Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs) mediate fast chemical transmission of nerve signals in the central and peripheral nervous system. On the functional side, these molecules respond to the binding of a neurotransmitter (glycine, GABA, acetylcholine or 5HT3) in the extracellular domain (ECD) by opening their ionotropic pore in the transmembrane domain (TMD). The response to the neurotransmitter binding can be modulated by several chemical compounds acting at topographically distinct sites, as documented by a large body of literature. Notably, these receptors are the target of several classes of world-wide prescribed drugs, including general anesthetics, smoking cessation aids, anxiolytics, anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants, hypnotics and anti-emetics. On the structural side recent progress has been made on the crystallization of pLGICs in its different allosteric states, especially pLGICs of bacterial origin. Therefore, structure-function relationships can now be discussed at the atomic level for pLGICs.
We previously showed (Li, L., and Carter, C. W., Jr. (2013) J. Biol. Chem. 288, 34736-34745) that increased specificity for tryptophan versus tyrosine by contemporary Bacillus stearothermophilus tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase (TrpRS) over that of TrpRS Urzyme results entirely from coupling between the anticodon-binding domain and an insertion into the Rossmann-fold known as Connecting Peptide 1. We show that this effect is closely related to a long range catalytic effect, in which side chain repacking in a region called the D1 Switch, accounts fully for the entire catalytic contribution of the catalytic Mg(2+) ion. We report intrinsic and higher order interaction effects on the specificity ratio, (kcat/Km)Trp/(kcat/Km)Tyr, of 15 combinatorial mutants from a previous study (Weinreb, V., Li, L., and Carter, C. W., Jr. (2012) Structure 20, 128-138) of the catalytic role of the D1 Switch. Unexpectedly, the same four-way interaction both activates catalytic assist by Mg(2+) ion and contributes -4.4 kcal/mol to the free energy of the specificity ratio. A minimum action path computed for the induced-fit and catalytic conformation changes shows that repacking of the four residues precedes a decrease in the volume of the tryptophan-binding pocket. We suggest that previous efforts to alter amino acid specificities of TrpRS and glutaminyl-tRNA synthetase (GlnRS) by mutagenesis without extensive, modular substitution failed because mutations were incompatible with interdomain motions required for catalysis.
Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels mediate fast chemical transmission of nerve signals. The structure of a bacterial proton-gated homolog has been established in its open and locally closed conformations at acidic pH. Here we report its crystal structure at neutral pH, thereby providing the X-ray structures of the two end-points of the gating mechanism in the same pentameric ligand-gated ion channel. The large structural variability in the neutral pH structure observed in the four copies of the pentamer present in the asymmetric unit has been used to analyze the intrinsic fluctuations in this state, which are found to prefigure the transition to the open state. In the extracellular domain (ECD), a marked quaternary change is observed, involving both a twist and a blooming motion, and the pore in the transmembrane domain (TMD) is closed by an upper bend of helix M2 (as in locally closed form) and a kink of helix M1, both helices no longer interacting across adjacent subunits. On the tertiary level, detachment of inner and outer ? sheets in the ECD reshapes two essential cavities at the ECD-ECD and ECD-TMD interfaces. The first one is the ligand-binding cavity; the other is close to a known divalent cation binding site in other pentameric ligand-gated ion channels. In addition, a different crystal form reveals that the locally closed and open conformations coexist as discrete ones at acidic pH. These structural results, together with site-directed mutagenesis, physiological recordings, and coarse-grained modeling, have been integrated to propose a model of the gating transition pathway.
Terminal deoxynucletidyl transferase (TdT) is overexpressed in some cancer types, where it might compete with pol ? during the mutagenic repair of double strand breaks (DSBs) through the nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) pathway. Here we report the discovery and characterization of pyrrolyl and indolyl diketo acids that specifically target TdT and behave as nucleotide-competitive inhibitors. These compounds show a selective toxicity toward MOLT-4 compared to HeLa cells that correlate well with in vitro selectivity for TdT. The binding site of two of these inhibitors was determined by cocrystallization with TdT, explaining why these compounds are competitive inhibitors of the deoxynucleotide triphosphate (dNTP). In addition, because of the observed dual localization of the phenyl substituent, these studies open the possibility of rationally designing more potent compounds.
Terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase (Tdt) is a non-templated eukaryotic DNA polymerase of the polX family that is responsible for the random addition of nucleotides at the V(D)J junctions of immunoglobulins and T-cell receptors. Here we describe a series of high-resolution X-ray structures that mimic the pre-catalytic state, the post-catalytic state and a competent state that can be transformed into the two other ones in crystallo via the addition of dAMPcPP and Zn(2+), respectively. We examined the effect of Mn(2+), Co(2+) and Zn(2+) because they all have a marked influence on the kinetics of the reaction. We demonstrate a dynamic role of divalent transition metal ions bound to site A: (i) Zn(2+) (or Co(2+)) in Metal A site changes coordination from octahedral to tetrahedral after the chemical step, which explains the known higher affinity of Tdt for the primer strand when these ions are present, and (ii) metal A has to leave to allow the translocation of the primer strand and to clear the active site, a typical feature for a ratchet-like mechanism. Except for Zn(2+), the sugar puckering of the primer strand 3 terminus changes from C2-endo to C3-endo during catalysis. In addition, our data are compatible with a scheme where metal A is the last component that binds to the active site to complete its productive assembly, as already inferred in human pol beta. The new structures have potential implications for modeling pol mu, a closely related polX implicated in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks, in a complex with a DNA synapsis.
Ethanol alters nerve signalling by interacting with proteins in the central nervous system, particularly pentameric ligand-gated ion channels. A recent series of mutagenesis experiments on Gloeobacter violaceus ligand-gated ion channel, a prokaryotic member of this family, identified a single-site variant that is potentiated by pharmacologically relevant concentrations of ethanol. Here we determine crystal structures of the ethanol-sensitized variant in the absence and presence of ethanol and related modulators, which bind in a transmembrane cavity between channel subunits and may stabilize the open form of the channel. Structural and mutagenesis studies defined overlapping mechanisms of potentiation by alcohols and anaesthetics via the inter-subunit cavity. Furthermore, homology modelling show this cavity to be conserved in human ethanol-sensitive glycine and GABA(A) receptors, and to involve residues previously shown to influence alcohol and anaesthetic action on these proteins. These results suggest a common structural basis for ethanol potentiation of an important class of targets for neurological actions of ethanol.
Amyloid proteins aggregate into polymorphic fibrils that damage tissues of the brain, nerves, and heart. Experimental and computational studies have examined the structural basis and the nucleation of short fibrils, but the ability to predict and precisely quantify the stability of larger aggregates has remained elusive. We established a complete classification of fibril shapes and developed a tool called CreateFibril to build such complex, polymorphic, modular structures automatically. We applied stability landscapes, a technique we developed to reveal reliable fibril structural parameters, to assess fibril stability. CreateFibril constructed HET-s, A?, and amylin fibrils up to 17 nm in length, and utilized a novel dipolar solvent model that captured the effect of dipole-dipole interactions between water and very large molecular systems to assess their aqueous stability. Our results validate experimental data for HET-s and A?, and suggest novel (to our knowledge) findings for amylin. In particular, we predicted the correct structural parameters (rotation angles, packing distances, hydrogen bond lengths, and helical pitches) for the one and three predominant HET-s protofilaments. We reveal and structurally characterize all known A? polymorphic fibrils, including structures recently classified as wrapped fibrils. Finally, we elucidate the predominant amylin fibrils and assert that native amylin is more stable than its amyloid form. CreateFibril and a database of all stable polymorphic fibril models we tested, along with their structural energy landscapes, are available at http://amyloid.cs.mcgill.ca.
To understand the molecular mechanism of ion permeation in pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGIC), we solved the structure of an open form of GLIC, a prokaryotic pLGIC, at 2.4 Å. Anomalous diffraction data were used to place bound anions and cations. This reveals ordered water molecules at the level of two rings of hydroxylated residues (named Ser6 and Thr2) that contribute to the ion selectivity filter. Two water pentagons are observed, a self-stabilized ice-like water pentagon and a second wider water pentagon, with one sodium ion between them. Single-channel electrophysiology shows that the side-chain hydroxyl of Ser6 is crucial for ion translocation. Simulations and electrostatics calculations complemented the description of hydration in the pore and suggest that the water pentagons observed in the crystal are important for the ion to cross hydrophobic constriction barriers. Simulations that pull a cation through the pore reveal that residue Ser6 actively contributes to ion translocation by reorienting its side chain when the ion is going through the pore. Generalization of these findings to the pLGIC family is proposed.
We present an extension of the self-consistent mean field theory for protein side-chain modeling in which solvation effects are included based on the Poisson-Boltzmann (PB) theory. In this approach, the protein is represented with multiple copies of its side chains. Each copy is assigned a weight that is refined iteratively based on the mean field energy generated by the rest of the protein, until self-consistency is reached. At each cycle, the variational free energy of the multi-copy system is computed; this free energy includes the internal energy of the protein that accounts for vdW and electrostatics interactions and a solvation free energy term that is computed using the PB equation. The method converges in only a few cycles and takes only minutes of central processing unit time on a commodity personal computer. The predicted conformation of each residue is then set to be its copy with the highest weight after convergence. We have tested this method on a database of hundred highly refined NMR structures to circumvent the problems of crystal packing inherent to x-ray structures. The use of the PB-derived solvation free energy significantly improves prediction accuracy for surface side chains. For example, the prediction accuracies for ?(1) for surface cysteine, serine, and threonine residues improve from 68%, 35%, and 43% to 80%, 53%, and 57%, respectively. A comparison with other side-chain prediction algorithms demonstrates that our approach is consistently better in predicting the conformations of exposed side chains.
Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) techniques are becoming more and more useful for structural biologists and biochemists, thanks to better access to dedicated synchrotron beamlines, better detectors and the relative easiness of sample preparation. The ability to compute the theoretical SAXS profile of a given structural model, and to compare this profile with the measured scattering intensity, yields crucial structural informations about the macromolecule under study and/or its complexes in solution. An important contribution to the profile, besides the macromolecule itself and its solvent-excluded volume, is the excess density due to the hydration layer. AquaSAXS takes advantage of recently developed methods, such as AquaSol, that give the equilibrium solvent density map around macromolecules, to compute an accurate SAXS/WAXS profile of a given structure and to compare it to the experimental one. Here, we describe the interface architecture and capabilities of the AquaSAXS web server (http://lorentz.dynstr.pasteur.fr/aquasaxs.php).
General anaesthetics have enjoyed long and widespread use but their molecular mechanism of action remains poorly understood. There is good evidence that their principal targets are pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs) such as inhibitory GABA(A) (?-aminobutyric acid) receptors and excitatory nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which are respectively potentiated and inhibited by general anaesthetics. The bacterial homologue from Gloeobacter violaceus (GLIC), whose X-ray structure was recently solved, is also sensitive to clinical concentrations of general anaesthetics. Here we describe the crystal structures of the complexes propofol/GLIC and desflurane/GLIC. These reveal a common general-anaesthetic binding site, which pre-exists in the apo-structure in the upper part of the transmembrane domain of each protomer. Both molecules establish van der Waals interactions with the protein; propofol binds at the entrance of the cavity whereas the smaller, more flexible, desflurane binds deeper inside. Mutations of some amino acids lining the binding site profoundly alter the ionic response of GLIC to protons, and affect its general-anaesthetic pharmacology. Molecular dynamics simulations, performed on the wild type (WT) and two GLIC mutants, highlight differences in mobility of propofol in its binding site and help to explain these effects. These data provide a novel structural framework for the design of general anaesthetics and of allosteric modulators of brain pLGICs.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA gyrase, an indispensable nanomachine involved in the regulation of DNA topology, is the only type II topoisomerase present in this organism and is hence the sole target for quinolone action, a crucial drug active against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. To understand at an atomic level the quinolone resistance mechanism, which emerges in extensively drug resistant tuberculosis, we performed combined functional, biophysical and structural studies of the two individual domains constituting the catalytic DNA gyrase reaction core, namely the Toprim and the breakage-reunion domains. This allowed us to produce a model of the catalytic reaction core in complex with DNA and a quinolone molecule, identifying original mechanistic properties of quinolone binding and clarifying the relationships between amino acid mutations and resistance phenotype of M. tuberculosis DNA gyrase. These results are compatible with our previous studies on quinolone resistance. Interestingly, the structure of the entire breakage-reunion domain revealed a new interaction, in which the Quinolone-Binding Pocket (QBP) is blocked by the N-terminal helix of a symmetry-related molecule. This interaction provides useful starting points for designing peptide based inhibitors that target DNA gyrase to prevent its binding to DNA.
Recently discovered bacterial homologues of eukaryotic pentameric ligand-gated ion channels, such as the Gloeobacter violaceus receptor (GLIC), are increasingly used as structural and functional models of signal transduction in the nervous system. Here we present a one-microsecond-long molecular dynamics simulation of the GLIC channel pH stimulated gating mechanism. The crystal structure of GLIC obtained at acidic pH in an open-channel form is equilibrated in a membrane environment and then instantly set to neutral pH. The simulation shows a channel closure that rapidly takes place at the level of the hydrophobic furrow and a progressively increasing quaternary twist. Two major events are captured during the simulation. They are initiated by local but large fluctuations in the pore, taking place at the top of the M2 helix, followed by a global tertiary relaxation. The two-step transition of the first subunit starts within the first 50 ns of the simulation and is followed at 450 ns by its immediate neighbor in the pentamer, which proceeds with a similar scenario. This observation suggests a possible two-step domino-like tertiary mechanism that takes place between adjacent subunits. In addition, the dynamical properties of GLIC described here offer an interpretation of the paradoxical properties of a permeable A13F mutant whose crystal structure determined at 3.15 A shows a pore too narrow to conduct ions.
The Poisson-Boltzmann (PB) formalism is among the most popular approaches to modeling the solvation of molecules. It assumes a continuum model for water, leading to a dielectric permittivity that only depends on position in space. In contrast, the dipolar Poisson-Boltzmann-Langevin (DPBL) formalism represents the solvent as a collection of orientable dipoles with nonuniform concentration; this leads to a nonlinear permittivity function that depends both on the position and on the local electric field at that position. The differences in the assumptions underlying these two models lead to significant differences in the equations they generate. The PB equation is a second order, elliptic, nonlinear partial differential equation (PDE). Its response coefficients correspond to the dielectric permittivity and are therefore constant within each subdomain of the system considered (i.e., inside and outside of the molecules considered). While the DPBL equation is also a second order, elliptic, nonlinear PDE, its response coefficients are nonlinear functions of the electrostatic potential. Many solvers have been developed for the PB equation; to our knowledge, none of these can be directly applied to the DPBL equation. The methods they use may adapt to the difference; their implementations however are PBE specific. We adapted the PBE solver originally developed by Holst and Saied [J. Comput. Chem. 16, 337 (1995)] to the problem of solving the DPBL equation. This solver uses a truncated Newton method with a multigrid preconditioner. Numerical evidences suggest that it converges for the DPBL equation and that the convergence is superlinear. It is found however to be slow and greedy in memory requirement for problems commonly encountered in computational biology and computational chemistry. To circumvent these problems, we propose two variants, a quasi-Newton solver based on a simplified, inexact Jacobian and an iterative self-consistent solver that is based directly on the PBE solver. While both methods are not guaranteed to converge, numerical evidences suggest that they do and that their convergence is also superlinear. Both variants are significantly faster than the solver based on the exact Jacobian, with a much smaller memory footprint. All three methods have been implemented in a new code named AQUASOL, which is freely available.
Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs) are widely expressed in the animal kingdom and are key players of neurotransmission by acetylcholine (ACh), gamma-amminobutyric acid (GABA), glycine and serotonin. It is now established that this family has a prokaryotic origin, since more than 20 homologues have been discovered in bacteria. In particular, the GLIC homologue displays a ligand-gated ion channel function and is activated by protons. The prokaryotic origin of these membrane proteins facilitated the X-ray structural resolution of the first members of this family. ELIC was solved at 3.3 A in a closed-pore conformation, and GLIC at up to 2.9 A in an apparently open-pore conformation. These data reveal many structural features, notably the architecture of the pore, including its gate and its selectivity filter, and the interactions between the protein and lipids. In addition, comparison of the structures of GLIC and ELIC hints at a mechanism of channel opening, which consists of both a quaternary twist and a tertiary deformation. This mechanism couples opening-closing motions of the channel with a global reorganization of the protein, including the subunit interface that holds the neurotransmitter binding sites in eukaryotic pLGICs.
The crystal structure of the extracellular domain (ECD) of the pentameric ligand-gated ion-channel from Gloeobacter violaceus (GLIC) was solved at neutral pH at 2.3 A resolution in two crystal forms, showing a surprising hexameric quaternary structure with a 6-fold axis replacing the expected 5-fold axis. While each subunit retains the usual beta-sandwich immunoglobulin-like fold, small deviations from the whole GLIC structure indicate zones of differential flexibility. The changes in interface between two adjacent subunits in the pentamer and the hexamer can be described in a downward translation by one inter-strand distance and a global rotation of the second subunit, using the first one for superposition. While global characteristics of the interface, such as the buried accessible surface area, do not change very much, most of the atom-atom interactions are rearranged. It thus appears that the transmembrane domain is necessary for the proper oligomeric assembly of GLIC and that there is an intrinsic plasticity or polymorphism in possible subunit-subunit interfaces at the ECD level, the latter behaving as a monomer in solution. Possible functional implications of these novel structural data are discussed in the context of the allosteric transition of this family of proteins. In addition, we propose a novel way to quantify elastic energy stored in the interface between subunits, which indicates a tenser interface for the open form than for the closed form (rest state). The hexameric or pentameric forms of the ECD have a similar negative curvature in their subunit-subunit interface, while acetylcholine binding proteins have a smaller and positive curvature that increases from the apo to the holo form.
Terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase (Tdt) and DNA polymerase mu (pol mu) are two eukaryotic highly similar proteins involved in DNA processing and repair. Despite their high sequence identity, they differ widely in their activity: pol mu has a templated polymerase activity, whereas Tdt has a non-templated one. Loop1, first described when the Tdt structure was solved, has been invoked as the major structural determinant of this difference. Here we describe attempts to transform Tdt into pol mu with the minimal number of mutations in and around Loop1. First we describe the effect of mutations on six different positions chosen to destabilize Tdt Loop1 structure, either by alanine substitution or by deletion; they result at most in a reduction of Tdt activity, but adding Co(++) restores most of this Tdt activity. However, a deletion of the entire Loop1 as in pol lambda does confer a limited template-dependent polymerase behavior to Tdt while a chimera bearing an extended pol mu Loop1 reproduces pol mu behavior. Finally, 16 additional substitutions are reported, targeted at the two so-called sequence determinant regions located just after Loop1 or underneath. Among them, the single-point mutant F401A displays a sequence-specific replicative polymerase phenotype that is stable upon Co(++) addition. These results are discussed in light of the available crystal structures.
A new continuum model is presented for computing the solvation free energies of cations in water. It combines in a single formalism based on statistical thermodynamics the Poisson model for electrostatics with the Langevin dipole model to account for nonuniform water dipole distribution around the ions. An excellent match between experimental and computed solvation free energies is obtained for 10 monovalent and divalent ions.
We present an extension to the Poisson-Boltzmann model in which the solvent is modeled as an assembly of self-orienting dipoles of variable densities. Interactions between these dipoles are included implicitly using a Yukawa potential field. This model leads to a set of equations whose solutions give the dipole densities; we use the latter to study the organization of water around biomolecules. The computed water density profiles resemble those derived from molecular dynamics simulations. We also derive an excess free energy that discriminates correct from incorrect conformations of proteins.
Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels from the Cys-loop family mediate fast chemo-electrical transduction, but the mechanisms of ion permeation and gating of these membrane proteins remain elusive. Here we present the X-ray structure at 2.9 A resolution of the bacterial Gloeobacter violaceus pentameric ligand-gated ion channel homologue (GLIC) at pH 4.6 in an apparently open conformation. This cationic channel is known to be permanently activated by protons. The structure is arranged as a funnel-shaped transmembrane pore widely open on the outer side and lined by hydrophobic residues. On the inner side, a 5 A constriction matches with rings of hydrophilic residues that are likely to contribute to the ionic selectivity. Structural comparison with ELIC, a bacterial homologue from Erwinia chrysanthemi solved in a presumed closed conformation, shows a wider pore where the narrow hydrophobic constriction found in ELIC is removed. Comparative analysis of GLIC and ELIC reveals, in concert, a rotation of each extracellular beta-sandwich domain as a rigid body, interface rearrangements, and a reorganization of the transmembrane domain, involving a tilt of the M2 and M3 alpha-helices away from the pore axis. These data are consistent with a model of pore opening based on both quaternary twist and tertiary deformation.
Two new crystal structures of Bacillus stearothermophilus tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase (TrpRS) afford evidence that a closed interdomain hinge angle requires a covalent bond between AMP and an occupant of either pyrophosphate or tryptophan subsite. They also are within experimental error of a cluster of structures observed in a nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulation showing partial active-site assembly. Further, the highest energy structure in a minimum action pathway computed by using elastic network models for Open and Pretransition state (PreTS) conformations for the fully liganded TrpRS monomer is intermediate between that simulated structure and a partially disassembled structure from a nonequilibrium molecular dynamics trajectory for the unliganded PreTS. These mutual consistencies provide unexpected validation of inferences drawn from molecular simulations.
Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of African sleeping sickness. Current work for the development of new drugs against this pathology includes evaluation of enzymes of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), which first requires a clear understanding of their function and mechanism of action. In this context, we focused on T. brucei 6-phosphogluconolactonase (Tb6PGL), which converts delta-6-phosphogluconolactone into 6-phosphogluconic acid in the second step of the PPP. We have determined the crystal structure of Tb6PGL in complex with two ligands, 6-phosphogluconic acid and citrate, at 2.2 A and 2.0 A resolution, respectively. We have performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on Tb6PGL in its empty form and in complex with delta-6-phosphogluconolactone, its natural ligand. Analysis of the structural data and MD simulations allowed us to propose a detailed enzymatic mechanism for 6PGL enzymes.
Self-compartmentalizing proteases orchestrate protein turnover through an original architecture characterized by a central catalytic chamber. Here we report the first structure of an archaeal member of a new self-compartmentalizing protease family forming a cubic-shaped octamer with D(4) symmetry and referred to as CubicO. We solved the structure of the Pyrococcus abyssi Pab87 protein at 2.2 A resolution using the anomalous signal of the high-phasing-power lanthanide derivative Lu-HPDO3A. A 20 A wide channel runs through this supramolecular assembly of 0.4 MDa, giving access to a 60 A wide central chamber holding the eight active sites. Surprisingly, activity assays revealed that Pab87 degrades specifically d-amino acid containing peptides, which have never been observed in archaea. Genomic context of the Pab87 gene showed that it is surrounded by genes involved in the amino acid/peptide transport or metabolism. We propose that CubicO proteases are involved in the processing of d-peptides from environmental origins.
Thermostable bacterial polymerases like Taq, Therminator and Vent exo(-) are able to perform DNA synthesis by using modified DNA precursors, a property that is exploited in several therapeutic and biotechnological applications. Viral polymerases are also known to accept modified substrates, and this has proven crucial in the development of antiviral therapies. However, non-thermostable polymerases of bacterial origin, or engineered variants, that have similar substrate tolerance and could be used for synthetic biology purposes remain to be identified. We have identified the ? subunit of Escherichia coli polymerase III (Pol III ?) as a bacterial polymerase that is able to recognise and process as substrates several pyrophosphate-modified dATP analogues in place of its natural substrate dATP for template-directed DNA synthesis. A number of dATP analogues featuring a modified pyrophosphate group were able to serve as substrates during enzymatic DNA synthesis by Pol III ?. Features such as the presence of potentially chelating chemical groups and the size and spatial flexibility of the chemical structure seem to be of major importance for the modified leaving group to play its role during the enzymatic reaction. In addition, we could establish that if the pyrophosphate group is altered, deoxynucleotide incorporation proceeds with an efficiency varying with the nature of the nucleobase. Our results represent a great step towards the achievement of a system of artificial DNA synthesis hosted by E. coli and involving the use of altered nucleotide precursors for nucleic acid synthesis.
Euryarchaeal polymerase B can recognize deaminated bases on the template strand, effectively stalling the replication fork 4nt downstream the modified base. Using Pyrococcus abyssi DNA B family polymerase (PabPolB), we investigated the discrimination between deaminated and natural nucleotide(s) by primer extension assays, electrophoretic mobility shift assays, and X-ray crystallography. Structures of complexes between the protein and DNA duplexes with either a dU or a dH in position +4 were solved at 2.3Å and 2.9Å resolution, respectively. The PabPolB is found in the editing mode. A new metal binding site has been uncovered below the base-checking cavity where the +4 base is flipped out; it is fully hydrated in an octahedral fashion and helps guide the strongly kinked template strand. Four other crystal structures with each of the canonical bases were also solved in the editing mode, and the presence of three nucleotides in the exonuclease site caused a shift in the coordination state of its metal A from octahedral to tetrahedral. Surprisingly, we find that all canonical bases also enter the base-checking pocket with very small differences in the binding geometry and in the calculated binding free energy compared to deaminated ones. To explain how this can lead to stalling of the replication fork, the full catalytic pathway and its branches must be taken into account, during which the base is checked several times. Our results strongly suggest a switch from elongation to editing modes right after nucleotide insertion when the modified base is at position +5.
Orthologs of the pentameric receptor channels that mediate fast synaptic transmission in the central and peripheral nervous systems have been found in several bacterial species and in a single archaea genus. Recent X-ray structures of bacterial and invertebrate pentameric receptors point to a striking conservation of the structural features within the whole family, even between distant prokaryotic and eukaryotic members. These structural data reveal general principles of molecular organization that allow allosteric membrane proteins to mediate chemoelectric transduction. Notably, several conformations have been solved, including open and closed channels with distinct global tertiary and quaternary structure. The data reveal features of the ion channel architecture and of diverse categories of binding sites, such as those that bind orthosteric ligands, including neurotransmitters, and those that bind allosteric modulators, such as general anesthetics, ivermectin, or lipids. In this review, we summarize the most recent data, discuss insights into the mechanism of action in these systems, and elaborate on newly opened avenues for drug design.
Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels mediate signal transduction through conformational transitions between closed-pore and open-pore states. To stabilize a closed conformation of GLIC, a bacterial proton-gated homolog from Gloeobacter violaceus whose open structure is known, we separately generated either four cross-links or two single mutations. We found all six mutants to be in the same locally closed conformation using X-ray crystallography, sharing most of the features of the open form but showing a locally closed pore as a result of a concerted bending of all of its M2 helices. The mutants adopt several variant conformations of the M2-M3 loop, and in all cases an interacting lipid that is observed in the open form disappears. A single cross-linked mutant is functional, according to electrophysiology, and the locally closed structure of this mutant indicates that it has an increased flexibility. Further cross-linking, accessibility and molecular dynamics data suggest that the locally closed form is a functionally relevant conformation that occurs during allosteric gating transitions.
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