[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: T. gondii uses substrate-dependent gliding motility to invade cells of its hosts, egress from these cells at the end of its lytic cycle and disseminate through the host organism during infection. The ability of the parasite to move is therefore critical for its virulence. T. gondii engages in three distinct types of gliding motility on coated two-dimensional surfaces: twirling, circular gliding and helical gliding. We show here that motility in a three-dimensional Matrigel-based environment is strikingly different, in that all parasites move in irregular corkscrew-like trajectories. Methods developed for quantitative analysis of motility parameters along the smoothed trajectories demonstrate a complex but periodic pattern of motility with mean and maximum velocities of 0.58±0.07 µm/s and 2.01±0.17 µm/s, respectively. To test how a change in the parasite's crescent shape might affect trajectory parameters, we compared the motility of Δphil1 parasites, which are shorter and wider than wild type, to the corresponding parental and complemented lines. Although comparable percentages of parasites were moving for all three lines, the Δphil1 mutant exhibited significantly decreased trajectory lengths and mean and maximum velocities compared to the parental parasite line. These effects were either partially or fully restored upon complementation of the Δphil1 mutant. These results show that alterations in morphology may have a significant impact on T. gondii motility in an extracellular matrix-like environment, provide a possible explanation for the decreased fitness of Δphil1 parasites in vivo, and demonstrate the utility of the quantitative three-dimensional assay for studying parasite motility.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rad51 protein promotes homologous recombination in eukaryotes. Recombination activities are activated by Rad51 filament assembly on ssDNA. Previous studies of yeast Rad51 showed that His352 occupies an important position at the filament interface, where it could relay signals between subunits and active sites. To investigate, we characterized yeast Rad51 H352A and H352Y mutants, and solved the structure of H352Y. H352A forms catalytically competent but salt-labile complexes on ssDNA. In contrast, H352Y forms salt-resistant complexes on ssDNA, but is defective in nucleotide exchange, RPA displacement and strand exchange with full-length DNA substrates. The 2.5 A crystal structure of H352Y reveals a right-handed helical filament in a high-pitch (130 A) conformation with P6(1) symmetry. The catalytic core and dimer interface regions of H352Y closely resemble those of DNA-bound Escherichia coli RecA protein. The H352Y mutation stabilizes Phe187 from the adjacent subunit in a position that interferes with the gamma-phosphate-binding site of the Walker A motif/P-loop, potentially explaining the limited catalysis observed. Comparison of Rad51 H352Y, RecA-DNA and related structures reveals that the presence of bound DNA correlates with the isomerization of a conserved cis peptide near Walker B to the trans configuration, which appears to prime the catalytic glutamate residue for ATP hydrolysis.
Preview · Article · Apr 2010 · Nucleic Acids Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The fungal toxin cytochalasin D (CD) interferes with the normal dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton by binding to the barbed end of actin filaments. Despite its widespread use as a tool for studying actin-mediated processes, the exact location and nature of its binding to actin have not been previously determined. Here we describe two crystal structures of an expressed monomeric actin in complex with CD: one obtained by soaking preformed actin crystals with CD, and the other obtained by cocrystallization. The binding site for CD, in the hydrophobic cleft between actin subdomains 1 and 3, is the same in the two structures. Polar and hydrophobic contacts play equally important roles in CD binding, and six hydrogen bonds stabilize the actin-CD complex. Many unrelated actin-binding proteins and marine toxins target this cleft and the hydrophobic pocket at the front end of the cleft (viewing actin with subdomain 2 in the upper right corner). CD differs in that it binds to the back half of the cleft. The ability of CD to induce actin dimer formation and actin-catalyzed ATP hydrolysis may be related to its unique binding site and the necessity to fit its bulky macrocycle into this cleft. Contacts with residues lining this cleft appear to be crucial to capping and/or severing. The cocrystallized actin-CD structure also revealed changes in actin conformation. An approximately 6 degrees rotation of the smaller actin domain (subdomains 1 and 2) with respect to the larger domain (subdomains 3 and 4) results in small changes in crystal packing that allow the D-loop to adopt an extended loop structure instead of being disordered, as it is in most crystal structures of actin. We speculate that these changes represent a potential conformation that the actin monomer can adopt on the pathway to polymerization or in the filament.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2008 · Journal of Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thioredoxin reductase (TR) from Drosophila melanogaster (DmTR) is a member of the glutathione reductase (GR) family of pyridine nucleotide disulfide oxidoreductases and catalyzes the reduction of the redox-active disulfide bond of thioredoxin. DmTR is notable for having high catalytic activity without the presence of a selenocysteine (Sec) residue (which is essential for the mammalian thioredoxin reductases). We report here the X-ray crystal structure of DmTR at 2.4 A resolution (Rwork = 19.8%, Rfree = 24.7%) in which the enzyme was truncated to remove the C-terminal tripeptide sequence Cys-Cys-Ser. We also demonstrate that tetrapeptides equivalent to the oxidized C-terminal active sites of both mouse mitochondrial TR (mTR3) and DmTR are substrates for the truncated forms of both enzymes. This truncated enzyme/peptide substrate system examines the kinetics of the ring-opening step that occurs during the enzymatic cycle of TR. The ring-opening step is 300-500-fold slower when Sec is replaced with Cys in mTR3 when using this system. Conversely, when Cys is replaced with Sec in DmTR, the rate of ring opening is only moderately increased (5-36-fold). Structures of these tetrapeptides were oriented in the active site of both enzymes using oxidized glutathione bound to GR as a template. DmTR has a more open tetrapeptide binding pocket than the mouse enzyme and accommodates the peptide Ser-Cys-Cys-Ser(ox) in a cis conformation that allows for the protonation of the leaving-group Cys by His464', which helps to explain why this TR can function without the need for Sec. In contrast, mTR3 shows a narrower pocket. One possible result of this narrower interface is that the mammalian redox-active tetrapeptide Gly-Cys-Sec-Gly may adopt a trans conformation for a better fit. This places the Sec residue farther away from the protonating histidine residue, but the lower pKa of Sec in comparison to that of Cys eliminates the need for Sec to be protonated.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Isomorphous difference methods allow rapid and detailed visualization of localized changes in macromolecular structures, whether as a result of mutation or the binding of ligands. Practical aspects of isomorphous methods and differential crystallography are presented, particularly in their application to the phasing of new structures by multiple isomorphous replacement and the detection and characterization of ligand binding. Techniques for maintaining isomorphism between crystals to maximize the differential signal are covered, as are the computational steps involved in generating difference electron density maps. Frontier applications such as determining single-site ligand-binding affinities crystallographically, high-throughput screening of combinatorial compound libraries, in crystallo competition assays, and inferring protein function via exogenous ligand-binding screens are discussed.
No preview · Article · Feb 2007 · Methods in Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thymine glycol (Tg) is a common product of oxidation and ionizing radiation, including that used for cancer treatment. Although Tg is a poor mutagenic lesion, it has been shown to present a strong block to both repair and replicative DNA polymerases. The 2.65-A crystal structure of a binary complex of the replicative RB69 DNA polymerase with DNA shows that the templating Tg is intrahelical and forms a regular Watson-Crick base pair with the incorporated A. The C5 methyl group protrudes axially from the ring of the damaged pyrimidine and hinders stacking of the adjacent 5' template guanine. The position of the displaced 5' template guanine is such that the next incoming nucleotide cannot be incorporated into the growing primer strand, and it explains why primer extension past the lesion is prohibited even though DNA polymerases can readily incorporate an A across from the Tg lesion.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2007 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Actin filament growth and disassembly, as well as affinity for actin-binding proteins, is mediated by the nucleotide-bound state of the component actin monomers. The structural differences between ATP-actin and ADP-actin, however, remain controversial. We expressed a cytoplasmic actin in Sf9 cells, which was rendered non-polymerizable by virtue of two point mutations in subdomain 4 (A204E/P243K). This homogeneous monomer, called AP-actin, was crystallized in the absence of toxins, binding proteins, or chemical modification, with ATP or ADP at the active site. The two surface mutations do not perturb the structure. Significant differences between the two states are confined to the active site region and sensor loop. The active site cleft remains closed in both states. Minor structural shifts propagate from the active site toward subdomain 2, but dissipate before reaching the DNase binding loop (D-loop), which remains disordered in both the ADP and ATP states. This result contrasts with previous structures of actin made monomeric by modification with tetramethylrhodamine, which show formation of an alpha-helix at the distal end of the D-loop in the ADP-bound but not the ATP-bound form (Otterbein, L. R., Graceffa, P., and Dominguez, R. (2001) Science 293, 708-711). Our reanalysis of the TMR-modified actin structures suggests that the nucleotide-dependent formation of the D-loop helix may result from signal propagation through crystal packing interactions. Whereas the observed nucleotide-dependent changes in the structure present significantly different surfaces on the exterior of the actin monomer, current models of the actin filament lack any actin-actin interactions that involve the region of these key structural changes.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2006 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacteriophage T4 UvsY protein is considered to be the prototype of recombination mediator proteins, a class of proteins which assist in the loading of recombinases onto DNA. Wild-type and Se-substituted UvsY protein have been expressed and purified and crystallized by hanging-drop vapor diffusion. The crystals diffract to 2.4 A using in-house facilities and to 2.2 A at NSLS, Brookhaven National Laboratory. The crystals belong to space group P422, P4(2)22, P42(1)2 or P4(2)2(1)2, the ambiguity arising from pseudo-centering, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 76.93, c = 269.8 A. Previous biophysical characterization of UvsY indicates that it exists primarily as a hexamer in solution. Along with the absence of a crystallographic threefold, this suggests that the asymmetric unit of these crystals is likely to contain either three monomers, giving a solvent content of 71%, or six monomers, giving a solvent content of 41%.
Preview · Article · Nov 2006 · Acta Crystallographica Section F Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Serum transferrin reversibly binds iron in each of two lobes and delivers it to cells by a receptor-mediated, pH-dependent process. The binding and release of iron result in a large conformational change in which two subdomains in each lobe close or open with a rigid twisting motion around a hinge. We report the structure of human serum transferrin (hTF) lacking iron (apo-hTF), which was independently determined by two methods: 1) the crystal structure of recombinant non-glycosylated apo-hTF was solved at 2.7-A resolution using a multiple wavelength anomalous dispersion phasing strategy, by substituting the nine methionines in hTF with selenomethionine and 2) the structure of glycosylated apo-hTF (isolated from serum) was determined to a resolution of 2.7A by molecular replacement using the human apo-N-lobe and the rabbit holo-C1-subdomain as search models. These two crystal structures are essentially identical. They represent the first published model for full-length human transferrin and reveal that, in contrast to family members (human lactoferrin and hen ovotransferrin), both lobes are almost equally open: 59.4 degrees and 49.5 degrees rotations are required to open the N- and C-lobes, respectively (compared with closed pig TF). Availability of this structure is critical to a complete understanding of the metal binding properties of each lobe of hTF; the apo-hTF structure suggests that differences in the hinge regions of the N- and C-lobes may influence the rates of iron binding and release. In addition, we evaluate potential interactions between apo-hTF and the human transferrin receptor.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This chapter describes isomorphous difference Fourier methods and explains the way these methods are carried out and when they are applicable or can be made applicable. By these simple methods, extremely small changes in otherwise identical structures can be seen. Over the decades, these powerful methods have been largely forgotten by mainstream crystallographers. These methods are certain to be more widely practiced as macromolecular crystallography evolves from being a form of atomic-level wildlife photography to a bona fide science in which specimens are modified and characterized to test structural or biochemical hypotheses. The sensitivity of isomorphous differences to subtle structural changes and their relative insensitivity to the phase set chosen for imaging make difference maps based on the method of choice for many of the structural studies carried out subsequent to initial structure determinations. One of the great strengths of isomorphous difference Fourier maps is their insensitivity to model bias.
No preview · Article · Feb 2003 · Methods in Enzymology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have determined the crystal structure of a complex containing the engrailed homeodomain Gln50 --> Ala variant (QA50) bound to the wild-type optimal DNA site (TAATTA) at 2.0 A resolution. Biochemical and genetic studies by other groups have suggested that residue 50 is an important determinant of differential DNA-binding specificity among homeodomains (distinguishing among various sites of the general form TAATNN). However, biochemical studies of the QA50 variant had revealed that it binds almost as tightly as the wild-type protein and with only modest changes in specificity. We have now determined the crystal structure of the QA50 variant to help understand the role of residue 50 in site-specific recognition. Our cocrystal structure shows some interesting changes in the water structure at the site of the substitution and shows some changes in the conformations of neighboring side chains. However, the structure, like the QA50 biochemical data, suggests that Gln50 plays a relatively modest role in determining the affinity and specificity of the engrailed homeodomain.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The anticancer activity of cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(II) (cisplatin) arises from its ability to damage DNA, with the major adducts formed being intrastrand d(GpG) and d(ApG) crosslinks. These crosslinks bend and unwind the duplex, and the altered structure attracts high-mobility-group domain (HMG) and other proteins. This binding of HMG-domain proteins to cisplatin-modified DNA has been postulated to mediate the antitumour properties of the drug. Many HMG-domain proteins recognize altered DNA structures such as four-way junctions and cisplatin-modified DNA, but until now the molecular basis for this recognition was unknown. Here we describe mutagenesis, hydroxyl-radical footprinting and X-ray studies that elucidate the structure of a 1:1 cisplatin-modified DNA/HMG-domain complex. Domain A of the structure-specific HMG-domain protein HMG1 binds to the widened minor groove of a 16-base-pair DNA duplex containing a site-specific cis-[Pt(NH3)2[d(GpG)-N7(1),-N7(2)]] adduct. The DNA is strongly kinked at a hydrophobic notch created at the platinum-DNA crosslink and protein binding extends exclusively to the 3' side of the platinated strand. A phenylalanine residue at position 37 intercalates into a hydrophobic notch created at the platinum crosslinked d(GpG) site and binding of the domain is dramatically reduced in a mutant in which alanine is substituted for phenylalanine at this position.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The editing enzyme double-stranded RNA adenosine deaminase includes a DNA binding domain, Zalpha, which is specific for left-handed Z-DNA. The 2.1 angstrom crystal structure of Zalpha complexed to DNA reveals that the substrate is in the left-handed Z conformation. The contacts between Zalpha and Z-DNA are made primarily with the "zigzag" sugar-phosphate backbone, which provides a basis for the specificity for the Z conformation. A single base contact is observed to guanine in the syn conformation, characteristic of Z-DNA. Intriguingly, the helix-turn-helix motif, frequently used to recognize B-DNA, is used by Zalpha to contact Z-DNA.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pax6, a transcription factor containing the bipartite paired DNA-binding domain, has critical roles in development of the eye, nose, pancreas, and central nervous system. The 2.5 A structure of the human Pax6 paired domain with its optimal 26-bp site reveals extensive DNA contacts from the amino-terminal subdomain, the linker region, and the carboxy-terminal subdomain. The Pax6 structure not only confirms the docking arrangement of the amino-terminal subdomain as seen in cocrystals of the Drosophila Prd Pax protein, but also reveals some interesting differences in this region and helps explain the sequence specificity of paired domain-DNA recognition. In addition, this structure gives the first detailed information about how the paired linker region and carboxy-terminal subdomain contact DNA. The extended linker makes minor groove contacts over an 8-bp region, and the carboxy-terminal helix-turn-helix unit makes base contacts in the major groove. The structure and docking arrangement of the carboxy-terminal subdomain of Pax6 is remarkably similar to that of the amino-terminal subdomain, and there is an approximate twofold symmetry axis relating the polypeptide backbones of these two helix-turn-helix units. Our structure of the Pax6 paired domain-DNA complex provides a framework for understanding paired domain-DNA interactions, for analyzing mutations that map in the linker and carboxy-terminal regions of the paired domain, and for modeling protein-protein interactions of the Pax family proteins.
Preview · Article · Jun 1999 · Genes & Development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the 2.2 A resolution structure of the Drosophila engrailed homeodomain bound to its optimal DNA site. The original 2.8 A resolution structure of this complex provided the first detailed three-dimensional view of how homeodomains recognize DNA, and has served as the basis for biochemical studies, structural studies and molecular modeling. Our refined structure confirms the principal conclusions of the original structure, but provides important new details about the recognition interface. Biochemical and NMR studies of other homeodomains had led to the notion that Gln50 was an especially important determinant of specificity. However, our refined structure shows that this side-chain makes no direct hydrogen bonds to the DNA. The structure does reveal an extensive network of ordered water molecules which mediate contacts to several bases and phosphates (including contacts from Gln50), and our model provides a basis for detailed comparison with the structure of an engrailed Q50K altered-specificity variant. Comparing our structure with the crystal structure of the free protein confirms that the N and C termini of the homeodomain become ordered upon DNA-binding. However, we also find that several key DNA contact residues in the recognition helix have the same conformation in the free and bound protein, and that several water molecules also are "preorganized" to contact the DNA. Our structure helps provide a more complete basis for the detailed analysis of homeodomain-DNA interactions.
No preview · Article · Dec 1998 · Journal of Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: The homeodomain is one of the key DNA-binding motifs used in eukaryotic gene regulation, and homeodomain proteins play critical roles in development. The residue at position 50 of many homeodomains appears to determine the differential DNA-binding specificity, helping to distinguish among binding sites of the form TAATNN. However, the precise role(s) of residue 50 in the differential recognition of alternative sites has not been clear. None of the previously determined structures of homeodomain–DNA complexes has shown evidence for a stable hydrogen bond between residue 50 and a base, and there has been much discussion, based in part on NMR studies, about the potential importance of water-mediated contacts. This study was initiated to help clarify some of these issues.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Zinc fingers of the Cys2 His2 class recognize a wide variety of different DNA sequences and are one of the most abundant DNA-binding motifs found in eukaryotes. The previously determined 2.1 A structure of a complex containing the three zinc fingers from Zif268 has served as a basis for many modeling and design studies, and Zif268 has proved to be a very useful model system for studying how TFIIIA-like zinc fingers recognize DNA.
We have refined the structure of the Zif268 protein-DNA complex at 1.6 A resolution. Our structure confirms all the basic features of the previous model and allows us to focus on some critical details at the protein-DNA interface. In particular, our refined structure helps explain the roles of several acidic residues located in the recognition helices and shows that the zinc fingers make a number of water-mediated contacts with bases and phosphates. Modeling studies suggest that the distinctive DNA conformation observed in the Zif268-DNA complex is correlated with finger-finger interactions and the length of the linkers between adjacent fingers. Circular dichroism studies indicate that at least some of the features of this distinctive DNA conformation are induced upon complex formation.
Our 1.6 A structure should provide an excellent framework for analyzing the effects of Zif268 mutations, for modeling related zinc finger-DNA complexes, and for designing and selecting Zif268 variants that will recognize other DNA sites.