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Quinone Removal and Replacement within the Reaction Center Protein of Rhodobacter sphaeroides

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With a quantum efficiency of nearly 100%, the electron transfer process that occurs within the reaction center protein of the photosynthetic bacteria Rhodobacter (Rh.) sphaeroides is a paragon for understanding the complexities, intricacies, and overall systemization of energy conversion and

With a quantum efficiency of nearly 100%, the electron transfer process that occurs within the reaction center protein of the photosynthetic bacteria Rhodobacter (Rh.) sphaeroides is a paragon for understanding the complexities, intricacies, and overall systemization of energy conversion and storage in natural systems. To better understand the way in which photons of light are captured, converted into chemically useful forms, and stored for biological use, an investigation into the reaction center protein, specifically into its cascade of cofactors, was undertaken. The purpose of this experimentation was to advance our knowledge and understanding of how differing protein environments and variant cofactors affect the spectroscopic aspects of and electron transfer kinetics within the reaction of Rh. sphaeroides. The native quinone, ubiquinone, was extracted from its pocket within the reaction center protein and replaced by non-native quinones having different reduction/oxidation potentials. It was determined that, of the two non-native quinones tested—1,2-naphthaquinone and 9,10- anthraquinone—the substitution of the anthraquinone (lower redox potential) resulted in an increased rate of recombination from the P+QA- charge-separated state, while the substitution of the napthaquinone (higher redox potential) resulted in a decreased rate of recombination.

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2015-12

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Purification of the P66 Outer Membrane Protein of the Bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi

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Lyme disease is a common tick-borne illness caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. An outer membrane protein of Borrelia burgdorferi, P66, has been suggested as a possible target for Lyme disease treatments. However, a lack of structural information available

Lyme disease is a common tick-borne illness caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. An outer membrane protein of Borrelia burgdorferi, P66, has been suggested as a possible target for Lyme disease treatments. However, a lack of structural information available for P66 has hindered attempts to design medications to target the protein. Therefore, this study attempted to find methods for expressing and purifying P66 in quantities that can be used for structural studies. It was found that by using the PelB signal sequence, His-tagged P66 could be directed to the outer membrane of Escherichia coli, as confirmed by an anti-His Western blot. Further attempts to optimize P66 expression in the outer membrane were made, pending verification via Western blotting. The ability to direct P66 to the outer membrane using the PelB signal sequence is a promising first step in determining the overall structure of P66, but further work is needed before P66 is ready for large-scale purification for structural studies.

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2021-05

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Methods and instrumentation of sample injection for XFEL experiments

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ABSTRACT

X-Ray crystallography and NMR are two major ways of achieving atomic

resolution of structure determination for macro biomolecules such as proteins. Recently, new developments of hard X-ray pulsed free electron laser XFEL opened up new possibilities to break the dilemma of

ABSTRACT

X-Ray crystallography and NMR are two major ways of achieving atomic

resolution of structure determination for macro biomolecules such as proteins. Recently, new developments of hard X-ray pulsed free electron laser XFEL opened up new possibilities to break the dilemma of radiation dose and spatial resolution in diffraction imaging by outrunning radiation damage with ultra high brightness femtosecond X-ray pulses, which is so short in time that the pulse terminates before atomic motion starts. A variety of experimental techniques for structure determination of macro biomolecules is now available including imaging of protein nanocrystals, single particles such as viruses, pump-probe experiments for time-resolved nanocrystallography, and snapshot wide- angle x-ray scattering (WAXS) from molecules in solution. However, due to the nature of the "diffract-then-destroy" process, each protein crystal would be destroyed once

probed. Hence a new sample delivery system is required to replenish the target crystal at a high rate. In this dissertation, the sample delivery systems for the application of XFELs to biomolecular imaging will be discussed and the severe challenges related to the delivering of macroscopic protein crystal in a stable controllable way with minimum waste of sample and maximum hit rate will be tackled with several different development of injector designs and approaches. New developments of the sample delivery system such as liquid mixing jet also opens up new experimental methods which gives opportunities to study of the chemical dynamics in biomolecules in a molecular structural level. The design and characterization of the system will be discussed along with future possible developments and applications. Finally, LCP injector will be discussed which is critical for the success in various applications.

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2014

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Femtosecond x-ray nanocrystallography of membrane proteins

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Membrane proteins are very important for all living cells, being involved in respiration, photosynthesis, cellular uptake and signal transduction, amongst other vital functions. However, less than 300 unique membrane protein structures have been determined to date, often due to difficulties

Membrane proteins are very important for all living cells, being involved in respiration, photosynthesis, cellular uptake and signal transduction, amongst other vital functions. However, less than 300 unique membrane protein structures have been determined to date, often due to difficulties associated with the growth of sufficiently large and well-ordered crystals. This work has been focused on showing the first proof of concept for using membrane protein nanocrystals and microcrystals for high-resolution structure determination. Upon determining that crystals of the membrane protein Photosystem I, which is the largest and most complex membrane protein crystallized to date, exist with only a hundred unit cells with sizes of less than 200 nm on an edge, work was done to develop a technique that could exploit the growth of the Photosystem I nanocrystals and microcrystals. Femtosecond X-ray protein nanocrystallography was developed for use at the first high-energy X-ray free electron laser, the LCLS at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, in which a liquid jet would bring fully hydrated Photosystem I nanocrystals into the interaction region of the pulsed X-ray source. Diffraction patterns were recorded from millions of individual PSI nanocrystals and data from thousands of different, randomly oriented crystallites were integrated using Monte Carlo integration of the peak intensities. The short pulses ( 70 fs) provided by the LCLS allowed the possibility to collect the diffraction data before the onset of radiation damage, exploiting the diffract-before-destroy principle. At the initial experiments at the AMO beamline using 6.9- Å wavelength, Bragg peaks were recorded to 8.5- Å resolution, and an electron-density map was determined that did not show any effects of X-ray-induced radiation damage. Recently, femtosecond X-ray protein nanocrystallography experiments were done at the CXI beamline of the LCLS using 1.3- Å wavelength, and Bragg reflections were recorded to 3- Å resolution; the data are currently being processed. Many additional techniques still need to be developed to explore the femtosecond nanocrystallography technique for experimental phasing and time-resolved X-ray crystallography experiments. The first proof-of-principle results for the femtosecond nanocrystallography technique indicate the incredible potential of the technique to offer a new route to the structure determination of membrane proteins.

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2011

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Recombinant expression, purification, and reconstitution of the Chloroplast ATP Synthase c-subunit Ring

Description

ATP synthase is a large multimeric protein complex responsible for generating the energy molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in most organisms. The catalysis involves the rotation of a ring of c-subunits, which is driven by the transmembrane electrochemical gradient. This

ATP synthase is a large multimeric protein complex responsible for generating the energy molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in most organisms. The catalysis involves the rotation of a ring of c-subunits, which is driven by the transmembrane electrochemical gradient. This dissertation reports how the eukaryotic c-subunit from spinach chloroplast ATP synthase has successfully been expressed in Escherichia coli and purified in mg quantities by incorporating a unique combination of methods. Expression was accomplished using a codon optimized gene for the c-subunit, and it was expressed as an attachment to the larger, more soluble, native maltose binding protein (MBP-c1). The fusion protein MBP-c1 was purified on an affinity column, and the c1 subunit was subsequently severed by protease cleavage in the presence of detergent. Final purification of the monomeric c1 subunit was accomplished using reversed phase column chromatography with ethanol as an eluent. Circular dichroism spectroscopy data showed clear evidence that the purified c-subunit is folded with the native alpha-helical secondary structure. Recent experiments appear to indicate that this monomeric recombinant c-subunit forms an oligomeric ring that is similar to its native tetradecameric form when reconstituted in liposomes. The F-type ATP synthase c-subunit stoichiometry is currently known to vary from 8 to 15 subunits among different organisms. This has a direct influence on the metabolic requirements of the corresponding organism because each c-subunit binds and transports one H+ across the membrane as the ring makes a complete rotation. The c-ring rotation drives rotation of the gamma-subunit, which in turn drives the synthesis of 3 ATP for every complete rotation. The availability of a recombinantly produced c-ring will lead to new experiments which can be designed to investigate the possible factors that determine the variable c-ring stoichiometry and structure.

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2011

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Applications of adaptive umbrella sampling in biomolecular simulation

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Conformational changes in biomolecules often take place on longer timescales than are easily accessible with unbiased molecular dynamics simulations, necessitating the use of enhanced sampling techniques, such as adaptive umbrella sampling. In this technique, the conformational free energy is calculated

Conformational changes in biomolecules often take place on longer timescales than are easily accessible with unbiased molecular dynamics simulations, necessitating the use of enhanced sampling techniques, such as adaptive umbrella sampling. In this technique, the conformational free energy is calculated in terms of a designated set of reaction coordinates. At the same time, estimates of this free energy are subtracted from the potential energy in order to remove free energy barriers and cause conformational changes to take place more rapidly. This dissertation presents applications of adaptive umbrella sampling to a variety of biomolecular systems. The first study investigated the effects of glycosylation in GalNAc2-MM1, an analog of glycosylated macrophage activating factor. It was found that glycosylation destabilizes the protein by increasing the solvent exposure of hydrophobic residues. The second study examined the role of bound calcium ions in promoting the isomerization of a cis peptide bond in the collagen-binding domain of Clostridium histolyticum collagenase. This study determined that the bound calcium ions reduced the barrier to the isomerization of this peptide bond as well as stabilizing the cis conformation thermodynamically, and identified some of the reasons for this. The third study represents the application of GAMUS (Gaussian mixture adaptive umbrella sampling) to on the conformational dynamics of the fluorescent dye Cy3 attached to the 5' end of DNA, and made predictions concerning the affinity of Cy3 for different base pairs, which were subsequently verified experimentally. Finally, the adaptive umbrella sampling method is extended to make use of the roll angle between adjacent base pairs as a reaction coordinate in order to examine the bending both of free DNA and of DNA bound to the archaeal protein Sac7d. It is found that when DNA bends significantly, cations from the surrounding solution congregate on the concave side, which increases the flexibility of the DNA by screening the repulsion between phosphate backbones. The flexibility of DNA on short length scales is compared to the worm-like chain model, and the contribution of cooperativity in DNA bending to protein-DNA binding is assessed.

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2011

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Isolation, purification and characterization of photosynthetic membrane proteins from Galdieria sulphuraria and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Description

In oxygenic photosynthesis, Photosystem I (PSI) and Photosystem II (PSII) are two transmembrane protein complexes that catalyze the main step of energy conversion; the light induced charge separation that drives an electron transfer reaction across the thylakoid membrane. Current knowledge

In oxygenic photosynthesis, Photosystem I (PSI) and Photosystem II (PSII) are two transmembrane protein complexes that catalyze the main step of energy conversion; the light induced charge separation that drives an electron transfer reaction across the thylakoid membrane. Current knowledge of the structure of PSI and PSII is based on three structures: PSI and PSII from the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elonagatus and the PSI/light harvesting complex I (PSI-LHCI) of the plant, Pisum sativum. To improve the knowledge of these important membrane protein complexes from a wider spectrum of photosynthetic organisms, photosynthetic apparatus of the thermo-acidophilic red alga, Galdieria sulphuraria and the green alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii were studied. Galdieria sulphuraria grows in extreme habitats such as hot sulfur springs with pH values from 0 to 4 and temperatures up to 56°C. In this study, both membrane protein complexes, PSI and PSII were isolated from this organism and characterized. Ultra-fast fluorescence spectroscopy and electron microscopy studies of PSI-LHCI supercomplexes illustrate how this organism has adapted to low light environmental conditions by tightly coupling PSI and LHC, which have not been observed in any organism so far. This result highlights the importance of structure-function relationships in different ecosystems. Galdieria sulphuraria PSII was used as a model protein to show the amenability of integral membrane proteins to top-down mass spectrometry. G.sulphuraria PSII has been characterized with unprecedented detail with identification of post translational modification of all the PSII subunits. This study is a technology advancement paving the way for the usage of top-down mass spectrometry for characterization of other large integral membrane proteins. The green alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is widely used as a model for eukaryotic photosynthesis and results from this organism can be extrapolated to other eukaryotes, especially agricultural crops. Structural and functional studies on the PSI-LHCI complex of C.reinhardtii grown under high salt conditions were studied using ultra-fast fluorescence spectroscopy, circular dichroism and MALDI-TOF. Results revealed that pigment-pigment interactions in light harvesting complexes are disrupted and the acceptor side (ferredoxin docking side) is damaged under high salt conditions.

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2010

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Characterization of the electron acceptors of the type-I photosynthetic reaction center of Heliobacterium modesticaldum

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The heliobacterial reaction center (HbRC) is widely considered the simplest and most primitive photosynthetic reaction center (RC) still in existence. Despite the simplicity of the HbRC, many aspects of the electron transfer mechanism remain unknown or under debate. Improving our

The heliobacterial reaction center (HbRC) is widely considered the simplest and most primitive photosynthetic reaction center (RC) still in existence. Despite the simplicity of the HbRC, many aspects of the electron transfer mechanism remain unknown or under debate. Improving our understanding of the structure and function of the HbRC is important in determining its role in the evolution of photosynthetic RCs. In this work, the function and properties of the iron-sulfur cluster FX and quinones of the HbRC were investigated, as these are the characteristic terminal electron acceptors used by Type-I and Type-II RCs, respectively. In Chapter 3, I develop a system to directly detect quinone double reduction activity using reverse-phase high pressure liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC), showing that Photosystem I (PSI) can reduce PQ to PQH2. In Chapter 4, I use RP-HPLC to characterize the HbRC, showing a surprisingly small antenna size and confirming the presence of menaquinone (MQ) in the isolated HbRC. The terminal electron acceptor FX was characterized spectroscopically and electrochemically in Chapter 5. I used three new systems to reduce FX in the HbRC, using EPR to confirm a S=3/2 ground-state for the reduced cluster. The midpoint potential of FX determined through thin film voltammetry was -372 mV, showing the cluster is much less reducing than previously expected. In Chapter 7, I show light-driven reduction of menaquinone in heliobacterial membrane samples using only mild chemical reductants. Finally, I discuss the evolutionary implications of these findings in Chapter 7.

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2012

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PNA-polypeptide assembly in a 3D DNA nanocage for building artificial catalytic centers

Description

Proteins and peptides fold into dynamic structures that access a broad functional landscape, however, designing artificial polypeptide systems continues to be a great chal-lenge. Conversely, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) engineering is now routinely used to build a wide variety of two

Proteins and peptides fold into dynamic structures that access a broad functional landscape, however, designing artificial polypeptide systems continues to be a great chal-lenge. Conversely, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) engineering is now routinely used to build a wide variety of two dimensional and three dimensional (3D) nanostructures from simple hybridization based rules, and their functional diversity can be significantly ex-panded through site specific incorporation of the appropriate guest molecules. This dis-sertation describes a gentle methodology for using short (8 nucleotide) peptide nucleic acid (PNA) linkers to assemble polypeptides within a 3D DNA nanocage, as a proof of concept for constructing artificial catalytic centers. PNA-polypeptide conjugates were synthesized directly using microwave assisted solid phase synthesis or alternatively PNA linkers were conjugated to biologically expressed proteins using chemical crosslinking. The PNA-polypeptides hybridized to the preassembled DNA nanocage at room tempera-ture or 11 ⁰C and could be assembled in a stepwise fashion. Time resolved fluorescence anisotropy and gel electrophoresis were used to determine that a negatively charged az-urin protein was repelled outside of the negatively charged DNA nanocage, while a posi-tively charged cytochrome c protein was retained inside. Spectroelectrochemistry and an in-gel luminol oxidation assay demonstrated the cytochrome c protein remained active within the DNA nanocage and its redox potential decreased modestly by 10 mV due to the presence of the DNA nanocage. These results demonstrate the benign PNA assembly conditions are ideal for preserving polypeptide structure and function, and will facilitate the polypeptide-based assembly of artificial catalytic centers inside a stable DNA nanocage. A prospective application of assembling multiple cyclic γ-PNA-peptides to mimic the oxygen-evolving complex (OEC) catalytic active site from photosystem II (PSII) is described. In this way, the robust catalytic capacity of PSII could be utilized, without suffering the light-induced damage that occurs by the photoreactions within PSII via triplet state formation, which limits the efficiency of natural photosynthesis. There-fore, this strategy has the potential to revolutionize the process of designing and building robust catalysts by leveraging nature's recipes, and also providing a flexible and con-trolled artificial environment that might even improve them further towards commercial viability.

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2014

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Mutations that affect the bidirectional electron transfer in photosystem I

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Photosystem I (PSI) is a multi-subunit, pigment-protein complex that catalyzes light-driven electron transfer (ET) in its bi-branched reaction center (RC). Recently it was suggested that the initial charge separation (CS) event can take place independently within each ec2/ec3 chlorophyll pair.

Photosystem I (PSI) is a multi-subunit, pigment-protein complex that catalyzes light-driven electron transfer (ET) in its bi-branched reaction center (RC). Recently it was suggested that the initial charge separation (CS) event can take place independently within each ec2/ec3 chlorophyll pair. In order to improve our understanding of this phenomenon, we have generated new mutations in the PsaA and PsaB subunits near the electron transfer cofactor 2 (ec2 chlorophyll). PsaA-Asn604 accepts a hydrogen bond from the water molecule that is the axial ligand of ec2B and the case is similar for PsaB-Asn591 and ec2A. The second set of targeted sites was PsaA-Ala684 and PsaB-Ala664, whose methyl groups are present near ec2A and ec2B, respectively. We generated a number of mutants by targeting the selected protein residues. These mutations were expected to alter the energetics of the primary charge separation event.

The PsaA-A684N mutants exhibited increased ET on the B-branch as compared to the A-branch in both in vivo and in vitro conditions. The transient electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy revealed the formation of increased B-side radical pair (RP) at ambient and cryogenic temperatures. The ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy and fluorescence decay measurement of the PsaA-A684N and PsaB-A664N showed a slight deceleration of energy trapping. Thus making mutations near ec2 on each branch resulted into modulation of the charge separation process. In the second set of mutants, where ec2 cofactor was target by substitution of PsaA-Asn604 or PsaB-Asn591 to other amino acids, a drop in energy trapping was observed. The quantum yield of CS decreases in Asn to Leu and His mutants on the respective branch. The P700 triplet state was not observed at room and cryogenic temperature for these mutants, nor was a rapid decay of P700+ in the nanosecond timescale, indicating that the mutations do not cause a blockage of electron transfer from the ec3 Chl. Time-resolved fluorescence results showed a decrease in the lifetime of the energy trapping. We interpret this decrease in lifetime as a new channel of excitation energy decay, in which the untrapped energy dissipates as heat through a fast internal conversion process. Thus, a variety of spectroscopic measurements of PSI with point mutations near the ec2 cofactor further support that the ec2 cofactor is involved in energy trapping process.

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2014