Measurement of bond vector orientations in invisible excited states of proteins.
ABSTRACT: The focus of structural biology is on studies of the highly populated, ground states of biological molecules; states that are only sparsely and transiently populated are more difficult to probe because they are invisible to most structural methods. Yet, such states can play critical roles in biochemical processes such as ligand binding, enzyme catalysis, and protein folding. A description of these states in terms of structure and dynamics is, therefore, of great importance. Here, we present a method, based on relaxation dispersion NMR spectroscopy of weakly aligned molecules in a magnetic field, that can provide such a description by direct measurement of backbone amide bond vector orientations in transient, low populated states that are not observable directly. Such information, obtained through the measurement of residual dipolar couplings, has until now been restricted to proteins that produce observable spectra. The methodology is applied and validated in a study of the binding of a target peptide to an SH3 domain from the yeast protein Abp1p and subsequently used in an application to protein folding of a mutational variant of the Fyn SH3 domain where (1)H-(15)N dipolar couplings of the invisible unfolded state of the domain are obtained. The approach, which can be used to obtain orientational restraints at other sites in proteins as well, promises to significantly extend the available information necessary for providing a site-specific characterization of structural properties of transient, low populated states that have to this point remained recalcitrant to detailed analysis.
Project description:Molecular function is often predicated on excursions between ground states and higher energy conformers that can play important roles in ligand binding, molecular recognition, enzyme catalysis, and protein folding. The tools of structural biology enable a detailed characterization of ground state structure and dynamics; however, studies of excited state conformations are more difficult because they are of low population and may exist only transiently. Here we describe an approach based on relaxation dispersion NMR spectroscopy in which structures of invisible, excited states are obtained from chemical shifts and residual anisotropic magnetic interactions. To establish the utility of the approach, we studied an exchanging protein (Abp1p SH3 domain)-ligand (Ark1p peptide) system, in which the peptide is added in only small amounts so that the ligand-bound form is invisible. From a collection of (15)N, (1)HN, (13)C(alpha), and (13)CO chemical shifts, along with (1)HN-(15)N, (1)H(alpha)-(13)C(alpha), and (1)HN-(13)CO residual dipolar couplings and (13)CO residual chemical shift anisotropies, all pertaining to the invisible, bound conformer, the structure of the bound state is determined. The structure so obtained is cross-validated by comparison with (1)HN-(15)N residual dipolar couplings recorded in a second alignment medium. The methodology described opens up the possibility for detailed structural studies of invisible protein conformers at a level of detail that has heretofore been restricted to applications involving visible ground states of proteins.
Project description:The histidine imidazole side chain plays a critical role in protein function and stability. Its importance for catalysis is underscored by the fact that histidines are localized to active sites in ∼ 50% of all enzymes. NMR spectroscopy has become an important tool for studies of histidine side chains through the measurement of site-specific pK(a)s and tautomer populations. To date, such studies have been confined to observable protein ground states; however, a complete understanding of the role of histidine electrostatics in protein function and stability requires that similar investigations be extended to rare, transiently formed conformers that populate the energy landscape, yet are often "invisible" in standard NMR spectra. Here we present NMR experiments and a simple strategy for studies of such conformationally excited states based on measurement of histidine (13)Cγ, (13)Cδ2 chemical shifts and (1)Hε-(13)Cε one-bond scalar couplings. The methodology is first validated and then used to obtain pKa values and tautomer distributions for histidine residues of an invisible on-pathway folding intermediate of the colicin E7 immunity protein. Our results imply that the side chains of H40 and H47 are exposed in the intermediate state and undergo significant conformational rearrangements during folding to the native structure. Further, the pKa values explain the pH-dependent stability differences between native and intermediate states over the pH range 5.5-6.5 and they suggest that imidazole deprotonation is not a barrier to the folding of this protein.
Project description:Hydrogen exchange rates have become a valuable probe for studying the relationship between dynamics and structure and for dissecting the mechanism by which proteins fold to their native conformation. Typically measured rates correspond to averages over all protein states from which hydrogen exchange can occur. Here we describe a new NMR experiment based on chemical exchange saturation transfer that provides an avenue for obtaining uncontaminated, per-residue amide hydrogen exchange rates for interconverting native and invisible states so long as they can be separated on the basis of distinct (15)N chemical shifts. The approach is applied to the folding reaction of the Fyn SH3 domain that exchanges between a highly populated, NMR-visible native state and a conformationally excited, NMR-invisible state, corresponding to the unfolded ensemble. Excellent agreement between experimentally derived hydrogen exchange rates of the excited state at a pair of pHs is obtained, taking into account the expected dependence of exchange on pH. Extracted rates for the unfolded ensemble have been used to test hydrogen exchange predictions based on the primary protein sequence that are used in many analyses of solvent exchange rates, with a Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.84 obtained.
Project description:Phospholamban is an integral membrane protein that controls the calcium balance in cardiac muscle cells. As the function and regulation of this protein require the active involvement of low populated states in equilibrium with the native state, it is of great interest to acquire structural information about them. In this work, we calculate the conformations and populations of the ground state and the three main excited states of phospholamban by incorporating nuclear magnetic resonance residual dipolar couplings as replica-averaged structural restraints in molecular dynamics simulations. We then provide a description of the manner in which phosphorylation at Ser16 modulates the activity of the protein by increasing the sizes of the populations of its excited states. These results demonstrate that the approach that we describe provides a detailed characterization of the different states of phospholamban that determine the function and regulation of this membrane protein. We anticipate that the knowledge of conformational ensembles enable the design of new dominant negative mutants of phospholamban by modulating the relative populations of its conformational substates.
Project description:In a variety of organisms, a number of proteins associated with the cortical actin cytoskeleton contain SH3 domains, suggesting that these domains may provide the physical basis for functional interactions among structural and regulatory proteins in the actin cytoskeleton. We present evidence that SH3 domains mediate at least two independent functions of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae actin-binding protein Abp1p in vivo. Abp1p contains a single SH3 domain that has recently been shown to bind in vitro to the adenylyl cyclase-associated protein Srv2p. Immunofluorescence analysis of Srv2p subcellular localization in strains carrying mutations in either ABP1 or SRV2 reveals that the Abp1p SH3 domain mediates the normal association of Srv2p with the cortical actin cytoskeleton. We also show that a site in Abp1p itself is specifically bound by the SH3 domain of the actin-associated protein Rvs167p. Genetic analysis provides evidence that Abp1p and Rvs167p have functions that are closely interrelated. Abp1 null mutations, like rvs167 mutations, result in defects in sporulation and reduced viability under certain suboptimal growth conditions. In addition, mutations in ABP1 and RVS167 yield similar profiles of genetic "synthetic lethal" interactions when combined with mutations in genes encoding other cytoskeletal components. Mutations which specifically disrupt the SH3 domain-mediated interaction between Abp1p and Srv2p, however, show none of the shared phenotypes of abp1 and rvs167 mutations. We conclude that the Abp1p SH3 domain mediates the association of Srv2p with the cortical actin cytoskeleton, and that Abp1p performs a distinct function that is likely to involve binding by the Rvs167p SH3 domain. Overall, work presented here illustrates how SH3 domains can integrate the activities of multiple actin cytoskeleton proteins in response to varying environmental conditions.
Project description:We have characterized the thermodynamic stability of the SH3 domain from the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Abp1p protein and found it to be relatively low compared to most other SH3 domains, with a Tm of 60 degrees C and a deltaGu of 3.08 kcal/mol. Analysis of a large alignment of SH3 domains led to the identification of atypical residues at eight positions in the wild-type Abp1p SH3 domain sequence that were subsequently replaced by the residue seen most frequently at that position in the alignment. Three of the eight mutants constructed in this way displayed increases in Tm ranging from 8 to 15 degrees C with concomitant increases in deltaGu of up to 1.4 kcal/mol. The effects of these substitutions on folding thermodynamics and kinetics were entirely additive, and a mutant containing all three was dramatically stabilized with a Tm greater than 90 degrees C and a deltaGu more than double that of the wild-type domain. The folding rate of this hyperstable mutant was 10-fold faster than wild-type, while its unfolding rate was fivefold slower. All of the stabilized mutants were still able to bind a target peptide with wild-type affinity. We have analyzed the stabilizing amino acid substitutions isolated in this study and several other similar sequence alignment based studies. In approximately 25% of cases, increased stability can be explained by enhanced propensity of the substituted residue for the local backbone conformation at the mutagenized site.
Project description:The folding and unfolding of protein domains is an apparently cooperative process, but transient intermediates have been detected in some cases. Such (un)folding intermediates are challenging to investigate structurally as they are typically not long-lived and their role in the (un)folding reaction has often been questioned. One of the most well studied (un)folding pathways is that of Drosophila melanogaster Engrailed homeodomain (EnHD): this 61-residue protein forms a three helix bundle in the native state and folds via a helical intermediate. Here we used molecular dynamics simulations to derive sample conformations of EnHD in the native, intermediate, and unfolded states and selected the relevant structural clusters by comparing to small/wide angle X-ray scattering data at four different temperatures. The results are corroborated using residual dipolar couplings determined by NMR spectroscopy. Our results agree well with the previously proposed (un)folding pathway. However, they also suggest that the fully unfolded state is present at a low fraction throughout the investigated temperature interval, and that the (un)folding intermediate is highly populated at the thermal midpoint in line with the view that this intermediate can be regarded to be the denatured state under physiological conditions. Further, the combination of ensemble structural techniques with MD allows for determination of structures and populations of multiple interconverting structures in solution.
Project description:Many protein-protein interaction domains bind to multiple targets. However, little is known about how the interactions of a single domain with many proteins are controlled and modulated under varying cellular conditions. In this study, we investigated the in vivo effects of Abp1p SH3 domain mutants that incrementally reduce target-binding affinity in four different yeast mutant backgrounds in which Abp1p activity is essential for growth. Although the severity of the phenotypic defects observed generally increased as binding affinity was reduced, some genetic backgrounds (prk1 Delta and sla1 Delta) tolerated large affinity reductions while others (sac6 Delta and sla2 Delta) were much more sensitive to these reductions. To elucidate the mechanisms behind these observations, we determined that Ark1p is the most important Abp1p SH3 domain interactor in prk1 Delta cells, but that interactions with multiple targets, including Ark1p and Scp1p, are required in the sac6 Delta background. We establish that the Abp1p SH3 domain makes different, functionally important interactions under different genetic conditions, and these changes in function are reflected by changes in the binding affinity requirement of the domain. These data provide the first evidence of biological relevance for any Abp1p SH3 domain-mediated interaction. We also find that considerable reductions in binding affinity are tolerated by the cell with little effect on growth rate, even when the actin cytoskeletal morphology is significantly perturbed.
Project description:Nucleic acids undergo structural transitions to access sparsely populated and transiently lived conformational states--or excited conformational states--that play important roles in diverse biological processes. Despite ever-increasing detection of these functionally essential states, 3D structure determination of excited states (ESs) of RNA remains elusive. This is largely due to challenges in obtaining high-resolution structural constraints in these ESs by conventional structural biology approaches. Here, we present nucleic-acid-optimized chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) NMR spectroscopy for measuring residual dipolar couplings (RDCs), which provide unique long-range angular constraints in ESs of nucleic acids. We demonstrate these approaches on a fluoride riboswitch, where one-bond (13)C-(1)H RDCs from both base and sugar moieties provide direct structural probes into an ES of the ligand-free riboswitch.
Project description:There is increasing evidence for the functional importance of multiple dynamically populated states within single proteins. However, peptide binding by protein-protein interaction domains, such as the SH3 domain, has generally been considered to involve the full engagement of peptide to the binding surface with minimal dynamics and simple methods to determine dynamics at the binding surface for multiple related complexes have not been described. We have used NMR spectroscopy combined with isothermal titration calorimetry to comprehensively examine the extent of engagement to the yeast Abp1p SH3 domain for 24 different peptides. Over one quarter of the domain residues display co-linear chemical shift perturbation (CCSP) behavior, in which the position of a given chemical shift in a complex is co-linear with the same chemical shift in the other complexes, providing evidence that each complex exists as a unique dynamic rapidly inter-converting ensemble. The extent the specificity determining sub-surface of AbpSH3 is engaged as judged by CCSP analysis correlates with structural and thermodynamic measurements as well as with functional data, revealing the basis for significant structural and functional diversity amongst the related complexes. Thus, CCSP analysis can distinguish peptide complexes that may appear identical in terms of general structure and percent peptide occupancy but have significant local binding differences across the interface, affecting their ability to transmit conformational change across the domain and resulting in functional differences.