[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A challenge in the computational design of enzymes is that multiple properties, including substrate binding, transition state stabilization and product release, must be simultaneously optimized, and this has limited the absolute activity of successful designs. Here, we focus on a single critical property of many enzymes: the nucleophilicity of an active site residue that initiates catalysis. We design proteins with idealized serine-containing catalytic triads and assess their nucleophilicity directly in native biological systems using activity-based organophosphate probes. Crystal structures of the most successful designs show unprecedented agreement with computational models, including extensive hydrogen bonding networks between the catalytic triad (or quartet) residues, and mutagenesis experiments demonstrate that these networks are critical for serine activation and organophosphate reactivity. Following optimization by yeast display, the designs react with organophosphate probes at rates comparable to natural serine hydrolases. Co-crystal structures with diisopropyl fluorophosphate bound to the serine nucleophile suggest that the designs could provide the basis for a new class of organophosphate capture agents.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Nature Chemical Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reengineering protein surfaces to exhibit high net charge, referred to as "supercharging", can improve reversibility of unfolding by preventing aggregation of partially unfolded states. Incorporation of charged side chains should be optimized while considering structural and energetic consequences, as numerous mutations and accumulation of like-charges can also destabilize the native state. A previously demonstrated approach deterministically mutates flexible polar residues (amino acids DERKNQ) with the fewest average neighboring atoms per side chain atom (AvNAPSA). Our approach uses Rosetta-based energy calculations to choose the surface mutations. Both protocols are available for use through the ROSIE web server. The automated Rosetta and AvNAPSA approaches for supercharging choose dissimilar mutations, raising an interesting division in surface charging strategy. Rosetta-supercharged variants of GFP (RscG) ranging from -11 to -61 and +7 to +58 were experimentally tested, and for comparison, we re-tested the previously developed AvNAPSA-supercharged variants of GFP (AscG) with +36 and -30 net charge. Mid-charge variants demonstrated ∼3-fold improvement in refolding with retention of stability. However, as we pushed to higher net charges, expression and soluble yield decreased, indicating that net charge or mutational load may be limiting factors. Interestingly, the two different approaches resulted in GFP variants with similar refolding properties. Our results show that there are multiple sets of residues that can be mutated to successfully supercharge a protein, and combining alternative supercharge protocols with experimental testing can be an effective approach for charge-based improvement to refolding.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have developed and validated a methodology for determining the antibody composition of the polyclonal serum response after immunization. Pepsin-digested serum IgGs were subjected to standard antigen-affinity chromatography, and resulting elution, wash, and flow-through fractions were analyzed by bottom-up, liquid chromatography-high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry. Identification of individual monoclonal antibodies required the generation of a database of IgG variable gene (V-gene) sequences constructed by NextGen sequencing of mature B cells. Antibody V-gene sequences are characterized by short complementarity determining regions (CDRs) of high diversity adjacent to framework regions shared across thousands of IgGs, greatly complicating the identification of antigen-specific IgGs from proteomically observed peptides. By mapping peptides marking unique V(H) CDRH3 sequences, we identified a set of V-genes heavily enriched in the affinity chromatography elution, constituting the serum polyclonal response. After booster immunization in a rabbit, we find that the antigen-specific serum immune response is oligoclonal, comprising antibodies encoding 34 different CDRH3s that group into 30 distinct antibody V(H) clonotypes. Of these 34 CDRH3s, 12 account for ∼60% of the antigen-specific CDRH3 peptide mass spectral counts. For comparison, antibodies with 18 different CDRH3s (12 clonotypes) were represented in the antigen-specific IgG fraction from an unimmunized rabbit that fortuitously displayed a moderate titer for BSA. Proteomically identified antibodies were synthesized and shown to display subnanomolar affinities. The ability to deconvolute the polyclonal serum response is likely to be of key importance for analyzing antibody responses after vaccination and for more completely understanding adaptive immune responses in health and disease.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As the availability of DNA sequence information has grown, so has the need to replicate DNA sequences synthetically. Synthetically produced DNA sequences allow the researcher to exert greater control over model systems and allow for the combinatorial design and construction of novel metabolic and regulatory pathways, as well as optimized protein-coding sequences for biotechnological applications. This utility has made synthetically produced DNA a hallmark of the molecular biosciences and a mainstay of synthetic biology. However, synthetically produced DNA has a significant shortcoming in that it typically has an error rate that is orders of magnitude higher when compared to DNA sequences derived directly from a biological source. This relatively high error rate adds to the cost and labor necessary to obtain sequence-verified clones from synthetically produced DNA sequences. This unit describes a protocol to enrich error-free sequences from a population of error-rich DNA via treatment with CEL I (Surveyor) endonuclease. This method is a straightforward and quick way of reducing the error content of synthetic DNA pools and reliably reduces the error rates by >6-fold per round of treatment.
No preview · Article · Jul 2012 · Current protocols in molecular biology / edited by Frederick M. Ausubel ... [et al.]
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The availability of custom synthetic gene-length DNA products removes numerous bottlenecks in research efforts, making gene synthesis an increasingly common commercial service. However, the assembly of synthetic oligonucleotides into large, custom DNA constructs is not especially difficult, and performing "in-house" gene synthesis has time and cost advantages. This unit will treat both the concerns of design and physical assembly in gene synthesis, including how to design DNA sequences for synthesis and the design of overlapping oligonucleotide schemes to ensure facile assembly into the final product. Assembly is accomplished using a reliable series of PCR reactions, with a troubleshooting assembly protocol included, which not only assembles difficult sequences but allows identification of the source of a failure down to a pair of oligonucleotides.
No preview · Article · Jul 2012 · Current protocols in molecular biology / edited by Frederick M. Ausubel ... [et al.]
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutation of surface residues to charged amino acids increases resistance to aggregation and can enable reversible unfolding. We have developed a protocol using the Rosetta computational design package that "supercharges" proteins while considering the energetic implications of each mutation. Using a homology model, a single-chain variable fragment antibody was designed that has a markedly enhanced resistance to thermal inactivation and displays an unanticipated ≈30-fold improvement in affinity. Such supercharged antibodies should prove useful for assays in resource-limited settings and for developing reagents with improved shelf lives.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA synthesis techniques and technologies are quickly becoming a cornerstone of modern molecular biology and play a pivotal role in the field of synthetic biology. The ability to synthesize whole genes, novel genetic pathways, and even entire genomes is no longer the dream it was 30 years ago. Using little more than a thermocycler, commercially synthesized oligonucleotides, and DNA polymerases, a standard molecular biology laboratory can synthesize several kilobase pairs of synthetic DNA in a week using existing techniques. Herein, we review the techniques used in the generation of synthetic DNA, from the chemical synthesis of oligonucleotides to their assembly into long, custom sequences. Software and websites to facilitate the execution of these approaches are explored, and applications of DNA synthesis techniques to gene expression and synthetic biology are discussed. Finally, an example of automated gene synthesis from our own laboratory is provided.
No preview · Article · Dec 2011 · Methods in enzymology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The phnD gene of Escherichia coli encodes the periplasmic binding protein of the phosphonate (Pn) uptake and utilization pathway. We have crystallized and determined structures of E. coli PhnD (EcPhnD) in the absence of ligand and in complex with the environmentally abundant 2-aminoethylphosphonate (2AEP). Similar to other bacterial periplasmic binding proteins, 2AEP binds near the center of mass of EcPhnD in a cleft formed between two lobes. Comparison of the open, unliganded structure with the closed 2AEP-bound structure shows that the two lobes pivot around a hinge by ~70° between the two states. Extensive hydrogen bonding and electrostatic interactions stabilize 2AEP, which binds to EcPhnD with low nanomolar affinity. These structures provide insight into Pn uptake by bacteria and facilitated the rational design of high signal-to-noise Pn biosensors based on both coupled small-molecule dyes and autocatalytic fluorescent proteins.
No preview · Article · Dec 2011 · Journal of Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Isolation of antigen-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and antibody fragments relies on high-throughput screening of immortalized B cells or recombinant antibody libraries. We bypassed the screening step by using high-throughput DNA sequencing and bioinformatic analysis to mine antibody variable region (V)-gene repertoires from bone marrow plasma cells (BMPC) of immunized mice. BMPCs, which cannot be immortalized, produce the vast majority of circulating antibodies. We found that the V-gene repertoire of BMPCs becomes highly polarized after immunization, with the most abundant sequences represented at frequencies between approximately 1% and >10% of the total repertoire. We paired the most abundant variable heavy (V(H)) and variable light (V(L)) genes based on their relative frequencies, reconstructed them using automated gene synthesis, and expressed recombinant antibodies in bacteria or mammalian cells. Antibodies generated in this manner from six mice, each immunized with one of three antigens were overwhelmingly antigen specific (21/27 or 78%). Those generated from a mouse with high serum titers had nanomolar binding affinities.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several bacterial solute transport mechanisms involve members of the periplasmic binding protein (PBP) superfamily that bind and deliver ligand to integral membrane transport proteins in the ATP-binding cassette, tripartite tricarboxylate transporter, or tripartite ATP-independent (TRAP) families. PBPs involved in ATP-binding cassette transport systems have been well characterized, but only a few PBPs involved in TRAP transport have been studied. We have measured the thermal stability, determined the oligomerization state by small angle x-ray scattering, and solved the x-ray crystal structure to 1.9 A resolution of a TRAP-PBP (open reading frame tm0322) from the hyperthermophilic bacterium Thermotoga maritima (TM0322). The overall fold of TM0322 is similar to other TRAP transport related PBPs, although the structural similarity of backbone atoms (2.5-3.1 A root mean square deviation) is unusually low for PBPs within the same group. Individual monomers within the tetrameric asymmetric unit of TM0322 exhibit high root mean square deviation (0.9 A) to each other as a consequence of conformational heterogeneity in their binding pockets. The gel filtration elution profile and the small angle x-ray scattering analysis indicate that TM0322 assembles as dimers in solution that in turn assemble into a dimer of dimers in the crystallographic asymmetric unit. Tetramerization has been previously observed in another TRAP-PBP (the Rhodobacter sphaeroides alpha-keto acid-binding protein) where quaternary structure formation is postulated to be an important requisite for the transmembrane transport process.