RNA molecules play important roles in key biological processes in the cell and are becoming attractive for developing therapeutic applications. Since the function of RNA depends on its structure and dynamics, comparing and classifying the RNA 3D structures is of crucial importance to molecular biology. In this study, we have developed Rclick, a web server that is capable of superimposing RNA 3D structures by using clique matching and 3D least squares fitting. Our server Rclick has been benchmarked and compared to other popular servers and methods for RNA structural alignments. In most cases, Rclick alignments were better in terms of structure overlap. Our server also recognizes conformational changes between structures. For this purpose, the server produces complementary alignments to maximize the extent of detectable similarity. Various examples showcase the utility of our web server for comparison of RNA, RNA-protein complexes, and RNA-ligand structures. Availability: The Rclick web server is freely accessible at http://mspc.bii.a-star.edu.sg/minhn/rclick.html CONTACT: email@example.com.
As key negative regulator of the p53 tumour suppressor, Mdm2 is an attractive therapeutic target. Small molecules such as Nutlin have been developed to antagonise Mdm2, resulting in p53-dependent death of tumour cells. We have recently described a mutation in Mdm2 (M62A), which precludes binding of Nutlin, but not p53. This Nutlin-resistant variant is not, however, refractory to binding and inhibition by stapled peptide antagonists targeting the same region of Mdm2. A detailed understanding of how stapled peptides are recalcitrant to Mdm2 mutations conferring Nutlin-resistance will aid in the further development of potent Mdm2 antagonists. Here, we report the 2.00 Å crystal structure of a stapled peptide antagonist bound to Nutlin resistant Mdm2. The stapled peptide relies on an extended network of interactions along the hydrophobic binding cleft of Mdm2 for high affinity binding. Additionally, as seen in other stapled peptide structures, the hydrocarbon staple itself contributes to binding through favourable interactions with Mdm2. The structure highlights the intrinsic plasticity present in both Mdm2 and the hydrocarbon staple moiety, and can be used to guide future iterations of both small molecules and stapled peptides for improved antagonists of Mdm2.
There have been numerous applications developed for decoding and visualization of ab1 DNA sequencing files for Windows and MAC platforms, yet none exists for the increasingly popular smartphone operating systems. The ability to decode sequencing files cannot easily be carried out using browser accessed Web tools. To overcome this hurdle, we have developed a new native app called DNAApp that can decode and display ab1 sequencing file on Android and iOS. In addition to in-built analysis tools such as reverse complementation, protein translation and searching for specific sequences, we have incorporated convenient functions that would facilitate the harnessing of online Web tools for a full range of analysis. Given the high usage of Android/iOS tablets and smartphones, such bioinformatics apps would raise productivity and facilitate the high demand for analyzing sequencing data in biomedical research.
We map ligand binding sites on protein surfaces in molecular dynamics simulations using chlorobenzene as a probe molecule. The method was validated on four proteins. Two types of affinity maps that identified halogen and hydrophobic binding sites on proteins were obtained. Our method could prove useful for the discovery and development of halogenated inhibitors.
Stapling peptides for inhibiting the p53/MDM2 interaction is a promising strategy for developing anti-cancer therapeutic leads. We evaluate double-click stapled peptides formed from p53-based diazidopeptides with different staple positions and azido amino acid side-chain lengths, determining the impact of these variations on MDM2 binding and cellular activity. We also demonstrate a K24R mutation, necessary for cellular activity in hydrocarbon-stapled p53 peptides, is not required for analogous 'double-click' peptides.
Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) is an important protein involved in the regulation of the immune system. The +49 G/A polymorphism is the only genetic variation in the CTLA-4 gene that causes an amino acid change in the resulting protein. It is therefore the most extensively studied polymorphism among all CTLA-4 genetic variants and contributions to increasing the likelihood of developing cancer are well known in various populations, especially Asians. However, there have hiterto been no data with respect to the effect of this polymorphism on breast cancer susceptibility in our North Indian population. We therefore assayed genomic DNA of 250 breast cancer subjects and an equal number of age-, sex- and ethnicity-matched healthy controls for the CTLA-4 +49 G/A polymorphism but no significant differences in either the gene or allele frequency were found. Thus the CTLA-4 +49 G/A polymorphism may be associated with breast cancer in other Asians, but it appears to have no such effect in North Indians. The study also highlights the importance of conducting genetic association studies in different ethnic populations.
Tomatoes are one of the most consumed crops in the whole world because of their versatile importance in dietary food as well as many industrial applications. They are also a rich source of secondary metabolites, such as phenolics and flavonoids. In the present study, we described a method to produce these compounds from hairy roots of tomato (THRs). Agrobacterium rhizogenes strain A4 was used to induce hairy roots in the tomato explants. The Ri T-DNA was confirmed by polymerase chain reaction amplification of the rolC gene. Biomass accumulation of hairy root lines was 1.7-3.7-fold higher compared to in vitro grown roots. Moreover, THRs efficiently produced several phenolic compounds, such as rutin, quercetin, kaempferol, gallic acid, protocatechuic acid, ferulic acid, colorogenic acid, and caffeic acid. Gallic acid [34.02 ?g/g of dry weight (DW)] and rutin (20.26 ?g/g of DW) were the major phenolic acid and flavonoid produced by THRs, respectively. The activities of reactive oxygen species enzymes (catalase, ascorbate peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase) were quantified. The activity of catalase in THRs was 0.97 ± 0.03 mM H2O2 min(-1) g(-1), which was 1.22-fold (0.79 ± 0.09 mM H2O2 min(-1) g(-1)) and 1.59-fold (0.61 ± 0.06 mM H2O2 min(-1) g(-1)) higher than field grown and in vitro grown roots, respectively. At 100 ?L/g concentration, the phenolic compound extract caused 53.34 and 40.00% mortality against Helicoverpa armigera and Spodoptera litura, respectively, after 6 days. Surviving larvae of H. armigera and S. litura on the phenolic compound extract after 6 days showed 85.43 and 86.90% growth retardation, respectively.
The tumour suppressor p53 is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancer, with more than half of all human tumours carrying mutations in this particular gene. Intense efforts to develop drugs that could activate or restore the p53 pathway have now reached clinical trials. The first clinical results with inhibitors of MDM2, a negative regulator of p53, have shown efficacy but hint at on-target toxicities. Here, we describe the current state of the development of p53 pathway modulators and new pathway targets that have emerged. The challenge of targeting protein-protein interactions and a fragile mutant transcription factor has stimulated many exciting new approaches to drug discovery.
We demonstrate the use of fluorescent molecular rotors as probes for detecting biomolecular interactions, specifically peptide-protein interactions. Molecular rotors undergo twisted intramolecular charge transfer upon irradiation, relax via the nonradiative torsional relaxation pathway, and have been typically used as viscosity probes. Their utility as a tool for detecting specific biomolecular interactions has not been explored. Using the well characterized p53-Mdm2 interaction as a model system, we designed a 9-(2-carboxy-2-cyanovinyl) julolidine-based p53 peptide reporter, JP1-R, which fluoresces conditionally only upon Mdm2 binding. The reporter was used in a rapid, homogeneous assay to screen a fragment library for antagonists of the p53-Mdm2 interaction, and several inhibitors were identified. Subsequent validation of these hits using established secondary assays suggests increased sensitivity afforded by JP1-R. The fluorescence of molecular rotors contingent upon target binding makes them a versatile tool for detecting specific biomolecular interactions.
Molecular recognition in biological systems relies on the existence of specific attractive interactions between two partner molecules. Structure-based drug design seeks to identify and optimize such interactions between ligands and their protein targets. The approach followed in medicinal chemistry follows a combination of careful analysis of structural data together with experimental and/or theoretical studies on the system. This chapter focuses on the fact that a protein is not fully characterized by a single structure, but by an ensemble of states, some of them represent "hidden conformations" with cryptic binding sites. We highlight case studies where both experimental and computational methods have been used to mutually drive each other in an attempt to improve the success of the drug design approaches.Advances in both experimental techniques and computational methods have greatly improved our physico-chemical understanding of the functional mechanisms in biomolecules and opened a debate about the interplay between molecular structure and biomolecular function. The beautiful static pictures of protein structures may have led to neglecting the intrinsic protein flexibility, however we are entering a new era where more sophisticated methods are used to exploit this ability of macromolecules, and this will definitely lead to the inclusion of the notion in the pharmaceutical field of drug design.
PSMD9 (Proteasome Macropain non-ATPase subunit 9), a proteasomal assembly chaperone, harbors an uncharacterized PDZ-like domain. Here we report the identification of five novel interacting partners of PSMD9 and provide the first glimpse at the structure of the PDZ-domain, including the molecular details of the interaction. We based our strategy on two propositions: (a) proteins with conserved C-termini may share common functions and (b) PDZ domains interact with C-terminal residues of proteins. Screening of C-terminal peptides followed by interactions using full-length recombinant proteins, we discovered hnRNPA1 (an RNA binding protein), S14 (a ribosomal protein), CSH1 (a growth hormone), E12 (a transcription factor) and IL6 receptor as novel PSMD9-interacting partners. Through multiple techniques and structural insights, we clearly demonstrate for the first time that human PDZ domain interacts with the predicted Short Linear Sequence Motif (SLIM) at the C-termini of the client proteins. These interactions are also recapitulated in mammalian cells. Together, these results are suggestive of the role of PSMD9 in transcriptional regulation, mRNA processing and editing, hormone and receptor activity and protein translation. Our proof-of-principle experiments endorse a novel and quick method for the identification of putative interacting partners of similar PDZ-domain proteins from the proteome and for discovering novel functions.
Taking advantage of the cluster effect observed in multivalent peptides, this work describes antifungal activity and possible mechanism of action of tetravalent peptide (B4010) which carries 4 copies of the sequence RGRKVVRR through a branched lysine core. B4010 displayed better antifungal properties than natamycin and amphotericin B. The peptide retained significant activity in the presence of monovalent/divalent cations, trypsin and serum and tear fluid. Moreover, B4010 is non-haemolytic and non-toxic to mice by intraperitoneal (200 mg/kg) or intravenous (100 mg/kg) routes. S. cerevisiae mutant strains with altered membrane sterol structures and composition showed hyper senstivity to B4010. The peptide had no affinity for cell wall polysaccharides and caused rapid dissipation of membrane potential and release of vital ions and ATP when treated with C. albicans. We demonstrate that additives which alter the membrane potential or membrane rigidity protect C. albicans from B4010-induced lethality. Calcein release assay and molecular dynamics simulations showed that the peptide preferentially binds to mixed bilayer containing ergosterol over phophotidylcholine-cholesterol bilayers. The studies further suggested that the first arginine is important for mediating peptide-bilayer interactions. Replacing the first arginine led to a 2-4 fold decrease in antifungal activities and reduced membrane disruption properties. The combined in silico and in vitro approach should facilitate rational design of new tetravalent antifungal peptides.
Quadruple valve infective endocarditis of apparently normal native valves is a relatively uncommon condition, reported particularly in the setting of intravenous drug use, structural heart disease and immunocompromised state, but its occurrence outside these settings is rare. Multiple valve endocarditis is caused by Staphylococcus aureus in the majority of cases. Although Enterococcus faecalis is a common cause of bacterial infective endocarditis overall, it is rarely reported to cause multiple valve involvement. The present case is one such rare report of a patient who had quadruple valve endocarditis of normal native valves, caused by E. faecalis. Compared to single valve endocarditis, multiple valve disease is associated more frequently with heart failure, perivalvular complications and need for heart surgery; hence, early recognition of the extent of disease and number of valves involved is crucial, as this in turn influences the management, risk of complications and outcomes. Transthoracic echocardiography is a widely used first-line tool in the imaging of infective endocarditis, but transesophageal echocardiography, which is more sensitive, should be used more frequently to assess the extent of involvement. Extensive valvular involvement alone does not preclude medical management, and surgical management should be considered only in those who do not respond to antimicrobials or in the case of hemodynamic compromise or mechanical complications.
The stereoselective affinity of small-molecule binding to proteins is typically broadly explained in terms of the thermodynamics of the final bound complex. Using Brownian dynamics simulations, we show that the preferential binding of the MDM2 protein to the geometrical isomers of Nutlin-3, an effective anticancer lead that works by inhibiting the interaction between the proteins p53 and MDM2, can be explained by kinetic arguments related to the formation of the MDM2:Nutlin-3 encounter complex. This is a diffusively bound state that forms prior to the final bound complex. We find that the MDM2 protein stereoselectivity for the Nutlin-3a enantiomer stems largely from the destabilization of the encounter complex of its mirror image enantiomer Nutlin-3b, by the K70 residue that is located away from the binding site. On the other hand, the trans-Nutlin-3a diastereoisomer exhibits a shorter residence time in the vicinity of MDM2 compared with Nutlin-3a due to destabilization of its encounter complex by the collective interaction of pairs of charged residues on either side of the binding site: Glu25 and Lys51 on one side, and Lys94 and Arg97 on the other side. This destabilization is largely due to the electrostatic potential of the trans-Nutlin-3a isomer being largely positive over extended continuous regions around its structure, which are otherwise well-identified into positive and negative regions in the case of the Nutlin-3a isomer. Such rich insight into the binding processes underlying biological selectivity complements the static view derived from the traditional thermodynamic analysis of the final bound complex. This approach, based on an explicit consideration of the dynamics of molecular association, suggests new avenues for kinetics-based anticancer drug development and discovery.
DNA manipulation routinely requires competent bacteria that can be made using one of numerous methods. To determine the best methods, we compared four commonly used chemical methods (DMSO, MgCl2-CaCl2, CaCl2 and Hanahans methods) on frequently used Escherichia coli (E. coli) strains: DH5?, XL-1 Blue, SCS110, JM109, TOP10 and BL21-(DE3)-PLysS. Hanahans method was found to be most effective for DH5?, XL-1 Blue and JM109 strains (P<0.05), whilst the CaCl2 method was best for SCS110, TOP10 and BL21 strains (P<0.05). The use of SOB (super optimal broth) over LB [Luria-Bertani (broth)] growth media was found to enhance the competency of XL-1 Blue (P<0.05), dampened JM109s competency (P<0.05), and had no effect on the other strains (P>0.05). We found no significant differences between using 45 or 90 s heat shock across all the six strains (P>0.05). Through further optimization by means of concentrating the aliquots, we were able to get further increases in transformation efficiencies. Based on the optimized parameters and methods, these common laboratory E. coli strains attained high levels of TrE (transformation efficiency), thus facilitating the production of highly efficient and cost-effective competent bacteria.
ADP ribosylation factor nucleotide site opener (ARNO) as a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) activates small GTPases called ADP ribosylation factors (Arfs), which function as molecular switches and regulate a variety of cell biological events. ARNO directly interacts with the transmembrane a2-subunit isoform of the proton-pumping vacuolar ATPase in an acidification-dependent manner, and this interaction plays a crucial role in the regulation of the protein degradation pathway. A recent study reported specific interactions of a2N with the ARNO375-400 peptide corresponding to the polybasic (PB) domain of ARNO, which is a crucial regulatory element in the autoregulation and modulation of Arf-GEF activity. Interestingly, phosphorylation of Ser392 completely abolishes this interaction, and the experimental structure shows significant structural rearrangements. To investigate the effect of Ser392 phosphorylation on the structure and dynamics of the ARNO375-400 peptide, we employed all atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the phosphorylated and unphosphorylated PB domain of the ARNO protein. A Hamiltonian-based replica exchange method called biasing potential replica exchange MD was used to enhance conformational sampling. Simulations predicted that the isolated PB domain is highly flexible, with the C-terminal region of the unphosphorylated state being unstable. In contrast, Ser392 phosphorylation increases the overall stability of the peptide. In agreement with experimental results, our simulations further support the hypothesis that phosphorylation induces disorder to order transitions and provide new insights into the structural dynamics of the PB domain. Phosphorylation of Ser392 appears to stabilize the C-terminal ?-helix via formation of salt bridges between phospho-Ser392 and Arg390, Lys395, and Lys396.
eIF4E is frequently over-expressed in different cancers and causes increased translation of oncogenic proteins via deregulated cap-dependent translation. Inhibitors of the eIF4E:eIF4G interactions represent an approach that would normalize cap-dependent translation. Stapled peptides represent an emerging class of therapeutics that can target protein: protein interactions. We present here molecular dynamics simulations for a set of rationally designed stapled peptides in solution and in complex with eIF4E, supported with biophysical and crystallographic data. Clustering of the simulated structures revealed the favoured conformational states of the stapled peptides in their bound or free forms in solution. Identifying these populations has allowed us to design peptides with improved affinities by introducing mutations into the peptide sequence to alter their conformational distributions. These studies emphasise the effects that engineered mutations have on the conformations of free and bound peptides, and illustrate that both states must be considered in efforts to attain high affinity binding.
Pectin methylesterases (PME; EC 188.8.131.52) involved in de-esterification of pectin and have applicability in food, textiles, wines, pulp, and paper industries. In the present study, we compared PME activity of different parts of 3 Datura species and found that fruit coat showed maximum PME activity followed by leaf and seed. PME from leaves of D. stramonium (DsPME) was purified and characterized. DsPME showed optimum activity at 60 °C and pH 9 in the presence of 0.3 M NaCl. DsPME was stable at 70 °C and retained more than 40% activity after 60 min of incubation. However, enzyme activity completely abolished at 80 after 5 min of incubation. It follows Michaelis-Menten enzyme kinetics. Km and Vmax with citrus pectin were 0.008 mg/ml and 16.96 µmol/min, respectively. DsPME in combination with polygalactourenase (PGA) increased the clarity of orange, apple, pomegranate and pineapple juices by 2.9, 2.6, 2.3, and 3.6 fold, respectively in comparison to PGA alone. Due to very high de-esterification activity, easy denaturation and significant efficacy in incrementing clarification of fruit juice makes DsPME useful for industrial application.
This work describes how to tune the amphiphilic conformation of ?-mangostin, a natural compound that contains a hydrophobic xanthone scaffold, to improve its antimicrobial activity and selectivity for Gram-positive bacteria. A series of xanthone derivatives was obtained by cationic modification of the free C3 and C6 hydroxyl groups of ?-mangostin with amine groups of different pKa values. Modified structures using moieties with high pKa values, such as AM-0016 (3b), exhibited potent antimicrobial properties against Gram-positive bacteria. Compound 3b also killed bacteria rapidly without inducing drug resistance and was nontoxic when applied topically. Biophysical studies and molecular dynamics simulations revealed that 3b targets the bacterial inner membrane, forming an amphiphilic conformation at the hydrophobic-water interface. In contrast, moieties with low pKa values reduced the antimicrobial activity of the parent compound when conjugated to the xanthone scaffold. This strategy provides a new way to improve "hits" for the development of membrane-active antibiotics that target drug-resistant pathogens.
MDM2 is a multidomain protein that functions as an E3 ubiquitin ligase, transcription repressor, mRNA-binding protein, translation factor, and molecular chaperone. The small molecule Nutlin-3 has been engineered to bind to the N-terminal hydrophobic pocket domain of MDM2. This binding of Nutlin-3 has two consequences: (i) antagonistic effects through competitive disruption of the MDM2-p53 complex and (ii) agonist effects that allosterically stabilize MDM2 protein-protein interactions that increase p53 ubiquitination as well as nucleophosmin deoligomerization. We present a methodology using a hydrogen/deuterium (H/D) exchange platform that measures Nutlin-3 binding to the N-terminal domain of MDM2 (MDM2(1-126)) in order to begin to develop dynamic assays that evaluate MDM2 allostery. In order to localize the regions in MDM2 being suppressed by Nutlin-3, MDM2 was incubated with the ligand and H/D amide exchange was measured after pepsin digestion. One dynamic segment containing amino acids 55-60 exhibited slower deuterium exchange after Nutlin-3 binding, reflecting ligand binding within the hydrophobic pocket. However, another dominant suppression of H/D exchange was observed in a motif from amino acids 103-107 that reflects surface hydrophobic residues surrounding the hydrophobic pocket of MDM2. In order to explore the consequences of this latter Nutlin-3 interaction site on MDM2, the Y104G and L107G mutant series was constructed. The MDM2(Y104G) and MDM2(L107G) mutants were fully active in p53 binding. However, the authentic p53-derived peptide:MDM2(Y104G) complex exhibited partial resistance to Nutlin-3 inhibition, while the p53-mimetic 12.1 peptide:MDM2(Y104G) complex retained normal Nutlin-3 responsiveness. These data reveal the existence of a second functional Nutlin-3-binding site in a surface hydrophobic patch of MDM2, flanking the hydrophobic pocket. This reveals two modes of peptide binding by MDM2 and highlights the utility of H/D exchange as an assay for measuring allosteric effects in MDM2.
The interaction of p53 with its regulators MDM2 and MDMX plays a major role in regulating the cell cycle. Inhibition of this interaction has become an important therapeutic strategy in oncology. Although MDM2 and MDMX share a very high degree of sequence/structural similarity, the small-molecule inhibitor nutlin appears to be an efficient inhibitor only of the p53-MDM2 interaction. Here, we investigate the mechanism of interaction of nutlin with these two proteins and contrast it with that of p53 using Brownian dynamics simulations. In contrast to earlier attempts to examine the bound states of the partners, here we locate initial reaction events in these interactions by identifying the regions of space around MDM2/MDMX, where p53/nutlin experience associative encounters with prolonged residence times relative to that in bulk solution. We find that the initial interaction of p53 with MDM2 is long-lived relative to nutlin, but, unlike nutlin, it takes place at the N- and C termini of the MDM2 protein, away from the binding site, suggestive of an allosteric mechanism of action. In contrast, nutlin initially interacts with MDM2 directly at the clefts of the binding site. The interaction of nutlin with MDMX, however, is very short-lived compared with MDM2 and does not show such direct initial interactions with the binding site. Comparison of the topology of the electrostatic potentials of MDM2 and MDMX and the locations of the initial encounters with p53/nutlin in tandem with structure-based sequence alignment revealed that the origin of the diminished activity of nutlin toward MDMX relative to MDM2 may stem partly from the differing topologies of the electrostatic potentials of the two proteins. Glu25 and Lys51 residues underpin these topological differences and appear to collectively play a key role in channelling nutlin directly toward the binding site on the MDM2 surface and are absent in MDMX. The results, therefore, provide new insight into the mechanism of p53/nutlin interactions with MDM2 and MDMX and could potentially have a broader impact on anticancer drug optimization strategies.
The transcription factor p53 regulates cellular integrity in response to stress. p53 is mutated in more than half of cancerous cells, with a majority of the mutations localized to the DNA binding domain (DBD). In order to map the structural and dynamical features of the DBD, we carried out multiple copy molecular dynamics simulations (totaling 0.8 ?s). Simulations show the loop 1 to be the most dynamic element among the DNA-contacting loops (loops 1-3). Loop 1 occupies two major conformational states: extended and recessed; the former but not the latter displays correlations in atomic fluctuations with those of loop 2 (~24 Å apart). Since loop 1 binds to the major groove whereas loop 2 binds to the minor groove of DNA, our results begin to provide some insight into the possible mechanism underpinning the cooperative nature of DBD binding to DNA. We propose (1) a novel mechanism underlying the dynamics of loop 1 and the possible tread-milling of p53 on DNA and (2) possible mutations on loop 1 residues to restore the transcriptional activity of an oncogenic mutation at a distant site.
Pharmacological modulation of p53 activity is an attractive therapeutic strategy in cancers with wild-type p53. Presently in clinical trials, the small molecule Nutlin-3A competitively binds to HDM2, a key negative regulator of p53 and blocks its activity. We have described resistance mutations in HDM2 that selectively reduce affinity for Nutlin but not p53. In the present communication, we show that stapled peptides targeting the same region of HDM2 as Nutlin are refractory to these mutations, and display reduced discrimination between the wild-type and mutant HDM2s with regards to functional abrogation of interaction with p53. The larger interaction footprint afforded by stapled peptides suggests that this class of ligands may prove comparatively more resilient to acquired resistance in a clinical setting.
Plants naturally emit methanol as volatile organic compound. Methanol is toxic to insect pests; but the quantity produced by most of the plants is not enough to protect them against invading insect pests. In the present study, we demonstrated that the over-expression of pectin methylesterase, derived from Arabidopsis thaliana and Aspergillus niger, in transgenic tobacco plants enhances methanol production and resistance to polyphagous insect pests. Methanol content in the leaves of transgenic plants was measured using proton nuclear spectroscopy (1H NMR) and spectra showed up to 16 fold higher methanol as compared to control wild type (WT) plants. A maximum of 100 and 85% mortality in chewing insects Helicoverpa armigera and Spodoptera litura larvae was observed, respectively when fed on transgenic plants leaves. The surviving larvae showed less feeding, severe growth retardation and could not develop into pupae. In-planta bioassay on transgenic lines showed up to 99 and 75% reduction in the population multiplication of plant sap sucking pests Myzus persicae (aphid) and Bemisia tabaci (whitefly), respectively. Most of the phenotypic characters of transgenic plants were similar to WT plants. Confocal microscopy showed no deformities in cellular integrity, structure and density of stomata and trichomes of transgenic plants compared to WT. Pollen germination and tube formation was also not affected in transgenic plants. Cell wall enzyme transcript levels were comparable with WT. This study demonstrated for the first time that methanol emission can be utilized for imparting broad range insect resistance in plants.
The pressure exerted by drugs targeted to a protein in any therapy inevitably leads to the emergence of drug resistance. One major mechanism of resistance involves the mutation of key residues in the target protein. Drugs that competitively replace a natural substrate are often made ineffective by mutations that reduce the drugs affinity relative to that of the natural substrate. Hence atomic level understanding of the mechanisms that underlie this behavior is of utmost importance in efforts to design new drugs that can target such mutant proteins. Methods that can predict these mutations before they appear in clinic would be a major advance in the selection of the appropriate treatment strategy in patients. The present computational approach aims to model this emergence in EGFR and ErbB2 after treatment with the drug lapatinib, by investigating the structural, dynamic and energetic effects on these kinases when bound to the natural substrate ATP and to lapatinib. The study reveals binding modes and subpopulations that are presumably normally cryptic and these have been analyzed extensively here with respect to sites that are predicted to be hotspots for resisting mutations. These positions are compared in the context of currently available data from laboratory-based experiments and mechanistic details, at the atomistic level, of the origin of resistance are developed. The prediction of novel mutations, if validated by their emergence in the clinic, will make these methods as a powerful predictive tool which can be used in the design of new kinase inhibitors.
The Bcl2 family of proteins is capable of switching the apoptotic machinery by directly controlling the release of apoptotic factors from the mitochondrial outer membrane. They have pro and anti-apoptotic subgroups of proteins which antagonize each others function; however a detailed atomistic understanding of their mechanisms based on the dynamical events, particularly in the membrane, is lacking. Using molecular dynamics simulations totaling 1.6µs we outline the major differences between the conformational dynamics in water and in membrane. Using implicit models of solvent and membrane, the simulated results reveal a picture that is in agreement with the hit-and run concept which states that BH3-only peptides displace the tail (which acts as a pseudo substrate of the protein itself) from its binding pocket; this helps the membrane association of the protein after which the BH3 peptide becomes free. From simulations, Bcl-xL appears to be auto-inhibited by its C-terminal tail that embeds into and covers the hydrophobic binding pocket. However the tail is unable to energetically compete with BH3-peptides in water. In contrast, in the membrane, neither the tail nor the BH3-peptides are stable in the binding pocket and appear to be easily dissociated off as the pocket expands in response to the hydrophobic environment. This renders the binding pocket large and open, thus receptive to interactions with other protein partners. Principal components of the motions are dramatically different in the aqueous and in the membrane environments and provide clues regarding the conformational transitions that Bcl-xL undergoes in the membrane, in agreement with the biochemical data.
HDM2 binds to the p53 tumour suppressor and targets it for proteosomal degradation. Presently in clinical trials, the small molecule Nutlin-3A competitively binds to HDM2 and abrogates its repressive function. Using a novel in vitro selection methodology, we simulated the emergence of resistance by evolving HDM2 mutants capable of binding p53 in the presence of Nutlin concentrations that inhibit the wild-type HDM2-p53 interaction. The in vitro phenotypes were recapitulated in ex vivo assays measuring both p53 transactivation function and the direct p53-HDM2 interaction in the presence of Nutlin. Mutations conferring drug resistance were not confined to the N-terminal p53/Nutlin-binding domain, and were additionally seen in the acidic, zinc finger and RING domains. Mechanistic insights gleaned from this broad spectrum of mutations will aid in future drug design and further our understanding of the complex p53-HDM2 interaction.
Analysis of the genome of the elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii), a member of the cartilaginous fishes (Class Chondrichthyes), reveals that it encodes all three members of the p53 gene family, p53, p63 and p73, each with clear homology to the equivalent gene in bony vertebrates (Class Osteichthyes). Thus, the gene duplication events that lead to the presence of three family members in the vertebrates dates to before the Silurian era. It also encodes Mdm2 and Mdm4 genes but does not encode the p19(Arf) gene. Detailed comparison of the amino acid sequences of these proteins in the vertebrates reveals that they are evolving at highly distinctive rates, and this variation occurs not only between the three family members but extends to distinct domains in each protein.
Understanding the roles of noncovalent interactions within the enzyme molecule and between enzyme and substrate or inhibitor is an essential goal of the investigation of active center chemistry and catalytic mechanism. Studies on members of the papain family of cysteine proteinases, particularly papain (EC 184.108.40.206) itself, continue to contribute to this goal. The historic role of the catalytic site Cys/His ion pair now needs to be understood within the context of multiple dynamic phenomena. Movement of Trp177 may be necessary to expose His159 to solvent with consequent decrease in its degree of electrostatic solvation of (Cys25)-S(-). Here we report an investigation of this possibility using computer modeling of quasi-transition states and pH-dependent kinetics using 3,3-dipyridazinyl disulfide, its n-propyl and phenyl derivatives, and 4,4-dipyrimidyl disulfide as reactivity probes that differ in the location of potential hydrogen-bonding acceptor atoms. Those interactions that influence ion pair geometry and thereby catalytic competence, including by transmission of the modulatory effect of a remote ionization with pK(a) 4, were identified. A key result is the correlation between the kinetic influence of the modulatory trigger of pK(a) 4 and disruption of the hydrogen bond donated by the indole N-H of Trp177, the hydrophobic shield of the initial "intimate" ion pair. This hydrogen bond is accepted by the amide O of Gln19-a component of the oxyanion hole that binds the tetrahedral species formed from the substrate during the catalytic act. The disruption would be expected to contribute to the mobility of Trp177 and possibly to the effectiveness of the binding of the developing oxyanion.
A common step in human cancer is the inactivation of the p53 tumor suppressor pathway. This occurs either by mutations in the coding region of the p53 gene itself, or equally commonly, by inactivation of pathways that are required for p53 to exert its cellular function. Dramatic new results from animal models and the widespread availability of p53 activating small molecules are yielding important new insights into the therapeutic and toxic effects of p53 and how these can be exploited for improving therapy of cancer and other diseases.
RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene silencing was explored for the control of sap-sucking pest Bemisia tabaci, commonly known as whitefly. dsRNAs and siRNAs were synthesized from five different genes - actin ortholog, ADP/ATP translocase, alpha-tubulin, ribosomal protein L9 (RPL9) and V-ATPase A subunit. A simplified insect bioassay method was developed for the delivery of ds/siRNA through the oral route, and efficacy was evaluated. ds/siRNA caused 29-97% mortality after 6 days of feeding. Each insect ingested nearly 150 nl of insect diet per day, which contained a maximum of 6 ng of RNA. Knocking down the expression of RPL9 and V-ATPase A caused higher mortality with LC50 11.21 and 3.08 microg/ml, respectively, as compared to other genes. Semi-quantitative PCR of the treated insects showed significant decrease in the level of RPL9 and V-ATPase A transcripts. siRNAs were found stable in the insect diet for at least 7 days at the room temperature. Phloem-specific expression of dsRNAs of RPL9 and V-ATPase A in transgenic plants for the protection against whiteflies might be an interesting application of this technology.
Human epidermal growth factor 2 (Her2), a receptor tyrosine kinase, is overexpressed in breast cancers. It has been successfully targeted by small molecule kinase inhibitors and by antibodies. Recent clinical data show a synergistic response in patients when two antibodies, trastuzumab and pertuzumab, are given in combination.
Pantothenate synthetase (PS) catalyzes the final step of the pantothenate pathway, in which pantothenate is formed from pantoate and ?-alanine in an ATP-dependent reaction. Mycobacterium tuberculosis PS (MTB PS) is functionally a dimer and a potential target for novel antitubercular drugs. Molecular dynamics simulations show that the functional dynamics of the enzyme are dominated by motions of a flexible gate loop in the N-terminal domain and of the C-terminal domain. The gate loop motions dominate in MTB PS while the C-terminal domain motion dominates in Escherichia coli PS. Simulations also show that the correlated motions of the domains are severely compromised in the monomeric forms. Mutations that reduce the mobility of the gate loop in MTB PS and increased it in E. coli PS were designed and validated through simulations.
Multiple self-healing squamous epithelioma (MSSE), also known as Ferguson-Smith disease (FSD), is an autosomal-dominant skin cancer condition characterized by multiple squamous-carcinoma-like locally invasive skin tumors that grow rapidly for a few weeks before spontaneously regressing, leaving scars. High-throughput genomic sequencing of a conservative estimate (24.2 Mb) of the disease locus on chromosome 9 using exon array capture identified independent mutations in TGFBR1 in three unrelated families. Subsequent dideoxy sequencing of TGFBR1 identified 11 distinct monoallelic mutations in 18 affected families, firmly establishing TGFBR1 as the causative gene. The nature of the sequence variants, which include mutations in the extracellular ligand-binding domain and a series of truncating mutations in the kinase domain, indicates a clear genotype-phenotype correlation between loss-of-function TGFBR1 mutations and MSSE. This distinguishes MSSE from the Marfan syndrome-related disorders in which missense mutations in TGFBR1 lead to developmental defects with vascular involvement but no reported predisposition to cancer.
The complex between the proteins MDM2 and p53 is a promising drug target for cancer therapy. The residues 19-26 of p53 have been biochemically and structurally demonstrated to be a most critical region to maintain the association of MDM2 and p53. Variation of the amino acid sequence in this range obviously alters the binding affinity. Surprisingly, suitable substitutions contiguous to this region of the p53 peptides can yield tightly binding peptides. The peptide variants may differ by a single residue that vary little in their structural conformations and yet are characterized by large differences in their binding affinities. In this study a systematic analysis into the role of single C-terminal mutations of a 12 residue fragment of the p53 transactivation domain (TD) and an equivalent phage optimized peptide (12/1) were undertaken to elucidate their mechanistic and thermodynamic differences in interacting with the N-terminal of MDM2. The experimental results together with atomistically detailed dynamics simulations provide insight into the principles that govern peptide design protocols with regard to protein-protein interactions and peptidomimetic design.
Phosphorylation of S17 in the N-terminal "lid" of MDM2 (residues 1-24) is proposed to regulate the binding of p53. The lid is composed of an intrinsically disordered peptide motif that is not resolved in the crystal structure of the MDM2 N-terminal domain. Molecular dynamics simulations of MDM2 provide novel insight into how the lid undergoes complex dynamics depending on its phosphorylation state that have not been revealed by NMR analyses. The difference in charges between the phosphate and the phosphomimetic Asp and the change in shape from tetrahedral to planar are manifested in differences in strengths and durations of interactions that appear to modulate access of the binding site to ligands and peptides differentially. These findings unveil the complexities that underlie protein-protein interactions and reconcile some differences between the biochemical and NMR data suggesting that lid mutation or deletion can change the specific activity of MDM2 and provide concepts for future approaches to evaluate the effects of S17 modification on p53 binding.
Allium sativum leaf agglutinin (ASAL) binds to several proteins in the midgut of Helicoverpa armigera and causes toxicity. Most of these were glycosylated. Six ASAL-binding proteins were selected for identification. PMF and MS/MS data showed their similarity with midgut aminopeptidase APN2, polycalins and alkaline phosphatase of H. armigera, cadherin-N protein (partial AGAP009726-PA) of Acyrthosiphon pisum, cytochrome P450 (CYP315A1) of Manduca sexta and alkaline phosphatase of Heliothis virescens. Some of the ASAL-binding midgut proteins were similar to the larval receptors responsible for the binding of ?-endotoxin proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis. Galanthus nivalis agglutinin also interacted with most of the ASAL-binding proteins. The ASAL showed resistance to midgut proteases and was detected in the larval hemolymph and excreta. Immunohistochemical staining revealed the presence of ASAL in the body tissue also.
Atomistic simulations of a set of stapled peptides derived from the transactivation domain of p53 (designed by Verdine & colleagues, JACS 2007 129:2456) and complexed to MDM2 reveal that the good binders are uniquely characterized by higher helicity and by extensive interactions between the hydrocarbon staples and the MDM2 surface; in contrast the poor binders have reduced helicity and their staples are mostly solvent exposed. Our studies also find that the best binders can also potentially inhibit MDMX with similar affinities, suggesting that such stapled peptides can be evolved for dual inhibition with therapeutic potential.
Mutations in the TP53 gene are a feature of 50% of all reported cancer cases. In the other 50% of cases, the TP53 gene itself is not mutated but the p53 pathway is often partially inactivated. Cancer therapies that target specific mutant genes are proving to be highly active and trials assessing agents that exploit the p53 system are ongoing. Many trials are aimed at stratifying patients on the basis of TP53 status. In another approach, TP53 is delivered as a gene therapy; this is the only currently approved p53-based treatment. The p53 protein is overexpressed in many cancers and p53-based vaccines are undergoing trials. Processed cell-surface p53 is being exploited as a target for protein-drug conjugates, and small-molecule drugs that inhibit the activity of MDM2, the E3 ligase that regulates p53 levels, have been developed by several companies. The first MDM2 inhibitors are being trialed in both hematologic and solid malignancies. Finally, the first agent found to restore the active function of mutant TP53 has just entered the clinic. Here we discuss the basis of these trials and the future of p53-based therapy.
Approximately 27 million people are living with a tumour in which the tumour suppressing activity of p53 has been inactivated. In half of these tumours, p53 itself is not mutated but the pathway is partially abrogated. Mechanisms include the overexpression of negative regulators of p53, such as MDM2 and MDM4, and deletion or epigenetic inactivation of the positive regulators of p53 such as ARF. In the other half of tumours, in which p53 is inactivated, p53 is mutated and ?95% of these mutations lie in the core DNA-binding domain, which reflects the key role of p53 as a transcriptional activator. Reactivation of the tumour suppressive properties of p53 is a key therapeutic goal, and the use of peptides in p53 research has led directly to the development of two alternative small molecule approaches: stabilization of mutant p53 to rescue its DNA-binding activity and inhibition of MDM2 or MDM4.
The p53 DNA-binding domain harbors a conformationally flexible multiprotein binding site that regulates p53 ubiquitination. A novel phosphorylation site exists within this region at Ser(269), whose phosphomimetic mutation inactivates p53. The phosphomimetic p53 (S269D) exhibits characteristics of mutant p53: stable binding to Hsp70 in vivo, elevated ubiquitination in vivo, inactivity in DNA binding and transcription, increased thermoinstability using thermal shift assays, and ?(max) of intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence at 403 nm rather than 346 nm, characteristic of wild type p53. These data indicate that p53 conformational stability is regulated by a phosphoacceptor site within an exposed flexible surface loop and that this can be destabilized by phosphorylation. To test whether other motifs within p53 have similarly evolved, we analyzed the effect of Ser(215) mutation on p53 function because Ser(215) is another inactivating phosphorylation site in the conformationally flexible PAb240 epitope. The p53(S215D) protein is inactive like p53(S269D), whereas p53(S215A) is as active as p53(S269A). However, the double mutant p53(S215A/S269A) was transcriptionally inactive and more thermally unstable than either individual Ser-Ala loop mutant. Molecular dynamics simulations suggest that (i) solvation of phospho-Ser(215) and phospho-Ser(269) by positive charged residues or solvent water leads to local unfolding, which is accompanied by local destabilization of the N-terminal loop and global destabilization of p53, and (ii) the double alanine 215/269 mutation disrupts hydrogen bonding normally stabilized by both Ser(215) and Ser(269). These data indicate that p53 has evolved two serine phosphoacceptor residues within conformationally flexible epitopes that normally stabilize the p53 DNA-binding domain but whose phosphorylation induces a mutant conformation to wild type p53.
Allostery is the phenomenon of changes in the structure and activity of proteins that appear as a consequence of ligand binding at sites other than the active site. Studying mechanistic basis of allostery leading to protein design with predetermined functional endpoints is an important unmet need of synthetic biology. Here, we screened the amino acid sequence landscape in search of sequence-signatures of allostery using Recurrence Quantitative Analysis (RQA) method. A characteristic vector, comprised of 10 features extracted from RQA was defined for amino acid sequences. Using Principal Component Analysis, four factors were found to be important determinants of allosteric behavior. Our sequence-based predictor method shows 82.6% accuracy, 85.7% sensitivity and 77.9% specificity with the current dataset. Further, we show that Laminarity-Mean-hydrophobicity representing repeated hydrophobic patches is the most crucial indicator of allostery. To our best knowledge this is the first report that describes sequence determinants of allostery based on hydrophobicity. As an outcome of these findings, we plan to explore possibility of inducing allostery in proteins.
FHA domains are well established as phospho-dependent binding modules mediating signal transduction in Ser/Thr kinase signaling networks in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic species. Although they are unique in binding exclusively to phosphothreonine, the basis for this discrimination over phosphoserine has remained elusive. Here, we attempt to dissect overall binding specificity at the molecular level. We first determined the optimal peptide sequence for Rv0020c FHA domain binding by oriented peptide library screening. This served as a basis for systematic mutagenic and binding analyses, allowing us to derive relative thermodynamic contributions of conserved protein and peptide residues to binding and specificity. Structures of phosphopeptide-bound and uncomplexed Rv0020c FHA domain then directed molecular dynamics simulations which show how the extraordinary discrimination in favor of phosphothreonine occurs through formation of additional hydrogen-bonding networks that are ultimately stabilized by van der Waals interactions of the phosphothreonine ?-methyl group with a conserved pocket on the FHA domain surface.
Buffalo is the major source of animal protein in south-east Asia, including India; therefore, the presence of multiple drug resistance in Salmonella strains of buffalo meat and milk products is of immense public health concern.
The mechanism of coupling of ion pumping in the membrane-bound A(O) sector with ATP synthesis in the A(3)B(3) headpiece of the A(1) sector in the A(1)A(O) ATP synthase is a puzzle. Previously, crosstalk between the stalk and nucleotide-binding subunits F(Mm) and B(Mm) of the Methanosarcina mazei Gö1 A-ATP synthase has been observed by nucleotide-dependent cross-link formation of both subunits inside the enzyme. The recently determined NMR solution structure of F(Mm) depicts the protein as a two-domain structure, with a well-folded N-terminus having 78 residues and a flexible C-terminal part (residues 79-101), proposed to become structured after binding to its partner, B(Mm). Here, we detail the crucial interactions between subunits B(Mm) and F(Mm) by determining the NMR structure of the very C-terminus of F(Mm), consisting of 20 residues and hereafter termed F(Mm(81-101)), and performing molecular dynamics simulations on the resulting structure. These data demonstrate that the flexibility of the C-terminus enables F(Mm) to switch between an elongated and retracted state. Docking and MD in conjunction with previously conducted and published NMR results, biochemical cross-linking, and fluorescence spectroscopy data were used to reconstruct a model of a B(Mm)-F(Mm) assembly. The model of the B(Mm)-F(Mm) complex shows the detailed interactions of helices 1 and 2 of the C-terminal domain of B(Mm) with the C-terminal residues of F(Mm). Movements of both helices of B(Mm) accommodate the incoming C-terminus of F(Mm) and connect the events of ion pumping and nucleotide binding in the A(1)A(O) ATP synthase.
Half of human tumours have mutated p53 while in the other half, defective signalling pathways block its function. One such defect is the overexpression of the MDM2 and MDMX proteins. This has led to an intense effort to develop inhibitors of p53-MDM2/MDMX interactions. Nutlin is the first such compound described to block p53-MDM2 interactions. Molecular dynamics simulations have been used to explore the differences in binding of p53 and nutlin to MDM2/MDMX. Simulations reveal that p53 has a higher affinity for MDM2 than MDMX, driven by stronger electrostatic interactions. p53 is displaced from MDM2 by nutlin because it is more flexible, thus paying a larger entropic penalty upon sequestration by MDM2. The inherent plasticity of MDM2 is higher than that of MDMX, enabling it to bind both p53 and nutlin. The less flexible MDMX interacts with the more mobile p53 because the peptide can adapt conformationally to dock into MDMX, albeit with a reduced affinity; nutlin, however is rigid and hence can only interact with MDMX with low affinity. Evolutionarily, the higher affinity of MDM2 for p53 may enable MDM2 to bind p53 for longer periods as it shuttles it out of the nucleus; in contrast, MDMX only needs to mask the p53 TA domain. This study enables us to hypothesize gain of function mutations or those that have decreased affinity for nutlin. These conclusions provide insight into future drug design for dual inhibitors of MDM2 and MDMX, both of which are oncoproteins found overexpressed in many cancers.
p53 is a transcription factor that protects cells against stress, by modulating genes that induce growth arrest, repair, apoptosis, senescence or altered metabolism. Activation of p53 can potentially be used to modulate disease states. We describe here recent developments that attempt to modulate the function of p53 and outline strategies that are being investigated for pharmacological intervention in the p53 pathway. These include interruption of the interactions between p53 and its negative regulators, restabilization of mutant/misfolded p53, activation of p53 dependant transcription and modulation of p53 function systemically to affect the therapeutic profile of existing drugs. In addition the development of new animal models to investigate the above developments, including mice and zebrafish will be highlighted.
The p53 protein and its negative regulator the ubiquitin E3 ligase Mdm2 have been shown to be conserved from the T. adhaerens to man. In common with D. melanogaster and C. elegans, there is a single copy of the p53 gene in T. adhaerens, while in the vertebrates three p53-like genes can be found: p53, p63 and p73. The Mdm2 gene is not present within the fully sequenced and highly annotated genomes of C. elegans and D. melanogaster. However, it is present in Placazoanand the presence of multiple distinct p53 genes in the Sea anemone N. vectensis led us to examine the genomes of other phyla for p53 and Mdm2-like genes. We report here the discovery of an Mdm2-like gene and two distinct p53-like genes in the Arachnid Ioxodes scapularis (Northern Deer Tick). The two predicted Deer Tick p53 proteins are much more highly related to the human p53 protein in sequence than are the fruit fly and nematode proteins. One of the Deer Tick genes encodes a p53 protein that is initiated within the DNA binding domain of p53 and shows remarkable homology to the newly described N-terminally truncated delta isoforms of human and zebrafish p53.
The N terminal transactivation domain of p53 is regulated by ligases and coactivator proteins. The functional conformation of this region appears to be an alpha helix which is necessary for its appropriate interactions with several proteins including MDM2 and p300. Folding simulation studies have been carried out to examine the propensity and stability of this region and are used to understand the differences between the family members with the ease of helix formation following the order p53 > p73 > p63. It is clear that hydrophobic clusters control the kinetics of helix formation, while electrostatic interactions control the thermodynamic stability of the helix. Differences in these interactions between the family members may partially account for the differential binding to, and regulation by, MDM2 (and MDMX). Phosphorylations of the peptides further modulate the stability of the helix and control associations with partner proteins.
The p53 protein is the most commonly mutated tumor suppressor gene in man. Understanding of its evolutionary origins have been enhanced by the recent discovery of p53 family genes in the Sea Anemone Nematostella vectensis. This amino acid sequence conservation has been reflected in biological activity since the early p53 proteins, like their human counterparts, are responsible for DNA damage-induced cellular apoptosis, albeit restricted to the germ cell compartment in model organisms such as the nematode and fruit fly. In vertebrates from zebrafish to man the function of p53 is tightly and absolutely constrained by a negative regulator Mdm2. However the Mdm2 gene has not been detected in the genome of the model nematode (C. elegans) and insect (D. melanogaster) species. We have found that the p53 gene and the Mdm2 gene are present in Placozoans, one of the simplest of all free living multi-cellular organisms, implying that both proteins arose much earlier in evolution than previously thought. Detailed sequence analysis shows the exceptional retention of key features of both proteins from man to Placazoan implying that the p53-Mdm2 interaction and its regulation have been conserved from a basal eumetazoan since the pre-cambrian era over 1 billion years ago.
Crystal structures of inactive PAK1(K299R) and the activation (A)-loop phospho-mimetic PAK1(T423E) have suggested that the kinase domain is in an active state regardless of activation loop status. Contrary to a large body of literature, we find that neither is PAK1(T423E) active in cells, nor does it exhibit significant activity in vitro. To explain these discrepancies all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of PAK1(phospho-T423) in complex with ATP and substrate were performed. These simulations point to a key interaction between PAK1 Lys308, at the end of the alphaC helix, and the pThr423 phosphate group, not seen in X-ray structures. The orthologous PAK4 Arg359 fulfills the same role in immobilizing the alphaC helix. These in silico predictions were validated by experimental mutagenesis of PAK1 and PAK4. The simulations explain why the PAK1 A-loop phospho-mimetic is inactive, but also point to a key functional interaction likely found in other protein kinases.
The tumor suppressor protein p53 is regulated by the ubiquitin ligase MDM2 which down-regulates p53. In tumours with overexpressed MDM2, the p53-MDM2 interaction can be interrupted by a peptide or small molecule to stabilize p53 as a therapeutic strategy. Structural and biochemical/mutagenesis data show that p53 has 3 hydrophobic residues F19, W23 and L26 that embed into the ligand binding pocket of MDM2 which is highly plastic in nature and can modulate its size to accommodate a variety of ligands. This binding pocket is primarily dependent on the orientation of a particular residue, Y100. We have studied the role of the dynamics of Y100 in p53 recognition.
Currently, around 11 million people are living with a tumour that contains an inactivating mutation of TP53 (the human gene that encodes p53) and another 11 million have tumours in which the p53 pathway is partially abrogated through the inactivation of other signalling or effector components. The p53 pathway is therefore a prime target for new cancer drug development, and several original approaches to drug discovery that could have wide applications to drug development are being used. In one approach, molecules that activate p53 by blocking protein-protein interactions with MDM2 are in early clinical development. Remarkable progress has also been made in the development of p53-binding molecules that can rescue the function of certain p53 mutants. Finally, cell-based assays are being used to discover compounds that exploit the p53 pathway by either seeking targets and compounds that show synthetic lethality with TP53 mutations or by looking for non-genotoxic activators of the p53 response.
Achondroplasia (ACH) is the most frequent form of short-limbed dwarfism, caused by mutations in the FGFR3 gene. It follows an autosomal dominant inheritance, though most cases are sporadic. The molecular techniques are the only available methods to confirm the diagnosis of a skeletal dysplasia. Clinical and radiological features are only suggestive and not confirmatory. The present study was conducted to find out how often the clinical diagnosis of achondroplasia is verified on molecular studies.
p53 is a major tumor suppressor protein, that binds to, and is negatively regulated by MDM2. In tumors overexpressing MDM2, p53 function can be rescued through the disruption of the MDM2-p53 interactions by small molecules and peptides. It is known that MDM2 also binds p73 but not p63, the two homologues of p53. We dissect the structural and energetic reasons underlying this discrimination and have identified a peptide that is intrinsically less helical than p53 and yet has a higher affinity for MDM2. The increased disorder has been introduced by localizing a cationic residue in between two anionic residues, imparting a degree of frustration to the system. In addition, the introduction of a bulkier hydrophobic group towards the centre of the peptide enables the peptide to adapt a bound conformation that on the one hand is most strained, and yet enables the peptide to straddle the largest surface of MDM2, amongst all the peptides. Computations also reveal that this peptide is a dual inhibitor, binding also to MDMX. The computed affinity of the new peptide has been validated against MDM2 using fluorescence-based thermal shift assays.
Defensins are small (3-5 kDa) cysteine-rich cationic proteins found in both vertebrates and invertebrates constituting the front line of host innate immunity. Despite intensive research, bactericidal and cytotoxic mechanisms of defensins are still largely unknown. Moreover, we recently demonstrated that small peptides derived from defensins are even more potent bactericidal agents with less toxicity toward host cells. In this paper, structures of three C-terminal (R36-K45) analogues of human beta-defensin-3 were studied by 1H NMR spectroscopy and extensive molecular dynamics simulations. Because of indications that these peptides might target the inner bacterial membrane, they were reconstituted in dodecylphosphocholine or dodecylphosphocholine/1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-[phospho-rac-(1-glycerol)] mixed micelles, and lipid bicelles mimicking the phospholipid-constituted bilayer membrane of mammalian and bacterial cells. The results show that the binding affinity and partitioning into the lipid phase and the ability to dimerize and accrete well-defined structures upon interactions with lipid membranes contribute to compactization of positive charges within peptide oligomers. The peptide charge density, mediated by corresponding three-dimensional structures, was found to directly correlate with the antimicrobial activity. These novel observations may provide a new rationale for the design of improved antimicrobial agents.
An X-ray crystal structure of the eIF4E peptide complex is described in which two such complexes are located in the asymmetric unit. One of these complexes has m(7)GTP bound in a conformation which has been observed in several eIF4E crystal structures, whilst the other complex is free of m(7)GTP and contains a unique glycerol. The two complexes show significant structural differences between each other in the cap-binding site. The glycerol bound structure shows a reorientation of the W102 side chain out of the cap-binding site, disordering of the W56 containing loop and rotation of the carboxyl side-chain of E103. This is accompanied by movement of the M101 side chain into a position where W56 in the m(7)GTP bound complex would otherwise occupy. Rotation of the W102 sidechain also displaces a structured water molecule to a new site. This novel conformation of eIF4E with glycerol bound is hypothesized to be an intermediate state between the apo and m(7)GTP bound forms of eIF4E. These insights should prove useful in the design of inhibitors of eIF4E for cancer therapy.
Peptide aptamers are simple structures, often made up of a single-variable peptide loop constrained within a constant scaffold protein. Aptamers were rationally designed by inserting peptides into a solvent-exposed loop on thioredoxin (Trx). They were designed to interact with the proteins elongation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) and mouse double minute 2 (MDM2) and were then validated by competitive fluorescence anisotropy experiments. The constructed aptamers interacted with eIF4E and MDM2 with apparent K(d) values of 1.25+/-0.06 microM and 0.09+/-0.01 microM, respectively, as determined by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). The MDM2 aptamer (SuperTIP) interacted approximately 2-fold more tightly with MDM2 than the free linear peptide (12.1 peptide), while the eIF4E aptamer elongation initiation factor 4GI-SG interacted approximately 5-fold less strongly than the free linear peptide (elongation initiation factor 4GI). These differences in binding with respect to each aptamers free peptide reveal that there are more factors involved than just constraining a peptide in a scaffold that lead to tighter binding. ITC studies of aptamer interactions reveal an enthalpic component more favorable than that for the free linear peptides, as well as a larger unfavorable entropic component. These results indicated that stapling of the free peptide in the scaffold increases the favorable enthalpy of the interaction with the target protein. Thermostability studies also revealed that peptide insertion significantly destabilized the Trx scaffold by approximately 27 degrees C. It is this destabilization that leads to an increase in the flexibility of the Trx scaffold, which presumably is lost upon the aptamers interaction with the target protein and is the cause of the increase in unfavorable entropy in the ITC studies. The precise origin of the enthalpic effect was further studied using molecular dynamics for the MDM2-SuperTIP system, which revealed that there were also favorable electrostatic interactions between the Trx scaffold and the MDM2 protein itself, as well as with the inserted peptide. This work reveals that any increase in the binding affinity of an aptamer over a free peptide is dependent on the increase in the favorable enthalpy of binding, which is ideally caused by stapling of the peptide or by additional interactions between the aptamer protein and its target. These need to be sufficient to compensate for the destabilization of the scaffold by peptide insertion. These observations will be useful in future aptamer designs.
A bacterial strain Bz02 was isolated from a water sample collected from river Gomti at the Indian city of Lucknow. We characterized the strain using 16S rRNA sequence. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the strain formed a monophyletic clade with members of the genus Comamonas. The closest phylogenetic relative was Comamonas testosteroni with 95% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity. It is proposed that the identified strain Bz02 be assigned as the type strain of a species of the genus Comamonas (Comamonas sp Bz02) based on 16S rRNA gene sequence search in Ribosomal Database Project, small subunit rRNA and large subunit rRNA databases together with the phylogenetic tree analysis. The sequence is deposted in GenBank with the accession number FJ211417.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of structural parameters of peptides on their oxidation by DMSO, including location of cysteine, effect of adjunct group participation, molecular hydrophobicity, steric hindrance or the accessibility of thiol group and peptide conformation, on oxidation rates, dimer formation and associated side products. We designed and synthesized two series of linear cysteine-containing analogues of human beta-defensin 3 (the C1-peptides with cysteine at the N-terminus residue 1, the C29-peptides with cysteine located at residue 29 in the centre of peptide), which were used for preparation of disulphide-linked homodimers. HPLC-ESI-MS was used to monitor the oxidation process and to characterize the molecular weights of dimers and side products of high oxidation. The formations of dimers and side products were dependent on the position of cysteines. Hydrophobicity generally rendered the thiol groups less accessible and hence exposed them to slow oxidation to form dimers (or even fail to form dimers during the timescale of observation). Molecular dynamics simulations showed that the exposure of cysteines (and sulphurs) of the C1-peptides was much larger than for the C29-peptides. The larger hydrophobic side chains tended to enable clustering of the side chains that sequester cysteine, particularly in the C29-peptides, which provided a molecular explanation for the observed trends in oxidation rates. Together with molecular modelling, we propose a reaction mechanism to elucidate the oxidation results of these peptides.
Computational models reveal the structural origins of cooperativity in the association of the DNA binding domains (DBD) of p53 (and its two homologues p63 and p73) with consensus DNA. In agreement with experiments they show that cooperativity, as defined by sequential binding of monomers to DNA is strong for p53 and weak for homologues p63 and p73. Computations also suggest that cooperativity can arise from the dimerization of the DBD prior to binding the DNA for all 3 family members. Dimerization between the DBDs is driven by packing interactions originating in residues of helix H1 and loop L3, while DNA binding itself is dominated by local and global electrostatics. Calculations further suggest that low affinity oligomerization of the p53 DBD can precede the oligomerization of the tetramerization domain (TD). During synthesis of multiple chains on the polysome, this may increase fidelity by reducing the possibility of the highly hydrophobic TD from nonspecific aggregation. Mutations have been suggested to test these findings.
Isocitrate Dehydrogenases (IDHs) are important enzymes present in all living cells. Three subfamilies of functionally dimeric IDHs (subfamilies I, II, III) are known. Subfamily I are well-studied bacterial IDHs, like that of Escherischia coli. Subfamily II has predominantly eukaryotic members, but it also has several bacterial members, many being pathogens or endosymbionts. subfamily III IDHs are NAD-dependent. The eukaryotic-like subfamily II IDH from pathogenic bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis IDH1 are expected to have regulation similar to that of bacteria which use the glyoxylate bypass to survive starvation. Yet they are structurally different from IDHs of subfamily I, such as the E. coli IDH.
A covalently, branched antimicrobial peptide (BAMP) B2088 demonstrating enhanced antimicrobial effects and without additional toxicity when compared to its linear counterpart, has been developed. Atomistic molecular dynamics simulations have been used to investigate the mode of interaction of B2088 with model bacterial and mammalian membranes. These simulations suggest that both long-range electrostatic interactions and short-range hydrogen bonding play important roles in steering B2088 toward the negatively charged membranes. The reason why B2088 is selective towards the bacterial membrane is postulated to be the greater density of negative charges on the bacterial membrane which enables rapid accumulation of B2088 on the bacterial membrane to a high surface concentration, stabilizing it through excess hydrogen bond formation. The majority of hydrogen bonds are seen between the side chains of the basic residues (Arg or Lys) with the PO4 groups of lipids. In particular, formation of the bidentate hydrogen bonds between the guanidinium group of Arg and PO4 groups are found to be more favorable, both geometrically and energetically. Moreover, the planar gaunidinium group and its hydrophobic character enable the Arg side chains to solvate into the hydrophobic membrane. Structural perturbation of the bacterial membrane is found to be concentration dependent and is significant at higher concentrations of B2088, resulting in a large number of water translocations across the bacterial membrane. These simulations enhance our understanding of the action mechanism of a covalently branched antimicrobial peptide with model membranes and provide practical guidance for the design of new antimicrobial peptides.
Emerging resistance to current antibiotics raises the need for new microbial drug targets. We show that targeting branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) biosynthesis using sulfonylurea herbicides, which inhibit the BCAA biosynthetic enzyme acetohydroxyacid synthase (AHAS), can exert bacteriostatic effects on several pathogenic bacteria, including Burkholderia pseudomallei, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Acinetobacter baumannii. Our results suggest that targeting biosynthetic enzymes like AHAS, which are lacking in humans, could represent a promising antimicrobial drug strategy.
Branched antimicrobial peptides are promising as a new class of antibiotics displaying high activity and low toxicity and appear to work through a unique mechanism of action. We explore the structural dynamics of a covalently branched 18 amino acid peptide (referred to as B2088) in aqueous and membrane mimicking environments through molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Towards this, we carry out conventional MD simulations and supplement these with replica exchange simulations. The simulations are carried out using four different force fields that are commonly employed for simulating biomolecular systems. These force fields are GROMOS53a6, CHARMM27 with cMAP, CHARMM27 without cMAP and AMBER99sb. The force fields are benchmarked against experimental data available from circular dichroism and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies, and show that CHARMM27 without cMAP correction is the most successful in reproducing the structural dynamics of B2088 both in water and in the presence of micelles. Although the four force fields predict different structures of B2088, they all show that B2088 stabilizes against the head group of the lipid through hydrogen bonding of its Lys and Arg side chains. This leads us to hypothesize that B2088 is unlikely to penetrate into the hydrophobic region of the membrane owing to the high free energy costs of transfer from water, and possibly acts by carpeting and thus disrupting the membrane.
By using a phage display derived peptide as an initial template, compounds have been developed that are highly specific against Mdm2/Mdm4. These compounds exhibit greater potency in p53 activation and protein-protein interaction assays than a compound derived from the p53 wild-type sequence. Unlike Nutlin, a small molecule inhibitor of Mdm2/Mdm4, the phage derived compounds can arrest cells resistant to p53 induced apoptosis over a wide concentration range without cellular toxicity, suggesting they are highly suitable for cyclotherapy.
While the presence, in the invertebrates, of genes related in sequence and function to the vertebrate p53 family has been known since the discovery of the fly Drosophila melanogaster Dmp53 and the worm Caenorhabditis elegans cep-1 gene, the failure to discover homologs of the essential vertebrate negative regulator of p53 Mdm2 in these species led to the false assumption that Mdm2 was only present in vertebrates. Very recently, clear homologs of Mdm2 have been discovered in a wide range of invertebrate species, raising a series of interesting questions about the evolution of the p53 pathway. Here, a personal account of the discovery of Mdm2-like genes in the Placozoa and Arthropoda is used to speculate on aspects of the evolution, structure, and function of the p53 pathway.
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