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Acta Crystallographica Section F

Acta Crystallographica Section F: Structural Biology Communications is a rapid all-electronic journal, which provides a home for short communications on the crystallization and structure of biological macromolecules. Structures determined through structur

Published: 2015-04-01


Large-volume protein crystal growth for neutron macromolecular crystallography


Neutron macromolecular crystallography (NMC) is the prevailing method for the accurate determination of the positions of H atoms in macromolecules. As neutron sources are becoming more available to general users, finding means to optimize the growth of protein crystals to sizes suitable for NMC is extremely important. Historically, much has been learned about growing crystals for X-ray diffraction. However, owing to new-generation synchrotron X-ray facilities and sensitive detectors, protein crystal sizes as small as in the nano-range have become adequate for structure determination, lessening the necessity to grow large crystals. Here, some of the approaches, techniques and considerations for the growth of crystals to significant dimensions that are now relevant to NMC are revisited. These include experimental strategies utilizing solubility diagrams, ripening effects, classical crystallization techniques, microgravity and theoretical considerations.

The X-ray structure of human P-cadherin EC1-EC2 in a closed conformation provides insight into the type I cadherin dimerization pathway


Cadherins are a large family of calcium-dependent proteins that mediate cellular adherens junction formation and tissue morphogenesis. To date, the most studied cadherins are those classified as classical, which are further divided into type I or type II depending on selected sequence features. Unlike other members of the classical cadherin family, a detailed structural characterization of P-cadherin has not yet been fully obtained. Here, the high-resolution crystal structure determination of the closed form of human P-cadherin EC1-EC2 is reported. The structure shows a novel, monomeric packing arrangement that provides a further snapshot in the yet-to-be-achieved complete description of the highly dynamic cadherin dimerization pathway. Moreover, this is the first multidomain cadherin fragment to be crystallized and structurally characterized in its closed conformation that does not carry any extra N-terminal residues before the naturally occurring aspartic acid at position 1. Finally, two clear alternate conformations are observed for the critical Trp2 residue, suggestive of a transient, metastable state. The P-cadherin structure and packing arrangement shown here provide new and valuable information towards the complete structural characterization of the still largely elusive cadherin dimerization pathway.

Structural basis of the substrate specificity of the FPOD/FAOD family revealed by fructosyl peptide oxidase from Eupenicillium terrenum


The FAOD/FPOD family of proteins has the potential to be useful for the longterm detection of blood glucose levels in diabetes patients. A bottleneck for this application is to find or engineer a FAOD/FPOD family enzyme that is specifically active towards α-fructosyl peptides but is inactive towards other types of glycated peptides. Here, the crystal structure of fructosyl peptide oxidase from Eupenicillium terrenum (EtFPOX) is reported at 1.9 Å resolution. In contrast to the previously reported structure of amadoriase II, EtFPOX has an open substrate entrance to accommodate the large peptide substrate. The functions of residues critical for substrate selection are discussed based on structure comparison and sequence alignment. This study reveals the first structural details of group I FPODs that prefer α-fructosyl substrates and could provide significant useful information for uncovering the mechanism of substrate specificity of FAOD/FPODs and guidance towards future enzyme engineering for diagnostic purposes.

Crystallization and preliminary X-ray crystallographic analysis of the sclerostin-neutralizing Fab AbD09097


The secreted cystine-knot protein sclerostin was first identified from genetic screening of patients suffering from the rare bone-overgrowth diseases sclerosteosis and van Buchem disease. Sclerostin acts a negative regulator of bone growth through inhibiting the canonical Wnt signalling cascade by binding to and blocking the Wnt co-receptor LRP5/6. Its function in blocking osteoblastogenesis makes it an important target for osteoanabolic therapy approaches to treat osteoporosis, which is characterized by a progressive decrease in bone mass and density. In this work, the production, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction data analysis of a sclerostin-neutralizing human Fab antibody fragment, AbD09097, obtained from a naive antibody library are reported. Crystals of the Fab AbD09097 belonged to space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 45.19, b = 78.49, c = 59.20 Å, β = 95.71° and diffracted X-rays to a resolution of 1.8 Å.

Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of the interaction of Aeromonas hydrophila MtaN-1 with S-adenosylhomocysteine


Prokaryotic 5′-methylthioadenosine/S-adenosylhomocysteine nucleosidase (MtaN) is a multifunctional enzyme that can hydrolyze S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine (SAH) and S-methyl-5′-thioadenosine (MTA) to give S-ribosyl-l-homocysteine (SRH) and S-methyl-5′-thioribose (MTR), respectively. This reaction plays a key role in several metabolic pathways, including biological methylation, polyamine biosynthesis, methionine recycling and bacterial quorum sensing. Structurally, MtaN belongs to the MtnN subfamily of the purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP)/uridine phosphorylase (UDP) phosphorylase family. Aeromonas hydrophila has two MtnN subfamily proteins: MtaN-1, a periplasmic protein with an N-terminal signal sequence, and MtaN-2, a cytosolic protein. In this study, MtaN-1 from Aeromonas hydrophila was successfully expressed and purified using Ni–NTA affinity, Q anion-exchange and gel-filtration chromatography. Crystals of the protein in complex with the substrate SAH were obtained and diffracted to a resolution of 1.4 Å. The crystals belonged to the trigonal space group P3121 or P3221, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 102.7, c = 118.8 Å. The asymmetric unit contained two molecules of MtaN-1 complexed with SAH.

Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of an endo-1,4-β-d-glucanase from Aspergillus aculeatus F-50


Cellulose is the most abundant renewable biomass on earth, and its decomposition has proven to be very useful in a wide variety of industries. Endo-1,4-β-d-glucanase (EC; endoglucanase), which can catalyze the random hydrolysis of β-1,4-glycosidic bonds to cleave cellulose into smaller fragments, is a key cellulolytic enzyme. An endoglucanase isolated from Aspergillus aculeatus F-50 (FI-CMCase) that was classified into glycoside hydrolase family 12 has been found to be effectively expressed in the industrial strain Pichia pastoris. Here, recombinant FI-CMCase was crystallized. Crystals belonging to the orthorhombic space group C2221, with unit-cell parameters a = 74.2, b = 75.1, c = 188.4 Å, were obtained by the sitting-drop vapour-diffusion method and diffracted to 1.6 Å resolution. Initial phase determination by molecular replacement clearly shows that the crystal contains two protein molecules in the asymmetric unit. Further model building and structure refinement are in progress.

Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of the periplasmic haem-binding protein HutB from Vibrio cholerae


The mechanism of haem transport across the inner membrane of pathogenic bacteria is currently insufficiently understood at the molecular level and no information is available for this process in Vibrio cholerae. To obtain structural insights into the periplasmic haem-binding protein HutB from V. cholerae (VcHutB), which is involved in haem transport through the HutBCD haem-transport system, at the atomic level, VcHutB was cloned, overexpressed and crystallized using 1.6 M ammonium sulfate as a precipitant at pH 7.0. X-ray diffraction data were collected to 2.4 Å resolution on the RRCAT PX-BL-21 beamline at the Indus-2 synchrotron, Indore, India. The crystals belonged to space group P43212, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 62.88, c = 135.8 Å. Matthews coefficient calculations indicated the presence of one monomer in the asymmetric unit, with an approximate solvent content of 45.02%. Molecular-replacement calculations with Phaser confirmed the presence of a monomer in the asymmetric unit.

Crystallization of mutants of Turnip yellow mosaic virus protease/ubiquitin hydrolase designed to prevent protease self-recognition


Processing of the polyprotein of Turnip yellow mosaic virus is mediated by the protease PRO. PRO cleaves at two places, one of which is at the C-terminus of the PRO domain of another polyprotein molecule. In addition to this processing activity, PRO possesses an ubiquitin hydrolase (DUB) activity. The crystal structure of PRO has previously been reported in its polyprotein-processing mode with the C-terminus of one PRO inserted into the catalytic site of the next PRO, generating PRO polymers in the crystal packing of the trigonal space group. Here, two mutants designed to disrupt specific PRO–PRO interactions were generated, produced and purified. Crystalline plates were obtained by seeding and cross-seeding from initial `sea urchin'-like microcrystals of one mutant. The plates diffracted to beyond 2 Å resolution at a synchrotron source and complete data sets were collected for the two mutants. Data processing and analysis indicated that both mutant crystals belonged to the same monoclinic space group, with two molecules of PRO in the asymmetric unit.

Cloning, expression, crystallization and preliminary X-ray studies of a superfolder GFP fusion of cyanobacterial Psb32


A fusion of Psb32 from the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus BP-1 (TePsb32) with superfolder GFP was created for enhanced solubility and improved detection and purification. The fusion protein readily formed large hexagonal crystals belonging to space group P6122. A full data set extending to 2.3 Å resolution was collected at the Swiss Light Source. The phase problem could be solved by using only the sfGFP fusion partner or by using GFP and AtTLP18.3 from Arabidopsis thaliana as search models. Based on this expression construct, a versatile library of 24 vectors combining four different superfolder GFP variants and three affinity tags was generated to facilitate expression and screening of fluorescent fusion proteins.

Crystallization and preliminary X-ray characterization of the eukaryotic replication terminator Reb1–Ter DNA complex


The Reb1 protein from Schizosaccharomyces pombe is a member of a family of proteins that control programmed replication termination and/or transcription termination in eukaryotic cells. These events occur at naturally occurring replication fork barriers (RFBs), where Reb1 binds to termination (Ter) DNA sites and coordinates the polar arrest of replication forks and transcription approaching in opposite directions. The Reb1 DNA-binding and replication-termination domain was expressed in Escherichia coli, purified and crystallized in complex with a 26-mer DNA Ter site. Batch crystallization under oil was required to produce crystals of good quality for data collection. Crystals grew in space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 68.9, b = 162.9, c = 71.1 Å, β = 94.7°. The crystals diffracted to a resolution of 3.0 Å. The crystals were mosaic and required two or three cycles of annealing. This study is the first to yield structural information about this important family of proteins and will provide insights into the mechanism of replication and transcription termination.

Structure of the omalizumab Fab


Omalizumab is a humanized anti-IgE antibody that inhibits the binding of IgE to its receptors on mast cells and basophils, thus blocking the IgE-mediated release of inflammatory mediators from these cells. Omalizumab binds to the Fc domains of IgE in proximity to the binding site of the high-affinity IgE receptor Fc∊RI, but the epitope and the mechanisms and conformations governing the recognition remain unknown. In order to elucidate the molecular mechanism of its anti-IgE activity, the aim was to analyse the interaction of omalizumab with human IgE. Therefore, IgE Fc C∊2–4 was recombinantly produced in mammalian HEK-293 cells. Functionality of the IgE Fc was proven by ELISA and mediator-release assays. Omalizumab IgG was cleaved with papain and the resulting Fab was purified by ion-exchange chromatography. The complex of IgE Fc with omalizumab was prepared by size-exclusion chromatography. However, crystals containing the complex were not obtained, suggesting that the process of crystallization favoured the dissociation of the two proteins. Instead, two structures of the omalizumab Fab with maximum resolutions of 1.9 and 3.0 Å were obtained. The structures reveal the arrangement of the CDRs and the position of omalizumab residues known from prior functional studies to be involved in IgE binding. Thus, the structure of omalizumab provides the structural basis for understanding the function of omalizumab, allows optimization of the procedure for complex crystallization and poses questions about the conformational requirements for anti-IgE activity.

Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of a GH20 β-N-acetylglucosaminidase from the marine bacterium Vibrio harveyi


Vibrio harveyi β-N-acetylglucosaminidase (VhGlcNAcase) is a new member of the GH20 glycoside hydrolase family responsible for the complete degradation of chitin fragments, with N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) monomers as the final products. In this study, the crystallization and preliminary crystallographic data of wild-type VhGlcNAcase and its catalytically inactive mutant D437A in the absence and the presence of substrate are reported. Crystals of wild-type VhGlcNAcase were grown in 0.1 M sodium acetate pH 4.6, 1.4 M sodium malonate, while crystals of the D437A mutant were obtained in 0.1 M bis-tris pH 7.5, 0.1 M sodium acetate, 20% PEG 3350. X-ray data from the wild-type and the mutant crystals were collected at a synchrotron-radiation light source and were complete to a resolution of 2.5 Å. All crystals were composed of the same type of dimer, with the substrate N,N′-diacetylglucosamine (GlcNAc2 or diNAG) used for soaking was cleaved by the active enzyme, leaving only a single GlcNAc molecule bound to the protein.

Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray crystallographic analysis of the phosphatase domain (PA3346PD) of the response regulator PA3346 from Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1


The phosphatase domain (PA3346PD) of the response regulator PA3346 modulates the downstream anti-anti-σ factor PA3347 to regulate swarming motility in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. PA3346PD, which comprises the protein phosphatase 2C domain (PP2C), is classified as a Ser/Thr phosphatase of the Mg2+- or Mn2+-dependent protein phosphatase (PPM) family. The recombinant PA3346PD, with molecular mass 26 kDa, was overexpressed in Escherichia coli, purified on an Ni2+–NTA agarose column and crystallized by the sitting-drop vapour-diffusion method. X-ray diffraction data were collected from PA3346PD crystals to a resolution of 2.58 Å and the crystals belonged to space group I4132 or I4332, with unit-cell parameter a = 157.61 Å. Preliminary analysis indicates the presence of a monomer of PA3346PD in the asymmetric unit with a solvent content of 58.4%.

Complex assembly, crystallization and preliminary X-ray crystallographic analysis of the human Rod–Zwilch–ZW10 (RZZ) complex


The spindle-assembly checkpoint (SAC) monitors kinetochore–microtubule attachment during mitosis. In metazoans, the three-subunit Rod–Zwilch–ZW10 (RZZ) complex is a crucial SAC component that interacts with additional SAC-activating and SAC-silencing components, including the Mad1–Mad2 complex and cytoplasmic dynein. The RZZ complex contains two copies of each subunit and has a predicted molecular mass of ∼800 kDa. Given the low abundance of the RZZ complex in natural sources, its recombinant reconstitution was attempted by co-expression of its subunits in insect cells. The RZZ complex was purified to homogeneity and subjected to systematic crystallization attempts. Initial crystals containing the entire RZZ complex were obtained using the sitting-drop method and were subjected to optimization to improve the diffraction resolution limit. The crystals belonged to space group P31 (No. 144) or P32 (No. 145), with unit-cell parameters a = b = 215.45, c = 458.7 Å, α = β = 90.0, γ = 120.0°.

Structure of the ABL2/ARG kinase in complex with dasatinib


ABL2/ARG (ABL-related gene) belongs to the ABL (Abelson tyrosine-protein kinase) family of tyrosine kinases. ARG plays important roles in cell morphogenesis, motility, growth and survival, and many of these biological roles overlap with the cellular functions of the ABL kinase. Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is associated with constitutive ABL kinase activation resulting from fusion between parts of the breakpoint cluster region (BCR) and ABL1 genes. Similarly, fusion of the ETV6 (Tel) and ARG genes drives some forms of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Dasatinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor used for the treatment of CML by inhibiting ABL, and while it also inhibits ARG, there is currently no structure of ARG in complex with dasatinib. Here, the co-crystal structure of the mouse ARG catalytic domain with dasatinib at 2.5 Å resolution is reported. Dasatinib-bound ARG is found in the DFG-in conformation although it is nonphosphorylated on the activation-loop tyrosine. In this structure the glycine-rich P-loop is found in a relatively open conformation compared with other known ABL family–inhibitor complex structures.

Structure of dihydrodipicolinate synthase from the commensal bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron at 2.1 Å resolution


Dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DapA) catalyzes the first committed step of the diaminopimelate biosynthetic pathway of lysine. It has been shown to be an essential enzyme in many bacteria and has been the subject of research to generate novel antibiotics. However, this pathway is present in both pathogenic and commensal bacteria, and antibiotics targeting DapA may interfere with normal gut colonization. Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron is a Gram-negative commensal bacterium that makes up a large proportion of the normal microbiota of the human gut. The structure of DapA from B. thetaiotaomicron (BtDapA) has been determined. This structure will help to guide the generation of selectively active antibiotic compounds targeting DapA.

Analytical ultracentrifugation and preliminary X-ray studies of the chloroplast envelope quinone oxidoreductase homologue from Arabidopsis thaliana


Quinone oxidoreductases reduce a broad range of quinones and are widely distributed among living organisms. The chloroplast envelope quinone oxidoreductase homologue (ceQORH) from Arabidopsis thaliana binds NADPH, lacks a classical N-terminal and cleavable chloroplast transit peptide, and is transported through the chloroplast envelope membrane by an unknown alternative pathway without cleavage of its internal chloroplast targeting sequence. To unravel the fold of this targeting sequence and its substrate specificity, ceQORH from A. thaliana was overexpressed in Escherichia coli, purified and crystallized. Crystals of apo ceQORH were obtained and a complete data set was collected at 2.34 Å resolution. The crystals belonged to space group C2221, with two molecules in the asymmetric unit.

Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of four cysteine proteases from Ficus carica latex


The latex of the common fig (Ficus carica) contains a mixture of at least five cysteine proteases commonly known as ficins (EC Four of these proteases were purified to homogeneity and crystals were obtained in a variety of conditions. The four ficin (iso)forms appear in ten different crystal forms. All diffracted to better than 2.10 Å resolution and for each form at least one crystal form diffracted to 1.60 Å resolution or higher. Ficin (iso)forms B and C share a common crystal form, suggesting close sequence and structural similarity. The latter diffracted to a resolution of 1.20 Å and belonged to space group P3121 or P3221, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 88.9, c = 55.9 Å.

Cloning, expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of AerF from Microcystis aeruginosa, a putative reductase participating in aeruginosin biosynthesis


The 2-carboxy-6-hydroxyoctahydroindole moiety is an essential residue for the antithrombotic activity of aeruginosins, which are a class of cyanobacteria-derived bioactive linear tetrapeptides. The biosynthetic pathway of the 2-carboxy-6-hydroxyoctahydroindole moiety has not yet been resolved. AerF was indicated to be involved in the biosynthesis of the 2-carboxy-6-hydroxyoctahydroindole moiety. This study reports the cloning, expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of AerF from Microcystis aeruginosa with a C-terminal His6 tag. The crystal diffracted to a maximum resolution of 1.38 Å and belonged to the tetragonal space group P4322, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 101.581, c = 116.094 Å. The calculated Matthews coefficient and solvent content of the crystal were 2.47 Å3 Da−1 and 50.32%, respectively. The initial model of the structure was obtained by the molecular-replacement method and refinement of the structure is in progress.

Serendipitous crystallization and structure determination of cyanase (CynS) from Serratia proteamaculans


Cyanate hydratase (CynS) catalyzes the decomposition of cyanate and bicarbonate into ammonia and carbon dioxide. Here, the serendipitous crystallization of CynS from Serratia proteamaculans (SpCynS) is reported. SpCynS was crystallized as an impurity and its identity was determined using mass-spectrometric analysis. The crystals belonged to space group P1 and diffracted to 2.1 Å resolution. The overall structure of SpCynS is very similar to a previously determined structure of CynS from Escherichia coli. Density for a ligand bound to the SpCynS active site was observed, but could not be unambiguously identified. Additionally, glycerol molecules bound at the entry to the active site of the enzyme indicate conserved residues that might be important for the trafficking of substrates and products.

Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of a type II NADH:quinone oxidoreductase from the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus


In recent years, type II NADH dehydrogenases (NDH-IIs) have emerged as potential drug targets for a wide range of human disease causative agents. In this work, the NDH-II enzyme from the Gram-positive human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus was recombinantly expressed in Escherichia coli, purified, crystallized and a crystallographic data set was collected at a wavelength of 0.873 Å. The crystals belonged to the orthorhombic space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 81.8, b = 86.0, c = 269.9 Å, contained four monomers per asymmetric unit and diffracted to a resolution of 3.32 Å. A molecular-replacement solution was obtained and model building and refinement are currently under way.