Disordered proteins mitigate the temperature dependence of site-specific binding free energiesBiophysical characterization of protein–protein interactions involving disordered proteins is challenging. A common simplification is to measure the thermodynamics and kinetics of disordered site binding using peptides containing only the minimum residues necessary. We should not assume, however, that these few residues tell the whole story. Son of sevenless, a multidomain signaling protein from Drosophila melanogaster, is critical to the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, passing an external signal to Ras, which leads to cellular responses.
Fine spectral tuning of a flavin-binding fluorescent protein for multicolor imagingFlavin-binding fluorescent proteins are promising genetically encoded tags for microscopy. However, spectral properties of their chromophores (riboflavin, flavin mononucleotide, and flavin adenine dinucleotide) are notoriously similar even between different protein families, which limits applications of flavoproteins in multicolor imaging. Here, we present a palette of 22 finely tuned fluorescent tags based on the thermostable LOV domain from Chloroflexus aggregans. We performed site saturation mutagenesis of three amino acid positions in the flavin-binding pocket, including the photoactive cysteine, to obtain variants with fluorescence emission maxima uniformly covering the wavelength range from 486 to 512 nm.
Voltage sensor dynamics of a bacterial voltage-gated sodium channel NavAb reveal three conformational statesHigh-resolution structures of voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav) were first obtained from a prokaryotic ortholog NavAb, which provided important mechanistic insights into Na+ selectivity and voltage gating. Unlike eukaryotic Navs, the NavAb channel is formed by four identical subunits, but its ion selectivity and pharmacological profiles are very similar to eukaryotic Navs. Recently, the structures of the NavAb voltage sensor at resting and activated states were obtained by cryo-EM, but its intermediate states and transition dynamics remain unclear.
Early-phase drug discovery of β-III-spectrin actin-binding modulators for treatment of spinocerebellar ataxia type 5β-III-Spectrin is a key cytoskeletal protein that localizes to the soma and dendrites of cerebellar Purkinje cells and is required for dendritic arborization and signaling. A spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 L253P mutation in the cytoskeletal protein β-III-spectrin causes high-affinity actin binding. Previously we reported a cell-based fluorescence assay for identification of small-molecule actin-binding modulators of the L253P mutant β-III-spectrin. Here we describe a complementary, in vitro, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay that uses purified L253P β-III-spectrin actin-binding domain (ABD) and F-actin.
Structural studies identify angiotensin II receptor blocker-like compounds as branched-chain ketoacid dehydrogenase kinase inhibitorsThe mammalian mitochondrial branched-chain ketoacid dehydrogenase (BCKD) complex is a multienzyme complex involved in the catabolism of branched-chain amino acids. BCKD is regulated by the BCKD kinase, or BCKDK, which binds to the E2 subunit of BCKD, phosphorylates its E1 subunit, and inhibits enzymatic activity. Inhibition of the BCKD complex results in increased levels of branched-chain amino acids and branched-chain ketoacids, and this buildup has been associated with heart failure, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Molecular engineering of a minimal E-cadherin inhibitor protein derived from Clostridium botulinum hemagglutininHemagglutinin (HA), a nontoxic component of the botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) complex, binds to E-cadherin and inhibits E-cadherin-mediated cell–cell adhesion. HA is a 470 kDa protein complex comprising six HA1, three HA2, and three HA3 subcomponents. Thus, to prepare recombinant full-length HA in vitro, it is necessary to reconstitute the macromolecular complex from purified HA subcomponents, which involves multiple purification steps. In this study, we developed NanoHA, a minimal E-cadherin inhibitor protein derived from Clostridium botulinum HA with a simple purification strategy needed for production.
Agonist-controlled competition of RAR and VDR nuclear receptors for heterodimerization with RXR is manifested in their DNA bindingWe found previously that nuclear receptors (NRs) compete for heterodimerization with their common partner, retinoid X receptor (RXR), in a ligand-dependent manner. To investigate potential competition in their DNA binding, we monitored the mobility of retinoic acid receptor (RAR) and vitamin D receptor (VDR) in live cells by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. First, specific agonist treatment and RXR coexpression additively increased RAR DNA binding, while both agonist and RXR were required for increased VDR DNA binding, indicating weaker DNA binding of the VDR/RXR dimer.
Phosphorylation alters the mechanical stiffness of a model fragment of the dystrophin homologue utrophinDuchenne muscular dystrophy is a lethal muscle wasting disease caused by the absence of the protein dystrophin. Utrophin is a dystrophin homologue currently under investigation as a protein replacement therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Dystrophin is hypothesized to function as a molecular shock absorber that mechanically stabilizes the sarcolemma. While utrophin is homologous with dystrophin from a molecular and biochemical perspective, we have recently shown that full-length utrophin expressed in eukaryotic cells is stiffer than what has been reported for dystrophin fragments expressed in bacteria.
Measurements of Na+-occluded intermediates during the catalytic cycle of the Na+/K+-ATPase provide novel insights into the mechanism of Na+ transportThe Na+/K+-ATPase is an integral plasma membrane glycoprotein of all animal cells that couples the exchange of intracellular Na+ for extracellular K+ to the hydrolysis of ATP. The asymmetric distribution of Na+ and K+ is essential for cellular life and constitutes the physical basis of a series of fundamental biological phenomena. The pumping mechanism is explained by the Albers–Post model. It involves the presence of gates alternatively exposing Na+/K+-ATPase transport sites to the intracellular and extracellular sides and includes occluded states in which both gates are simultaneously closed.
Intrinsically disordered regions that drive phase separation form a robustly distinct protein classProtein phase separation is thought to be a primary driving force for the formation of membrane-less organelles, which control a wide range of biological functions from stress response to ribosome biogenesis. Among phase-separating (PS) proteins, many have intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) that are needed for phase separation to occur. Accurate identification of IDRs that drive phase separation is important for testing the underlying mechanisms of phase separation, identifying biological processes that rely on phase separation, and designing sequences that modulate phase separation.
Mechanistic insights into the nickel-dependent allosteric response of the Helicobacter pylori NikR transcription factorIn Helicobacter pylori, the nickel-responsive NikR transcription factor plays a key role in regulating intracellular nickel concentrations, which is an essential process for survival of this pathogen in the acidic human stomach. Nickel binding to H. pylori NikR (HpNikR) allosterically activates DNA binding to target promoters encoding genes involved in nickel homeostasis and acid adaptation, to either activate or repress their transcription. We previously showed that HpNikR adopts an equilibrium between an open conformation and DNA-binding competent cis and trans states.
Surface electrostatics dictate RNA-binding protein CAPRIN1 condensate concentration and hydrodynamic propertiesBiomolecular condensates concentrate proteins, nucleic acids, and small molecules and play an essential role in many biological processes. Their formation is tuned by a balance between energetically favorable and unfavorable contacts, with charge–charge interactions playing a central role in some systems. The positively charged intrinsically disordered carboxy-terminal region of the RNA-binding protein CAPRIN1 is one such example, phase separating upon addition of negatively charged ATP or high concentrations of sodium chloride (NaCl).
hERG1 channel subunit composition mediates proton inhibition of rapid delayed rectifier potassium current (IKr) in cardiomyocytes derived from hiPSCsThe voltage-gated channel, hERG1, conducts the rapid delayed rectifier potassium current (IKr) and is critical for human cardiac repolarization. Reduced IKr causes long QT syndrome and increases the risk for cardiac arrhythmia and sudden death. At least two subunits form functional hERG1 channels, hERG1a and hERG1b. Changes in hERG1a/1b abundance modulate IKr kinetics, magnitude, and drug sensitivity. Studies from native cardiac tissue suggest that hERG1 subunit abundance is dynamically regulated, but the impact of altered subunit abundance on IKr and its response to external stressors is not well understood.
Phosphorylation-dependent interactions of myosin-binding protein C and troponin coordinate the myofilament response to protein kinase APKA-mediated phosphorylation of sarcomeric proteins enhances heart muscle performance in response to β-adrenergic stimulation and is associated with accelerated relaxation and increased cardiac output for a given preload. At the cellular level, the latter translates to a greater dependence of Ca2+ sensitivity and maximum force on sarcomere length (SL), that is, enhanced length-dependent activation. However, the mechanisms by which PKA phosphorylation of the most notable sarcomeric PKA targets, troponin I (cTnI) and myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C), lead to these effects remain elusive.
Molecular basis for the recruitment of the Rab effector protein WDR44 by the GTPase Rab11The formation of complexes between Rab11 and its effectors regulates multiple aspects of membrane trafficking, including recycling and ciliogenesis. WD repeat–containing protein 44 (WDR44) is a structurally uncharacterized Rab11 effector that regulates ciliogenesis by competing with prociliogenesis factors for Rab11 binding. Here, we present a detailed biochemical and biophysical characterization of the WDR44–Rab11 complex and define specific residues mediating binding. Using AlphaFold2 modeling and hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry, we generated a molecular model of the Rab11–WDR44 complex.
Enhancing interaction of actin and actin-binding domain 1 of dystrophin with modulators: Toward improved gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophyDuchenne muscular dystrophy is a lethal muscle disease, caused by mutations in the gene encoding dystrophin, an actin-binding cytoskeletal protein. Absence of functional dystrophin results in muscle weakness and degeneration, eventually leading to cardiac and respiratory failure. Strategies to replace the missing dystrophin via gene therapy have been intensively pursued. However, the dystrophin gene is too large for current gene therapy approaches. Currently available micro-dystrophin constructs lack the actin-binding domain 2 and show decreased actin-binding affinity in vitro compared to full-length dystrophin.
Might nontransferrin-bound iron in blood plasma and sera be a nonproteinaceous high-molecular-mass FeIII aggregate?The HFE (Homeostatic Fe regulator) gene is commonly mutated in hereditary hemochromatosis. Blood of (HFE)(−/−) mice and of humans with hemochromatosis contains toxic nontransferrin-bound iron (NTBI) which accumulates in organs. However, the chemical composition of NTBI is uncertain. To investigate, HFE(−/−) mice were fed iron-deficient diets supplemented with increasing amounts of iron, with the expectation that NTBI levels would increase. Blood plasma was filtered to obtain retentate and flow-through solution fractions.
Mechanistic insights into poly(C)-binding protein hnRNP K resolving i-motif DNA secondary structuresI-motifs are four-strand noncanonical secondary structures formed by cytosine (C)-rich sequences in living cells. The structural dynamics of i-motifs play essential roles in many cellular processes, such as telomerase inhibition, DNA replication, and transcriptional regulation. In cells, the structural dynamics of the i-motif can be modulated by the interaction of poly(C)-binding proteins (PCBPs), and the interaction is closely related to human health, through modulating the transcription of oncogenes and telomere stability.
A lysine residue from an extracellular turret switches the ion preference in a Cav3 T-Type channel from calcium to sodium ionsCav3 T-type calcium channels from great pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis have a selectivity-filter ring of five acidic residues, EE(D)DD. Splice variants with exons 12b or 12a spanning the extracellular loop between the outer helix IIS5 and membrane-descending pore helix IIP1 (IIS5-P1) in Domain II of the pore module possess calcium selectivity or dominant sodium permeability, respectively. Here, we use AlphaFold2 neural network software to predict that a lysine residue in exon 12a is salt-bridged to the aspartate residue immediately C terminal to the second-domain glutamate in the selectivity filter.
DNA-mediated proteolysis by neutrophil elastase enhances binding activities of the HMGB1 proteinNeutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are produced through ejection of genomic DNA by neutrophils into extracellular space and serve as a weapon to fight against pathogens. Neutrophil elastase, a serine protease loaded on NETs, attacks and kills pathogens, while extracellular high-mobility-group-box-1 (HMGB1) protein serves as a danger signal to other cells. How the action of these factors is coordinated as part of the innate immune response is not fully understood. In this article, using biochemical and biophysical approaches, we demonstrate that DNA mediates specific proteolysis of HMGB1 by neutrophil elastase and that the proteolytic processing remarkably enhances binding activities of extracellular HMGB1.
The ganglioside GM1a functions as a coreceptor/attachment factor for dengue virus during infectionDengue virus (DENV) is a flavivirus causing an estimated 390 million infections per year around the world. Despite the immense global health and economic impact of this virus, its true receptor(s) for internalization into live cells has not yet been identified, and no successful antivirals or treatments have been isolated to this date. This study aims to improve our understanding of virus entry routes by exploring the sialic acid–based cell surface molecule GM1a and its role in DENV infection. We studied the interaction of the virus with GM1a using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, fluorescence crosscorrelation spectroscopy, imaging fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, amide hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry, and isothermal titration calorimetry.
Early stage β-amyloid-membrane interactions modulate lipid dynamics and influence structural interfaces and fibrillationMolecular interactions between β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide and membranes contribute to the neuronal toxicity of Aβ and the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. Neuronal plasma membranes serve as biologically relevant environments for the Aβ aggregation process as well as affect the structural polymorphisms of Aβ aggregates. However, the nature of these interactions is unknown. Here, we utilized solid-state NMR spectroscopy to explore the site-specific interactions between Aβ peptides and lipids in synaptic plasma membranes at the membrane-associated nucleation stage.
The N-terminal disease–associated R5L Tau mutation increases microtubule shrinkage rate due to disruption of microtubule-bound Tau patchesRegulation of the neuronal microtubule cytoskeleton is achieved through the coordination of microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs). MAP-Tau, the most abundant MAP in the axon, functions to modulate motor motility, participate in signaling cascades, as well as directly mediate microtubule dynamics. Tau misregulation is associated with a class of neurodegenerative diseases, known as tauopathies, including progressive supranuclear palsy, Pick's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Many disease-associated mutations in Tau are found in the C-terminal microtubule-binding domain.
N-terminal acetylation and arginylation of actin determines the architecture and assembly rate of linear and branched actin networksThe great diversity in actin network architectures and dynamics is exploited by cells to drive fundamental biological processes, including cell migration, endocytosis, and cell division. While it is known that this versatility is the result of the many actin-remodeling activities of actin-binding proteins, such as Arp2/3 and cofilin, recent work also implicates posttranslational acetylation or arginylation of the actin N terminus itself as an equally important regulatory mechanism. However, the molecular mechanisms by which acetylation and arginylation alter the properties of actin are not well understood.
The heme-regulated inhibitor kinase requires dimerization for heme-sensing activityThe heme-regulated inhibitor (HRI) is a heme-sensing kinase that regulates mRNA translation in erythroid cells. In heme deficiency, HRI is activated to phosphorylate eukaryotic initiation factor 2α and halt production of globins, thus avoiding accumulation of heme-free globin chains. HRI is inhibited by heme via binding to one or two heme-binding domains within the HRI N-terminal and kinase domains. HRI has recently been found to inhibit fetal hemoglobin (HbF) production in adult erythroid cells.