Crystal structure of MHC class II-associated p41 Ii fragment bound to cathepsin L reveals the structural basis for differentiation between cathepsins L and S.
The lysosomal cysteine proteases cathepsins S and L play crucial roles in the degradation of the invariant chain during maturation of MHC class II molecules and antigen processing. The p41 form of the invariant chain includes a fragment which specifically inhibits cathepsin L but not S. The crystal structure of the p41 fragment, a homologue of the thyroglobulin type-1 domains, has been determined at 2.0 A resolution in complex with cathepsin L. The structure of the p41 fragment demonstrates a novel fold, consisting of two subdomains, each stabilized by disulfide bridges. The first subdomain is an alpha-helix-beta-strand arrangement, whereas the second subdomain has a predominantly beta-strand arrangement. The wedge shape and three-loop arrangement of the p41 fragment bound to the active site cleft of cathepsin L are reminiscent of the inhibitory edge of cystatins, thus demonstrating the first example of convergent evolution observed in cysteine protease inhibitors. However, the different fold of the p41 fragment results in additional contacts with the top of the R-domain of the enzymes, which defines the specificity-determining S2 and S1' substrate-binding sites. This enables inhibitors based on the thyroglobulin type-1 domain fold, in contrast to the rather non-selective cystatins, to exhibit specificity for their target enzymes. (+info
Structural basis of profactor D activation: from a highly flexible zymogen to a novel self-inhibited serine protease, complement factor D.
The crystal structure of profactor D, determined at 2.1 A resolution with an Rfree and an R-factor of 25.1 and 20.4%, respectively, displays highly flexible or disordered conformation for five regions: N-22, 71-76, 143-152, 187-193 and 215-223. A comparison with the structure of its mature serine protease, complement factor D, revealed major conformational changes in the similar regions. Comparisons with the zymogen-active enzyme pairs of chymotrypsinogen, trypsinogen and prethrombin-2 showed a similar distribution of the flexible regions. However, profactor D is the most flexible of the four, and its mature enzyme displays inactive, self-inhibited active site conformation. Examination of the surface properties of the N-terminus-binding pocket indicates that Ile16 may play the initial positioning role for the N-terminus, and Leu17 probably also helps in inducing the required conformational changes. This process, perhaps shared by most chymotrypsinogen-like zymogens, is followed by a factor D-unique step, the re-orientation of an external Arg218 to an internal position for salt-bridging with Asp189, leading to the generation of the self-inhibited factor D. (+info
Cryo-electron microscopy structure of an SH3 amyloid fibril and model of the molecular packing.
Amyloid fibrils are assemblies of misfolded proteins and are associated with pathological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and the spongiform encephalopathies. In the amyloid diseases, a diverse group of normally soluble proteins self-assemble to form insoluble fibrils. X-ray fibre diffraction studies have shown that the protofilament cores of fibrils formed from the various proteins all contain a cross-beta-scaffold, with beta-strands perpendicular and beta-sheets parallel to the fibre axis. We have determined the threedimensional structure of an amyloid fibril, formed by the SH3 domain of phosphatidylinositol-3'-kinase, using cryo-electron microscopy and image processing at 25 A resolution. The structure is a double helix of two protofilament pairs wound around a hollow core, with a helical crossover repeat of approximately 600 A and an axial subunit repeat of approximately 27 A. The native SH3 domain is too compact to fit into the fibril density, and must unfold to adopt a longer, thinner shape in the amyloid form. The 20x40-A protofilaments can only accommodate one pair of flat beta-sheets stacked against each other, with very little inter-strand twist. We propose a model for the polypeptide packing as a basis for understanding the structure of amyloid fibrils in general. (+info
RNA binding by the novel helical domain of the influenza virus NS1 protein requires its dimer structure and a small number of specific basic amino acids.
The RNA-binding/dimerization domain of the NS1 protein of influenza A virus (73 amino acids in length) exhibits a novel dimeric six-helical fold. It is not known how this domain binds to its specific RNA targets, one of which is double-stranded RNA. To elucidate the mode of RNA binding, we introduced single alanine replacements into the NS1 RNA-binding domain at specific positions in the three-dimensional structure. Our results indicate that the dimer structure is essential for RNA binding, because any alanine replacement that causes disruption of the dimer also leads to the loss of RNA-binding activity. Surprisingly, the arginine side chain at position 38, which is in the second helix of each monomer, is the only amino-acid side chain that is absolutely required only for RNA binding and not for dimerization, indicating that this side chain probably interacts directly with the RNA target. This interaction is primarily electrostatic, because replacement of this arginine with lysine had no effect on RNA binding. A second basic amino acid, the lysine at position 41, which is also in helix 2, makes a strong contribution to the affinity of binding. We conclude that helix 2 and helix 2', which are antiparallel and next to each other in the dimer conformation, constitute the interaction face between the NS1 RNA-binding domain and its RNA targets, and that the arginine side chain at position 38 and possibly the lysine side chain at position 41 in each of these antiparallel helices contact the phosphate backbone of the RNA target. (+info
Molecular dynamics studies of U1A-RNA complexes.
The U1A protein binds to a hairpin RNA and an internal-loop RNA with picomolar affinities. To probe the molecular basis of U1A binding, we performed state-of-the-art nanosecond molecular dynamics simulations on both complexes. The good agreement with experimental structures supports the protocols used in the simulations. We compare the dynamics, hydrogen-bonding occupancies, and interfacial flexibility of both complexes and also describe a rigid-body motion in the U1A-internal loop complex that is not observed in the U1A-hairpin simulation. We relate these observations to experimental mutational studies and highlight their significance in U1A binding affinity and specificity. (+info
Three-dimensional structure of a recombinant gap junction membrane channel.
Gap junction membrane channels mediate electrical and metabolic coupling between adjacent cells. The structure of a recombinant cardiac gap junction channel was determined by electron crystallography at resolutions of 7.5 angstroms in the membrane plane and 21 angstroms in the vertical direction. The dodecameric channel was formed by the end-to-end docking of two hexamers, each of which displayed 24 rods of density in the membrane interior, which is consistent with an alpha-helical conformation for the four transmembrane domains of each connexin subunit. The transmembrane alpha-helical rods contrasted with the double-layered appearance of the extracellular domains. Although not indicative for a particular type of secondary structure, the protein density that formed the extracellular vestibule provided a tight seal to exclude the exchange of substances with the extracellular milieu. (+info
Melatonin biosynthesis: the structure of serotonin N-acetyltransferase at 2.5 A resolution suggests a catalytic mechanism.
Conversion of serotonin to N-acetylserotonin, the precursor of the circadian neurohormone melatonin, is catalyzed by serotonin N-acetyltransferase (AANAT) in a reaction requiring acetyl coenzyme A (AcCoA). AANAT is a globular protein consisting of an eight-stranded beta sheet flanked by five alpha helices; a conserved motif in the center of the beta sheet forms the cofactor binding site. Three polypeptide loops converge above the AcCoA binding site, creating a hydrophobic funnel leading toward the cofactor and serotonin binding sites in the protein interior. Two conserved histidines not found in other NATs are located at the bottom of the funnel in the active site, suggesting a catalytic mechanism for acetylation involving imidazole groups acting as general acid/base catalysts. (+info
Crystal structure of the cytoplasmic domain of the type I TGF beta receptor in complex with FKBP12.
Activation of the type I TGFbeta receptor (TbetaR-I) requires phosphorylation of a regulatory segment known as the GS region, located upstream of the serine/threonine kinase domain in the cytoplasmic portion of the receptor. The crystal structure of a fragment of unphosphorylated TbetaR-I, containing both the GS region and the catalytic domain, has been determined in complex with the FK506-binding protein FKBP12. TbetaR-I adopts an inactive conformation that is maintained by the unphosphorylated GS region. FKBP12 binds to the GS region of the receptor, capping the TbetaR-II phosphorylation sites and further stabilizing the inactive conformation of TbetaR-I. Certain structural features at the catalytic center of TbetaR-I are characteristic of tyrosine kinases rather than Ser/Thr kinases. (+info