RNA forms defined structures and binds specifically to target molecules. The combination of data which results from fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) measurements can be used to determine intermolecular interactions between RNA and its binding partners. To define oligomerization states of free RNA and its complexes with bound target molecules, hydrodynamic radii, radii of gyration as well as the maximum sizes of the components have to be determined and compared. Furthermore, the program OLIGOMER allows calculating the portions of monomeric and dimeric RNA, for instance, within a mixture.
The temperature-driven self-assembly of nonionic amphiphilic tailor-made triblock copolymers has been studied by DLS, NMR, ITC, and SAXS. The composition of these triblock copolymers is more complex than that of the vast majority of poly(2-alkyl-2-oxazoline)s: a statistical thermoresponsive (iPrOx) and hydrophobic (BuOx) central block with terminal hydrophilic blocks (MeOx). In general, as temperature increases, nanoparticles form in a process starting with single molecules that become loose aggregates and ends with the formation of compact nanoparticles. Here, we first attempt to resolve the effects of each block on nanoparticle formation. It has been proven that the iPrOx/MeOx ratio determines the value of the cloud point temperature, whereas the different BuOx-iPrOx blocks determine the character of the process. Finally, we complete our investigation by presenting the thermodynamic and structural profiles of the complexation between these triblock poly(2-alkyl-2-oxazoline)s and two ionic surfactants. The addition of an ionic surfactant promotes a rearrangement of the polymer molecules and the formation of complexes followed by the appearance of polymer-surfactant hybrid micelles. Analysis of the interaction shows a strong and nonspecific reaction between the polymers and the anionic surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate and weak but polymer-state-sensitive interactions between the polymer and the cationic surfactant hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide.
Ataxin-3 (AT3) is the protein that triggers the inherited neurodegenerative disorder spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 when its polyglutamine (polyQ) stretch close to the C-terminus exceeds a critical length. AT3 consists of the N-terminal globular Josephin domain (JD) and the C-terminal disordered one. It cleaves isopeptide bonds between ubiquitin monomers, an event involved in protein quality control mechanisms. AT3 has been implicated in the pathway that sorts aggregated protein to aggresomes via microtubules, in which dynein and histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) also seem to be involved. By taking advantage of small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR), we have investigated the interaction of AT3 with tubulin and HDAC6. Based on SAXS results, the AT3 oligomer, consisting of 6-7 subunits, tightly binds to the tubulin hexameric oligomer in a "parallel" fashion. By SPR analysis we have demonstrated that AT3 binds to tubulin dimer with a 50nM affinity. Binding fits with a Langmuir 1:1 model and involves a single binding interface. Nevertheless, the interaction surface consists of three distinct, discontinuous tubulin-binding regions (TBR), one located in the JD, and the two others in the disordered domain, upstream and downstream of the polyQ stretch. In the absence of any of the three TBRs, the affinity is drastically reduced. By SPR we have also provided the first evidence of direct binding of AT3 to HDAC6, with affinity in the range 0.1-1?M. These results shed light on the interactions among the components of the transport machinery that sorts aggregate protein to the aggresome, and pave the way to in vivo studies aimed at further clarifying their roles.
(Cytosine-5)-DNA methyltransferase SsoII (M.SsoII) consists of a methyltransferase domain (residues 72-379) and an N-terminal region (residues 1-71) which regulates transcription in SsoII restriction-modification system. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) is employed here to study the low resolution structure of M.SsoII and its complex with DNA containing the methylation site. The shapes reconstructed ab initio from the SAXS data reveal two distinct protein domains of unequal size. The larger domain matches the crystallographic structure of a homologous DNA methyltransferase HhaI (M.HhaI), and the cleft in this domain is occupied by DNA in the model of the complex reconstructed from the SAXS data. This larger domain can thus be identified as the methyltransferase domain whereas the other domain represents the N-terminal region. Homology modeling of the M.SsoII structure is performed by using the model of M.HhaI for the methyltransferase domain and representing the N-terminal region either as a flexible chain of dummy residues or as a rigid structure of a homologous protein (phage 434 repressor) connected to the methyltransferase domain by a short flexible linker. Both models are compatible with the SAXS data and demonstrate high mobility of the N-terminal region. The linker flexibility might play an important role in the function of M.SsoII as a transcription factor.
We report kinetic studies of therapeutically highly potent polymer-drug conjugates consisting of amphiphilic N-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide (HPMA)-based copolymers bearing the anticancer drug doxorubicin (Dox). Highly hydrophobic cholesterol moieties as well as the drug were attached to the polymer backbone by a pH-sensitive hydrazone bond. Moreover, the structure of the spacer between the polymer carrier and the cholesterol moiety differed in order to influence the release rate of the hydrophobic moiety, and thus the disintegration of the high-molecular-weight micellar nanoparticle structure. We performed time-dependent SAXS/SANS measurements after changing pH from a typical blood value (pH 7.2) to that of tumor cells (pH 5.0) to characterize the drug release and changes in particle size and shape. Nanoparticles composed of the conjugates containing Dox were generally larger than the drug-free ones. For most conjugates, nanoparticle growth or decay was observed in the time range of several hours. It was established that the growth/decay rate and the steady-state size of nanoparticles depend on the spacer structure. From analytical fitting, we conclude that the most probable structure of the nanoparticles was a core-shell or a core with attached Gaussian chains. We concluded that the spacer structure determined the fate of a cholesterol derivative after the pH jump. Fitting results for 5?-cholestan-3-onecholestan-3-one and cholesteryl-4-oxopentanoate (Lev-chol) implied that cholesterol moieties continuously escape from the core of the nanoparticle core and concentrate in the hydrophilic shell. In contrast, cholest-4-en-3-one spacer prevent cholesterol escaping. Dox moiety release was only observed after a change in pH. Such findings justify the model proposed in our previous paper. Lastly, the cholesteryl 4-(2-oxopropyl)benzoate (Opb-Chol) was a different case where after the release of hydrophobic Opb-Chol moieties, the core becomes more compact. The physicochemical mechanisms responsible for the scenarios of the different spacers are discussed.
The bacterial iron-sulfur cluster (isc) operon is an essential machine that is highly conserved from bacteria to primates and responsible for iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis. Among its components are the genes for the desulfurase IscS that provides sulfur for cluster formation, and a specialized ferredoxin (Fdx) whose role is still unknown. Preliminary evidence suggests that IscS and Fdx interact but nothing is known about the binding site and the role of the interaction. Here, we have characterized the interaction using a combination of biophysical tools and mutagenesis. By modeling the Fdx·IscS complex based on experimental restraints we show that Fdx competes for the binding site of CyaY, the bacterial ortholog of frataxin and sits in a cavity close to the enzyme active site. By in vivo mutagenesis in bacteria we prove the importance of the surface of interaction for cluster formation. Our data provide the first structural insights into the role of Fdx in cluster assembly.
A key step in proliferation of retroviruses is the conversion of their RNA genome to double-stranded DNA, a process catalysed by multifunctional reverse transcriptases (RTs). Dimeric and monomeric RTs have been described, the latter exemplified by the enzyme of Moloney murine leukaemia virus. However, structural information is lacking that describes the substrate binding mechanism for a monomeric RT. We report here the first crystal structure of a complex between an RNA/DNA hybrid substrate and polymerase-connection fragment of the single-subunit RT from xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus, a close relative of Moloney murine leukaemia virus. A comparison with p66/p51 human immunodeficiency virus-1 RT shows that substrate binding around the polymerase active site is conserved but differs in the thumb and connection subdomains. Small-angle X-ray scattering was used to model full-length xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus RT, demonstrating that its mobile RNase H domain becomes ordered in the presence of a substrate-a key difference between monomeric and dimeric RTs.
Ataxin-1 is a human protein responsible for spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, a hereditary disease associated with protein aggregation and misfolding. Essential for ataxin-1 aggregation is the anomalous expansion of a polyglutamine tract near the protein N-terminus, but the sequence-wise distant AXH domain modulates and contributes to the process. The AXH domain is also involved in the nonpathologic functions of the protein, including a variety of intermolecular interactions with other cellular partners. The domain forms a globular dimer in solution and displays a dimer of dimers arrangement in the crystal asymmetric unit. Here, we have characterized the domain further by studying its behavior in the crystal and in solution. We solved two new structures of the domain crystallized under different conditions that confirm an inherent plasticity of the AXH fold. In solution, the domain is present as a complex equilibrium mixture of monomeric, dimeric, and higher molecular weight species. This behavior, together with the tendency of the AXH fold to be trapped in local conformations, and the multiplicity of protomer interfaces, makes the AXH domain an unusual example of a chameleon protein whose properties bear potential relevance for the aggregation properties of ataxin-1 and thus for disease.
The hexameric Escherichia coli RNA chaperone Hfq (Hfq(Ec)) is involved in riboregulation of target mRNAs by small trans-encoded RNAs. Hfq proteins of different bacteria comprise an evolutionarily conserved core, whereas the C-terminus is variable in length. Although the structure of the conserved core has been elucidated for several Hfq proteins, no structural information has yet been obtained for the C-terminus. Using bioinformatics, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, synchrotron radiation circular dichroism (SRCD) spectroscopy and small angle X-ray scattering we provide for the first time insights into the conformation and dynamic properties of the C-terminal extension of Hfq(Ec). These studies indicate that the C-termini are flexible and extend laterally away from the hexameric core, displaying in this way features typical of intrinsically disordered proteins that facilitate intermolecular interactions. We identified a minimal, intrinsically disordered region of the C-terminus supporting the interactions with longer RNA fragments. This minimal region together with rest of the C-terminal extension provides a flexible moiety capable of tethering long and structurally diverse RNA molecules. Furthermore, SRCD spectroscopy supported the hypothesis that RNA fragments exceeding a certain length interact with the C-termini of Hfq(Ec).
The open reading frame rv1364c of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which regulates the stress-dependent ? factor, ?(F), has been analyzed structurally and functionally. Rv1364c contains domains with sequence similarity to the RsbP/RsbW/RsbV regulatory system of the stress-response ? factor of Bacillus subtilis. Rv1364c contains, sequentially, a PAS domain (which shows sequence similarity to the PAS domain of the B. subtilis RsbP protein), an active phosphatase domain, a kinase (anti-?(F) like) domain and a C-terminal anti-?(F) antagonist like domain. The crystal structures of two PAS domain constructs (at 2.3 and 1.6 Å) and a phosphatase/kinase dual domain construct (at 2.6 Å) are described. The PAS domain is shown to bind palmitic acid but to have 100 times greater affinity for palmitoleic acid. The full-length protein can exist in solution as both monomer and dimer. We speculate that a switch between monomer and dimer, possibly resulting from fatty acid binding, affects the accessibility of the serine of the C-terminal, anti-?(F) antagonist domain for dephosphorylation by the phosphatase domain thus indirectly altering the availability of ?(F).
The manganese-stabilizing protein PsbO is associated with the luminal side of thylakoids close to the redox-active Mn(4)Ca cluster at the catalytically active site of photosystem II (PSII). PsbO is believed to increase the efficiency of oxygen evolution and to stabilize the Mn(4)Ca cluster against photoinhibition. Using small-angle X-ray scattering, we investigated the low-resolution structure of wild-type spinach PsbO and that of chimeric spinach PsbO fused with maltose-binding protein. Small-angle X-ray scattering data revealed that both proteins are monomeric in solution, and that plant and cyanobacterial PsbO have similar structures. We show a highly efficient expression system that allows recombinant production of the active wild type and the chimeric PsbO from spinach and cyanobacteria, with yields compatible with biophysical and structural studies. The binding of spinach PsbO fused with maltose-binding protein to PSII depleted of extrinsic subunits (PSII-?psbO,P,Q) was confirmed by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. The reconstituted PSII was shown to have similar oxygen evolution rates as obtained with wild-type spinach PsbO.
Nuclear import of the pentameric histone chaperone nucleoplasmin (NP) is mediated by importin ?, which recognizes its nuclear localization sequence (NLS), and importin ?, which interacts with ? and is in charge of the translocation of the NP/?/? complex through the nuclear pore. Herein, we characterize the assembly of a functional transport complex formed by full-length NP with importin ?/?. Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) was used to analyze the thermodynamics of the interactions of importin ? with ?, ? with NP, and the ?/? heterodimer with NP. Our data show that binding of both importin ? and ?/? to NP is governed by a favorable enthalpic contribution and that NP can accommodate up to five importin molecules per NP pentamer. Phosphomimicking mutations of NP, which render the protein active in histone chaperoning, do not modulate the interaction with importin. Using small-angle X-ray scattering, we model the ?/? heterodimer, NP/?, and NP/?/? solution structures, which reveal a glimpse of a complete nuclear import complex with an oligomeric cargo protein. The set of alternative models, equally well fitting the scattering data, yields asymmetric elongated particles that might represent consecutive geometries the complex can adopt when stepping through the nuclear pore.
Reduced levels of frataxin, an essential protein of as yet unknown function, are responsible for causing the neurodegenerative pathology Friedreichs ataxia. Independent reports have linked frataxin to iron-sulphur cluster assembly through interactions with the two central components of this machinery: desulphurase Nfs1/IscS and the scaffold protein Isu/IscU. In this study, we use a combination of biophysical methods to define the structural bases of the interaction of CyaY (the bacterial orthologue of frataxin) with the IscS/IscU complex. We show that CyaY binds IscS as a monomer in a pocket between the active site and the IscS dimer interface. Recognition does not require iron and occurs through electrostatic interactions of complementary charged residues. Mutations at the complex interface affect the rates of enzymatic cluster formation. CyaY binding strengthens the affinity of the IscS/IscU complex. Our data suggest a new paradigm for understanding the role of frataxin as a regulator of IscS functions.
The protein Pex19p functions as a receptor and chaperone of peroxisomal membrane proteins (PMPs). The crystal structure of the folded C-terminal part of the receptor reveals a globular domain that displays a bundle of three long helices in an antiparallel arrangement. Complementary functional experiments, using a range of truncated Pex19p constructs, show that the structured alpha-helical domain binds PMP-targeting signal (mPTS) sequences with about 10 muM affinity. Removal of a conserved N-terminal helical segment from the mPTS recognition domain impairs the ability for mPTS binding, indicating that it forms part of the mPTS-binding site. Pex19p variants with mutations in the same sequence segment abolish correct cargo import. Our data indicate a divided N-terminal and C-terminal structural arrangement in Pex19p, which is reminiscent of a similar division in the Pex5p receptor, to allow separation of cargo-targeting signal recognition and additional functions.
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a heterotrimeric complex playing a crucial role in maintaining cellular energy homeostasis. Recently, homodimerization of mammalian AMPK and yeast ortholog SNF1 was shown by us and others. In SNF1, it involved specific hydrophobic residues in the kinase domain alphaG-helix. Mutation of the corresponding AMPK alpha-subunit residues (Val-219 and Phe-223) to glutamate reduced the tendency of the kinase to form higher order homo-oligomers, as was determined by the following three independent techniques in vitro: (i) small angle x-ray scattering, (ii) surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, and (iii) two-dimensional blue native/SDS-PAGE. Recombinant protein as well as AMPK in cell lysates of primary cells revealed distinct complexes of various sizes. In particular, the assembly of very high molecular mass complexes was dependent on both the alphaG-helix-mediated hydrophobic interactions and kinase activation. In vitro and when overexpressed in double knock-out (alpha1(-/-), alpha2(-/-)) mouse embryonic fibroblast cells, activation of mutant AMPK was impaired, indicating a critical role of the alphaG-helix residues for AMPK activation via its upstream kinases. Also inactivation by protein phosphatase 2Calpha was affected in mutant AMPK. Importantly, activation of mutant AMPK by LKB1 was restored by exchanging the corresponding and conserved hydrophobic alphaG-helix residues of LKB1 (Ile-260 and Phe-264) to positively charged amino acids. These mutations functionally rescued LKB1-dependent activation of mutant AMPK in vitro and in cell culture. Our data suggest a physiological role for the hydrophobic alphaG-helix residues in homo-oligomerization of heterotrimers and cellular interactions, in particular with upstream kinases, indicating an additional level of AMPK regulation.
The Pex5p receptor recognizes newly synthesized peroxisomal matrix proteins which have a C-terminal peroxisomal targeting signal to the peroxisome. After docking to protein complexes on the membrane, these proteins are translocated across the membrane. The docking mechanism remains unclear, as no structural data on the multicomponent docking complex are available. As the interaction of the cargo-loaded Pex5p receptor and the peroxisomal membrane protein Pex14p is the essential primary docking step, we have investigated the solution structure of these complexes by small angle x-ray scattering and static light scattering. Titration studies yielded a 1:6 stoichiometry for the Pex5p.Pex14p complex, and low resolution structural models were reconstructed from the x-ray scattering data. The free full-length human Pex5p is monomeric in solution, with an elongated, partially unfolded N-terminal domain. The model of the complex reveals that the N terminus of Pex5p remains extended in the presence of cargo and Pex14p, the latter proteins being significantly intermingled with the Pex5p moiety. These results suggest that the extended structure of Pex5p may play a role in interactions with other substrates such as lipids and membrane proteins during the formation of functional multiprotein complexes.
We studied by light scattering and small angle x-rays scattering (SAXS) conformations and solvation of plant tannins (oligomers and polymers) in mixed water-ethanol solutions. Their structures are not simple linear chains but contain about 6% of branching. Ab initio reconstruction reveals that monomers within a branch are closely bound pairwise. The chains are rather rigid, with the Kuhn length b = 13+/-3 nm, corresponding to about 35 linearly bound monomers. Contribution of solvation layer to SAXS intensity varies in a nonmonotonic way with ethanol content phi(A), which is an indication of amphipathic nature of tannin molecules. Best solvent composition phi(A)(B) is a decreasing function of polymerization degree N, in agreement with increasing water solubility of tannins with N. Polymers longer than b present a power-law behavior I approximately Q(-d) in the SAXS profile at high momentum transfer Q. The monotonic decrease in d with increasing phi(A) (from 2.4 in water to 1.9 in ethanol) points that the tannins are more compact in water than in ethanol, presumably due to attractive intramolecular interactions in water. Tannins were then oxidized in controlled conditions similar to real biological or food systems. Oxidation does not produce any intermolecular condensation, but generates additional intramolecular links. Some oxidation products are insoluble in water rich solvent. For that reason, we identify these species as a fraction of natural tannins called "T1" in the notation of Zanchi et al. [Langmuir 23, 9949 (2007)]. Within the fraction left soluble after oxidation, conformations of polymeric tannins, despite their higher rigidity, remain sensitive to solvent composition.
Nucleoplasmin (NP), a histone chaperone, acts as a reservoir for histones H2A-H2B in Xenopus laevis eggs and can displace sperm nuclear basic proteins and linker histones from the chromatin fiber of sperm and quiescent somatic nuclei. NP has been proposed to mediate the dynamic exchange of histones during the expression of certain genes and assists the assembly of nucleosomes by modulating the interaction between histones and DNA. Here, solution structural models of full-length NP and NP complexes with the functionally distinct nucleosomal core and linker histones are presented for the first time, providing a picture of the physical interactions between the nucleosomal and linker histones with NP core and tail domains. Small-angle X-ray scattering and isothermal titration calorimetry reveal that NP pentamer can accommodate five histones, either H2A-H2B dimers or H5, and that NP core and tail domains are intimately involved in the association with histones. The analysis of the binding events, employing a site-specific cooperative model, reveals a negative cooperativity-based regulatory mechanism for the linker histone/nucleosomal histone exchange. The two histone types bind with drastically different intrinsic affinity, and the strongest affinity is observed for the NP variant that mimicks the hyperphosphorylated active protein. The different "affinity windows" for H5 and H2A-H2B might allow NP to fulfill its histone chaperone role, simultaneously acting as a reservoir for the core histones and a chromatin decondensing factor. Our data are compatible with the previously proposed model where NP facilitates nucleosome assembly by removing the linker histones and depositing H2A-H2B dimers onto DNA.
Using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), we have established an in vitro assay to study RNA dynamics by analyzing fluorophore binding RNA aptamers at the single molecule level. The RNA aptamer SRB2m, a minimized variant of the initially selected aptamer SRB-2, has a high affinity to the disulfonated triphenylmethane dye sulforhodamine B. A mobility shift of sulforhodamine B after binding to SRB2m was measured. In contrast, patent blue V (PBV) is visible only if complexed with SRB2m due to increased molecular brightness and minimal background. With small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), the three-dimensional structure of the RNA aptamer was characterized at low resolution to analyze the effect of fluorophore binding. The aptamer and sulforhodamine B-aptamer complex was found to be predominantly dimeric in solution. Interaction of PBV with SRB2m led to a dissociation of SRB2m dimers into monomers. Radii of gyration and hydrodynamic radii, gained from dynamic light scattering, FCS, and fluorescence cross-correlation experiments, led to comparable conclusions. Our study demonstrates how RNA-aptamer fluorophore complexes can be simultaneously structurally and photophysically characterized by FCS. Furthermore, fluorophore binding RNA aptamers provide a tool for visualizing single RNA molecules.
Fragile-X-related proteins form a family implicated in RNA metabolism. Their sequence is composed of conserved N-terminal and central regions which contain Tudor and KH domains and of a divergent C-terminus with motifs rich in arginine and glycine residues. The most widely studied member of the family is probably FMRP (fragile X mental retardation protein), since absence or mutation of this protein in humans causes fragile X syndrome, the most common cause of inherited mental retardation. Understanding the structural properties of FMRP is essential for correlating it with its functions. The structures of isolated domains of FMRP have been reported, but nothing is yet known with regard to the spatial arrangement of the different modules, partly because of difficulties in producing both the full-length protein and its multidomain fragments in quantities, purities and monodispersity amenable for structural studies. In the present study, we describe how we have produced overlapping recombinant fragments of human FMRP and its paralogues which encompass the evolutionary conserved region. We have studied their behaviour in solution by complementary biochemical and biophysical techniques, identified the regions which promote self-association and determined their overall three-dimensional shape. The present study paves the way to further studies and rationalizes the existing knowledge on the self-association properties of these proteins.
Titin-like kinases are an important class of cytoskeletal kinases that intervene in the response of muscle to mechanical stimulation, being central to myofibril homeostasis and development. These kinases exist in autoinhibited states and, allegedly, become activated during muscle activity by the elastic unfolding of a C-terminal regulatory segment (CRD). However, this mechano-activation model remains controversial. Here we explore the structural, catalytic, and tensile properties of the multidomain kinase region of Caenorhabditis elegans twitchin (Fn(31)-Nlinker-kinase-CRD-Ig(26)) using X-ray crystallography, small angle X-ray scattering, molecular dynamics simulations, and catalytic assays. This work uncovers the existence of an inhibitory segment that flanks the kinase N-terminally (N-linker) and that acts synergistically with the canonical CRD tail to silence catalysis. The N-linker region has high mechanical lability and acts as the primary stretch-sensor in twitchin kinase, while the CRD is poorly responsive to pulling forces. This poor response suggests that the CRD is not a generic mechanosensor in this kinase family. Instead, the CRD is shown here to be permissive to catalysis and might protect the kinase active site against mechanical damage. Thus, we put forward a regulatory model where kinase inhibition results from the combined action of both N- and C-terminal tails, but only the N-terminal extension undergoes mechanical removal, thereby affording partial activation. Further, we compare invertebrate and vertebrate titin-like kinases and identify variations in the regulatory segments that suggest a mechanical speciation of these kinase classes.
We report a rigorous investigation into the detailed structure of nanoparticles already shown to be successful drug delivery nanocarriers. The basic structure of the drug conjugates consists of an N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymer bearing the anticancer drug doxorubicin (Dox) bound via a pH-sensitive hydrazone bond and a defined amount of cholesterol moieties that vary in hydrophobicity. The results show that size, anisotropy, and aggregation number N(aggr) of the nanoparticles grows with increasing cholesterol content. From ab initio calculations, we conclude that the most probable structure of HPMA copolymer-cholesterol nanoparticles is a pearl necklace structure, where ellipsoidal pearls mainly composed of cholesterol are covered by a HPMA shell; pearls are connected by bridges composed of hydrophilic HPMA copolymer chains. Using a combination of techniques, we unambiguously show that the Dox moieties are not impregnated inside a cholesterol core but are instead uniformly distributed across the whole nanoparticle, including the hydrophilic HPMA shell surface.
In enteric bacteria, many small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) associate with the RNA chaperone host factor Q (Hfq) and often require the protein for regulation of target mRNAs. Previous studies suggested that the hexameric Escherichia coli Hfq (Hfq(Ec)) binds sRNAs on the proximal site, whereas the distal site has been implicated in Hfq-mRNA interactions. Employing a combination of small angle X-ray scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance and biochemical approaches, we report the structural analysis of a 1:1 complex of Hfq(Ec) with a 34-nt-long subsequence of a natural substrate sRNA, DsrA (DsrA(34)). This sRNA is involved in post-transcriptional regulation of the E. coli rpoS mRNA encoding the stationary phase sigma factor RpoS. The molecular envelopes of Hfq(Ec) in complex with DsrA(34) revealed an overall asymmetric shape of the complex in solution with the protein maintaining its doughnut-like structure, whereas the extended DsrA(34) is flexible and displays an ensemble of different spatial arrangements. These results are discussed in terms of a model, wherein the structural flexibility of RNA ligands bound to Hfq stochastically facilitates base pairing and provides the foundation for the RNA chaperone function inherent to Hfq.
proNGF, the precursor of the neurotrophin NGF, is widely expressed in central and peripheral nervous system. Its physiological functions are still largely unknown, although it emerged from studies in the last decade that proNGF has additional and distinct functions with respect to NGF, besides acting chaperone-like for NGF folding during its biogenesis. The regulation of proNGF/NGF ratio represents a crucial process for homeostasis of brain and other tissues, and understanding the molecular aspects of these differences is important. We report the selection and characterization of a recombinant monoclonal anti-proNGF antibody in single chain Fv fragment (scFv) format. The selection exploited the Intracellular Antibody Capture Technology (IACT), starting from a naïve mouse SPLINT (Single Pot Library of INTracellular antibodies) library. This antibody (scFv FPro10) was expressed recombinantly in Escherichia coli, was proven to be highly soluble and stable, and thoroughly characterized from the biochemical-biophysical point of view. scFv FPro10 displays high affinity and specificity for proNGF, showing no cross-reactivity with other pro-neurotrophins. A structural model was obtained by SAXS. scFv FPro10 represents a new tool to be exploited for the selective immunoanalysis of proNGF, both in vitro and in vivo, and might help in understanding the molecular function of proNGF in neurodegeneration.
Concentrated protein formulations are strongly influenced by protein-protein interactions. These can be probed at low protein concentration by e.g. virial coefficients. It was recently suggested that interactions are attractive at short distances and repulsive at longer distances. Measurements at low concentrations mainly sample longer distances, hence may not predict high concentration behavior. Here we demonstrate that small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) measurements simultaneously collect information on interactions at short and long distances.
Active muscles generate substantial mechanical forces by the contraction/relaxation cycle, and, to maintain an ordered state, they require molecular structures of extraordinary stability. These forces are sensed and buffered by unusually long and elastic filament proteins with highly repetitive domain arrays. Members of the myomesin protein family function as molecular bridges that connect major filament systems in the central M-band of muscle sarcomeres, which is a central locus of passive stress sensing. To unravel the mechanism of molecular elasticity in such filament-connecting proteins, we have determined the overall architecture of the complete C-terminal immunoglobulin domain array of myomesin by X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, solution X-ray scattering, and atomic force microscopy. Our data reveal a dimeric tail-to-tail filament structure of about 360 Å in length, which is folded into an irregular superhelical coil arrangement of almost identical ?-helix/domain modules. The myomesin filament can be stretched to about 2.5-fold its original length by reversible unfolding of these linkers, a mechanism that to our knowledge has not been observed previously. Our data explain how myomesin could act as a highly elastic ribbon to maintain the overall structural organization of the sarcomeric M-band. In general terms, our data demonstrate how repetitive domain modules such as those found in myomesin could generate highly elastic protein structures in highly organized cell systems such as muscle sarcomeres.
Protein unfolding occurs at both low and high temperatures, although in most cases, only the high-temperature transition can be experimentally studied. A pressing question is how much the low- and high-temperature denatured states, although thermodynamically equivalent, are structurally and kinetically similar. We have combined experimental and computational approaches to compare the high- and low-temperature unfolded states of Yfh1, a natural protein that, at physiologic pH, undergoes cold and heat denaturation around 0 °C and 40 °C without the help of ad hoc destabilization. We observe that the two denatured states have similar but not identical residual secondary structures, different kinetics and compactness and a remarkably different degree of hydration. We use molecular dynamics simulations to rationalize the role of solvation and its effect on protein stability.
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