Sirtuins are NAD(+)-dependent histone deacetylases (HDACs) that cleave off acetyl but also other acyl groups from the ?-amino group of lysines in histones and other substrate proteins. Five sirtuin isoforms are encoded in the genome of the parasitic pathogen Schistosoma mansoni. During its life cycle, S. mansoni undergoes drastic changes in phenotype that are associated with epigenetic modifications. Previous work showed strong effects of hSirt2 inhibitors on both worm life span and reproduction. Thus, we postulate smSirt2 as a new antiparasite target. We report both the optimization of a homogeneous fluorescence-based assay and the development of a new heterogeneous fluorescence-based assay to determine smSirt2 activity. The homogeneous assay uses a coumarin-labeled acetyl lysine derivative, and the heterogeneous version is using a biotinylated and fluorescence-labeled oligopeptide. Magnetic streptavidin-coated beads allow higher substrate loading per well than streptavidin-coated microtiter plates and make it possible to screen for inhibitors of either smSirt2 or its human isoform (hSirt2) for selectivity studies. We also present hits from a pilot screen with inhibitors showing an IC50 lower than 50 µM. Binding of the hits to their targets is rationalized by docking studies using a homology model of smSirt2.
Schistosomiasis, caused by S. mansoni, is a tropical disease that affects over 200 million people worldwide. A novel approach for targeting eukaryotic parasites is to tackle their dynamic epigenetic machinery that is necessary for the extensive phenotypic changes during their life cycle. We recently identified S. mansoni histone deacetylase 8 (smHDAC8) as a potential target for antiparasitic therapy. Here we present results from a virtual screening campaign on smHDAC8. Besides hydroxamates, several sulfonamide-thiazole derivatives were identified by a target-based virtual screening using a homology model of smHDAC8. In vitro testing of 75 compounds identified 8 hydroxamates as potent and lead-like inhibitors of the parasitic HDAC8. Solving of the crystal structure of smHDAC8 with two of the virtual screening hits confirmed the predicted binding mode.
The functions of the TAF subunits of mammalian TFIID in physiological processes remain poorly characterised. In this study, we describe a novel function of TAFs in directing genomic occupancy of a transcriptional activator. Using liver-specific inactivation in mice, we show that the TAF4 subunit of TFIID is required for post-natal hepatocyte maturation. TAF4 promotes pre-initiation complex (PIC) formation at post-natal expressed liver function genes and down-regulates a subset of embryonic expressed genes by increased RNA polymerase II pausing. The TAF4-TAF12 heterodimer interacts directly with HNF4A and in vivo TAF4 is necessary to maintain HNF4A-directed embryonic gene expression at post-natal stages and promotes HNF4A occupancy of functional cis-regulatory elements adjacent to the transcription start sites of post-natal expressed genes. Stable HNF4A occupancy of these regulatory elements requires TAF4-dependent PIC formation highlighting that these are mutually dependent events. Local promoter-proximal HNF4A-TFIID interactions therefore act as instructive signals for post-natal hepatocyte differentiation.
The yeast Spt-Ada-Gcn5-acetyltransferase (SAGA) complex is a transcription coactivator that contains a histone H2B deubiquitination activity mediated by its Ubp8 subunit. Full enzymatic activity requires the formation of a quaternary complex, the deubiquitination module (DUBm) of SAGA, which is composed of Ubp8, Sus1, Sgf11, and Sgf73. The crystal structures of the DUBm have shed light on the structure/function relationship of this complex. Specifically, both Sgf11 and Sgf73 contain zinc finger domains (ZnF) that appear essential for the DUBm activity. Whereas Sgf73 N-terminal ZnF is important for DUBm stability, Sgf11 C-terminal ZnF appears to be involved in DUBm function. To further characterize the role of these two zinc fingers, we have solved their structure by NMR. We show that, contrary to the previously reported structures, Sgf73 ZnF adopts a C2H2 coordination with unusual tautomeric forms for the coordinating histidines. We further report that the Sgf11 ZnF, but not the Sgf73 ZnF, binds to nucleosomal DNA with a binding interface composed of arginine residues located within the ZnF ?-helix. Mutational analyses both in vitro and in vivo provide evidence for the functional relevance of our structural observations. The combined interpretation of our results leads to an uncommon ZnF-DNA interaction between the SAGA DUBm and nucleosomes, thus providing further functional insights into SAGA's epigenetic modulation of the chromatin structure.
H2A.Z is an essential histone variant implicated in the regulation of key nuclear events. However, the metazoan chaperones responsible for H2A.Z deposition and its removal from chromatin remain unknown. Here we report the identification and characterization of the human protein ANP32E as a specific H2A.Z chaperone. We show that ANP32E is a member of the presumed H2A.Z histone-exchange complex p400/TIP60. ANP32E interacts with a short region of the docking domain of H2A.Z through a new motif termed H2A.Z interacting domain (ZID). The 1.48?Å resolution crystal structure of the complex formed between the ANP32E-ZID and the H2A.Z/H2B dimer and biochemical data support an underlying molecular mechanism for H2A.Z/H2B eviction from the nucleosome and its stabilization by ANP32E through a specific extension of the H2A.Z carboxy-terminal ?-helix. Finally, analysis of H2A.Z localization in ANP32E(-/-) cells by chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing shows genome-wide enrichment, redistribution and accumulation of H2A.Z at specific chromatin control regions, in particular at enhancers and insulators.
Schistosomiasis, caused by the parasitic flatworm Schistosoma mansoni and related species, is a tropical disease that affects over 200 million people worldwide. A new approach for targeting eukaryotic parasites is to tackle their dynamic epigenetic machinery that is necessary for the extensive phenotypic changes during the life cycle of the parasite. Recently, we identified S. mansoni histone deacetylase 8 (smHDAC8) as a potential target for antiparasitic therapy. Here, we present results on the investigations of a focused set of HDAC (histone deacetylase) inhibitors on smHDAC8. Besides several active hydroxamates, we identified a thiol-based inhibitor that inhibited smHDAC8 activity in the micromolar range with unexpected selectivity over the human isotype, which has not been observed so far. The crystal structure of smHDAC8 complexed with the thiol derivative revealed that the inhibitor is accommodated in the catalytic pocket, where it interacts with both the catalytic zinc ion and the essential catalytic tyrosine (Y341) residue via its mercaptoacetamide warhead. To our knowledge, this is the first complex crystal structure of any HDAC inhibited by a mercaptoacetamide inhibitor, and therefore, this finding offers a rationale for further improvement. Finally, an ester prodrug of the thiol HDAC inhibitor exhibited antiparasitic activity on cultured schistosomes in a dose-dependent manner.
The yeast Snu13p protein and its 15.5K human homolog both bind U4 snRNA and box C/D snoRNAs. They also bind the Rsa1p/NUFIP assembly factor, proposed to scaffold immature snoRNPs and to recruit the Hsp90-R2TP chaperone complex. However, the nature of the Snu13p/15.5K-Rsa1p/NUFIP interaction and its exact role in snoRNP assembly remained to be elucidated. By using biophysical, molecular and imaging approaches, here, we identify residues needed for Snu13p/15.5K-Rsa1p/NUFIP interaction. By NMR structure determination and docking approaches, we built a 3D model of the Snup13p-Rsa1p interface, suggesting that residues R249, R246 and K250 in Rsa1p and E72 and D73 in Snu13p form a network of electrostatic interactions shielded from the solvent by hydrophobic residues from both proteins and that residue W253 of Rsa1p is inserted in a hydrophobic cavity of Snu13p. Individual mutations of residues in yeast demonstrate the functional importance of the predicted interactions for both cell growth and snoRNP formation. Using archaeal box C/D sRNP 3D structures as templates, the association of Snu13p with Rsa1p is predicted to be exclusive of interactions in active snoRNPs. Rsa1p and NUFIP may thus prevent premature activity of pre-snoRNPs, and their removal may be a key step for active snoRNP production.
The treatment of schistosomiasis, a disease caused by blood flukes parasites of the Schistosoma genus, depends on the intensive use of a single drug, praziquantel, which increases the likelihood of the development of drug-resistant parasite strains and renders the search for new drugs a strategic priority. Currently, inhibitors of human epigenetic enzymes are actively investigated as novel anti-cancer drugs and have the potential to be used as new anti-parasitic agents. Here, we report that Schistosoma mansoni histone deacetylase 8 (smHDAC8), the most expressed class I HDAC isotype in this organism, is a functional acetyl-L-lysine deacetylase that plays an important role in parasite infectivity. The crystal structure of smHDAC8 shows that this enzyme adopts a canonical ?/? HDAC fold, with specific solvent exposed loops corresponding to insertions in the schistosome HDAC8 sequence. Importantly, structures of smHDAC8 in complex with generic HDAC inhibitors revealed specific structural changes in the smHDAC8 active site that cannot be accommodated by human HDACs. Using a structure-based approach, we identified several small-molecule inhibitors that build on these specificities. These molecules exhibit an inhibitory effect on smHDAC8 but show reduced affinity for human HDACs. Crucially, we show that a newly identified smHDAC8 inhibitor has the capacity to induce apoptosis and mortality in schistosomes. Taken together, our biological and structural findings define the framework for the rational design of small-molecule inhibitors specifically interfering with schistosome epigenetic mechanisms, and further support an anti-parasitic epigenome targeting strategy to treat neglected diseases caused by eukaryotic pathogens.
Baculovirus VP1054 protein is a structural component of both of the virion types budded virus (BV) and occlusion-derived virus (ODV), but its exact role in virion morphogenesis is poorly defined. In this paper, we reveal sequence and functional similarity between the baculovirus protein VP1054 and the cellular purine-rich element binding protein PUR-alpha (PUR?). The data strongly suggest that gene transfer has occurred from a host to an ancestral baculovirus. Deletion of the Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) vp1054 gene completely prevented viral cell-to-cell spread. Electron microscopy data showed that assembly of progeny nucleocapsids is dramatically reduced in the absence of VP1054. More precisely, VP1054 is required for proper viral DNA encapsidation, as deduced from the formation of numerous electron-lucent capsid-like tubules. Complementary searching identified the presence of genetic elements composed of repeated GGN trinucleotide motifs in baculovirus genomes, the target sequence for PUR? proteins. Interestingly, these GGN-rich sequences are disproportionally distributed in baculoviral genomes and mostly occurred in proximity to the gene for the major occlusion body protein polyhedrin. We further demonstrate that the VP1054 protein specifically recognizes these GGN-rich islands, which at the same time encode crucial proline-rich domains in p78/83, an essential gene adjacent to the polyhedrin gene in the AcMNPV genome. While some viruses, like human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and human JC virus (JCV), utilize host PUR? protein, baculoviruses encode the PUR?-like protein VP1054, which is crucial for viral progeny production.
The sequence-specific transcription factor NF-Y binds the CCAAT box, one of the sequence elements most frequently found in eukaryotic promoters. NF-Y is composed of the NF-YA and NF-YB/NF-YC subunits, the latter two hosting histone-fold domains (HFDs). The crystal structure of NF-Y bound to a 25 bp CCAAT oligonucleotide shows that the HFD dimer binds to the DNA sugar-phosphate backbone, mimicking the nucleosome H2A/H2B-DNA assembly. NF-YA both binds to NF-YB/NF-YC and inserts an ? helix deeply into the DNA minor groove, providing sequence-specific contacts to the CCAAT box. Structural considerations and mutational data indicate that NF-YB ubiquitination at Lys138 precedes and is equivalent to H2B Lys120 monoubiquitination, important in transcriptional activation. Thus, NF-Y is a sequence-specific transcription factor with nucleosome-like properties of nonspecific DNA binding and helps establish permissive chromatin modifications at CCAAT promoters. Our findings suggest that other HFD-containing proteins may function in similar ways.
Escherichia coli is the major expression host for the production of homogeneous protein samples for structural studies. The introduction of high-throughput technologies in the last decade has further revitalized E. coli expression, with rapid assessment of different expression strategies and successful production of an ever-increasing number of proteins. In addition, miniaturization of biophysical characterizations should soon help choosing expression strategies based on quantitative and qualitative observations. Since many proteins form larger assemblies in vivo, dedicated co-expression systems for E. coli are now addressing the reconstitution of protein complexes. Yet, co-expression approaches show an increasing experimental combinatorial intricacy when considering larger complexes. The current combination of high-throughput and co-expression technologies paves the way, however, for tackling larger and more complex macromolecular assemblies.
E6 is a small oncoprotein involved in tumorigenesis induced by papillomaviruses (PVs). E6 often recognizes its cellular targets by binding to short motifs presenting the consensus LXXLL. E6 proteins have long resisted structural analysis. We found that bovine papillomavirus type 1 (BPV1) E6 binds the N-terminal LXXLL motif of the cellular protein paxillin with significantly higher affinity as compared to other E6/peptide interactions. Although recombinant BPV1 E6 was poorly soluble in the free state, provision of the paxillin LXXLL peptide during BPV1 E6 biosynthesis greatly enhanced the proteins solubility. Expression of BPV1 E6/LXXLL peptide complexes was carried out in bacteria in the form of triple fusion constructs comprising, from N- to C-terminus, the soluble carrier protein maltose binding protein (MBP), the LXXLL motif and the E6 protein. A TEV protease cleavage site was placed either between MBP and LXXLL motif or between LXXLL motif and E6. These constructs allowed us to produce highly concentrated samples of BPV1 E6, either covalently fused to the C-terminus of the LXXLL motif (intra-molecular complex) or non-covalently bound to it (inter-molecular complex). Heteronuclear NMR measurements were performed and showed that the E6 protein was folded with similar conformations in both covalent and non-covalent complexes. These data open the way to novel structural and functional studies of the BPV1 E6 in complex with its preferential target motif.
Multiprotein complexes catalyze vital biological functions in the cell. A paramount objective of the SPINE2 project was to address the structural molecular biology of these multiprotein complexes, by enlisting and developing enabling technologies for their study. An emerging key prerequisite for studying complex biological specimens is their recombinant overproduction. Novel reagents and streamlined protocols for rapidly assembling co-expression constructs for this purpose have been designed and validated. The high-throughput pipeline implemented at IGBMC Strasbourg and the ACEMBL platform at the EMBL Grenoble utilize recombinant overexpression systems for heterologous expression of proteins and their complexes. Extension of the ACEMBL platform technology to include eukaryotic hosts such as insect and mammalian cells has been achieved. Efficient production of large multicomponent protein complexes for structural studies using the baculovirus/insect cell system can be hampered by a stoichiometric imbalance of the subunits produced. A polyprotein strategy has been developed to overcome this bottleneck and has been successfully implemented in our MultiBac baculovirus expression system for producing multiprotein complexes.
Macromolecular complexes are responsible for most of the essential mechanisms in cells, leading to a broad interest in their purification and characterization. Co-expression is now widely recognized as a major technique for assembling multiprotein complexes and many co-expression systems are currently available for performing co-expression experiments in different hosts. However, comparative knowledge on co-expression strategies is still crucially lacking. Using versatile co-expression systems for Escherichia coli, the pET-MCN and pET-MCP series, and ternary protein complexes as examples, we demonstrate how to successfully delineate correct co-expression strategies. Specifically, an appropriate, complex-dependent approach alleviates stoichiometry imbalance and yield problems, and even failure in producing complexes. Importantly, some of the parameters influencing co-expression strategies appear independent of the expression host, thus having implications for co-expression in eukaryotic hosts. By further using these strategies, we show that co-expression in E. coli enables reconstitution of protein complexes as large as the deubiquitination module of the SAGA transcription factor and the histone octamer.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) remains the most commonly used host for recombinant protein expression. It is well known that a variety of experimental factors influence the protein production level as well as the solubility profile of over-expressed proteins. This becomes increasingly important for optimizing production of protein complexes using co-expression strategies. In this study, we focus on the effect of the choice of the expression vector system: by standardizing experimental factors including bacterial strain, cultivation temperature and growth medium composition, we compare the effectiveness of expression technologies used by the partners of the Structural Proteomics in Europe 2 (SPINE2-complexes) consortium. Four different protein complexes, including three binary and one ternary complex, all known to be produced in the soluble form in E. coli, are used as the benchmark targets. The respective genes were cloned by each partner into their preferred set of vectors. The resulting constructs were then used for comparative co-expression analysis done in parallel and under identical conditions at a single site. Our data show that multiple strategies can be applied for the expression of protein complexes in high yield. While there is no silver bullet approach that was infallible even for this small test set, our observations are useful as a guideline to delineate co-expression strategies for particular protein complexes.
Src homology 2 (SH2) domains are mostly found in multicellular organisms where they recognize phosphotyrosine-containing signaling proteins. Spt6, a conserved transcription factor and putative histone chaperone, contains a C-terminal SH2 domain conserved from yeast to human. In mammals, this SH2 domain recognizes phosphoserines rather than phosphotyrosines and is essential for the recruitment of Spt6 by elongating RNA polymerase II (RNAPII), enabling Spt6 to participate in the coupling of transcription elongation, chromatin modulation, and mRNA export. We have determined the structure of the entire Spt6 C-terminal region from Antonospora locustae, revealing the presence of two highly conserved tandem SH2 domains rather than a single SH2 domain. Although the first SH2 domain has a canonical organization, the second SH2 domain is highly noncanonical and appears to be unique in the SH2 family. However, both SH2 domains have phosphate-binding determinants. Our biochemical and genetic data demonstrate that the complete tandem, but not the individual SH2 domains, are necessary and sufficient for the interaction of Spt6 with RNAPII and are important for Spt6 function in vivo. Furthermore, our data suggest that binding of RNAPII to the Spt6 tandem SH2 is more extensive than the mere recognition of a doubly phosphorylated C-terminal domain peptide by the tandem SH2. Taken together, our results show that Spt6 interaction with RNAPII via a novel arrangement of canonical and noncanonical SH2 domains is crucial for Spt6 function in vivo.
Binding of elongation factor Spt6 to Iws1 provides an effective means for coupling eukaryotic mRNA synthesis, chromatin remodelling and mRNA export. We show that an N-terminal region of Spt6 (Spt6N) is responsible for interaction with Iws1. The crystallographic structures of Encephalitozoon cuniculi Iws1 and the Iws1/Spt6N complex reveal two conserved binding subdomains in Iws1. The first subdomain (one HEAT repeat; HEAT subdomain) is a putative phosphoprotein-binding site most likely involved in an Spt6-independent function of Iws1. The second subdomain (two ARM repeats; ARM subdomain) specifically recognizes a bipartite N-terminal region of Spt6. Mutations that alter this region of Spt6 cause severe phenotypes in vivo. Importantly, the ARM subdomain of Iws1 is conserved in several transcription factors, including TFIIS, Elongin A and Med26. We show that the homologous region in yeast TFIIS enables this factor to interact with SAGA and the Mediator subunits Spt8 and Med13, suggesting the molecular basis for TFIIS recruitment at promoters. Taken together, our results provide new structural information about the Iws1/Spt6 complex and reveal a novel interaction domain used for the formation of transcription networks.
SAGA (Spt-Ada-Gcn5 acetyltransferase), a coactivator complex involved in chromatin remodelling, harbours both histone acetylation and deubiquitination activities. ATXN7/Sgf73 and ATXN7L3, two subunits of the SAGA deubiquitination module, contain an SCA7 domain characterized by an atypical zinc-finger. We show that the yeast Sgf73-SCA7 domain is not required to recruit Sgf73 into SAGA. Instead, it binds to nucleosomes, a property that is conserved in the human ATXN7-SCA7 domain but is lost in the ATXN7L3 domain. The solution structures of the SCA7 domain of both ATXN7 and ATXN7L3 reveal a new, common zinc-finger motif at the heart of two distinct folds, providing a molecular basis for the observed functional differences.
Transcription elongation by eukaryotic RNA polymerase II requires the coupling of mRNA synthesis and mRNA processing and export. The essential protein Iws1 is at the interface of these processes through its interaction with histone chaperone and elongation factor Spt6 as well as with complexes involved in mRNA processing and export. Upon crystallization of the evolutionarily conserved domain of Iws1 from Encephalitozoon cuniculi, four different crystal forms were obtained. Three of the crystal forms belonged to space group P2(1) and one belonged to space group P222(1). Preliminary X-ray crystallographic analysis of one of the crystal forms allowed the collection of data to 2.5 A resolution.
One of the central questions in eukaryotic transcription is how activators can transmit their signal to stimulate gene expression in the context of chromatin. The multisubunit SAGA coactivator complex has both histone acetyltransferase and deubiquitination activities and remodels chromatin to allow transcription. Whether and how SAGA is able to regulate transcription at specific loci is poorly understood. Using mass spectrometry, immunoprecipitation, and Western blot analysis, we have identified human SPT20 (hSPT20) as the human homologue of the yeast Spt20 and show that hSPT20 is a bona fide subunit of the human SAGA (hSAGA; previously called TFTC/STAGA/PCAF) complex and that hSPT20 is required for the integrity of the hSAGA complex. We demonstrate that hSPT20 and other hSAGA subunits, together with RNA polymerase II, are specifically recruited to genes induced by endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. In good agreement with the recruitment of hSAGA to the ER stress-regulated genes, knockdown of hSTP20 hampers ER stress response. Surprisingly, hSPT20 recruitment was not observed for genes induced by another type of stress. These results provide evidence for a direct and specific role of the hSPT20-containing SAGA complex in transcriptional induction of ER stress-responsive genes. Thus, hSAGA regulates the transcription of stress-responsive genes in a stress type-dependent manner.
Structural and functional studies of many multiprotein complexes depend on recombinant-protein overexpression. Rapid revision of expression experiments and diversification of the complexes are often crucial for success of these projects; therefore, automation is increasingly indispensable. We introduce Acembl, a versatile and automatable system for protein-complex expression in Escherichia coli that uses recombineering to facilitate multigene assembly and diversification. We demonstrated protein-complex expression using Acembl, including production of the complete prokaryotic holotranslocon.
The HIV-1 Vif protein plays an essential role in the regulation of the infectivity of HIV-1 virion and in vivo pathogenesis. Vif neutralizes the human DNA-editing enzyme APOBEC3 protein, an antiretroviral cellular factor from the innate immune system, allowing the virus to escape the host defence system. It was shown that Vif is packaged into viral particles through specific interactions with the viral genomic RNA. Conserved and structured sequences from the 5-noncoding region, such as the Tat-responsive element (TAR) or the genomic RNA dimerization initiation site (DIS), are primary binding sites for Vif. In the present study we used isothermal titration calorimetry to investigate sequence and structure determinants important for Vif binding to short viral RNA corresponding to TAR and DIS stem-loops. We showed that Vif specifically binds TAR and DIS in the low nanomolar range. In addition, Vif primarily binds the TAR UCU bulge, but not the apical loop. Determinants for Vif binding to the DIS loop-loop complex are likely more complex and involve the self-complementary loop together with the upper part of the stem. These results suggest that Tat-TAR inhibitors or DIS small molecule binders might be also effective to disturb Vif-TAR and Vif-DIS binding in order to reduce Vif packaging into virions.
The general transcription factor TFIID recognizes specifically the core promoter of genes transcribed by eukaryotic RNA polymerase II, nucleating the assembly of the preinitiation complex at the transcription start site. However, the understanding in molecular terms of TFIID assembly and function remains poorly understood. Histone fold motifs have been shown to be extremely important for the heterodimerization of many TFIID subunits. However, these subunits display several evolutionary conserved noncanonical features when compared with histones, including additional regions whose role is unknown. Here we show that the conserved additional C-terminal region of TFIID subunit TAF6 can be divided into two domains: a small middle domain (TAF6M) and a large C-terminal domain (TAF6C). Our crystal structure of the TAF6C domain from Antonospora locustae at 1.9 ? resolution reveals the presence of five conserved HEAT repeats. Based on these data, we designed several mutants that were introduced into full-length human TAF6. Surprisingly, the mutants affect the interaction between TAF6 and TAF9, suggesting that the formation of the complex between these two TFIID subunits do not only depend on their histone fold motifs. In addition, the same mutants affect even more strongly the interaction between TAF6 and TAF9 in the context of a TAF5-TAF6-TAF9 complex. Expression of these mutants in HeLa cells reveals that most of them are unstable, suggesting their poor incorporation within endogenous TFIID. Taken together, our results suggest that the conserved additional domains in histone fold-containing subunits of TFIID and of co-activator SAGA are important for the assembly of these complexes.
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