Large-scale production and structural and biophysical characterizations of the human hepatitis B virus polymerase.
ABSTRACT: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major human pathogen that causes serious liver disease and 600,000 deaths annually. Approved therapies for treating chronic HBV infections usually target the multifunctional viral polymerase (hPOL). Unfortunately, these therapies--broad-spectrum antivirals--are not general cures, have side effects, and cause viral resistance. While hPOL remains an attractive therapeutic target, it is notoriously difficult to express and purify in a soluble form at yields appropriate for structural studies. Thus, no empirical structural data exist for hPOL, and this impedes medicinal chemistry and rational lead discovery efforts targeting HBV. Here, we present an efficient strategy to overexpress recombinant hPOL domains in Escherichia coli, purifying them at high yield and solving their known aggregation tendencies. This allowed us to perform the first structural and biophysical characterizations of hPOL domains. Apo-hPOL domains adopt mainly α-helical structures with small amounts of β-sheet structures. Our recombinant material exhibited metal-dependent, reverse transcriptase activity in vitro, with metal binding modulating the hPOL structure. Calcomine orange 2RS, a small molecule that inhibits duck HBV POL activity, also inhibited the in vitro priming activity of recombinant hPOL. Our work paves the way for structural and biophysical characterizations of hPOL and should facilitate high-throughput lead discovery for HBV.The viral polymerase from human hepatitis B virus (hPOL) is a well-validated therapeutic target. However, recombinant hPOL has a well-deserved reputation for being extremely difficult to express in a soluble, active form in yields appropriate to the structural studies that usually play an important role in drug discovery programs. This has hindered the development of much-needed new antivirals for HBV. However, we have solved this problem and report here procedures for expressing recombinant hPOL domains in Escherichia coli and also methods for purifying them in soluble forms that have activity in vitro. We also present the first structural and biophysical characterizations of hPOL. Our work paves the way for new insights into hPOL structure and function, which should assist the discovery of novel antivirals for HBV.
Project description:The host structural maintenance of chromosomes 5/6 complex (Smc5/6) suppresses hepatitis B virus (HBV) transcription. HBV counters this restriction by expressing the X protein (HBx), which redirects the cellular DNA damage-binding protein 1 (DDB1)-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase to target Smc5/6 for degradation. However, the details of how HBx modulates the interaction between DDB1 and Smc5/6 remain to be determined. In this study, we performed biophysical analyses of recombinant HBx and functional analysis of HBx mutants in HBV-infected primary human hepatocytes (PHH) to identify key regions and residues that are required for HBx function. We determined that recombinant HBx is soluble and exhibits stoichiometric zinc binding when expressed in the presence of DDB1. Mass spectrometry-based hydrogen-deuterium exchange and cysteine-specific chemical footprinting of the HBx:DDB1 complex identified several HBx cysteine residues (located between amino acids 61 and 137) that are likely involved in zinc binding. These cysteine residues did not form disulfide bonds in HBx expressed in human cells. In line with the biophysical data, functional analysis demonstrated that HBx amino acids 45 to 140 are required for Smc6 degradation and HBV transcription in PHH. Furthermore, site-directed mutagenesis determined that C61, C69, C137, and H139 are necessary for HBx function, although they are likely not essential for DDB1 binding. This CCCH motif is highly conserved in HBV as well as in the X proteins from various mammalian hepadnaviruses. Collectively, our data indicate that the essential HBx cysteine and histidine residues form a zinc-binding motif that is required for HBx function.IMPORTANCE The structural maintenance of chromosomes 5/6 complex (Smc5/6) is a host restriction factor that suppresses HBV transcription. HBV counters this restriction by expressing HBV X protein (HBx), which redirects a host ubiquitin ligase to target Smc5/6 for degradation. Despite this recent advance in understanding HBx function, the key regions and residues of HBx required for Smc5/6 degradation have not been determined. In the present study, we performed biochemical, biophysical, and cell-based analyses of HBx. By doing so, we mapped the minimal functional region of HBx and identified a highly conserved CCCH motif in HBx that is likely responsible for coordinating zinc and is essential for HBx function. We also developed a method to produce soluble recombinant HBx protein that likely adopts a physiologically relevant conformation. Collectively, this study provides new insights into the HBx structure-function relationship and suggests a new approach for structural studies of this enigmatic viral regulatory protein.
Project description:Infection with HBV is common worldwide, with over 350 million chronic carriers. Chronic HBV infection is associated with cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. All currently available oral antivirals are directed against the HBV polymerase enzyme, a reverse transcriptase. HBV polymerase contains several important domains and motifs which define its functions and reveal ways to further target it. This enzyme executes many functions required for the HBV replication cycle, including viral RNA binding, RNA packaging, protein priming, template switching, DNA synthesis and RNA degradation. In addition, HBV polymerase must interact with host proteins for its functions. Future therapeutics may inhibit not only the DNA synthesis steps which are carried out by the reverse transcriptase domain (as all current antivirals do) but other domains, functions and interactions which are essential to the HBV replication cycle.
Project description:Human DNA polymerase kappa (hpol ?) is the only Y-family member to preferentially insert dAMP opposite 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dG) during translesion DNA synthesis. We have studied the mechanism of action by which hpol ? activity is modulated by the Werner syndrome protein (WRN), a RecQ helicase known to influence repair of 8-oxo-dG. Here we show that WRN stimulates the 8-oxo-dG bypass activity of hpol ? in vitro by enhancing the correct base insertion opposite the lesion, as well as extension from dC:8-oxo-dG base pairs. Steady-state kinetic analysis reveals that WRN improves hpol ?-catalyzed dCMP insertion opposite 8-oxo-dG ?10-fold and extension from dC:8-oxo-dG by 2.4-fold. Stimulation is primarily due to an increase in the rate constant for polymerization (kpol), as assessed by pre-steady-state kinetics, and it requires the RecQ C-terminal (RQC) domain. In support of the functional data, recombinant WRN and hpol ? were found to physically interact through the exo and RQC domains of WRN, and co-localization of WRN and hpol ? was observed in human cells treated with hydrogen peroxide. Thus, WRN limits the error-prone bypass of 8-oxo-dG by hpol ?, which could influence the sensitivity to oxidative damage that has previously been observed for Werner's syndrome cells.
Project description:Developing a universal influenza vaccine that induces broad spectrum and longer-term immunity has become an important potentially achievable target in influenza vaccine research and development. Hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) are the two major influenza virus antigens. Although antibody responses against influenza virus are mainly directed toward HA, NA is reported to be more genetically stable; hence NA-based vaccines have the potential to be effective for longer time periods. NA-specific immunity has been shown to limit the spread of influenza virus, thus reducing disease symptoms and providing cross-protection against heterosubtypic viruses in mouse challenge experiments. The production of large quantities of highly pure and stable NA could be beneficial for the development of new antivirals, subunit-based vaccines, and novel diagnostic tools. In this study, recombinant NA (rNA) was produced in mammalian cells at high levels from both swine A/California/07/2009 (H1N1) and avian A/turkey/Turkey/01/2005 (H5N1) influenza viruses. Biochemical, structural, and immunological characterizations revealed that the soluble rNAs produced are tetrameric, enzymatically active and immunogenic, and finally they represent good alternatives to conventionally used sources of NA in the Enzyme-Linked Lectin Assay (ELLA).
Project description:Structural and biophysical studies of protein complexes require multi-milligram quantities of soluble material. Subunits are often unstable when expressed separately so co-expression strategies are commonly employed since in vivo complex formation can provide stabilising effects. Defining constructs for subunit co-expression experiments is difficult if the proteins are poorly understood. Even more problematic is when subunit polypeptide chains co-fold since individually they do not have predictable domains. We have developed CoESPRIT, a modified version of the ESPRIT random library construct screen used previously on single proteins, to express soluble protein complexes. A random library of target constructs is screened against a fixed bait protein to identify stable complexes. In a proof-of-principle study, C-terminal fragments of the influenza polymerase PB2 subunit containing folded domains were isolated using importin alpha as bait. Separately, a C-terminal fragment of the PB1 subunit was used as bait to trap N-terminal fragments of PB2 resulting in co-folded complexes. Subsequent expression of the target protein without the bait indicates whether the target is independently stable, or co-folds with its partner. This highly automated method provides an efficient strategy for obtaining recombinant protein complexes at yields compatible with structural, biophysical and functional studies.
Project description:Human polymerase kappa (hPol kappa) is one of four eukaryotic Y-class DNA polymerases and may be an important element in the cellular response to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzo[a]pyrene, which can lead to reactive oxygenated metabolite-mediated oxidative stress. Here, we present a detailed analysis of the activity and specificity of hPol kappa bypass opposite the major oxidative adduct 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxoG). Unlike its archaeal homolog Dpo4, hPol kappa bypasses this lesion in an error-prone fashion by inserting mainly dATP. Analysis of transient-state kinetics shows diminished "bursts" for dATP:8-oxoG and dCTP:8-oxoG incorporation, indicative of non-productive complex formation, but dATP:8-oxoG insertion events that do occur are 2-fold more efficient than dCTP:G insertion events. Crystal structures of ternary hPol kappa complexes with adducted template-primer DNA reveal non-productive (dGTP and dATP) alignments of incoming nucleotide and 8-oxoG. Structural limitations placed upon the hPol kappa by interactions between the N-clasp and finger domains combined with stabilization of the syn-oriented template 8-oxoG through the side chain of Met-135 both appear to contribute to error-prone bypass. Mutating Leu-508 in the little finger domain of hPol kappa to lysine modulates the insertion opposite 8-oxoG toward more accurate bypass, similar to previous findings with Dpo4. Our structural and activity data provide insight into important mechanistic aspects of error-prone bypass of 8-oxoG by hPol kappa compared with accurate and efficient bypass of the lesion by Dpo4 and polymerase eta.
Project description:Gelonin is a plant toxin that exerts potent cytotoxic activity by inactivation of the 60S ribosomal subunit. The high-level expression of soluble gelonin still remains a great challenge and there was no detailed biophysical analysis of gelonin from Escherichia coli (E. coli) yet. In this study, the soluble and high-yield expression of recombinant gelonin (rGel) was achieved in E. coli BL21 (DE3) for the first time, with a yield of 6.03 mg/L medium. Circular dichroism (CD) analysis indicated that rGel consisted of 21.7% ?-helix, 26.3% ?-sheet, 18.5% ?-turn, and 32.3% random coil, and it could maintain its secondary structure up to 60 °C. The antitumor activity of rGel was evaluated in two colon cancer cell lines-HCT116 and HCT-8, and it was clearly demonstrated that rGel exerted antiproliferative activity against these two cell lines by inhibiting cellular protein synthesis. These findings provide insights for researchers involved in the expression of similar biotoxins, and the biophysical characterizations of gelonin will favor its further therapeutic applications.
Project description:Overexpression of human DNA polymerase kappa (hpol ?) in glioblastoma is associated with shorter survival time and resistance to the alkylating agent temozolomide (TMZ), making it an attractive target for the development of small-molecule inhibitors. We previously reported on the development and characterization of indole barbituric acid-derived (IBA) inhibitors of translesion DNA synthesis polymerases (TLS pols). We have now identified a potent and selective inhibitor of hpol ? based on the indole-aminoguanidine (IAG) chemical scaffold. The most promising IAG analogue, IAG-10, exhibited greater inhibitory action against hpol ? than any other human Y-family member, as well as pols from the A-, B-, and X-families. Inhibition of hpol ? by IAG analogues appears to proceed through a mechanism that is distinct from inhibition of hpol ? based on changes in DNA binding affinity and nucleotide insertion kinetics. By way of comparison, both IAG and IBA analogues inhibited binary complex formation by hpol ? and ternary complex formation by hpol ?. Decreasing the concentration of enzyme and DNA in the reaction mixture lowered the IC50 value of IAG-10 to submicromolar values, consistent with inhibition of binary complex formation for hpol ?. Chemical footprinting experiments revealed that IAG-10 binds to a cleft between the finger, little finger, and N-clasp domains on hpol ? and that this likely disrupts the interaction between the N-clasp and the TLS pol core. In cell culture, IAG-10 potentiated the antiproliferative activity and DNA damaging effects of TMZ in hpol ?-proficient cells but not in hpol ?-deficient cells, indicative of a target-dependent effect. Mutagenic replication across alkylation damage increased in hpol ?-proficient cells treated with IAG-10, while no change in mutation frequency was observed for hpol ?-deficient cells. In summary, we developed a potent and selective small-molecule inhibitor of hpol ? that takes advantage of structural features unique to this TLS enzyme to potentiate TMZ, a standard-of-care drug used in the treatment of malignant brain tumors. Furthermore, the IAG scaffold represents a new chemical space for the exploration of TLS pol inhibitors, which could prove useful as a strategy for improving patient response to genotoxic drugs.
Project description:Hepadnaviruses are hepatotropic enveloped DNA viruses with an icosahedral capsid. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes chronic infection in an estimated 240 million people; woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV), an HBV homologue, has been an important model system for drug development. The dimeric capsid protein (Cp) has multiple functions during the viral life cycle and thus has become an important target for a new generation of antivirals. Purified HBV and WHV Cp spontaneously assemble into 120-dimer capsids. Though they have 65% identity, WHV Cp has error-prone assembly with stronger protein-protein association. We have taken advantage of the differences in assemblies to investigate the basis of assembly regulation. We determined the structures of the WHV capsid to 4.5-Å resolution by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and of the WHV Cp dimer to 2.9-Å resolution by crystallography and examined the biophysical properties of the dimer. We found, in dimer, that the subdomain that makes protein-protein interactions is partially disordered and rotated 21° from its position in capsid. This subdomain is susceptible to proteolysis, consistent with local disorder. WHV assembly shows similar susceptibility to HBV antiviral molecules, suggesting that HBV assembly follows similar transitions. These data show that there is an entropic cost for assembly that is compensated for by the energetic gain of burying hydrophobic interprotein contacts. We propose a series of stages in assembly that incorporate a disorder-to-order transition and structural shifts. We suggest that a cascade of structural changes may be a common mechanism for regulating high-fidelity capsid assembly in HBV and other viruses.IMPORTANCE Virus capsids assemble spontaneously with surprisingly high fidelity. This requires strict geometry and a narrow range of association energies for these protein-protein interactions. It was hypothesized that requiring subunits to undergo a conformational change to become assembly active could regulate assembly by creating an energetic barrier and attenuating association. We found that woodchuck hepatitis virus capsid protein undergoes structural transitions between its dimeric and its 120-dimer capsid states. It is likely that the closely related hepatitis B virus capsid protein undergoes similar structural changes, which has implications for drug design. Regulation of assembly by structural transition may be a common mechanism for many viruses.
Project description:Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is one of the major causes of liver diseases, which can lead to hepatocellular carcinoma. The role of HBV envelope proteins is crucial in viral morphogenesis, infection, and propagation. Thus, blocking the pleiotropic functions of these proteins especially the PreS1 and PreS2 domains of the large surface protein (LHBs) is a promising strategy for designing efficient antivirals against HBV infection. Unfortunately, the structure of the LHBs protein has not been elucidated yet, and it seems that any structure-based drug discovery is critically dependent on this. To find effective inhibitors of LHBs, we have modeled and validated its three-dimensional structure and subsequently performed a virtual high-throughput screening against the ZINC database using RASPD and ParDOCK tools. We have identified four compounds, ZINC11882026, ZINC19741044, ZINC00653293, and ZINC15000762, showing appreciable binding affinity with the LHBs protein. The drug likeness was further validated using ADME screening and toxicity analysis. Interestingly, three of the four compounds showed the formation of hydrogen bonds with amino acid residues lying in the capsid binding region of the PreS1 domain of LHBs, suggesting the possibility of inhibiting the viral assembly and maturation process. The identification of potential lead molecules will help to discover more potent inhibitors with significant antiviral activities.