Airway remodeling, caused by inflammation and fibrosis, is a major component of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and currently has no effective treatment. Transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) has been widely implicated in the pathogenesis of airway remodeling in COPD. TGF-? is expressed in a latent form that requires activation. The integrin ?v?8 (encoded by the itgb8 gene) is a receptor for latent TGF-? and is essential for its activation. Expression of integrin ?v?8 is increased in airway fibroblasts in COPD and thus is an attractive therapeutic target for the treatment of airway remodeling in COPD. We demonstrate that an engineered optimized antibody to human ?v?8 (B5) inhibited TGF-? activation in transgenic mice expressing only human and not mouse ITGB8. The B5 engineered antibody blocked fibroinflammatory responses induced by tobacco smoke, cytokines, and allergens by inhibiting TGF-? activation. To clarify the mechanism of action of B5, we used hydrodynamic, mutational, and electron microscopic methods to demonstrate that ?v?8 predominantly adopts a constitutively active, extended-closed headpiece conformation. Epitope mapping and functional characterization of B5 revealed an allosteric mechanism of action due to locking-in of a low-affinity ?v?8 conformation. Collectively, these data demonstrate a new model for integrin function and present a strategy to selectively target the TGF-? pathway to treat fibroinflammatory airway diseases.
P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is one of the best-known mediators of drug efflux-based multidrug resistance in many cancers. This validated therapeutic target is a prototypic, plasma membrane resident ATP-Binding Cassette transporter that pumps xenobiotic compounds out of cells. The large, polyspecific drug-binding pocket of P-gp recognizes a variety of structurally unrelated compounds. The transport of these drugs across the membrane is coincident with changes in the size and shape of this pocket during the course of the transport cycle. Here, we present the crystal structures of three inward-facing conformations of mouse P-gp derived from two different crystal forms. One structure has a nanobody bound to the C-terminal side of the first nucleotide-binding domain. This nanobody strongly inhibits the ATP hydrolysis activity of mouse P-gp by hindering the formation of a dimeric complex between the ATP-binding domains, which is essential for nucleotide hydrolysis. Together, these inward-facing conformational snapshots of P-gp demonstrate a range of flexibility exhibited by this transporter, which is likely an essential feature for the binding and transport of large, diverse substrates. The nanobody-bound structure also reveals a unique epitope on P-gp.
Decades of work requiring heterologous expression of eukaryotic proteins have shown that no expression system can be considered as the panacea and the appropriate expression strategy is often protein-dependent. In a large number of cases, yeasts have proven to be reliable organisms for heterologous protein expression by combining eukaryotic cellular organization with the ease of use of simpler microorganisms.
Multidrug antiporters of the major facilitator superfamily couple proton translocation to the extrusion of cytotoxic molecules. The conformational changes that underlie the transport cycle and the structural basis of coupling of these transporters have not been elucidated. Here we used extensive double electron-electron resonance measurements to uncover the conformational equilibrium of LmrP, a multidrug transporter from Lactococcus lactis, and to investigate how protons and ligands shift this equilibrium to enable transport. We find that the transporter switches between outward-open and outward-closed conformations, depending on the protonation states of specific acidic residues forming a transmembrane protonation relay. Our data can be framed in a model of transport wherein substrate binding initiates the transport cycle by opening the extracellular side. Subsequent protonation of membrane-embedded acidic residues induces substrate release to the extracellular side and triggers a cascade of conformational changes that concludes in proton release to the intracellular side.
Resistance nodulation cell division (RND)-based efflux complexes mediate multidrug and heavy-metal resistance in many Gram-negative bacteria. Efflux of toxic compounds is driven by membrane proton/substrate antiporters (RND protein) in the plasma membrane, linked by a membrane fusion protein (MFP) to an outer-membrane protein. The three-component complex forms an efflux system that spans the entire cell envelope. The MFP is required for the assembly of this complex and is proposed to play an important active role in substrate efflux. To better understand the role of MFPs in RND-driven efflux systems, we chose ZneB, the MFP component of the ZneCAB heavy-metal efflux system from Cupriavidus metallidurans CH34. ZneB is shown to be highly specific for Zn(2+) alone. The crystal structure of ZneB to 2.8 A resolution defines the basis for metal ion binding in the coordination site at a flexible interface between the beta-barrel and membrane proximal domains. The conformational differences observed between the crystal structures of metal-bound and apo forms are monitored in solution by spectroscopy and chromatography. The structural rearrangements between the two states suggest an active role in substrate efflux through metal binding and release.
ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters constitute a large class of molecular pumps whose central role in chemotherapy resistance has highlighted their clinical relevance. We investigated whether the lipid composition of the membrane affects the function and structure of HorA, a bacterial ABC multidrug transporter. When the transporter was reconstituted in a bilayer where phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), the main lipid of the bacterial membrane, was replaced with phosphatidylcholine (PC), ATP hydrolysis and substrate transport became uncoupled. Although ATPase activity was maintained, HorA lost its ability to extrude the prototypical substrate Hoechst33342. Attenuated Total Reflection-Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) revealed that, although the secondary structure of the protein was unaffected, the orientation of the transmembrane helices (TM) was modified by the change in lipid composition. The orientation of the backbone carbonyls indicated that the helices opened wider in PE versus PC-containing liposomes, with 10 degrees difference. This was supported by hydrogen/deuterium exchange studies showing increased protection of the backbone from the solvent in PC-containing liposomes. Electron Paramagnetic Resonance was used to further probe the structural change. In the PC-containing liposomes we observed increased mobility of the spin label in TM4, along with increased exposure to molecular oxygen, used as a hydrophobic quencher. This indicates that the lipid change induced modification of the orientation of TM4, exposing Cys-180 to the lipid phase. The lipid composition of the bilayer thus modulates the structure of HorA, and in turn its ability to extrude its substrates.
Protein-lipid interactions are increasingly recognized as central to the structure and function of membrane proteins. However, with the exception of simplified models, specific protein-lipid interactions are particularly difficult to highlight experimentally. Here, we used molecular dynamics simulations to identify a specific protein-lipid interaction in lactose permease, a prototypical model for transmembrane proteins. The interactions can be correlated with the functional dependence of the protein to specific lipid species. The technique is simple and widely applicable to other membrane proteins, and a variety of lipid matrices can be used.
Doppel protein (Dpl) is a paralog of the cellular form of the prion protein (PrP(C)), together sharing common structural and biochemical properties. Unlike PrP(C), which is abundantly expressed throughout the central nervous system (CNS), Dpl protein expression is not detectable in the CNS. Interestingly, its ectopic expression in the brain elicits neurodegeneration in transgenic mice. Here, by combining native isoelectric focusing plus non-denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry analysis, we identified two Dpl binding partners: rat alpha-1-inhibitor-3 (alpha(1)I(3)) and, by sequence homology, alpha-2-macroglobulin (alpha(2)M), two known plasma metalloproteinase inhibitors. Biochemical investigations excluded the direct interaction of PrP(C) with either alpha(1)I(3) or alpha(2)M. Nevertheless, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and surface plasmon resonance experiments revealed a high affinity binding occurring between PrP(C) and Dpl. In light of these findings, we suggest a mechanism for Dpl-induced neurodegeneration in mice expressing Dpl ectopically in the brain, linked to a withdrawal of natural inhibitors of metalloproteinase such as alpha(2)M. Interestingly, alpha(2)M has been proven to be a susceptibility factor in Alzheimers disease, and as our findings imply, it may also play a relevant role in other neurodegenerative disorders, including prion diseases.
The left-handed parallel beta helix (LbetaH) fold has recently received attention as a possible structure for the prion protein (PrP) in its misfolded state. In light of this interest, we have developed an experimental system to examine the structural requirements of the LbetaH fold, using a known LbetaH protein, UDP-N-acetylglucosamine acyltransferase (LpxA), from E. coli. We showed that the beta helix can tolerate nonhydrophobic residues at interior positions and prolines were important, but not critical, in folding of the beta helix. Using our structural studies of the LbetaH, we threaded the sequence of the amyloidogenic fragment of the prion protein (residues 104-143) onto the structure of LpxA. Based on the threading result, we constructed the recombinant PrP-LpxA and tested its functional activity in an E. coli antibiotic sensitivity assay. The results of these experiments suggest that the amyloidogenic PrP fragment may fold into a beta helix in the context of a larger beta-helical structure.
Most of our understanding of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) activation has been focused on the direct interaction between diffusible ligands and their seven-transmembrane domains. However, a number of these receptors depend on their extracellular N-terminal domain for ligand recognition and activation. To dissect the molecular interactions underlying both modes of activation at a single receptor, we used the unique properties of the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R), a GPCR that shows constitutive activity maintained by its N-terminal domain and is physiologically activated by the peptide ?-melanocyte stimulating hormone (?MSH). We find that activation by the N-terminal domain and ?MSH relies on different key residues in the transmembrane region. We also demonstrate that agouti-related protein, a physiological antagonist of MC4R, acts as an inverse agonist by inhibiting N terminus-mediated activation, leading to the speculation that a number of constitutively active orphan GPCRs could have physiological inverse agonists as sole regulators.
Metallothioneins (MT) are low molecular weight proteins with cysteine-rich sequences that bind heavy metals with remarkably high affinities. Plant MTs differ from animal ones by a peculiar amino acid sequence organization consisting of two short Cys-rich terminal domains (containing from 4 to 8 Cys each) linked by a Cys free region of about 30 residues. In contrast with the current knowledge on the 3D structure of animal MTs, there is a striking lack of structural data on plant MTs. We have expressed and purified a type III MT from Noccaea caerulescens (previously Thlaspi caerulescens). This protein is able to bind a variety of cations including Cd(2+), Cu(2+), Zn(2+) and Pb(2+), with different stoichiometries as shown by mass spectrometry. The protein displays a complete absence of periodic secondary structures as measured by far-UV circular dichroism, infrared spectroscopy and hydrogen/deuterium exchange kinetics. When attached onto a BIA-ATR biosensor, no significant structural change was observed upon removing the metal ions.
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