Conformational dynamics of the tetracycline-binding aptamer
Julia E. Weigand
- The conformational dynamics induced by ligand binding to the tetracycline-binding aptamer is monitored via stopped-flow fluorescence spectroscopy and time-correlated single photon counting experiments. The fluorescence of the ligand is sensitive to changes within the tertiary structure of the aptamer during and after the binding process. In addition to the wild-type aptamer, the mutants A9G, A13U and A50U are examined, where bases important for regulation are changed to inhibit the aptamer’s function. Our results suggest a very fast two-step-mechanism for the binding of the ligand to the aptamer that can be interpreted as a binding step followed by a reorganization of the aptamer to accommodate the ligand. Binding to the two direct contact points A13 and A50 was found to occur in the first binding step. The exchange of the structurally important base A9 for guanine induces an enormous deceleration of the overall binding process, which is mainly rooted in an enhancement of the back reaction of the first binding step by several orders of magnitude. This indicates a significant loss of tertiary structure of the aptamer in the absence of the base A9, and underlines the importance of pre-organization on the overall binding process of the tetracycline-binding aptamer.
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The C-terminal domain of Fcj1 is required for formation of crista junctions and interacts with the TOB/SAM complex in mitochondria
Andreas S. Reichert
- Crista junctions (CJs) are tubular invaginations of the inner membrane of mitochondria that connect the inner boundary with the cristae membrane. These architectural elements are critical for mitochondrial function. The yeast inner membrane protein Fcj1, called mitofilin in mammals, was reported to be preferentially located at CJs and crucial for their formation. Here we investigate the functional roles of individual domains of Fcj1. The most conserved part of Fcj1, the C-terminal domain, is essential for Fcj1 function. In its absence, formation of CJ is strongly impaired and irregular, and stacked cristae are present. This domain interacts with full-length Fcj1, suggesting a role in oligomer formation. It also interacts with Tob55 of the translocase of outer membrane β-barrel proteins (TOB)/sorting and assembly machinery (SAM) complex, which is required for the insertion of β-barrel proteins into the outer membrane. The association of the TOB/SAM complex with contact sites depends on the presence of Fcj1. The biogenesis of β-barrel proteins is not significantly affected in the absence of Fcj1. However, down-regulation of the TOB/SAM complex leads to altered cristae morphology and a moderate reduction in the number of CJs. We propose that the C-terminal domain of Fcj1 is critical for the interaction of Fcj1 with the TOB/SAM complex and thereby for stabilizing CJs in close proximity to the outer membrane. These results assign novel functions to both the C-terminal domain of Fcj1 and the TOB/SAM complex.
Synthesis of szentiamide, a depsipeptide from entomopathogenic Xenorhabdus szentirmaii with activity against Plasmodium falciparum
Friederike I. Nollmann
Helge Björn Bode
- The synthesis of the recently characterized depsipeptide szentiamide (1), which is produced by the entomopathogenic bacterium Xenorhabdus szentirmaii, is described. Whereas no biological activity was previously identified for 1, the material derived from the efficient synthesis enabled additional bioactivity tests leading to the identification of a notable activity against insect cells and Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of malaria.
Deceleration of fusion–fission cycles improves mitochondrial quality control during aging
Marc Thilo Figge
Andreas S. Reichert
Heinz D. Osiewacz
- Mitochondrial dynamics and mitophagy play a key role in ensuring mitochondrial quality control. Impairment thereof was proposed to be causative to neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and cancer. Accumulation of mitochondrial dysfunction was further linked to aging. Here we applied a probabilistic modeling approach integrating our current knowledge on mitochondrial biology allowing us to simulate mitochondrial function and quality control during aging in silico. We demonstrate that cycles of fusion and fission and mitophagy indeed are essential for ensuring a high average quality of mitochondria, even under conditions in which random molecular damage is present. Prompted by earlier observations that mitochondrial fission itself can cause a partial drop in mitochondrial membrane potential, we tested the consequences of mitochondrial dynamics being harmful on its own. Next to directly impairing mitochondrial function, pre-existing molecular damage may be propagated and enhanced across the mitochondrial population by content mixing. In this situation, such an infection-like phenomenon impairs mitochondrial quality control progressively. However, when imposing an age-dependent deceleration of cycles of fusion and fission, we observe a delay in the loss of average quality of mitochondria. This provides a rational why fusion and fission rates are reduced during aging and why loss of a mitochondrial fission factor can extend life span in fungi. We propose the ‘mitochondrial infectious damage adaptation’ (MIDA) model according to which a deceleration of fusion–fission cycles reflects a systemic adaptation increasing life span.
Crowd Sourcing a New Paradigm for Interactome Driven Drug Target Identification in Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Anupam Kumar Mondal
Ashwini G. Bhat
Kumari Sonal Choudhary
Girish Muthagadhalli Ramanna
Sunil N. Subramanya
Pankaj Kumar Singh
Tiruvayipati Suma Avasthi
Samir K. Brahmachari
- A decade since the availability of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) genome sequence, no promising drug has seen the light of the day. This not only indicates the challenges in discovering new drugs but also suggests a gap in our current understanding of Mtb biology. We attempt to bridge this gap by carrying out extensive re-annotation and constructing a systems level protein interaction map of Mtb with an objective of finding novel drug target candidates. Towards this, we synergized crowd sourcing and social networking methods through an initiative ‘Connect to Decode’ (C2D) to generate the first and largest manually curated interactome of Mtb termed ‘interactome pathway’ (IPW), encompassing a total of 1434 proteins connected through 2575 functional relationships. Interactions leading to gene regulation, signal transduction, metabolism, structural complex formation have been catalogued. In the process, we have functionally annotated 87% of the Mtb genome in context of gene products. We further combine IPW with STRING based network to report central proteins, which may be assessed as potential drug targets for development of drugs with least possible side effects. The fact that five of the 17 predicted drug targets are already experimentally validated either genetically or biochemically lends credence to our unique approach.
Biosynthesis of fucoxanthin and diadinoxanthin and function of initial pathway genes in Phaeodactylum tricornutum
- The biosynthesis pathway to diadinoxanthin and fucoxanthin was elucidated in Phaeodactylum tricornutum by a combined approach involving metabolite analysis identification of gene function. For the initial steps leading to β-carotene, putative genes were selected from the genomic database and the function of several of them identified by genetic pathway complementation in Escherichia coli. They included genes encoding a phytoene synthase, a phytoene desaturase, a ζ-carotene desaturase, and a lycopene β-cyclase. Intermediates of the pathway beyond β-carotene, present in trace amounts, were separated by TLC and identified as violaxanthin and neoxanthin in the enriched fraction. Neoxanthin is a branching point for the synthesis of both diadinoxanthin and fucoxanthin and the mechanisms for their formation were proposed. A single isomerization of one of the allenic double bounds in neoxanthin yields diadinoxanhin. Two reactions, hydroxylation at C8 in combination with a keto-enol tautomerization and acetylation of the 3′-HO group results in the formation of fucoxanthin.
Amino Acid Transporter Genes Are Essential for FLO11-Dependent and FLO11-Independent Biofilm Formation and Invasive Growth in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Henrik Devitt Møller
- Amino acids can induce yeast cell adhesion but how amino acids are sensed and signal the modulation of the FLO adhesion genes is not clear. We discovered that the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae CEN.PK evolved invasive growth ability under prolonged nitrogen limitation. Such invasive mutants were used to identify amino acid transporters as regulators of FLO11 and invasive growth. One invasive mutant had elevated levels of FLO11 mRNA and a Q320STOP mutation in the SFL1 gene that encodes a protein kinase A pathway regulated repressor of FLO11. Glutamine-transporter genes DIP5 and GNP1 were essential for FLO11 expression, invasive growth and biofilm formation in this mutant. Invasive growth relied on known regulators of FLO11 and the Ssy1-Ptr3-Ssy5 complex that controls DIP5 and GNP1, suggesting that Dip5 and Gnp1 operates downstream of the Ssy1-Ptr3-Ssy5 complex for regulation of FLO11 expression in a protein kinase A dependent manner. The role of Dip5 and Gnp1 appears to be conserved in the S. cerevisiae strain ∑1278b since the dip5 gnp1 ∑1278b mutant showed no invasive phenotype.
Secondly, the amino acid transporter gene GAP1 was found to influence invasive growth through FLO11 as well as other FLO genes. Cells carrying a dominant loss-of-function PTR3647::CWNKNPLSSIN allele had increased transcription of the adhesion genes FLO1, 5, 9, 10, 11 and the amino acid transporter gene GAP1. Deletion of GAP1 caused loss of FLO11 expression and invasive growth. However, deletions of FLO11 and genes encoding components of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway or the protein kinase A pathway were not sufficient to abolish invasive growth, suggesting involvement of other FLO genes and alternative pathways. Increased intracellular amino acid pools in the PTR3647::CWNKNPLSSIN-containing strain opens the possibility that Gap1 regulates the FLO genes through alteration of the amino acid pool sizes.
Biocatalytic synthesis of flavones and hydroxyl-small molecules by recombinant Escherichia coli cells expressing the cyanobacterial CYP110E1 gene
- Background: Cyanobacteria possess several cytochrome P450s, but very little is known about their catalytic functions. CYP110 genes unique to cyanaobacteria are widely distributed in heterocyst-forming cyanobacteria including nitrogen-fixing genera Nostoc and Anabaena. We screened the biocatalytic functions of all P450s from three cyanobacterial strains of genus Nostoc or Anabaena using a series of small molecules that contain flavonoids, sesquiterpenes, low-molecular-weight drugs, and other aromatic compounds.
Results: Escherichia coli cells carrying each P450 gene that was inserted into the pRED vector, containing the RhFRed reductase domain sequence from Rhodococcus sp. NCIMB 9784 P450RhF (CYP116B2), were co-cultured with substrates and products were identified when bioconversion reactions proceeded. Consequently, CYP110E1 of Nostoc sp. strain PCC 7120, located in close proximity to the first branch point in the phylogenetic tree of the CYP110 family, was found to be promiscuous for the substrate range mediating the biotransformation of various small molecules. Naringenin and (hydroxyl) flavanones were respectively converted to apigenin and (hydroxyl) flavones, by functioning as a flavone synthase. Such an activity is reported for the first time in prokaryotic P450s. Additionally, CYP110E1 biotransformed the notable sesquiterpene zerumbone, anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen and flurbiprofen (methylester forms), and some aryl compounds such as 1-methoxy and 1-ethoxy naphthalene to produce hydroxylated compounds that are difficult to synthesize chemically, including novel compounds.
Conclusion: We elucidated that the CYP110E1 gene, C-terminally fused to the P450RhF RhFRed reductase domain sequence, is functionally expressed in E. coli to synthesize a robust monooxygenase, which shows promiscuous substrate specificity (affinity) for various small molecules, allowing the biosynthesis of not only flavones (from flavanones) but also a variety of hydroxyl-small molecules that may span pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries.
Improving L-arabinose utilization of pentose fermenting Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells by heterologous expression of L-arabinose transporting sugar transporters
- Background: Hydrolysates of plant biomass used for the production of lignocellulosic biofuels typically contain sugar mixtures consisting mainly of D-glucose and D-xylose, and minor amounts of L-arabinose. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the preferred microorganism for the fermentative production of ethanol but is not able to ferment pentose sugars. Although D-xylose and L-arabinose fermenting S. cerevisiae strains have been constructed recently, pentose uptake is still a limiting step in mixed sugar fermentations.
Results: Here we described the cloning and characterization of two sugar transporters, AraT from the yeast Scheffersomyces stipitis and Stp2 from the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, which mediate the uptake of L-arabinose but not of D-glucose into S. cerevisiae cells. A yeast strain lacking all of its endogenous hexose transporter genes and expressing a bacterial L-arabinose utilization pathway could no longer take up and grow with L-arabinose as the only carbon source. Expression of the heterologous transporters supported uptake and utilization of L-arabinose especially at low L-arabinose concentrations but did not, or only very weakly, support D-glucose uptake and utilization. In contrast, the S. cerevisiae D-galactose transporter, Gal2, mediated uptake of both L-arabinose and D-glucose, especially at high concentrations.
Conclusions: Using a newly developed screening system we have identified two heterologous sugar transporters from a yeast and a plant which can support uptake and utilization of L-arabinose in L-arabinose fermenting S. cerevisiae cells, especially at low L-arabinose concentrations.
Hand to mouth in a Neandertal: right-handedness in regourdou 1
David W. Frayer
- We describe and analyze a Neandertal postcranial skeleton and dentition, which together show unambiguous signs of right-handedness. Asymmetries between the left and right upper arm in Regourdou 1 were identified nearly 20 years ago, then confirmed by more detailed analyses of the inner bone structure for the clavicle, humerus, radius and ulna. The total pattern of all bones in the shoulder and arm reveals that Regourdou 1 was a right-hander. Confirmatory evidence comes from the mandibular incisors, which display a distinct pattern of right oblique scratches, typical of right-handed manipulations performed at the front of the mouth. Regourdou's right handedness is consistent with the strong pattern of manual lateralization in Neandertals and further confirms a modern pattern of left brain dominance, presumably signally linguistic competence. These observations along with cultural, genetic and morphological evidence indicate language competence in Neandertals and their European precursors.