Phasing statistics for alpha helical membrane protein structures.
ABSTRACT: In this report we highlight the latest trends in phasing methods used to solve alpha helical membrane protein structures and analyze the use of heavy atom metals for the purpose of experimental phasing. Our results reveal that molecular replacement is emerging as the most successful method for phasing alpha helical membrane proteins, with the notable exception of the transporter family, where experimentally derived phase information still remains the most effective method. To facilitate selection of heavy atoms salts for experimental phasing an analysis of these was undertaken and indicates that organic mercury salts are still the most successful heavy atoms reagents. Interestingly the use of seleno-L-methionine incorporated protein has increased since earlier studies into membrane protein phasing, so too the use of SAD and MAD as techniques for phase determination. Taken together this study provides a brief snapshot of phasing methods for alpha helical membrane proteins and suggests possible routes for heavy atom selection and phasing methods based on currently available data.
Project description:Dodecyl-β-D-selenomaltoside (SeDDM) is a seleno-detergent with a β-glycosidic seleno-ether in place of the ether moiety in dodecyl-β-D-maltoside. Seleno-detergents are candidates for heavy-atom agents in experimental phasing of membrane proteins in protein crystallography. Crystals of a nuclear membrane-embedded enzyme, leukotriene C(4) synthase (LTC(4)S), in complex with SeDDM were prepared and a multiwavelength anomalous diffraction (MAD) experiment was performed. The SeDDM in the LTC(4)S crystal exhibited sufficient anomalous diffraction for determination of the structure using MAD phasing.
Project description:Experimental phasing is an essential technique for the solution of macromolecular structures. Since many heavy-atom ion soaks suffer from nonspecific binding, a novel class of compounds has been developed that combines heavy atoms with functional groups for binding to proteins. The phasing tool 5-amino-2,4,6-tribromoisophthalic acid (B3C) contains three functional groups (two carboxylate groups and one amino group) that interact with proteins via hydrogen bonds. Three Br atoms suitable for anomalous dispersion phasing are arranged in an equilateral triangle and are thus readily identified in the heavy-atom substructure. B3C was incorporated into proteinase K and a multiwavelength anomalous dispersion (MAD) experiment at the Br K edge was successfully carried out. Radiation damage to the bromine-carbon bond was investigated. A comparison with the phasing tool I3C that contains three I atoms for single-wavelength anomalous dispersion (SAD) phasing was also carried out.
Project description:The 3D structure determination of biological macromolecules by X-ray crystallography suffers from a phase problem: to perform Fourier transformation to calculate real space density maps, both intensities and phases of structure factors are necessary; however, measured diffraction patterns give only intensities. Although serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) using X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) has been steadily developed since 2009, experimental phasing still remains challenging. Here, using 7.0-keV (1.771 Å) X-ray pulses from the SPring-8 Angstrom Compact Free Electron Laser (SACLA), iodine single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (SAD), single isomorphous replacement (SIR), and single isomorphous replacement with anomalous scattering (SIRAS) phasing were performed in an SFX regime for a model membrane protein bacteriorhodopsin (bR). The crystals grown in bicelles were derivatized with an iodine-labeled detergent heavy-atom additive 13a (HAD13a), which contains the magic triangle, I3C head group with three iodine atoms. The alkyl tail was essential for binding of the detergent to the surface of bR. Strong anomalous and isomorphous difference signals from HAD13a enabled successful phasing using reflections up to 2.1-Å resolution from only 3,000 and 4,000 indexed images from native and derivative crystals, respectively. When more images were merged, structure solution was possible with data truncated at 3.3-Å resolution, which is the lowest resolution among the reported cases of SFX phasing. Moreover, preliminary SFX experiment showed that HAD13a successfully derivatized the G protein-coupled A2a adenosine receptor crystallized in lipidic cubic phases. These results pave the way for de novo structure determination of membrane proteins, which often diffract poorly, even with the brightest XFEL beams.
Project description:Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) with X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) holds great potential for structure determination of challenging proteins that are not amenable to producing large well diffracting crystals. Efficient de novo phasing methods are highly demanding and as such most SFX structures have been determined by molecular replacement methods. Here we employed single isomorphous replacement with anomalous scattering (SIRAS) for phasing and demonstrate successful application to SFX de novo phasing. Only about 20,000 patterns in total were needed for SIRAS phasing while single wavelength anomalous dispersion (SAD) phasing was unsuccessful with more than 80,000 patterns of derivative crystals. We employed high energy X-rays from SACLA (12.6?keV) to take advantage of the large anomalous enhancement near the LIII absorption edge of Hg, which is one of the most widely used heavy atoms for phasing in conventional protein crystallography. Hard XFEL is of benefit for de novo phasing in the use of routinely used heavy atoms and high resolution data collection.
Project description:The crystal structures of two proteins, a putative pyrazinamidase/nicotinamidase from the dental pathogen Streptococcus mutans (SmPncA) and the human caspase-6 (Casp6), were solved by de novo arsenic single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (As-SAD) phasing method. Arsenic (As), an uncommonly used element in SAD phasing, was covalently introduced into proteins by cacodylic acid, the buffering agent in the crystallization reservoirs. In SmPncA, the only cysteine was bound to dimethylarsinoyl, which is a pentavalent arsenic group (As (V)). This arsenic atom and a protein-bound zinc atom both generated anomalous signals. The predominant contribution, however, was from the As anomalous signals, which were sufficient to phase the SmPncA structure alone. In Casp6, four cysteines were found to bind cacodyl, a trivalent arsenic group (As (III)), in the presence of the reducing agent, dithiothreitol (DTT), and arsenic atoms were the only anomalous scatterers for SAD phasing. Analyses and discussion of these two As-SAD phasing examples and comparison of As with other traditional heavy atoms that generate anomalous signals, together with a few arsenic-based de novo phasing cases reported previously strongly suggest that As is an ideal anomalous scatterer for SAD phasing in protein crystallography.
Project description:The structure determination of soluble and membrane proteins can be hindered by the crystallographic phase problem, especially in the absence of a suitable homologous structure. Experimental phasing is the method of choice for novel structures; however, it often requires heavy-atom derivatization, which can be difficult and time-consuming. Here, a novel and rapid method to obtain experimental phases for protein structure determination by vanadium phasing is reported. Vanadate is a transition-state mimic of phosphoryl-transfer reactions and it has the advantage of binding specifically to the active site of numerous enzymes catalyzing this reaction. The applicability of vanadium phasing has been validated by determining the structures of three different protein-vanadium complexes, two of which are integral membrane proteins: the rabbit sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase, the antibacterial peptide ATP-binding cassette transporter McjD from Escherichia coli and the soluble enzyme RNAse A from Bos taurus. Vanadium phasing was successful even at low resolution and despite severe anisotropy in the data. This method is principally applicable to a large number of proteins, representing six of the seven Enzyme Commission classes. It relies exclusively on the specific chemistry of the protein and it does not require any modifications, making it a very powerful addition to the phasing toolkit. In addition to the phasing power of this technique, the protein-vanadium complexes also provide detailed insights into the reaction mechanisms of the studied proteins.
Project description:To obtain an electron-density map from a macromolecular crystal the phase problem needs to be solved, which often involves the use of heavy-atom derivative crystals and concomitant heavy-atom substructure determination. This is typically performed by dual-space methods, direct methods or Patterson-based approaches, which however may fail when only poorly diffracting derivative crystals are available. This is often the case for, for example, membrane proteins. Here, an approach for heavy-atom site identification based on a molecular-replacement parameter matrix (MRPM) is presented. It involves an n-dimensional search to test a wide spectrum of molecular-replacement parameters, such as different data sets and search models with different conformations. Results are scored by the ability to identify heavy-atom positions from anomalous difference Fourier maps. The strategy was successfully applied in the determination of a membrane-protein structure, the copper-transporting P-type ATPase CopA, when other methods had failed to determine the heavy-atom substructure. MRPM is well suited to proteins undergoing large conformational changes where multiple search models should be considered, and it enables the identification of weak but correct molecular-replacement solutions with maximum contrast to prime experimental phasing efforts.
Project description:Heavy-atom substructure determination is a critical step in phasing an unknown macromolecular structure. Dual-space (Shake-and-Bake) recycling is a very effective procedure for locating the substructure (heavy) atoms using F(A) data estimated from multiple-wavelength anomalous diffraction. However, the estimated F(A) are susceptible to the accumulation of errors in the individual intensity measurements at several wavelengths and from inaccurate estimation of the anomalous atomic scattering corrections f' and f''. In this paper, a new statistical and computational procedure which merges multiple F(A) estimates into an averaged data set is used to further improve the quality of the estimated anomalous amplitudes. The results of 18 Se-atom substructure determinations provide convincing evidence in favor of using such a procedure to locate anomalous scatterers.
Project description:In this article, a new approach to experimental phasing for macromolecular crystallography (MX) at synchrotrons is introduced and described for the first time. It makes use of automated robotics applied to a multi-crystal framework in which human intervention is reduced to a minimum. Hundreds of samples are automatically soaked in heavy-atom solutions, using a Labcyte Inc. Echo 550 Liquid Handler, in a highly controlled and optimized fashion in order to generate derivatized and isomorphous crystals. Partial data sets obtained on MX beamlines using an in situ setup for data collection are processed with the aim of producing good-quality anomalous signal leading to successful experimental phasing.
Project description:Heavy-atom clusters (HA clusters) containing a large number of specifically arranged electron-dense scatterers are especially useful for experimental phase determination of large complex structures, weakly diffracting crystals or structures with large unit cells. Often, the determination of the exact orientation of the HA cluster and hence of the individual heavy-atom positions proves to be the critical step in successful phasing and subsequent structure solution. Here, it is demonstrated that molecular replacement (MR) with either anomalous or isomorphous differences is a useful strategy for the correct placement of HA cluster compounds. The polyoxometallate cluster hexasodium ?-metatungstate (HMT) was applied in phasing the structure of death receptor 6. Even though the HA cluster is bound in alternate partially occupied orientations and is located at a special position, its correct localization and orientation could be determined at resolutions as low as 4.9 Å. The broad applicability of this approach was demonstrated for five different derivative crystals that included the compounds tantalum tetradecabromide and trisodium phosphotungstate in addition to HMT. The correct placement of the HA cluster depends on the length of the intramolecular vectors chosen for MR, such that both a larger cluster size and the optimal choice of the wavelength used for anomalous data collection strongly affect the outcome.