• Crystal Structure of Dihydro-Heme d Dehydrogenase NirN from Pseudomonas aeruginosa Reveals Amino Acid Residues Essential for Catalysis.

      Klünemann, Thomas; Preuß, Arne; Adamczack, Julia; Rosa, Luis F M; Harnisch, Falk; Layer, Gunhild; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-06-04)
      Many bacteria can switch from oxygen to nitrogen oxides, such as nitrate or nitrite, as terminal electron acceptors in their respiratory chain. This process is called "denitrification" and enables biofilm formation of the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, making it more resilient to antibiotics and highly adaptable to different habitats. The reduction of nitrite to nitric oxide is a crucial step during denitrification. It is catalyzed by the homodimeric cytochrome cd1 nitrite reductase (NirS), which utilizes the unique isobacteriochlorin heme d1 as its reaction center. Although the reaction mechanism of nitrite reduction is well understood, far less is known about the biosynthesis of heme d1. The last step of its biosynthesis introduces a double bond in a propionate group of the tetrapyrrole to form an acrylate group. This conversion is catalyzed by the dehydrogenase NirN via a unique reaction mechanism. To get a more detailed insight into this reaction, the crystal structures of NirN with and without bound substrate have been determined. Similar to the homodimeric NirS, the monomeric NirN consists of an eight-bladed heme d1-binding β-propeller and a cytochrome c domain, but their relative orientation differs with respect to NirS. His147 coordinates heme d1 at the proximal side, whereas His323, which belongs to a flexible loop, binds at the distal position. Tyr461 and His417 are located next to the hydrogen atoms removed during dehydrogenation, suggesting an important role in catalysis. Activity assays with NirN variants revealed the essentiality of His147, His323 and Tyr461, but not of His417.
    • Crystal structure of NirF: insights into its role in heme d biosynthesis.

      Klünemann, Thomas; NIMTZ, MANFRED; Jänsch, Lothar; Layer, Gunhild; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley Online Open, 2020-04-07)
      Certain facultative anaerobes such as the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa can respire on nitrate, a process generally known as denitrification. This enables denitrifying bacteria to survive in anoxic environments and contributes, for example, to the formation of biofilm, hence increasing difficulties in eradicating P. aeruginosa infections. A central step in denitrification is the reduction of nitrite to nitric oxide by nitrite reductase NirS, an enzyme that requires the unique cofactor heme d1 . While heme d1 biosynthesis is mostly understood, the role of the essential periplasmatic protein NirF in this pathway remains unclear. Here, we have determined crystal structures of NirF and its complex with dihydroheme d1 , the last intermediate of heme d1 biosynthesis. We found that NirF forms a bottom-to-bottom β-propeller homodimer and confirmed this by multi-angle light and small-angle X-ray scattering. The N termini are adjacent to each other and project away from the core structure, which hints at simultaneous membrane anchoring via both N termini. Further, the complex with dihydroheme d1 allowed us to probe the importance of specific residues in the vicinity of the ligand binding site, revealing residues not required for binding or stability of NirF but essential for denitrification in experiments with complemented mutants of a ΔnirF strain of P. aeruginosa. Together, these data suggest that NirF possesses a yet unknown enzymatic activity and is not simply a binding protein of heme d1 derivatives. DATABASE: Structural data are available in PDB database under the accession numbers 6TV2 and 6TV9.
    • The crystal structure of the heme d biosynthesis-associated small c-type cytochrome NirC reveals mixed oligomeric states in crystallo.

      Klünemann, Thomas; Henke, Steffi; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (: International Union of Crystallography, 2020-03-25)
      Monoheme c-type cytochromes are important electron transporters in all domains of life. They possess a common fold hallmarked by three α-helices that surround a covalently attached heme. An intriguing feature of many monoheme c-type cytochromes is their capacity to form oligomers by exchanging at least one of their α-helices, which is often referred to as 3D domain swapping. Here, the crystal structure of NirC, a c-type cytochrome co-encoded with other proteins involved in nitrite reduction by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, has been determined. The crystals diffracted anisotropically to a maximum resolution of 2.12 Å (spherical resolution of 2.83 Å) and initial phases were obtained by Fe-SAD phasing, revealing the presence of 11 NirC chains in the asymmetric unit. Surprisingly, these protomers arrange into one monomer and two different types of 3D domain-swapped dimers, one of which shows pronounced asymmetry. While the simultaneous observation of monomers and dimers probably reflects the interplay between the high protein concentration required for crystallization and the structural plasticity of monoheme c-type cytochromes, the identification of conserved structural motifs in the monomer together with a comparison with similar proteins may offer new leads to unravel the unknown function of NirC.
    • CYP154C5 Regioselectivity in Steroid Hydroxylation Explored by Substrate Modifications and Protein Engineering.

      Bracco, Paula; Wijma, Hein J; Nicolai, Bastian; Rodriguez Buitrago, Jhon Alexander; Klünemann, Thomas; Vila, Agustina; Schrepfer, Patrick; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Janssen, Dick B; Schallmey, Anett; et al. (Wiley, 2020-11-04)
      CYP154C5 from Nocardia farcinica is a P450 monooxygenase able to hydroxylate a range of steroids with high regio- and stereoselectivity at the 16a-position. Using protein engineering and substrate modifications based on the crystal structure of CYP154C5, an altered regioselectivity of the enzyme in steroid hydroxylation had been achieved. Thus, conversion of progesterone by mutant CYP154C5 F92A resulted in formation of the corresponding 21-hydroxylated product 11-deoxycorticosterone in addition to 16α-hydroxylation. Using MD simulation, this altered regioselectivity appeared to result from an alternate binding mode of the steroid in the active site of mutant F92A. MD simulation further suggested that water entrance to the active site caused higher uncoupling in this mutant. Moreover, exclusive 15α-hydroxylation was observed for wild-type CYP154C5 in the conversion of 5a-androstan-3-one, lacking an oxy-functional group at C17. Overall, our data give valuable insight into the structure-function relationship of this cytochrome P450 monooxygenase for steroid hydroxylation.
    • Distinct Interaction Sites of Rac GTPase with WAVE Regulatory Complex Have Non-redundant Functions in Vivo.

      Schaks, Matthias; Singh, Shashi P; Kage, Frieda; Thomason, Peter; Klünemann, Thomas; Steffen, Anika; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Stradal, Theresia E; Insall, Robert H; Rottner, Klemens; et al. (2018-10-25)
      Cell migration often involves the formation of sheet-like lamellipodia generated by branched actin filaments. The branches are initiated when Arp2/3 complex [1] is activated by WAVE regulatory complex (WRC) downstream of small GTPases of the Rac family [2]. Recent structural studies defined two independent Rac binding sites on WRC within the Sra-1/PIR121 subunit of the pentameric WRC [3, 4], but the functions of these sites in vivo have remained unknown. Here we dissect the mechanism of WRC activation and the in vivo relevance of distinct Rac binding sites on Sra-1, using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene disruption of Sra-1 and its paralog PIR121 in murine B16-F1 cells combined with Sra-1 mutant rescue. We show that the A site, positioned adjacent to the binding region of WAVE-WCA mediating actin and Arp2/3 complex binding, is the main site for allosteric activation of WRC. In contrast, the D site toward the C terminus is dispensable for WRC activation but required for optimal lamellipodium morphology and function. These results were confirmed in evolutionarily distant Dictyostelium cells. Moreover, the phenotype seen in D site mutants was recapitulated in Rac1 E31 and F37 mutants; we conclude these residues are important for Rac-D site interaction. Finally, constitutively activated WRC was able to induce lamellipodia even after both Rac interaction sites were lost, showing that Rac interaction is not essential for membrane recruitment. Our data establish that physical interaction with Rac is required for WRC activation, in particular through the A site, but is not mandatory for WRC accumulation in the lamellipodium.
    • Expression, purification and crystal structure determination of a ferredoxin reductase from the actinobacterium Thermobifida fusca.

      Rodriguez Buitrago, Jhon Alexander; Klünemann, Thomas; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Schallmey, Anett; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley & Sons, 2020-07-28)
      he ferredoxin reductase FdR9 from Thermobifida fusca, a member of the oxygenase-coupled NADH-dependent ferredoxin reductase (FNR) family, catalyses electron transfer from NADH to its physiological electron acceptor ferredoxin. It forms part of a putative three-component cytochrome P450 monooxygenase system in T. fusca comprising CYP222A1 and the [3Fe-4S]-cluster ferredoxin Fdx8 as well as FdR9. Here, FdR9 was overexpressed and purified and its crystal structure was determined at 1.9 Å resolution. The overall structure of FdR9 is similar to those of other members of the FNR family and is composed of an FAD-binding domain, an NAD-binding domain and a C-terminal domain. Activity measurements with FdR9 confirmed a strong preference for NADH as the cofactor. Comparison of the FAD- and NAD-binding domains of FdR9 with those of other ferredoxin reductases revealed the presence of conserved sequence motifs in the FAD-binding domain as well as several highly conserved residues involved in FAD and NAD cofactor binding. Moreover, the NAD-binding site of FdR9 contains a modified Rossmann-fold motif, GxSxxS, instead of the classical GxGxxG motif.
    • Position 123 of halohydrin dehalogenase HheG plays an important role in stability, activity, and enantioselectivity.

      Solarczek, Jennifer; Klünemann, Thomas; Brandt, Felix; Schrepfer, Patrick; Wolter, Mario; Jacob, Christoph R; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Schallmey, Anett; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Nature publishing group, 2019-03-25)
      HheG from Ilumatobacter coccineus is a halohydrin dehalogenase with synthetically useful activity in the ring opening of cyclic epoxides with various small anionic nucleophiles. This enzyme provides access to chiral β-substituted alcohols that serve as building blocks in the pharmaceutical industry. Wild-type HheG suffers from low thermostability, which poses a significant drawback for potential applications. In an attempt to thermostabilize HheG by protein engineering, several single mutants at position 123 were identified which displayed up to 14 °C increased apparent melting temperatures and up to three-fold higher activity. Aromatic amino acids at position 123 resulted even in a slightly higher enantioselectivity. Crystal structures of variants T123W and T123G revealed a flexible loop opposite to amino acid 123. In variant T123G, this loop adopted two different positions resulting in an open or partially closed active site. Classical molecular dynamics simulations confirmed a high mobility of this loop. Moreover, in variant T123G this loop adopted a position much closer to residue 123 resulting in denser packing and increased buried surface area. Our results indicate an important role for position 123 in HheG and give first structural and mechanistic insight into the thermostabilizing effect of mutations T123W and T123G.
    • Structure of heme d-free cd nitrite reductase NirS.

      Klünemann, Thomas; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (International Union of Crystallography, 2020-05-29)
      A key step in anaerobic nitrate respiration is the reduction of nitrite to nitric oxide, which is catalysed by the cd1 nitrite reductase NirS in, for example, the Gram-negative opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Each subunit of this homodimeric enzyme consists of a cytochrome c domain and an eight-bladed β-propeller that binds the uncommon isobacteriochlorin heme d1 as an essential part of its active site. Although NirS has been well studied mechanistically and structurally, the focus of previous studies has been on the active heme d1-bound form. The heme d1-free form of NirS reported here, which represents a premature state of the reductase, adopts an open conformation with the cytochrome c domains moved away from each other with respect to the active enzyme. Further, the movement of a loop around Trp498 seems to be related to a widening of the propeller, allowing easier access to the heme d1-binding side. Finally, a possible link between the open conformation of NirS and flagella formation in P. aeruginosa is discussed.