• Crystal structure of the electron transfer complex rubredoxin rubredoxin reductase of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Hagelueken, Gregor; Wiehlmann, Lutz; Adams, Thorsten M; Kolmar, Harald; Heinz, Dirk W; Tümmler, Burkhard; Schubert, Wolf-Dieter; Molecular Host-Pathogen Interactions, Division of Structural Biology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2007-07-24)
      Crude oil spills represent a major ecological threat because of the chemical inertness of the constituent n-alkanes. The Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the few bacterial species able to metabolize such compounds. Three chromosomal genes, rubB, rubA1, and rubA2 coding for an NAD(P)H:rubredoxin reductase (RdxR) and two rubredoxins (Rdxs) are indispensable for this ability. They constitute an electron transport (ET) pathway that shuttles reducing equivalents from carbon metabolism to the membrane-bound alkane hydroxylases AlkB1 and AlkB2. The RdxR-Rdx system also is crucial as part of the oxidative stress response in archaea or anaerobic bacteria. The redox couple has been analyzed in detail as a model system for ET processes. We have solved the structure of RdxR of P. aeruginosa both alone and in complex with Rdx, without the need for cross-linking, and both structures were refined at 2.40- and 2.45-A resolution, respectively. RdxR consists of two cofactor-binding domains and a C-terminal domain essential for the specific recognition of Rdx. Only a small number of direct interactions govern mutual recognition of RdxR and Rdx, corroborating the transient nature of the complex. The shortest distance between the redox centers is observed to be 6.2 A.
    • Structures of two bacterial resistance factors mediating tRNA-dependent aminoacylation of phosphatidylglycerol with lysine or alanine.

      Hebecker, Stefanie; Krausze, Joern; Hasenkampf, Tatjana; Schneider, Julia; Groenewold, Maike; Reichelt, Joachim; Jahn, Dieter; Heinz, Dirk W; Moser, Jürgen; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-08-25)
      The cytoplasmic membrane is probably the most important physical barrier between microbes and the surrounding habitat. Aminoacylation of the polar head group of the phospholipid phosphatidylglycerol (PG) catalyzed by Ala-tRNA(Ala)-dependent alanyl-phosphatidylglycerol synthase (A-PGS) or by Lys-tRNA(Lys)-dependent lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol synthase (L-PGS) enables bacteria to cope with cationic peptides that are harmful to the integrity of the cell membrane. Accordingly, these synthases also have been designated as multiple peptide resistance factors (MprF). They consist of a separable C-terminal catalytic domain and an N-terminal transmembrane flippase domain. Here we present the X-ray crystallographic structure of the catalytic domain of A-PGS from the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In parallel, the structure of the related lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol-specific L-PGS domain from Bacillus licheniformis in complex with the substrate analog L-lysine amide is presented. Both proteins reveal a continuous tunnel that allows the hydrophobic lipid substrate PG and the polar aminoacyl-tRNA substrate to access the catalytic site from opposite directions. Substrate recognition of A-PGS versus L-PGS was investigated using misacylated tRNA variants. The structural work presented here in combination with biochemical experiments using artificial tRNA or artificial lipid substrates reveals the tRNA acceptor stem, the aminoacyl moiety, and the polar head group of PG as the main determinants for substrate recognition. A mutagenesis approach yielded the complementary amino acid determinants of tRNA interaction. These results have broad implications for the design of L-PGS and A-PGS inhibitors that could render microbial pathogens more susceptible to antimicrobial compounds.
    • Thermodynamically reengineering the listerial invasion complex InlA/E-cadherin.

      Wollert, Thomas; Heinz, Dirk W; Schubert, Wolf-Dieter; Molecular Host-Pathogen Interactions, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2007-08-28)
      Biological processes essentially all depend on the specific recognition between macromolecules and their interaction partners. Although many such interactions have been characterized both structurally and biophysically, the thermodynamic effects of small atomic changes remain poorly understood. Based on the crystal structure of the bacterial invasion protein internalin (InlA) of Listeria monocytogenes in complex with its human receptor E-cadherin (hEC1), we analyzed the interface to identify single amino acid substitutions in InlA that would potentially improve the overall quality of interaction and hence increase the weak binding affinity of the complex. Dissociation constants of InlA-variant/hEC1 complexes, as well as enthalpy and entropy of binding, were quantified by isothermal titration calorimetry. All single substitutions indeed significantly increase binding affinity. Structural changes were verified crystallographically at < or =2.0-A resolution, allowing thermodynamic characteristics of single substitutions to be rationalized structurally and providing unique insights into atomic contributions to binding enthalpy and entropy. Structural and thermodynamic data of all combinations of individual substitutions result in a thermodynamic network, allowing the source of cooperativity between distant recognition sites to be identified. One such pair of single substitutions improves affinity 5,000-fold. We thus demonstrate that rational reengineering of protein complexes is possible by making use of physically distant hot spots of recognition.