The E3 ubiquitin ligase Siah regulates key cellular events that are central to cancer development and progression. A promising route to Siah inhibition is disrupting its interactions with adaptor proteins. However, typical of protein-protein interactions, traditional unbiased approaches to ligand discovery did not produce viable hits against this target, despite considerable effort and a multitude of approaches. Ultimately, a rational structure-based design strategy was successful for the identification of Siah inhibitors in which peptide binding drives specific covalent bond formation with the target. X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry, and functional data demonstrate that these peptide mimetics are efficient covalent inhibitors of Siah and antagonize Siah-dependent regulation of Erk and Hif signaling in the cell. The proposed strategy may result useful as a general approach to the design of peptide-based inhibitors of other protein-protein interactions.
Pathogenesis by Bacillus anthracis requires coordination between two distinct activities: plasmid-encoded virulence factor expression (which protects vegetative cells from immune surveillance during outgrowth and replication) and chromosomally encoded sporulation (required only during the final stages of infection). Sporulation is regulated by at least five sensor histidine kinases that are activated in response to various environmental cues. One of these kinases, BA2291, harbors a sensor domain that has ?35% sequence identity with two plasmid proteins, pXO1-118 and pXO2-61. Because overexpression of pXO2-61 (or pXO1-118) inhibits sporulation of B. anthracis in a BA2291-dependent manner, and pXO2-61 expression is strongly up-regulated by the major virulence gene regulator, AtxA, it was suggested that their function is to titrate out an environmental signal that would otherwise promote untimely sporulation. To explore this hypothesis, we determined crystal structures of both plasmid-encoded proteins. We found that they adopt a dimeric globin fold but, most unusually, do not bind heme. Instead, they house a hydrophobic tunnel and hydrophilic chamber that are occupied by fatty acid, which engages a conserved arginine and chloride ion via its carboxyl head group. In vivo, these domains may therefore recognize changes in fatty acid synthesis, chloride ion concentration, and/or pH. Structure-based comparisons with BA2291 suggest that it binds ligand and dimerizes in an analogous fashion, consistent with the titration hypothesis. Analysis of newly sequenced bacterial genomes points to the existence of a much broader family of non-heme, globin-based sensor domains, with related but distinct functionalities, that may have evolved from an ancestral heme-linked globin.
Nanotechnology-introduced materials have promising applications as nanocarriers for drugs, peptides, proteins and nucleic acids. Several studies showed that the geometry (shape and size) and chemical properties of nanoparticles affect the kinetics and pathways of cellular uptake and their intracellular trafficking and signaling. Accurate physico-chemical characterization of nanoparticles customarily precedes their use in cell biology and in vivo experiments. However, a fact that is easily overlooked is that nanomaterials decorated with organic matter or resuspended in aqueous buffers can be theoretically contaminated by fungal and bacterial microorganisms. While investigating the effects of extensively characterized PEGylated carbon nanotubes (PNTs) on T lymphocyte activation, we demonstrated bacterial contamination of PNTs, which correlated with low reproducibility and artifacts in cell signaling assays. Contamination and artifacts were easily eliminated by preparing the materials in sterile conditions. We propose that simple sterile preparation procedures should be adopted and sterility evaluation of nanoparticles should be customarily performed, prior to assessing nanoparticle intracellular internalization, trafficking and their effects on cells and entire organisms.
Macrophages detect pathogen infection via the activation of their plasma membrane-bound Toll-like receptor proteins (TLRs). The heterotypic interaction between the Toll/interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) domains of TLRs and adaptor proteins, like Myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88), is the first intracellular step in the signaling pathway of the mammalian innate immune response. The hetero-oligomerization of the TIRs of the receptor and adaptor brings about the activation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB, which regulates the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Here, we report the first crystal structure of a bacterial TIR domain solved at 2.5 A resolution. The three-dimensional fold of Paracoccus denitrificans TIR is identical to that observed for the TIR of human TLRs and MyD88 proteins. The structure shows a unique dimerization interface involving the DD-loop and EE-loop residues, whereas leaving the BB-loop highly exposed. Peptide amide hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry also reveals that the same region is used for dimerization in solution and in the context of the full-length protein. These results, together with a functional interaction between P. denitrificans TIR and MyD88 visualized in a co-immunoprecipitation assay, further substantiate the model that bacterial TIR proteins adopt structural mimicry of the host active receptor TIR domains to interfere with the signaling of TLRs and their adaptors to decrease the inflammatory response.
Influenza virus remains a serious health threat, owing to its ability to evade immune surveillance through rapid genetic drift and reassortment. Here we used a human non-immune antibody phage-display library and the H5 hemagglutinin ectodomain to select ten neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) that were effective against all group 1 influenza viruses tested, including H5N1 bird flu and the H1N1 Spanish flu. The crystal structure of one such nAb bound to H5 shows that it blocks infection by inserting its heavy chain into a conserved pocket in the stem region, thus preventing membrane fusion. Nine of the nAbs employ the germline gene VH1-69, and all seem to use the same neutralizing mechanism. Our data further suggest that this region is recalcitrant to neutralization escape and that nAb-based immunotherapy is a promising strategy for broad-spectrum protection against seasonal and pandemic influenza viruses.
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