Timothy F Cunningham

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

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Publications (8)30.19 Total impact

  • Timothy F. Cunningham · Miriam R. Putterman · Astha Desai · W. Seth Horne · Sunil Saxena
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    ABSTRACT: The development of ESR methods that measure long-range distance distributions has advanced biophysical research. However, the spin labels commonly employed are highly flexible, which leads to ambiguity in relating ESR measurements to protein-backbone structure. Herein we present the double-histidine (dHis) Cu2+-binding motif as a rigid spin probe for double electron–electron resonance (DEER) distance measurements. The spin label is assembled in situ from natural amino acid residues and a metal salt, requires no postexpression synthetic modification, and provides distance distributions that are dramatically narrower than those found with the commonly used protein spin label. Simple molecular modeling based on an X-ray crystal structure of an unlabeled protein led to a predicted most probable distance within 0.5 Å of the experimental value. Cu2+ DEER with the dHis motif shows great promise for the resolution of precise, unambiguous distance constraints that relate directly to protein-backbone structure and flexibility.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Angewandte Chemie
  • Timothy F. Cunningham · Miriam R. Putterman · Astha Desai · W. Seth Horne · Sunil Saxena
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    ABSTRACT: The development of ESR methods that measure long-range distance distributions has advanced biophysical research. However, the spin labels commonly employed are highly flexible, which leads to ambiguity in relating ESR measurements to protein-backbone structure. Herein we present the double-histidine (dHis) Cu(2+) -binding motif as a rigid spin probe for double electron-electron resonance (DEER) distance measurements. The spin label is assembled in situ from natural amino acid residues and a metal salt, requires no postexpression synthetic modification, and provides distance distributions that are dramatically narrower than those found with the commonly used protein spin label. Simple molecular modeling based on an X-ray crystal structure of an unlabeled protein led to a predicted most probable distance within 0.5 Å of the experimental value. Cu(2+) DEER with the dHis motif shows great promise for the resolution of precise, unambiguous distance constraints that relate directly to protein-backbone structure and flexibility. © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Angewandte Chemie International Edition
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    ABSTRACT: Double electron electron resonance (DEER) is an attractive technique that is utilized for gaining insight into protein structure and dynamics via nanometer scale distance measurements. The most commonly used paramagnetic tag in these measurements is a nitroxide spin label, R1. Here, we present the application of two types of high-affinity Cu(2+) chelating tags, based on the EDTA and cyclen metal-binding motifs as alternative X-band DEER probes, using the B1 immunoglobulin-binding domain of protein G (GB1) as a model system. Both types of tags have been incorporated into a variety of protein secondary structure environments and exhibit high spectral sensitivity. In particular, the cyclen-based tag displays distance distributions with comparable distribution widths and most probable distances within 1 Å to 3 Å when compared to homologous R1 distributions. The results display the viability of the cyclen tag as an alternative to the R1 side-chain for X-band DEER distance measurements in proteins.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · The Journal of Physical Chemistry B
  • Zhongyu Yang · Ming Ji · Timothy F. Cunningham · Sunil Saxena
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    ABSTRACT: Electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy in combination with site-directed spin labeling has been widely used to determine the structure and dynamics of proteins and other biomolecules. The most popular spin label is a nitroxide-based radical which can be attached to a protein via a site-specific reaction with either native cysteines or cysteines engineered into the system via site-directed mutagenesis. Paramagnetic transition metals, including Cu2 +, often serve as cofactors of metalloproteins, and have already been realized as ESR probes to report structural information in these proteins. This chapter summarizes recent methodological development from our laboratory in utilizing Cu2 + as an ESR spin probe to determine distance information. We focus on detailed experimental procedures, optimized instrumental parameters, and data analysis approaches in order to guide one who is new to the field. Theory and applications of metal ESR have been reviewed in literature and are not the focus of this chapter. A few examples of applications of the methods are listed in the end.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Paramagnetic relaxation enhancements (PREs) are a rich source of structural information in protein solid-state NMR spectroscopy. Here we demonstrate that PRE measurements in natively diamagnetic proteins are facilitated by a thiol-reactive compact, cyclen-based, high-affinity Cu(2+) binding tag, 1-[2-(pyridin-2-yldisulfanyl)ethyl]-1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane (TETAC), that overcomes the key shortcomings associated with the use of larger, more flexible metal-binding tags. Using the TETAC-Cu(2+) K28C mutant of B1 immunoglobulin-binding domain of protein G as a model, we find that amino acid residues located within ~10 Å of the Cu(2+) center experience considerable transverse PREs leading to severely attenuated resonances in 2D (15)N-(13)C correlation spectra. For more distant residues, electron-nucleus distances are accessible via quantitative measurements of longitudinal PREs, and we demonstrate such measurements for (15)N-Cu(2+) distances up to ~20 Å.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Journal of Biomolecular NMR
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    ABSTRACT: Building on our recently introduced library-based Monte Carlo (LBMC) approach, we describe a flexible protocol for mixed coarse-grained (CG)/all-atom (AA) simulation of proteins and ligands. In the present implementation of LBMC, protein side chain configurations are pre-calculated and stored in libraries, while bonded interactions along the backbone are treated explicitly. Because the AA side chain coordinates are maintained at minimal run-time cost, arbitrary sites and interaction terms can be turned on to create mixed-resolution models. For example, an AA region of interest such as a binding site can be coupled to a CG model for the rest of the protein. We have additionally developed a hybrid implementation of the generalized Born/surface area (GBSA) implicit solvent model suitable for mixed-resolution models, which in turn was ported to a graphics processing unit (GPU) for faster calculation. The new software was applied to study two systems: (i) the behavior of spin labels on the B1 domain of protein G (GB1) and (ii) docking of randomly initialized estradiol configurations to the ligand binding domain of the estrogen receptor (ERα). The performance of the GPU version of the code was also benchmarked in a number of additional systems.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation
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    ABSTRACT: X-ray crystallography has been a useful tool in the development of site-directed spin labeling by resolving rotamers of the nitroxide spin-label side chain in a variety of α-helical environments. In this work, the crystal structure of a doubly spin-labeled N8C/K28C mutant of the B1 immunoglobulin-binding domain of protein G (GB1) was solved. The double mutant formed a domain-swapped dimer under crystallization conditions. Two rotameric states of the spin-label were resolved at the solvent-exposed α-helical site, at residue 28; these are in good agreement with rotamers previously reported for helical structures. The second site, at residue 8 on an interior β-strand, shows the presence of three distinct solvent-exposed side-chain rotamers. One of these rotamers is rarely observed within crystal structures of R1 sites and suggests that the H(α) and S(δ) hydrogen bond that is common to α-helical sites is absent at this interior β-strand residue. Variable temperature continuous wave (CW) experiments of the β-strand site showed two distinct components that were correlated to the rotameric states observed in crystallography. Interestingly, the CW data at room temperature could be fit without the use of an order parameter, which is consistent with the lack of the H(α) and S(δ) interaction. Additionally, double electron electron resonance (DEER) spectroscopy was performed on the GB1 double mutant in its monomeric form and yielded a most probable interspin distance of 25 ± 1 Å. In order to evaluate the accuracy of the measured DEER distance, the rotamers observed in the crystal structure of the domain-swapped GB1 dimer were modeled into a high-resolution structure of the wild type monomeric GB1. The distances generated in the resulting GB1 structural models match the most probable DEER distance within ~2 Å. The results are interesting as they indicate by direct experimental measurement that the rotameric states of R1 found in this crystal provide a very close match to the most probable distance measured by DEER.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2012 · Biochemistry
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    ABSTRACT: Herein, we identify the coordination environment of Cu²(+) in the human α1-glycine receptor (GlyR). GlyRs are members of the pentameric ligand-gated ion channel superfamily (pLGIC) that mediate fast signaling at synapses. Metal ions like Zn²(+) and Cu²(+) significantly modulate the activity of pLGICs, and metal ion coordination is essential for proper physiological postsynaptic inhibition by GlyR in vivo. Zn²(+) can either potentiate or inhibit GlyR activity depending on its concentration, while Cu²(+) is inhibitory. To better understand the molecular basis of the inhibitory effect we have used electron spin resonance to directly examine Cu²(+) coordination and stoichiometry. We show that Cu²(+) has one binding site per α1 subunit, and that five Cu²(+) can be coordinated per GlyR. Cu²(+) binds to E192 and H215 in each subunit of GlyR with a 40 μM apparent dissociation constant, consistent with earlier functional measurements. However, the coordination site does not include several residues of the agonist/antagonist binding site that were previously suggested to have roles in Cu²(+) coordination by functional measurements. Intriguingly, the E192/H215 site has been proposed as the potentiating Zn²(+) site. The opposing modulatory actions of these cations at a shared binding site highlight the sensitive allosteric nature of GlyR.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · Biophysical Journal