• Isolation, characterisation and molecular imaging of a high-molecular-weight insect biliprotein, a member of the hexameric arylphorin protein family.

      Kayser, Hartmut; Mann, Karlheinz; Machaidze, Gia; Nimtz, Manfred; Ringler, Philippe; Müller, Shirley A; Aebi, Ueli; Institut für Allgemeine Zoologie und Endokrinologie, Universität Ulm, Germany. hartmut.kayser@uni-ulm.de (2009-05-29)
      The abundant blue hemolymph protein of the last instar larvae of the moth Cerura vinula was purified and characterized by protein-analytical, spectroscopic and electron microscopic methods. Amino acid sequences obtained from a large number of cleavage peptides revealed a high level of similarity of the blue protein with arylphorins from a number of other moth species. In particular, there is a high abundance of the aromatic amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine amounting to about 19% of total amino acids and a low content of methionine (0.8%) in the Cerura protein. The mass of the native protein complex was studied by size-exclusion chromatography, analytical ultracentrifugation, dynamic light scattering and scanning transmission electron microscopy and found to be around 500 kDa. Denaturating gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry suggested the presence of two proteins with masses of about 85 kDa. The native Cerura protein is, therefore, a hexameric complex of two different subunits of similar size, as is known for arylphorins. The protein was further characterized as a weakly acidic (pI approximately 5.5) glycoprotein containing mannose, glucose and N-acetylglucosamine in an approximate ratio of 10:1:1. The structure proposed for the most abundant oligosaccharide of the Cerura arylphorin was the same as already identified in arylphorins from other moths. The intense blue colour of the Cerura protein is due to non-covalent association with a bilin of novel structure at an estimated protein subunit-to-ligand ratio of 3:1. Transmission electron microscopy of the biliprotein showed single particles of cylindrical shape measuring about 13 nm in diameter and 9 nm in height. A small fraction of particles of the same diameter but half the height was likely a trimeric arylphorin dissociation intermediate. Preliminary three-dimensional reconstruction based on averaged transmission electron microscopy projections of the individual particles revealed a double-trimeric structure for the hexameric Cerura biliprotein complex, suggesting it to be a dimer of trimers.
    • 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.
    • Preliminary crystallographic analysis of the N-terminal PDZ-like domain of periaxin, an abundant peripheral nerve protein linked to human neuropathies.

      Han, Huijong; Kursula, Petri (2013-07)
      Periaxin (PRX) is an abundant protein in peripheral nerves and contains a predicted PDZ-like domain at its N-terminus. The large isoform, L-PRX, is required for the maintenance of myelin in the peripheral nervous system and its defects cause neurological disease. Here, the human periaxin PDZ-like domain was crystallized and X-ray diffraction data were collected to 2.85 Å resolution using synchrotron radiation. The crystal belonged to the primitive hexagonal space group P3121 or P3221, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 80.6, c = 81.0 Å, γ = 120° and either two or three molecules in the asymmetric unit. The structure of PRX will shed light on its poorly characterized function in the nervous system.
    • 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.
    • Structure of the Yersinia enterocolitica type III secretion translocator chaperone SycD.

      Büttner, Carina R; Sorg, Isabel; Cornelis, Guy R; Heinz, Dirk W; Niemann, Hartmut H; Division of Structural Biology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2008-01-25)
      Many Gram-negative bacteria use a type III secretion (T3S) system to directly inject effector molecules into eucaryotic cells in order to establish a symbiotic or pathogenic relationship with their host. The translocation of many T3S proteins requires specialized chaperones from the bacterial cytosol. SycD belongs to a class of T3S chaperones that assists the secretion of pore-forming translocators and, specifically chaperones the translocators YopB and YopD from enteropathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica. In addition, SycD is involved in the regulation of virulence factor biosynthesis and secretion. In this study, we present two crystal structures of Y. enterocolitica SycD at 1.95 and 2.6 A resolution, the first experimental structures of a T3S class II chaperone specific for translocators. The fold of SycD is entirely alpha-helical and reveals three tetratricopeptide repeat-like motifs that had been predicted from amino acid sequence. In both structures, SycD forms dimers utilizing residues from the first tetratricopeptide repeat motif. Using site-directed mutagenesis and size exclusion chromatography, we verified that SycD forms head-to-head homodimers in solution. Although in both structures, dimerization largely depends on the same residues, the two assemblies represent alternative dimers that exhibit different monomer orientations and overall shape. In these two distinct head-to-head dimers, both the concave and the convex surface of each monomer are accessible for interactions with the SycD binding partners YopB and YopD. A SycD variant carrying two point mutations in the dimerization interface is properly folded but defective in dimerization. Expression of this stable SycD monomer in Yersinia does not rescue the phenotype of a sycD null mutant, suggesting a physiological relevance of the dimerization interface.