Recently, two studies were published that examined the structure of the acid-?-glucosidase N370S mutant, the most common mutant that causes Gaucher disease. One study used the experimental tool of X-ray crystallography, and the other utilized molecular dynamics (MD). The two studies reinforced each other through the similarities in their findings, but each approach also added some unique information. Both studies report that the conformation of active site loop 3 changes, due to an altered hydrogen bonding network; however, the MD study produced additional data concerning the flexibility of loop 1 and the catalytic residues that are not observed in the other study.
To identify rare causal variants in late-onset Parkinson disease (PD), we investigated an Austrian family with 16 affected individuals by exome sequencing. We found a missense mutation, c.1858G>A (p.Asp620Asn), in the VPS35 gene in all seven affected family members who are alive. By screening additional PD cases, we saw the same variant cosegregating with the disease in an autosomal-dominant mode with high but incomplete penetrance in two further families with five and ten affected members, respectively. The mean age of onset in the affected individuals was 53 years. Genotyping showed that the shared haplotype extends across 65 kilobases around VPS35. Screening the entire VPS35 coding sequence in an additional 860 cases and 1014 controls revealed six further nonsynonymous missense variants. Three were only present in cases, two were only present in controls, and one was present in cases and controls. The familial mutation p.Asp620Asn and a further variant, c.1570C>T (p.Arg524Trp), detected in a sporadic PD case were predicted to be damaging by sequence-based and molecular-dynamics analyses. VPS35 is a component of the retromer complex and mediates retrograde transport between endosomes and the trans-Golgi network, and it has recently been found to be involved in Alzheimer disease.
Using proteins in a therapeutic context often requires engineering to modify functionality and enhance efficacy. We have previously reported that the therapeutic antileukemic protein macromolecule Escherichia coli L-asparaginase is degraded by leukemic lysosomal cysteine proteases. In the present study, we successfully engineered L-asparaginase to resist proteolytic cleavage and at the same time improve activity. We employed a novel combination of mutant sampling using a genetic algorithm in tandem with flexibility studies using molecular dynamics to investigate the impact of lid-loop and mutations on drug activity. Applying these methods, we successfully predicted the more active L-asparaginase mutants N24T and N24A. For the latter, a unique hydrogen bond network contributes to higher activity. Furthermore, interface mutations controlling secondary glutaminase activity demonstrated the importance of this enzymatic activity for drug cytotoxicity. All selected mutants were expressed, purified, and tested for activity and for their ability to form the active tetrameric form. By introducing the N24A and N24A R195S mutations to the drug L-asparaginase, we are a step closer to individualized drug design.
Gaucher disease is caused by the defective activity of the lysosomal hydrolase, glucosylceramidase. Although the x-ray structure of wild type glucosylceramidase has been resolved, little is known about the structural features of any of the >200 mutations. Various treatments for Gaucher disease are available, including enzyme replacement and chaperone therapies. The latter involves binding of competitive inhibitors at the active site to enable correct folding and transport of the mutant enzyme to the lysosome. We now use molecular dynamics, a set of structural analysis tools, and several statistical methods to determine the flexible behavior of the N370S Gaucher mutant at various pH values, with and without binding the chaperone, N-butyl-deoxynojirimycin. We focus on the effect of the chaperone on the whole protein, on the active site, and on three important structural loops, and we demonstrate how the chaperone modifies the behavior of N370S in such a way that it becomes more active at lysosomal pH. Our results suggest a mechanism whereby the binding of N-butyl-deoxynojirimycin helps target correctly folded glucosylceramidase to the lysosome, contributes to binding with saposin C, and explains the initiation of the substrate-enzyme complex. Such analysis provides a new framework for determination of the structure of other Gaucher disease mutants and suggests new approaches for rational drug design.
l-Asparaginase is a key therapeutic agent for treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). There is wide individual variation in pharmacokinetics, and little is known about its metabolism. The mechanisms of therapeutic failure with l-asparaginase remain speculative. Here, we now report that 2 lysosomal cysteine proteases present in lymphoblasts are able to degrade l-asparaginase. Cathepsin B (CTSB), which is produced constitutively by normal and leukemic cells, degraded asparaginase produced by Escherichia coli (ASNase) and Erwinia chrysanthemi. Asparaginyl endopeptidase (AEP), which is overexpressed predominantly in high-risk subsets of ALL, specifically degraded ASNase. AEP thereby destroys ASNase activity and may also potentiate antigen processing, leading to allergic reactions. Using AEP-mediated cleavage sequences, we modeled the effects of the protease on ASNase and created a number of recombinant ASNase products. The N24 residue on the flexible active loop was identified as the primary AEP cleavage site. Sole modification at this site rendered ASNase resistant to AEP cleavage and suggested a key role for the flexible active loop in determining ASNase activity. We therefore propose what we believe to be a novel mechanism of drug resistance to ASNase. Our results may help to identify alternative therapeutic strategies with the potential of further improving outcome in childhood ALL.
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