresponding to each step of the process. The results unambiguously demonstrate that the T domain acts as a specialized pH-dependent chaperone for the C domain. Interestingly, this chaperone activity acts on very different states of the protein: in solution, membrane-bound, and membrane-inserted.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The translocation domain (T domain) of diphtheria toxin adopts a partially folded state, the so-called molten globule state, to become functional at acidic pH. We compared, using hydrogen/deuterium exchange experiments associated with MS, the structures of the T domain in its soluble folded state at neutral pH and in its functional molten globule state at acidic pH. In the native state, the α-helices TH5 and TH8 are identified as the core of the domain. Based on the high-resolution structure of the T domain, we propose that TH8 is highly protected because it is buried within the native structure. According to the same structure, TH5 is partly accessible at the surface of the T domain. We propose that its high protection is caused by the formation of dimers. Within the molten globule state, high protection is still observed within the helical hairpin TH8–TH9, which is responsible for the insertion of the T domain into the membrane. In the absence of the lipid bilayer, this hydrophobic part of the domain self-assembles, leading to the formation of oligomers. Overall, hydrogen/deuterium-exchange measurements allow the analysis of interaction contacts within small oligomers made of partially folded proteins. Such information, together with crystal structure data, are particularly valuable for using to analyze the self-assembly of proteins.
Structured digital abstract
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gap junctions are intercellular channels that allow the passage of ions, small molecules, and second messengers that are essential for the coordination of cellular function. They are formed by two hemichannels, each constituted by the oligomerization of six connexins (Cx). Among the 21 different human Cx isoforms, studies have suggested that in the heart, Cx40 and Cx43 can oligomerize to form heteromeric hemichannels. The mechanism of heteromeric channel regulation has not been clearly defined. Tissue ischemia leads to intracellular acidification and closure of Cx43 and Cx40 homomeric channels. However, coexpression of Cx40 and Cx43 in Xenopus oocytes enhances the pH sensitivity of the channel. This phenomenon requires the carboxyl-terminal (CT) part of both connexins. In this study we used different biophysical methods to determine the structure of the Cx40CT and characterize the Cx40CT/Cx43CT interaction. Our results revealed that the Cx40CT is an intrinsically disordered protein similar to the Cx43CT and that the Cx40CT and Cx43CT can interact. Additionally, we have identified an interaction between the Cx40CT and the cytoplasmic loop of Cx40 as well as between the Cx40CT and the cytoplasmic loop of Cx43 (and vice versa). Our studies support the "particle-receptor" model for pH gating of Cx40 and Cx43 gap junction channels and suggest that interactions between cytoplasmic regulatory domains (both homo- and hetero-connexin) could be important for the regulation of heteromeric channels.
No preview · Article · Oct 2009 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Insertion and translocation of soluble proteins into and across biological membranes are involved in many physiological and pathological processes, but remain poorly understood. Here, we describe the pH-dependent membrane insertion of the diphtheria toxin T domain in lipid bilayers by specular neutron reflectometry and solid-state NMR spectroscopy. We gained unprecedented structural resolution using contrast-variation techniques that allow us to propose a sequential model of the membrane-insertion process at angstrom resolution along the perpendicular axis of the membrane. At pH 6, the native tertiary structure of the T domain unfolds, allowing its binding to the membrane. The membrane-bound state is characterized by a localization of the C-terminal hydrophobic helices within the outer third of the cis fatty acyl-chain region, and these helices are oriented predominantly parallel to the plane of the membrane. In contrast, the amphiphilic N-terminal helices remain in the buffer, above the polar headgroups due to repulsive electrostatic interactions. At pH 4, repulsive interactions vanish; the N-terminal helices penetrate the headgroup region and are oriented parallel to the plane of the membrane. The C-terminal helices penetrate deeper into the bilayer and occupy about two thirds of the acyl-chain region. These helices do not adopt a transmembrane orientation. Interestingly, the T domain induces disorder in the surrounding phospholipids and creates a continuum of water molecules spanning the membrane. We propose that this local destabilization permeabilizes the lipid bilayer and facilitates the translocation of the catalytic domain across the membrane.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2009 · Journal of Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: S-carboxymethylated (SCM) κ-casein forms in vitro fibrils that display several characteristics of amyloid fibrils, although the protein is unrelated to amyloid diseases. In order to get insight into the processes that prevent the formation of amyloid fibrils made of κ-caseins in milk, we have characterized in detail the reaction and the roles of its possible effectors: glycosylation and other caseins. Given that native κ-casein occurs as a heterogeneous mixture of carbohydrate-free and carbohydrate-containing chains, kinetics of fibril formation were performed on purified glycosylated and unglycosylated SCM κ-caseins using the fluorescent dye thioflavin T in conjunction with transmission electron microscopy and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy for morphological and structural analyses. Both unglycosylated and glycosylated SCM κ-caseins have the ability to fibrillate. Kinetic data indicate that the fibril formation rate increases with SCM κ-casein concentration but reaches a plateau at high concentrations, for both the unglycosylated and glycosylated forms. Therefore, a conformational rearrangement is the rate-limiting step in fibril growth of SCM κ-casein. Transmission electron microscopy images indicate the presence of 10- to 12-nm spherical particles prior to the appearance of amyloid structure. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy spectra reveal a conformational change within these micellar aggregates during the fibrillation. Fibrils are helical ribbons with a pitch of about 120–130 nm and a width of 10–12 nm. Taken together, these findings suggest a model of aggregation during which the SCM κ-casein monomer is in rapid equilibrium with a micellar aggregate that subsequently undergoes a conformational rearrangement into a more organized species. These micelles assemble and this leads to the growing of amyloid fibrils. Addition of αs1-and β-caseins decreases the growth rate of fibrils. Their main effect was on the elongation rate, which became close to that of the limiting conformation change, leading to the appearance of a lag phase at the beginning of the kinetics.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The translocation of the catalytic domain through the membrane of the endosome to the cell cytoplasm is a key step of intoxication by botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT). This step is mediated by the translocation (T) domain upon endosome acidification, although the mechanism of interaction of the T domain with the membrane is still poorly understood. Using physicochemical approaches and spectroscopic methods, we studied the interaction of the BoNT/A T domain with the membrane as a function of pH. We found that the interaction with membranes does not involve major secondary or tertiary structural changes, as reported for other toxins like diphtheria toxin. The T domain becomes insoluble around its pI value and then penetrates into the membrane. At that stage, the T domain becomes able to permeabilize lipid vesicles. This occurs for pH values lower than 5.5, in agreement with the pH encountered by the toxin within endosomes. Electrostatic interactions are also important for the process. The role of the so-called belt region was investigated with four variant proteins presenting different lengths of the N-extremity of the T domain. We observed that this part of the T domain, which contains numerous negatively charged residues, limits the protein-membrane interaction. Indeed, interaction with the membrane of the protein deleted of this extremity takes place for higher pH values than for the entire T domain. Overall, the data suggest that acidification eliminates repulsive electrostatic interactions between the T domain and the membrane, allowing its penetration into the membrane without triggering detectable structural changes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The translocation domain (T domain) of the diphtheria toxin contributes to the transfer of the catalytic domain from the cell
endosome to the cytosol, where it blocks protein synthesis. Translocation is initiated when endosome acidification induces
the interaction of the T domain with the membrane of the compartment. We found that the protonation of histidine side chains
triggers the conformational changes required for membrane interaction. All histidines are involved in a concerted manner,
but none is indispensable. However, the preponderance of each histidine varies according to the transition observed. The pair
His223-His257 and His251 are the most sensitive triggers for the formation of the molten globule state in solution, whereas His322-His323 and His251 are the most sensitive triggers for membrane binding. Interestingly, the histidines are located at key positions throughout
the structure of the protein, in hinges and at the interface between each of the three layers of helices forming the domain.
Their protonation induces local destabilizations, disrupting the tertiary structure and favoring membrane interaction. We
propose that the selection of histidine residues as triggers of membrane interaction enables the T domain to initiate translocation
at the rather mild pH found in the endosome, contributing to toxin efficacy.