Matching Items (11)

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Studies on the three-dimensional structures of proteins using X-ray crystallography

Description

X-ray diffraction is the technique of choice to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins. In this study it has been applied to solve the structure of the survival motor neuron

X-ray diffraction is the technique of choice to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins. In this study it has been applied to solve the structure of the survival motor neuron (SMN) proteins, the Fenna-Mathews-Olson (FMO) from Pelodictyon phaeum (Pld. phaeum) protein, and the synthetic ATP binding protein DX. Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive genetic disease resulting in muscle atrophy and paralysis via degeneration of motor neurons in the spinal cord. In this work, we used X-ray diffraction technique to solve the structures of the three variant of the of SMN protein, namely SMN 1-4, SMN-WT, and SMN-Δ7. The SMN 1-4, SMN-WT, and SMN-Δ7 crystals were diffracted to 2.7 Å, 5.5 Å and 3.0 Å, respectively. The three-dimensional structures of the three SMN proteins have been solved. The FMO protein from Pld. phaeum is a water soluble protein that is embedded in the cytoplasmic membrane and serves as an energy transfer funnel between the chlorosome and the reaction center. The FMO crystal diffracted to 1.99Å resolution and the three-dimensional structure has been solved. In previous studies, double mutant, DX, protein was purified and crystallized in the presence of ATP (Simmons et al., 2010; Smith et al. 2007). DX is a synthetic ATP binding protein which resulting from a random selection of DNA library. In this study, DX protein was purified and crystallized without the presence of ATP to investigate the conformational change in DX structure. The crystals of DX were diffracted to 2.5 Å and the three-dimensional structure of DX has been solved.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Color evolution of Kaede-type red fluorescent proteins

Description

The green fluorescent protein (GFP)-like fluorescent proteins play an important role for the color of reef-building corals. Different colors of extant coral fluorescent proteins (FPs) have evolved from a green

The green fluorescent protein (GFP)-like fluorescent proteins play an important role for the color of reef-building corals. Different colors of extant coral fluorescent proteins (FPs) have evolved from a green ancestral protein. Interestingly, green-to-red photoconversion FPs (Kaede-type Red FPs) are only found in clade D from Scleractinia (Faviina suborder). Therefore, I focus on the evolution of Kaede-type FPs from Faviina suborder ancestral FP. A total of 13 mutations have been identified previously that recapitulate the evolution of Kaede-type red FPs from the ancestral green FP. To examine the effect of each mutation, total ten reconstructed FPs were analyzed and six x-ray crystal structures were solved. These substitutions created a more hydrophilic environment around the carbonyl group of Phe61. Also, they increased the flexibility of the c-terminal chain, which keeps it from interacting with the entrance of the putative solvent channel. The photoconversion reaction shows a twophase kinetics. After the rapid initial phase, the overall reaction followed the firstorder kinetics. Based on the crystal structure analysis, I propose a new mechanism for Kaede-type FP photoconversion process, which a proton transfers via Gln38 to the carbonyl group of Phe61.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Structural and functional interrogation of single amino acid residues in fluorescent proteins

Description

Acquisition of fluorescence via autocatalytic processes is unique to few proteins in the natural world. Fluorescent proteins (FPs) have been integral to live-cell imaging techniques for decades; however, mechanistic information

Acquisition of fluorescence via autocatalytic processes is unique to few proteins in the natural world. Fluorescent proteins (FPs) have been integral to live-cell imaging techniques for decades; however, mechanistic information is still emerging fifty years after the discovery of the original green fluorescent protein (GFP). Modification of the fluorescence properties of the proteins derived from GFP allows increased complexity of experiments and consequently, information content of the data acquired. The importance of arginine-96 in GFP has been widely discussed. It has been established as vital to the kinetics of chromophore maturation and to the overall fold of GFP before post-translational self-modification. Its value during chromophore maturation has been demonstrated by mutational studies and a hypothesis proposed for its catalytic function. A strategy is described herein to determine its pKa value via NMR to determine whether Arg96 possesses the chemical capacity to function as a general base during GFP chromophore biosynthesis. Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) techniques commonly employ Enhanced Cyan Fluorescent Proteins (ECFPs) and their derivatives as donor fluorophores useful in real-time, live-cell imaging. These proteins have a tryptophan-derived chromophore that emits light in the blue region of the visible spectrum. Most ECFPs suffer from fluorescence instability, which, coupled with their low quantum yield, makes data analysis unreliable. The structural heterogeneity of these proteins also results in undesirable photophysical characteristics. Recently, mCerulean3, a ten amino acid mutant of ECFP, was introduced as an optimized FRET-donor protein (1). The amino acids changed include a mobile residue, Asp148, which has been mutated to a glycine in the new construct, and Thr65 near the chromophore has been mutated to a serine, the wild-type residue at this location. I have solved the x-ray crystal structure of mCerulean3 at low pH and find that the pH-dependent isomerization has been eliminated. The chromophore is in the trans-conformation previously observed in Cerulean at pH 8. The mutations that increase the quantum yield and improve fluorescence brightness result in a stable, bright donor fluorophore well-suited for use in quantitative microscopic imaging.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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The role of protein dielectric relaxation on modulating the electron transfer process in photosynthetic reaction centers

Description

The photosynthetic reaction center is a type of pigment-protein complex found widely in photosynthetic bacteria, algae and higher plants. Its function is to convert the energy of sunlight into a

The photosynthetic reaction center is a type of pigment-protein complex found widely in photosynthetic bacteria, algae and higher plants. Its function is to convert the energy of sunlight into a chemical form that can be used to support other life processes. The high efficiency and structural simplicity make the bacterial reaction center a paradigm for studying electron transfer in biomolecules. This thesis starts with a comparison of the primary electron transfer process in the reaction centers from the Rhodobacter shperoides bacterium and those from its thermophilic homolog, Chloroflexus aurantiacus. Different temperature dependences in the primary electron transfer were found in these two type of reaction centers. Analyses of the structural differences between these two proteins suggested that the excess surface charged amino acids as well as a larger solvent exposure area in the Chloroflexus aurantiacus reaction center could explain the different temperature depenence. The conclusion from this work is that the electrostatic interaction potentially has a major effect on the electron transfer. Inspired by these results, a single point mutant was designed for Rhodobacter shperoides reaction centers by placing an ionizable amino acid in the protein interior to perturb the dielectrics. The ionizable group in the mutation site largely deprotonated in the ground state judging from the cofactor absorption spectra as a function of pH. By contrast, a fast charge recombination assoicated with protein dielectric relaxation was observed in this mutant, suggesting the possibility that dynamic protonation/deprotonation may be taking place during the electron transfer. The fast protein dielectric relaxation occuring in this mutant complicates the electron transfer pathway and reduces the yield of electron transfer to QA. Considering the importance of the protein dielectric environment, efforts have been made in quantifying variations of the internal field during charge separation. An analysis protocol based on the Stark effect of reaction center cofactor spectra during charge separation has been developed to characterize the charge-separated radical field acting on probe chromophores. The field change, monitored by the dynamic Stark shift, correlates with, but is not identical to, the electron transfer kinetics. The dynamic Stark shift results have lead to a dynamic model for the time-dependent dielectric that is complementary to the static dielectric asymmetry observed in past steady state experiments. Taken together, the work in this thesis emphasizes the importance of protein electrostatics and its dielectric response to electron transfer.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Study of protein production, folding, crystallization and structure: survival of motor neuron protein and Fenna-Matthews-Olson protein

Description

Protein crystallization has become an extremely important tool in biochemistry since the first structure of the protein Myoglobin was solved in 1958. Survival of motor neuron protein has proved to

Protein crystallization has become an extremely important tool in biochemistry since the first structure of the protein Myoglobin was solved in 1958. Survival of motor neuron protein has proved to be an elusive target in regards to producing crystals of sufficient quality for X-ray diffraction. One form of Survival of motor neuron protein has been found to be a cause of the disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy that currently affects 1 in 6000 live births. The production, purification and crystallization of Survival of motor neuron protein are detailed. The Fenna-Matthews-Olson (FMO) protein from Pelodictyon phaeum is responsible for the transfer of energy from the chlorosome complex to the reaction center of the bacteria. The three-dimensional structure of the protein has been solved to a resolution of 2.0Å with the Rwork and Rfree values being 16.6% and 19.9% respectively. This new structure is compared to the FMO protein structures of Prosthecocholoris aestuarii 2K and Chlorobium tepidum. The early structures of FMO contained seven bacteriochlorophyll-a (BChl) molecules but the recent discovery that there is an eighth BChl molecule in Ptc. aestuarii 2K and Cbl. tepidum and now in Pld. phaeum requires that the energy transfer mechanism be reexamined. Simulated spectra are fitted to the experimental optical spectra to determine how the BChl molecules transfer energy through the protein. The inclusion of the eighth BChl molecule within these simulations may have an impact on how energy transfer through FMO can be described. In conclusion, a reliable method of purifying and crystallizing the SMNWT protein is detailed, the placement of the 8th BChl-a within the electron density and the implications on energy transfer within the FMO protein when the 8th BChl-a is included from the green sulfur bacteria Pld. phaeum is discussed.

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Date Created
  • 2010

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Protein dielectrophoresis using insulator-based microfluidic platforms

Description

Rapid and reliable separation and analysis of proteins require powerful analytical methods. The analysis of proteins becomes especially challenging when only small sample volumes are available, concomitantly with low concentrations

Rapid and reliable separation and analysis of proteins require powerful analytical methods. The analysis of proteins becomes especially challenging when only small sample volumes are available, concomitantly with low concentrations of proteins. Time critical situations pose additional challenges. Due to these challenges, conventional macro-scale separation techniques reach their limitations. While microfluidic devices require only pL-nL sample volumes, they offer several advantages such as speed, efficiency, and high throughput. This work elucidates the capability to manipulate proteins in a rapid and reliable manner with a novel migration technique, namely dielectrophoresis (DEP). Since protein analysis can often be achieved through a combination of orthogonal techniques, adding DEP as a gradient technique to the portfolio of protein manipulation methods can extend and improve combinatorial approaches. To this aim, microfluidic devices tailored with integrated insulating obstacles were fabricated to create inhomogeneous electric fields evoking insulator-based DEP (iDEP). A main focus of this work was the development of pre-concentration devices where topological micropost arrays are fabricated using standard photo- and soft lithographic techniques. With these devices, positive DEP-driven streaming of proteins was demonstrated for the first time using immunoglobulin G (IgG) and bovine serum albumin. Experimentally observed iDEP concentrations of both proteins were in excellent agreement with positive DEP concentration profiles obtained by numerical simulations. Moreover, the micropost iDEP devices were improved by introducing nano-constrictions with focused ion beam milling with which numerical simulations suggested enhancement of the DEP effect, leading to a 12-fold increase in concentration of IgG. Additionally, concentration of β-galactosidase was observed, which seems to occur due to an interplay of negative DEP, electroosmosis, electrokinesis, diffusion, and ion concentration polarization. A detailed study was performed to investigate factors influencing protein DEP under DC conditions, including electroosmosis, electrophoresis, and Joule heating. Specifically, temperature rise within the iDEP device due to Joule heating was measured experimentally with spatial and temporal resolution by employing the thermosensitive dye Rhodamine B. Unlike DNA and cells, protein DEP behavior is not well understood to date. Therefore, this detailed study of protein DEP provides novel information to eventually optimize this protein migration method for pre-concentration, separation, and fractionation.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Characterization of SMN and gemin2: insights into spinal muscular atrophy

Description

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a neurodegenerative disease that results in the loss of lower body muscle function. SMA is the second leading genetic cause of death in infants and

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a neurodegenerative disease that results in the loss of lower body muscle function. SMA is the second leading genetic cause of death in infants and arises from the loss of the Survival of Motor Neuron (SMN) protein. SMN is produced by two genes, smn1 and smn2, that are identical with the exception of a C to T conversion in exon 7 of the smn2 gene. SMA patients lacking the smn1 gene, rely on smn2 for production of SMN. Due to an alternative splicing event, smn2 primarily encodes a non-functional SMN lacking exon 7 (SMN D7) as well as a low amount of functional full-length SMN (SMN WT). SMN WT is ubiquitously expressed in all cell types, and it remains unclear how low levels of SMN WT in motor neurons lead to motor neuron degradation and SMA. SMN and its associated proteins, Gemin2-8 and Unrip, make up a large dynamic complex that functions to assemble ribonucleoproteins. The aim of this project was to characterize the interactions of the core SMN-Gemin2 complex, and to identify differences between SMN WT and SMN D7. SMN and Gemin2 proteins were expressed, purified and characterized via size exclusion chromatography. A stable N-terminal deleted Gemin2 protein (N45-G2) was characterized. The SMN WT expression system was optimized resulting in a 10-fold increase of protein expression. Lastly, the oligomeric states of SMN and SMN bound to Gemin2 were determined. SMN WT formed a mixture of oligomeric states, while SMN D7 did not. Both SMN WT and D7 bound to Gemin2 with a one-to-one ratio forming a heterodimer and several higher-order oligomeric states. The SMN WT-Gemin2 complex favored high molecular weight oligomers whereas the SMN D7-Gemin2 complex formed low molecular weight oligomers. These results indicate that the SMA mutant protein, SMN D7, was still able to associate with Gemin2, but was not able to form higher-order oligomeric complexes. The observed multiple oligomerization states of SMN and SMN bound to Gemin2 may play a crucial role in regulating one or several functions of the SMN protein. The inability of SMN D7 to form higher-order oligomers may inhibit or alter those functions leading to the SMA disease phenotype.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Molecular structure and dynamics of spider silk and venom proteins investigated by nuclear magnetic resonance

Description

Spider dragline silk is well known for its outstanding mechanical properties - a combination of strength and extensibility that makes it one of the toughest materials known. Two proteins, major

Spider dragline silk is well known for its outstanding mechanical properties - a combination of strength and extensibility that makes it one of the toughest materials known. Two proteins, major ampullate spidroin 1 (MaSp1) and 2 (MaSp2), comprise dragline silk fibers. There has been considerable focus placed on understanding the source of spider silk's unique mechanical properties by investigating the protein composition, molecular structure and dynamics. Chemical compositional heterogeneity of spider silk fiber is critical to understand as it provides important information for the interactions between MaSp1 and MaSp2. Here, the amino acid composition of dragline silk protein was precisely determined using a solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) approach on hydrolyzed silk fibers. In a similar fashion, solution-state NMR was applied to probe the "13"C/"15"N incorporation in silk, which is essential to understand for designing particular solid-state NMR methods for silk structural characterization. Solid-state NMR was used to elucidate silk protein molecular dynamics and the supercontraction mechanism. A "2"H-"13"C heteronuclear correlation (HETCOR) solid-state NMR technique was developed to extract site-specific "2"H quadrupole patterns and spin-lattice relaxation rates for understanding backbone and side-chain dynamics. Using this technique, molecular dynamics were determined for a number of repetitive motifs in silk proteins - Ala residing nanocrystalline &beta-sheet; domains, 3"1"-helical regions, and, Gly-Pro-Gly-XX &beta-turn; motifs. The protein backbone and side-chain dynamics of silk fibers in both dry and wet states reveal the impact of water on motifs with different secondary structures. Spider venom is comprised of a diverse range of molecules including salts, small organics, acylpolyamines, peptides and proteins. Neurotoxins are an important family of peptides in spider venom and have been shown to target and modulate various ion channels. The neurotoxins are Cys-rich and share an inhibitor Cys knot (ICK) fold. Here, the molecular structure of one G. rosea tarantula neurotoxin, GsAF2, was determined by solution-state NMR. In addition, the interaction between neurotoxins and model lipid bilayers was probed with solid-state NMR and negative-staining (NS) transmission electron microscopy (TEM). It is shown that the neurotoxins influence lipid bilayer assembly and morphology with the formation of nanodiscs, worm-like micelles and small vesicles.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Evolutionary analysis of the CAP superfamily of proteins using amino acid sequences and splice sites

Description

Here I document the breadth of the CAP (Cysteine-RIch Secretory Proteins (CRISP), Antigen 5 (Ag5), and the Pathogenesis-Related 1 (PR)) protein superfamily and trace some of the major events in

Here I document the breadth of the CAP (Cysteine-RIch Secretory Proteins (CRISP), Antigen 5 (Ag5), and the Pathogenesis-Related 1 (PR)) protein superfamily and trace some of the major events in the evolution of this family with particular focus on vertebrate CRISP proteins. Specifically, I sought to study the origin of these CAP subfamilies using both amino acid sequence data and gene structure data, more precisely the positions of exon/intron borders within their genes. Counter to current scientific understanding, I find that the wide variety of CAP subfamilies present in mammals, where they were originally discovered and characterized, have distinct homologues in the invertebrate phyla contrary to the common assumption that these are vertebrate protein subfamilies. In addition, I document the fact that primitive eukaryotic CAP genes contained only one exon, likely inherited from prokaryotic SCP-domain containing genes which were, by nature, free of introns. As evolution progressed, an increasing number of introns were inserted into CAP genes, reaching 2 to 5 in the invertebrate world, and 5 to 15 in the vertebrate world. Lastly, phylogenetic relationships between these proteins appear to be traceable not only by amino acid sequence homology but also by preservation of exon number and exon borders within their genes.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Localization, dynamics and functions of the coronavirus envelope protein

Description

Coronaviruses are a medically significant group of viruses that cause respiratory and enteric infections in humans and a broad range of animals. Coronaviruses assemble at the internal membranes of the

Coronaviruses are a medically significant group of viruses that cause respiratory and enteric infections in humans and a broad range of animals. Coronaviruses assemble at the internal membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum- Golgi intermediate compartment (ERGIC). While there is a basic understanding of how viruses assemble at these membranes, the full mechanistic details are not understood. The coronavirus envelope (E) protein is a small multifunctional viroporin protein that plays a role in virus assembly but its function is unknown. The two goals of this study were : 1. To identify and analyze the localization of MHV E and 2. To identify the functions of conserved residues in the tail of the E protein. This study closely examined the localization, dynamics and mobility of the mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) E protein to gain insight into its functions. The results from the first aim of this study showed that the MHV E protein localizes at the site of assembly in the ERGIC-Golgi region based on analysis by immunofluorescence and correlative electron microscopy. A novel tetra-cysteine tagged MHV E protein was used to study the dynamics of the protein in cells. A recombinant MHV E Lumio virus was used to study the trafficking and mobility of the E protein. Live cell imaging and surface biotinylation confirmed that the E protein does not traffic to the cell surface. Fluorescence recovery after photo-bleaching (FRAP) analyses revealed that the E protein is mobile at the site of localization. As a part of the second aim, conserved prolines and tyrosine in the tail of the protein were targeted by site directed mutagenesis and analyzed for functionality. While none of the residues were absolutely essential for localization or virus production, the mutations had varying degrees of effect on envelope formation, protein stability and virus release. Differential scanning calorimetry data suggests that the proline and tyrosine residues enhance interaction with lipids. A wild type (WT) peptide contained the conserved residues was also able to significantly reduce the hexagonal phase transition temperature of lipids, whereas a mutant peptide with alanine substitutions for the residues did not cause a temperature shift. This suggests that the peptide can induce a negative curvature in lipids. The E protein may be playing a role as a scaffold to allow membrane bending to initiate budding or possibly scission. This data, along with the localization data, suggests that the E protein plays a mechanistic role at the site of virus assembly possibly by remodeling the membrane thereby allowing virus budding and/or scission.

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Date Created
  • 2012