• 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.