DCD – a novel plant specific domain in proteins involved in development and programmed cell death
- Background: Recognition of microbial pathogens by plants triggers the hypersensitive reaction, a common form of programmed cell death in plants. These dying cells generate signals that activate the plant immune system and alarm the neighboring cells as well as the whole plant to activate defense responses to limit the spread of the pathogen. The molecular mechanisms behind the hypersensitive reaction are largely unknown except for the recognition process of pathogens. We delineate the NRP-gene in soybean, which is specifically induced during this programmed cell death and contains a novel protein domain, which is commonly found in different plant proteins. Results: The sequence analysis of the protein, encoded by the NRP-gene from soybean, led to the identification of a novel domain, which we named DCD, because it is found in plant proteins involved in development and cell death. The domain is shared by several proteins in the Arabidopsis and the rice genomes, which otherwise show a different protein architecture. Biological studies indicate a role of these proteins in phytohormone response, embryo development and programmed cell by pathogens or ozone. Conclusion: It is tempting to speculate, that the DCD domain mediates signaling in plant development and programmed cell death and could thus be used to identify interacting proteins to gain further molecular insights into these processes.
NMR Solution Structure of a Chymotrypsin Inhibitor from the Taiwan Cobra Naja naja atra
- The Taiwan cobra (Naja naja atra) chymotrypsin inhibitor (NACI) consists of 57 amino acids and is related to other Kunitz-type inhibitors such as bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI) and Bungarus fasciatus fraction IX (BF9), another chymotrypsin inhibitor. Here we present the solution structure of NACI. We determined the NMR structure of NACI with a root-mean-square deviation of 0.37 Å for the backbone atoms and 0.73 Å for the heavy atoms on the basis of 1,075 upper distance limits derived from NOE peaks measured in its NOESY spectra. To investigate the structural characteristics of NACI, we compared the three-dimensional structure of NACI with BPTI and BF9. The structure of the NACI protein comprises one 310-helix, one α-helix and one double-stranded antiparallel β-sheet, which is comparable with the secondary structures in BPTI and BF9. The RMSD value between the mean structures is 1.09 Å between NACI and BPTI and 1.27 Å between NACI and BF9. In addition to similar secondary and tertiary structure, NACI might possess similar types of protein conformational fluctuations as reported in BPTI, such as Cys14–Cys38 disulfide bond isomerization, based on line broadening of resonances from residues which are mainly confined to a region around the Cys14–Cys38 disulfide bond.
Voltage dependence of proton pumping by bacteriorhodopsin mutants with altered lifetime of the m intermediate
- The light-driven proton pump bacteriorhodopsin (BR) from Halobacterium salinarum is tightly regulated by the [H+] gradient and transmembrane potential. BR exhibits optoelectric properties, since spectral changes during the photocycle are kinetically controlled by voltage, which predestines BR for optical storage or processing devices. BR mutants with prolonged lifetime of the blue-shifted M intermediate would be advantageous, but the optoelectric properties of such mutants are still elusive. Using expression in Xenopus oocytes and two-electrode voltage-clamping, we analyzed photocurrents of BR mutants with kinetically destabilized (F171C, F219L) or stabilized (D96N, D96G) M intermediate in response to green light (to probe H+ pumping) and blue laser flashes (to probe accumulation/decay of M). These mutants have divergent M lifetimes. As for BR-WT, this strictly correlates with the voltage dependence of H+ pumping. BR-F171C and BR-F219L showed photocurrents similar to BR-WT. Yet, BR-F171C showed a weaker voltage dependence of proton pumping. For both mutants, blue laser flashes applied during and after green-light illumination showed reduced M accumulation and shorter M lifetime. In contrast, BR-D96G and BR-D96N exhibited small photocurrents, with nonlinear current-voltage curves, which increased strongly in the presence of azide. Blue laser flashes showed heavy M accumulation and prolonged M lifetime, which accounts for the strongly reduced H+ pumping rate. Hyperpolarizing potentials augmented these effects. The combination of M-stabilizing and -destabilizing mutations in BR-D96G/F171C/F219L (BR-tri) shows that disruption of the primary proton donor Asp-96 is fatal for BR as a proton pump. Mechanistically, M destabilizing mutations cannot compensate for the disruption of Asp-96. Accordingly, BR-tri and BR-D96G photocurrents were similar. However, BR-tri showed negative blue laser flash-induced currents even without actinic green light, indicating that Schiff base deprotonation in BR-tri exists in the dark, in line with previous spectroscopic investigations. Thus, M-stabilizing mutations, including the triple mutation, drastically interfere with electrochemical H+ gradient generation.
EGI user forum 2011 : book of abstracts
Simple Method for Sub-Diffraction Resolution Imaging of Cellular Structures on Standard Confocal Microscopes by Three-Photon Absorption of Quantum Dots
- This study describes a simple technique that improves a recently developed 3D sub-diffraction imaging method based on three-photon absorption of commercially available quantum dots. The method combines imaging of biological samples via tri-exciton generation in quantum dots with deconvolution and spectral multiplexing, resulting in a novel approach for multi-color imaging of even thick biological samples at a 1.4 to 1.9-fold better spatial resolution. This approach is realized on a conventional confocal microscope equipped with standard continuous-wave lasers. We demonstrate the potential of multi-color tri-exciton imaging of quantum dots combined with deconvolution on viral vesicles in lentivirally transduced cells as well as intermediate filaments in three-dimensional clusters of mouse-derived neural stem cells (neurospheres) and dense microtubuli arrays in myotubes formed by stacks of differentiated C2C12 myoblasts.
CD20 and CD19 targeted vectors induce minimal activation of resting B
Christian J. Buchholz
- B lymphocytes are an important cell population of the immune system. However, until recently it was not possible to transduce resting B lymphocytes with retro- or lentiviral vectors, making them unsusceptible for genetic manipulations by these vectors. Lately, we demonstrated that lentiviral vectors pseudotyped with modified measles virus (MV) glycoproteins hemagglutinin, responsible for receptor recognition, and fusion protein were able to overcome this transduction block. They use either the natural MV receptors, CD46 and signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM), for cell entry (MV-LV) or the vector particles were further modified to selectively enter via the CD20 molecule, which is exclusively expressed on B lymphocytes (CD20-LV). It has been shown previously that transduction by MV-LV does not induce B lymphocyte activation. However, if this is also true for CD20-LV is still unknown. Here, we generated a vector specific for another B lymphocyte marker, CD19, and compared its ability to transduce resting B lymphocytes with CD20-LV. The vector (CD19ds-LV) was able to stably transduce unstimulated B lymphocytes, albeit with a reduced efficiency of about 10% compared to CD20-LV, which transduced about 30% of the cells. Since CD20 as well as CD19 are closely linked to the B lymphocyte activation pathway, we investigated if engagement of CD20 or CD19 molecules by the vector particles induces activating stimuli in resting B lymphocytes. Although, activation of B lymphocytes often involves calcium influx, we did not detect elevated calcium levels. However, the activation marker CD71 was substantially up-regulated upon CD20-LV transduction and most importantly, B lymphocytes transduced with CD20-LV or CD19ds-LV entered the G1b phase of cell cycle, whereas untransduced or MV-LV transduced B lymphocytes remained in G0. Hence, CD20 and CD19 targeting vectors induce activating stimuli in resting B lymphocytes, which most likely renders them susceptible for lentiviral vector transduction.
Molecular similarity for machine learning in drug development : poster presentation
- Poster presentation In pharmaceutical research and drug development, machine learning methods play an important role in virtual screening and ADME/Tox prediction. For the application of such methods, a formal measure of similarity between molecules is essential. Such a measure, in turn, depends on the underlying molecular representation. Input samples have traditionally been modeled as vectors. Consequently, molecules are represented to machine learning algorithms in a vectorized form using molecular descriptors. While this approach is straightforward, it has its shortcomings. Amongst others, the interpretation of the learned model can be difficult, e.g. when using fingerprints or hashing. Structured representations of the input constitute an alternative to vector based representations, a trend in machine learning over the last years. For molecules, there is a rich choice of such representations. Popular examples include the molecular graph, molecular shape and the electrostatic field. We have developed a molecular similarity measure defined directly on the (annotated) molecular graph, a long-standing established topological model for molecules. It is based on the concepts of optimal atom assignments and iterative graph similarity. In the latter, two atoms are considered similar if their neighbors are similar. This recursive definition leads to a non-linear system of equations. We show how to iteratively solve these equations and give bounds on the computational complexity of the procedure. Advantages of our similarity measure include interpretability (atoms of two molecules are assigned to each other, each pair with a score expressing local similarity; this can be visualized to show similar regions of two molecules and the degree of their similarity) and the possibility to introduce knowledge about the target where available. We retrospectively tested our similarity measure using support vector machines for virtual screening on several pharmaceutical and toxicological datasets, with encouraging results. Prospective studies are under way.
Kernel learning for ligand-based virtual screening:discovery of a new PPARgamma agonist
- Poster presentation at 5th German Conference on Cheminformatics: 23. CIC-Workshop Goslar, Germany. 8-10 November 2009 We demonstrate the theoretical and practical application of modern kernel-based machine learning methods to ligand-based virtual screening by successful prospective screening for novel agonists of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) . PPARgamma is a nuclear receptor involved in lipid and glucose metabolism, and related to type-2 diabetes and dyslipidemia. Applied methods included a graph kernel designed for molecular similarity analysis , kernel principle component analysis , multiple kernel learning , and, Gaussian process regression . In the machine learning approach to ligand-based virtual screening, one uses the similarity principle  to identify potentially active compounds based on their similarity to known reference ligands. Kernel-based machine learning  uses the "kernel trick", a systematic approach to the derivation of non-linear versions of linear algorithms like separating hyperplanes and regression. Prerequisites for kernel learning are similarity measures with the mathematical property of positive semidefiniteness (kernels). The iterative similarity optimal assignment graph kernel (ISOAK)  is defined directly on the annotated structure graph, and was designed specifically for the comparison of small molecules. In our virtual screening study, its use improved results, e.g., in principle component analysis-based visualization and Gaussian process regression. Following a thorough retrospective validation using a data set of 176 published PPARgamma agonists , we screened a vendor library for novel agonists. Subsequent testing of 15 compounds in a cell-based transactivation assay  yielded four active compounds. The most interesting hit, a natural product derivative with cyclobutane scaffold, is a full selective PPARgamma agonist (EC50 = 10 ± 0.2 microM, inactive on PPARalpha and PPARbeta/delta at 10 microM). We demonstrate how the interplay of several modern kernel-based machine learning approaches can successfully improve ligand-based virtual screening results.
Oxidative stress induces CHIP-mediated ubiquitination and roteasomal degradation of soluble guanylyl cyclase : oral presentation
Peter M. Schmidt
Harald HHW Schmidt
- Oxidative stress attenuates the NO-cGMP pathway, e.g. in the vascular system, through scavenging of free NO radicals by superoxide O2•-, by inactivation of soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) via oxidation of its central Fe2+ ion, and by down-regulation of sGC protein levels. While the former pathways are well established, the molecular mechanisms underlying the latter are still obscure. Using oxidative sGC inhibitor ODQ we demonstrate rapid down-regulation of sGC protein in mammalian cells. Co-incubation with proteasomal inhibitor MG132 results in accumulation of ubiquitinated sGC whereas sGC activator BAY 58–2667 prevents ubiquitination. ODQ-induced down-regulation of sGC is mediated through selective ubiquitination of its b subunit, and BAY 58–2667 abrogates this effect. Ubiquitination of sGC-b is dramatically enhanced by E3 ligase CHIP. Our data indicate that oxidative stress promotes ubiquitination of sGC b subunit through E3 ligase CHIP, and that sGC activator 58–2667 reverts this effect, most likely through stabilization of the heme-free b subunit. Thus the deleterious effects of oxidative stress can be counter-balanced by an activator of a key enzyme of vascular homeostasis.
Interplay of ‘induced fit’ and preorganization in the ligand induced folding of the aptamer domain of the guanine binding riboswitch
Hamid Reza Nasiri
- Riboswitches are highly structured elements in the 50-untranslated regions (50-UTRs) of messenger RNA that control gene expression by specifically binding to small metabolite molecules. They consist of an aptamer domain responsible for ligand binding and an expression platform. Ligand binding in the aptamer domain leads to conformational changes in the expression platform that result in transcription termination or abolish ribosome binding. The guanine riboswitch binds with high-specificity to guanine and hypoxanthine and is among the smallest riboswitches described so far. The X-ray-structure of its aptamer domain in complex with guanine/ hypoxanthine reveals an intricate RNA-fold consisting of a three-helix junction stabilized by longrange base pairing interactions. We analyzed the conformational transitions of the aptamer domain induced by binding of hypoxanthine using highresolution NMR-spectroscopy in solution. We found that the long-range base pairing interactions are already present in the free RNA and preorganize its global fold. The ligand binding core region is lacking hydrogen bonding interactions and therefore likely to be unstructured in the absence of ligand. Mg2+-ions are not essential for ligand binding and do not change the structure of the RNA-ligand complex but stabilize the structure at elevated temperatures. We identified a mutant RNA where the long-range base pairing interactions are disrupted in the free form of the RNA but form upon ligand binding in an Mg2+-dependent fashion. The tertiary interaction motif is stable outside the riboswitch context.