• Crystal structures explain functional differences in the two actin depolymerization factors of the malaria parasite.

      Singh, Bishal K; Sattler, Julia M; Chatterjee, Moon; Huttu, Jani; Schüler, Herwig; Kursula, Inari (2011-08-12)
      Apicomplexan parasites, such as the malaria-causing Plasmodium, utilize an actin-based motor for motility and host cell invasion. The actin filaments of these parasites are unusually short, and actin polymerization is under strict control of a small set of regulatory proteins, which are poorly conserved with their mammalian orthologs. Actin depolymerization factors (ADFs) are among the most important actin regulators, affecting the rates of filament turnover in a multifaceted manner. Plasmodium has two ADFs that display low sequence homology with each other and with the higher eukaryotic family members. Here, we show that ADF2, like canonical ADF proteins but unlike ADF1, binds to both globular and filamentous actin, severing filaments and inducing nucleotide exchange on the actin monomer. The crystal structure of Plasmodium ADF1 shows major differences from the ADF consensus, explaining the lack of F-actin binding. Plasmodium ADF2 structurally resembles the canonical members of the ADF/cofilin family.
    • Determinants of ligand binding and catalytic activity in the myelin enzyme 2',3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase.

      Raasakka, Arne; Myllykoski, Matti; Laulumaa, Saara; Lehtimäki, Mari; Härtlein, Michael; Moulin, Martine; Kursula, Inari; Kursula, Petri; CSSB, Centre for Structural Systems Biology, Notekestr. 85, 22607 Hamburg, Germany. (2015)
      2',3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase (CNPase) is an enzyme highly abundant in the central nervous system myelin of terrestrial vertebrates. The catalytic domain of CNPase belongs to the 2H phosphoesterase superfamily and catalyzes the hydrolysis of nucleoside 2',3'-cyclic monophosphates to nucleoside 2'-monophosphates. The detailed reaction mechanism and the essential catalytic amino acids involved have been described earlier, but the roles of many amino acids in the vicinity of the active site have remained unknown. Here, several CNPase catalytic domain mutants were studied using enzyme kinetics assays, thermal stability experiments, and X-ray crystallography. Additionally, the crystal structure of a perdeuterated CNPase catalytic domain was refined at atomic resolution to obtain a detailed view of the active site and the catalytic mechanism. The results specify determinants of ligand binding and novel essential residues required for CNPase catalysis. For example, the aromatic side chains of Phe235 and Tyr168 are crucial for substrate binding, and Arg307 may affect active site electrostatics and regulate loop dynamics. The β5-α7 loop, unique for CNPase in the 2H phosphoesterase family, appears to have various functions in the CNPase reaction mechanism, from coordinating the nucleophilic water molecule to providing a binding pocket for the product and being involved in product release.
    • Juxtanodin is an intrinsically disordered F-actin-binding protein.

      Ruskamo, Salla; Chukhlieb, Maryna; Vahokoski, Juha; Bhargav, Saligram Prabhakar; Liang, Fengyi; Kursula, Inari; Kursula, Petri (2012)
      Juxtanodin, also called ermin, is an F-actin-binding protein expressed by oligodendrocytes, the myelin-forming cells of the central nervous system. While juxtanodin carries a short conserved F-actin-binding segment at its C terminus, it otherwise shares no similarity with known protein sequences. We carried out a structural characterization of recombinant juxtanodin in solution. Juxtanodin turned out to be intrinsically disordered, as evidenced by conventional and synchrotron radiation CD spectroscopy. Small-angle X-ray scattering indicated that juxtanodin is a monomeric, highly elongated, unfolded molecule. Ensemble optimization analysis of the data suggested also the presence of more compact forms of juxtanodin. The C terminus was a strict requirement for co-sedimentation of juxtanodin with microfilaments, but juxtanodin had only mild effects on actin polymerization. The disordered nature of juxtanodin may predict functions as a protein interaction hub, although F-actin is its only currently known binding partner.
    • The lasso segment is required for functional dimerization of the Plasmodium formin 1 FH2 domain.

      Ignatev, Alexander; Bhargav, Saligram Prabhakar; Vahokoski, Juha; Kursula, Petri; Kursula, Inari; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, University of Hamburg, and German Electron Synchrotron (DESY), Hamburg, Germany. (2012)
      Apicomplexan parasites, such as the malaria-causing Plasmodium species, utilize a unique way of locomotion and host cell invasion. This substrate-dependent gliding motility requires rapid cycling of actin between the monomeric state and very short, unbranched filaments. Despite the crucial role of actin polymerization for the survival of the malaria parasite, the majority of Plasmodium cellular actin is present in the monomeric form. Plasmodium lacks most of the canonical actin nucleators, and formins are essentially the only candidates for this function in all Apicomplexa. The malaria parasite has two formins, containing conserved formin homology (FH) 2 and rudimentary FH1 domains. Here, we show that Plasmodium falciparum formin 1 associates with and nucleates both mammalian and Plasmodium actin filaments. Although Plasmodium profilin alone sequesters actin monomers, thus inhibiting polymerization, its monomer-sequestering activity does not compete with the nucleating activity of formin 1 at an equimolar profilin-actin ratio. We have determined solution structures of P. falciparum formin 1 FH2 domain both in the presence and absence of the lasso segment and the FH1 domain, and show that the lasso is required for the assembly of functional dimers.
    • Structural differences explain diverse functions of Plasmodium actins.

      Vahokoski, Juha; Bhargav, Saligram Prabhakar; Desfosses, Ambroise; Andreadaki, Maria; Kumpula, Esa-Pekka; Martinez, Silvia Muñico; Ignatev, Alexander; Lepper, Simone; Frischknecht, Friedrich; Sidén-Kiamos, Inga; et al. (2014-04)
      Actins are highly conserved proteins and key players in central processes in all eukaryotic cells. The two actins of the malaria parasite are among the most divergent eukaryotic actins and also differ from each other more than isoforms in any other species. Microfilaments have not been directly observed in Plasmodium and are presumed to be short and highly dynamic. We show that actin I cannot complement actin II in male gametogenesis, suggesting critical structural differences. Cryo-EM reveals that Plasmodium actin I has a unique filament structure, whereas actin II filaments resemble canonical F-actin. Both Plasmodium actins hydrolyze ATP more efficiently than α-actin, and unlike any other actin, both parasite actins rapidly form short oligomers induced by ADP. Crystal structures of both isoforms pinpoint several structural changes in the monomers causing the unique polymerization properties. Inserting the canonical D-loop to Plasmodium actin I leads to the formation of long filaments in vitro. In vivo, this chimera restores gametogenesis in parasites lacking actin II, suggesting that stable filaments are required for exflagellation. Together, these data underline the divergence of eukaryotic actins and demonstrate how structural differences in the monomers translate into filaments with different properties, implying that even eukaryotic actins have faced different evolutionary pressures and followed different paths for developing their polymerization properties.
    • Structure of the dimeric autoinhibited conformation of DAPK2, a pro-apoptotic protein kinase.

      Patel, Ashok K; Yadav, Ravi P; Majava, Viivi; Kursula, Inari; Kursula, Petri (2011-06-10)
      The death-associated protein kinase (DAPK) family has been characterized as a group of pro-apoptotic serine/threonine kinases that share specific structural features in their catalytic kinase domain. Two of the DAPK family members, DAPK1 and DAPK2, are calmodulin-dependent protein kinases that are regulated by oligomerization, calmodulin binding, and autophosphorylation. In this study, we have determined the crystal and solution structures of murine DAPK2 in the presence of the autoinhibitory domain, with and without bound nucleotides in the active site. The crystal structure shows dimers of DAPK2 in a conformation that is not permissible for protein substrate binding. Two different conformations were seen in the active site upon the introduction of nucleotide ligands. The monomeric and dimeric forms of DAPK2 were further analyzed for solution structure, and the results indicate that the dimers of DAPK2 are indeed formed through the association of two apposed catalytic domains, as seen in the crystal structure. The structures can be further used to build a model for DAPK2 autophosphorylation and to compare with closely related kinases, of which especially DAPK1 is an actively studied drug target. Our structures also provide a model for both homodimerization and heterodimerization of the catalytic domain between members of the DAPK family. The fingerprint of the DAPK family, the basic loop, plays a central role in the dimerization of the kinase domain.