There is an empirical rule that the thermal stability of a protein is related to the packing efficiency or core volume of the folded state and the protein tends to exhibit higher stability as the backbone and side chains are more closely packed. Previously, the wild type and its nine mutants of staphylococcal nuclease were compared by examining their folded structures. The results obtained were as follows: The stability was not correlated with the number of intramolecular hydrogen bonds, intramolecular electrostatic interaction energy, or degree of burial of the hydrophobic surface; though the empirical rule mentioned above held, it was not the proximate cause of higher stability; and the number of van der Waals contacts NvdW, or equivalently, the intramolecular van der Waals interaction energy was an important factor governing the stability. Here we revisit the wild type and its nine mutants of staphylococcal nuclease using our statistical-mechanical theory for hydration of a protein. A molecular model is employed for water. We show that the pivotal factor is the magnitude of the water-entropy gain upon folding. The gain originates from an increase in the total volume available to the translational displacement of water molecules coexisting with the protein in the system. The magnitude is highly correlated with the denaturation temperature Tm. Moreover, the apparent correlation between NvdW and Tm as well as the empirical rule is interpretable (i.e., their physicochemical meanings can be clarified) on the basis of the water-entropy effect.
During morphogenesis, various cellular activities are spatiotemporally coordinated on the protein regulatory background to construct the complicated, three-dimensional (3D) structures of organs. Computational simulations using 3D vertex models have been the focus of efforts to approach the mechanisms underlying 3D multicellular constructions, such as dynamics of the 3D monolayer or multilayer cell sheet like epithelia as well as the 3D compacted cell aggregate, including dynamic changes in layer structures. 3D vertex models enable the quantitative simulation of multicellular morphogenesis on the basis of single-cell mechanics, with complete control of various cellular activities such as cell contraction, growth, rearrangement, division, and death. This review describes the general use of the 3D vertex model, along with its applications to several simplified problems of developmental phenomena.
Cell-crawling migration plays an essential role in complex biological phenomena. It is now generally believed that many processes essential to such migration are regulated by microtubules in many cells, including fibroblasts and neurons. However, keratocytes treated with nocodazole, which is an inhibitor of microtubule polymerization – and even keratocyte fragments that contain no microtubules – migrate at the same velocity and with the same directionality as normal keratocytes. In this study, we discovered that not only these migration properties, but also the molecular dynamics that regulate such properties, such as the retrograde flow rate of actin filaments, distributions of vinculin and myosin II, and traction forces, are also the same in nocodazole-treated keratocytes as those in untreated keratocytes. These results suggest that microtubules are not in fact required for crawling migration of keratocytes, either in terms of migrating properties or of intracellular molecular dynamics.
Protein-protein interactions are essential biological reactions occurring at inter- and intra-cellular levels. The analysis of their mechanism is generally required in order link to understand their various cellular functions. Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET), which is based on an enzymatic activity of luciferase, is a useful tool for investigating protein-protein interactions in live cells. The combination of the BRET system and biomolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) would provide us a better understanding of the hetero-oligomeric structural states of protein complexes. In this review, we discuss the application of BRET to the protein-protein interactions of mitochondrial-associated proteins and discuss its physiological relevance.
The X-ray structure of KcsA, a eubacterial potassium channel, displays a selectivity filter composed of four parallel peptide strands. The backbone carbonyl oxygen atoms of these strands solvate multiple K+ ions. KcsA structures show different distributions of ions within the selectivity filter in solutions containing different cations. To assess the interactions of cations with the selectivity filter, we used attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy. Ion-exchange-induced ATR-FTIR difference spectra were obtained by subtracting the spectrum of KcsA soaked in K+ solution from that obtained in Li+, Na+, Rb+, and Cs+ solutions. Large spectral changes in the amide-I and -II regions were observed upon replacing K+ with smaller-sized cations Li+ and Na+ but not with larger-sized cations Rb+ and Cs+. These results strongly suggest that the selectivity filter carbonyls coordinating Rb+ or Cs+ adopt a conformation similar to those coordinating K+ (cage configuration), but those coordinating Li+ or Na+ adopt a conformation (plane configuration) considerably different from those coordinating K+. We have identified a cation-type sensitive amide-I band at 1681 cm−1 and an insensitive amide-I band at 1659 cm–1. The bands at 1650, 1639, and 1627 cm–1 observed for Na+-coordinating carbonyls were almost identical to those observed in Li+ solution, suggesting that KcsA forms a similar filter structure in Li+ and Na+ solutions. Thus, we conclude that the filter structure adopts a collapsed conformation in Li+ solution that is similar to that in Na+ solution but is in clear contrast to the X-ray crystal structure of KcsA with Li+.
The crystal structures of citrate synthase from the thermophilic eubacteria Thermus thermophilus HB8 (TtCS) were determined for an open form at 1.5 Å resolution and for closed form at 2.3 Å resolution, respectively. In the absence of ligands TtCS in the open form was crystalized into a tetragonal form with a single subunit in the asymmetric unit. TtCS was also co-crystallized with citrate and coenzyme-A to form an orthorhombic crystal with two homodimers in the asymmetric unit. Citrate and CoA are found in the active site situated between the large domain and the small domain in all subunit whereas the complex shows two distinct closed conformations, the fully closed form and partially closed form. Structural comparisons are performed to describe conformational changes associated with binding of products of TtCS. Upon binding of citrate, basic residues in the active site move toward citrate and make a hydrogen bond network in the active site, inducing a large-scale rotation of the small domain relative to the large domain. CoA is sandwiched between the small and large domains and then the cysteamine tail is inserted into the active site with a cooperative rotation around mainchain dihedrals in the hinge region connecting helices M and N. According to this rotation these helices are extended to close the active site completely. The considerable flexibility and structural rearrangements in the hinge region are crucial for an ordered bibi reaction in catalysis for microbial CSs.
Glycans play important roles in such cell-cell interactions as signaling and adhesion, including processes involved in pathogenic infections, cancers, and neurological diseases. Glycans are biosynthesized by multiple glycosyltransferases (GTs), which function sequentially. Excluding mucin-type O-glycosylation, the non-reducing terminus of glycans is biosynthesized in the Golgi apparatus after the reducing terminus is biosynthesized in the ER. In the present study, we performed genome-wide analyses of human GTs by investigating the degree of conservation of homologues in other organisms, as well as by elucidating the phylogenetic relationship between cephalochordates and urochordates, which has long been controversial in deuterostome phylogeny. We analyzed 173 human GTs and functionally linked glycan synthesis enzymes by phylogenetic profiling and clustering, compiled orthologous genes from the genomes of other organisms, and converted them into a binary sequence based on the presence (1) or absence (0) of orthologous genes in the genomes. Our results suggest that the non-reducing terminus of glycans is biosynthesized by newly evolved GTs. According to our analysis, the phylogenetic profiles of GTs resemble the phylogenetic tree of life, where deuterostomes, metazoans, and eukaryotes are resolved into separate branches. Lineage-specific GTs appear to play essential roles in the divergence of these particular lineages. We suggest that urochordates lose several genes that are conserved among metazoans, such as those expressing sialyltransferases, and that the Golgi apparatus acquires the ability to synthesize glycans after the ER acquires this function.
Chemiluminescence (CL) of firefly luciferin (Ln) consisting of red and green emission peaks can be generated by dissolving oxygen (O2) gas in deoxygenated dimethyl sulfoxide containingpotassium tert-butoxide (t-BuOK) even without the enzyme luciferase. In this study, the characteristics of CL of Ln are examined by varying the concentrations of both Ln ([Ln]) and t-BuOK ([t-BuOK]). The time courses of the green and the red luminescence signals are also measured using a 32-channel photo sensor module. Interestingly, addition of 18-crown-6 ether (18-crown-6), a good clathrate for K+, to the reaction solution before exposure to O2 changes the luminescence from green to red when [t-BuOK] = 20 mM and [18-crown-6] = 80 mM. Based on our experimental results, we propose a two-pathway model where K+ plays an important role in the regulation of Ln CL to explain the two-color luminescence observed from electronically excited oxyluciferin via dioxetanone.
Adiponectin is a hormone secreted from adipocytes, and it demonstrates antidiabetic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory effects. However, the patterns of change in urinary adiponectin levels in various diseases remain unknown, because only trace amounts of the hormone are present in urine. In the present study, we applied an ultrasensitive ELISA coupled with thio-NAD cycling to measure urinary adiponectin levels. Spike-and-recovery tests using urine confirmed the reliability of our ultrasensitive ELISA. The limit of detection for adiponectin in urine was 2.3×10–19 moles/assay (1.4 pg/mL). The urinary adiponectin concentration ranged between 0.04 and 5.82 ng/mL in healthy subjects. The pilot study showed that the urinary adiponectin levels, which were corrected by the creatinine concentration, were 0.73±0.50 (ng/mg creatinine, N=6) for healthy subjects, versus 12.02±3.85 (ng/mg creatinine, N=3) for patients with diabetes mellitus (DM). That is, the urinary adiponectin levels were higher (P<0.05) in DM patients than in healthy subjects. Further, these urinary adiponectin levels tended to increase with the progression of DM accompanied with nephropathy. Our method is thus expected to provide a simple, rapid and reasonably priced test for noninvasive monitoring of the progression of DM without the requirement of special tools.
Investigation of the rotational motion of a fluorescent probe tethered to a protein helps to elucidate the local properties of the solvent and protein near the conjugation site of the probe. In this study, we have developed an instrument for frequency-domain fluorescence (FDF) anisotropy measurements, and studied how the local properties around a protein, actin, can be elucidated from the rotational motion of a dye tethered to actin. Rhodamine 6G (R6G) was attached to Cys-374 using newly-synthesized R6G-maleimide with three different oligo(ethylene glycol) (OEG) linker lengths. The time-resolved anisotropy decay of R6G tethered to G-actin was revealed to be a combination of the two modes of the wobbling motion of R6G and the tumbling motion of G-actin. The rotational diffusion coefficient (RDC) of R6G wobbling was ~0.1 ns–1 at 20°C and increased with OEG linker length. The use of the three R6G-actin conjugates of different linker lengths was useful to not only figure out the linker length dependence of the rotational motion of R6G but also validate the analyses. In the presence of a cosolvent of glycerol, although the tumbling motion of G-actin was retarded in response to the bulk viscosity, the wobbling motion of R6G tethered to actin exhibited an increase of RDC as glycerol concentration increased. This finding suggests an intricate relationship between the fluid properties of the bulk solvent and the local environment around actin.
We addressed the evolutionary trace of hetero-oligomer interfaces by comparing the structures of paralogous proteins; one of them is a monomer or homo-oligomer and the other is a hetero-oligomer. We found different trends in amino acid conservation pattern and hydrophobicity between homo-oligomer and hetero-oligomer. The degree of amino acid conservation in the interface of homo-oligomer has no obvious difference from that in the surface, whereas the degree of conservation is much higher in the interface of hetero-oligomer. The interface of homo-oligomer has a few very conserved residue positions, whereas the residue conservation in the interface of hetero-oligomer tends to be higher. In addition, the interface of hetero-oligomer has a tendency of being more hydrophobic compared with the one in homo-oligomer. We conjecture that these differences are related to the inherent symmetry in homo-oligomers that cannot exist in hetero-oligomers. Paucity of the structural data precludes statistical tests of these tendencies, yet the trend can be applied to the prediction of the interface of hetero-oligomer. We obtained putative interfaces of the subunits in CPSF (cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor), one of the human pre-mRNA 3’-processing complexes. The locations of predicted interface residues were consistent with the known experimental data.
The direct-coupling analysis is a powerful method for protein contact prediction, and enables us to extract “direct” correlations between distant sites that are latent in “indirect” correlations observed in a protein multiple-sequence alignment. I show that the direct correlation can be obtained by using a formulation analogous to the Ornstein-Zernike integral equation in liquid theory. This formulation intuitively illustrates how the indirect or apparent correlation arises from an infinite series of direct correlations, and provides interesting insights into protein structure prediction.
One of the major topics in biophysics and physicobiology is to understand and utilize biological functions using various advanced techniques. Taking advantage of the photoreactivity of the seven-transmembrane rhodopsin protein family has been actively investigated by a variety of methods. Rhodopsins serve as models for membrane-embedded proteins, for photoactive proteins and as a fundamental tool for optogenetics, a new technology to control biological activity with light. In this review, we summarize progress of microbial rhodopsin research from the viewpoint of distribution, diversity and potential.
A precise 100-ns molecular dynamics simulation in aquo was performed for the heterotetrameric sarcosine oxidase bound with a substrate analogue, dimethylglycine. The spatial region including the protein was divided into small rectangular cells. The average number of the water molecules locating within each cell was calculated based on the simulation trajectory. The clusters of the cells filled with water molecules were used to determine the water channels. The narrowness of the channels, the average hydropathy indices of the residues of the channels, and the number of migration events of water molecules through the channels were consistent with the selective transport hypothesis whereby tunnel T3 is the pathway for the exit of the iminium intermediate of the enzyme reaction.
Photolyases (PHRs) are DNA repair enzymes that revert UV-induced photoproducts, either cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD) or (6-4) photoproducts (PPs), into normal bases to maintain genetic integrity. (6-4) PHR must catalyze not only covalent bond cleavage, but also hydroxyl or amino group transfer, yielding a more complex mechanism than that postulated for CPD PHR. Previous mutation analysis revealed the importance of two histidines in the active center, H354 and H358 for Xenopus (6-4) PHR, whose mutations significantly lowered the enzymatic activity. Based upon highly sensitive FTIR analysis of the repair function, here we report that both H354A and H358A mutants of Xenopus (6-4) PHR still maintain their repair activity, although the efficiency is much lower than that of the wild type. Similar difference FTIR spectra between the wild type and mutant proteins suggest a common mechanism of repair in which (6-4) PP binds to the active center of each mutant, and is released after repair, as occurs in the wild type. Similar FTIR spectra also suggest that a decrease in volume by the H-to-A mutation is possibly compensated by the addition of water molecule(s). Such a modified environment is sufficient for the repair function that is probably controlled by proton-coupled electron transfer between the enzyme and substrate. On the other hand, two histidines must work in a concerted manner in the active center of the wild-type enzyme, which significantly raises the repair efficiency.
Troponin (Tn), consisting of three subunits, TnC, TnI, and TnT, is a protein in the thin filaments in muscle, and, together with another thin-filament protein tropomyosin (Tm), plays a major role in regulation of muscle contraction. Various mutations of Tn cause familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. These mutations are directly related to aberrations in this regulatory mechanism. Here we focus on the mutations E244D and K247R of TnT, which reside in the middle of the pathway of the Ca2+-binding signal from TnC to Tm. These mutations induce an increase in the maximum tension of cardiac muscle without changes in Ca2+-sensitivity. As a first step toward elucidating the molecular mechanism underlying this functional aberration, we carried out small-angle X-ray scattering experiments on the Tn core domain containing the wild type subunits and those containing the mutant TnT in the absence and presence of Ca2+. Changes in the overall shape induced by the mutations were detected for the first time by the changes in the radius of gyration and the maximum dimension between the wild type and the mutants. Analysis of the scattering curves by model calculations shows that TnC adopts a dumbbell structure regardless of the mutations, and that the mutations change the distributions of the conformational ensembles so that the flexible N- and C-terminal regions of TnT become close to the center of the whole moelcule. This suggests, since these regions are related to the Tn-Tm interactions, that alteration of the Tn-Tm interactions induced by the mutations causes the functional aberration.