Dynamics differentiate between active and inactive inteins.
ABSTRACT: The balance between stability and dynamics for active enzymes can be somewhat quantified by studies of intein splicing and cleaving reactions. Inteins catalyze the ligation of flanking host exteins while excising themselves. The potential for applications led to engineering of a mini-intein splicing domain, where the homing endonuclease domain of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis RecA (Mtu recA) intein was removed. The remaining domains were linked by several short peptides, but splicing activity in all was substantially lower than the full-length intein. Native splicing activity was restored in some cases by a V67L mutation. Using computations and experiments, we examine the impact of this mutation on the stability and conformational dynamics of the mini-intein splicing domain. Molecular dynamics simulations were used to delineate the factors that determine the active state, including the V67L mini-intein mutant, and peptide linker. We found that (1) the V67L mutation lowers the global fluctuations in all modeled mini-inteins, stabilizing the mini-intein constructs; (2) the connecting linker length affects intein dynamics; and (3) the flexibilities of the linker and intein core are higher in the active structure. We have observed that the interaction of the linker region and a turn region around residues 35-41 provides the pathway for the allostery interaction. Our experiments reveal that intein catalysis is characterized by non-linear Arrhenius plot, confirming the significant contribution of protein conformational dynamics to intein function. We conclude that while the V67L mutation stabilizes the global structure, cooperative dynamics of all intein regions appear more important for intein function than high stability. Our studies suggest that effectively quenching the conformational dynamics of an intein through engineered allosteric interactions could deactivate intein splicing or cleaving.
Project description:Protein splicing is a post-translational process by which an intein catalyzes its own excision from flanking polypeptides, or exteins, concomitant with extein ligation. Many inteins have nested homing endonuclease domains that facilitate their propagation into intein-less alleles, whereas other inteins lack the homing endonuclease (HEN) and are called mini-inteins. The mini-intein that interrupts the DNA PolII of Pyrococcus horikoshii has a linker region in place of the HEN domain that is shorter than the linker in a closely related intein from Pyrococcus abyssi. The P. horikoshii PolII intein requires a higher temperature for catalytic activity and is more stable to digestion by the thermostable protease thermolysin, suggesting that it is more rigid than the P. abyssi intein. We solved a crystal structure of the intein precursor that revealed a domain-swapped dimer. Inteins found as domain swapped dimers have been shown to promote intein-mediated protein alternative splicing, but the solved P. horikoshii PolII intein structure has an active site unlikely to be catalytically competent.
Project description:Inteins mediate protein splicing, which has found many applications in biotechnology and protein engineering. A single valine-to-leucine mutation (V67L) can globally enhance splicing and related cleavage reactions in minimized Mycobacterium tuberculosis RecA inteins. However, V67L mutation causes little change in crystal structures. To test whether protein dynamics contribute to activity enhancement in the V67L mutation, we have studied the conformations and dynamics of the minimized and engineered intein DeltaDeltaIhh-V67CM and a single V67L mutant, DeltaDeltaIhh-L67CM, by solution NMR. Chemical shift perturbations established that the V67L mutation causes global changes, including changes at the N-terminus and C-terminus of the intein, which are active sites for protein splicing. The single V67L mutation significantly slows hydrogen-exchange rates globally, indicating a shift to more stable conformations and reduction in ensemble distribution. Whereas the V67L mutation causes little change for motions on the picosecond-to-nanosecond timescale, motions on the microsecond-to-millisecond timescale affect a region involving the conserved F-block histidine and C-terminal asparagine, which are residues important for C-terminal cleavage. The V67L mutation is proposed to activate splicing by reducing the ensemble distribution of the intein structure and by modifying the active sites.
Project description:Mycobacterium tuberculosis harbors three protein splicing elements, called inteins, in critical genes and their protein products. Post-translational removal of the inteins occurs autocatalytically and is required for function of the respective M. tuberculosis proteins. Inteins are therefore potential targets for antimycobacterial agents. In this work, we report that the splicing activity of the intein present in the RecA recombinase of M. tuberculosis is potently inhibited by the anticancer drug cisplatin (cis-diamminedichloro-platinum(II)). This previously unrecognized activity of cisplatin was established using both an in vitro intein splicing assay, which yielded an IC(50) of ?2 ?M, and a genetic reporter for intein splicing in Escherichia coli. Testing of related platinum(II) complexes indicated that the inhibition activity is highly structure-dependent, with cisplatin exhibiting the best inhibitory effect. Finally, we report that cisplatin is toxic toward M. tuberculosis with a minimum inhibitory concentration of ?40 ?M, and in genetic experiments conducted with the related Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérrin (BCG) strain, we show that cisplatin toxicity can be mitigated by intein overexpression. We propose that cisplatin inhibits intein activity by modifying at least one conserved cysteine residue that is required for splicing. Together these results identify a novel active site inhibitor of inteins and validate inteins as viable targets for small molecule inhibition in mycobacteria.
Project description:Inteins, self-splicing protein elements, interrupt genes and proteins in many microbes, including the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis Using conserved catalytic nucleophiles at their N- and C-terminal splice junctions, inteins are able to excise out of precursor polypeptides. The splicing of the intein in the mycobacterial recombinase RecA is specifically inhibited by the widely used cancer therapeutic cisplatin, cis-[Pt(NH3)2Cl2], and this compound inhibits mycobacterial growth. Mass spectrometric and crystallographic studies of Pt(II) binding to the RecA intein revealed a complex in which two platinum atoms bind at N- and C-terminal catalytic cysteine residues. Kinetic analyses of NMR spectroscopic data support a two-step binding mechanism in which a Pt(II) first rapidly interacts reversibly at the N terminus followed by a slower, first order irreversible binding event involving both the N and C termini. Notably, the ligands of Pt(II) compounds that are required for chemotherapeutic efficacy and toxicity are no longer bound to the metal atom in the intein adduct. The lack of ammine ligands and need for phosphine represent a springboard for future design of platinum-based compounds targeting inteins. Because the intein splicing mechanism is conserved across a range of pathogenic microbes, developing these drugs could lead to novel, broad range antimicrobial agents.
Project description:The 198-amino-acid in-frame insertion in the gyrA gene of Mycobacterium xenopi is the smallest known naturally occurring active protein splicing element (intein). Comparison with other mycobacterial gyrA inteins suggests that the M. xenopi intein underwent a complex series of events including (i) removal of 222 amino acids that encompass most of the central intein domain, and (ii) addition of a linker of unrelated residues. This naturally occurring genetic rearrangement is a representative characteristic of the taxon. The deletion process removes the conserved motifs involved in homing endonuclease activity. The linker insertion represents a structural requirement, as its mutation resulted in failure to splice. The M. xenopi GyrA intein thus provides a paradigm for a minimal protein splicing element.
Project description:Zinc has been found in the crystal structures of inteins and the zinc ion can inhibit intein splicing both in vitro and in vivo. The interactions between metal ions and three minimized recA inteins have been studied in this work. Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) results show that the zinc binding affinity to three inteins is in the order of DeltaI-SM > DeltaDeltaI(hh)-SM approximately DeltaDeltaI(hh)-CM, but is much weaker than to EDTA. These data explain the reversible inhibition and the presence of zinc only in the crystal structure of DeltaI-SM of recA intein. A positive correlation between binding constants and inhibition efficiency was observed upon the titration of different metal ions. Single-site binding modes were detected in all interactions, except DeltaDeltaI(hh)-CM which has two Zn sites. Zinc binding sites on DeltaDeltaI(hh)-CM were analyzed by NMR spectroscopy and ITC titration on inteins with chemical modifications. Results indicate that the Cys1 and His73 are the second zinc binding sites in DeltaDeltaI(hh)-CM. CD studies show the metal coordinations have negligible influence on protein structure. This work suggests that the mobility restriction of key residues from metal coordination is likely the key cause of metal inhibition of intein splicing.
Project description:Protein splicing catalyzed by inteins utilizes many different combinations of amino-acid types at active sites. Inteins have been classified into three classes based on their characteristic sequences. We investigated the structural basis of the protein splicing mechanism of class 3 inteins by determining crystal structures of variants of a class 3 intein from Mycobacterium chimaera and molecular dynamics simulations, which suggested that the class 3 intein utilizes a different splicing mechanism from that of class 1 and 2 inteins. The class 3 intein uses a bond cleavage strategy reminiscent of proteases but share the same Hedgehog/INTein (HINT) fold of other intein classes. Engineering of class 3 inteins from a class 1 intein indicated that a class 3 intein would unlikely evolve directly from a class 1 or 2 intein. The HINT fold appears as structural and functional solution for trans-peptidyl and trans-esterification reactions commonly exploited by diverse mechanisms using different combinations of amino-acid types for the active-site residues.
Project description:Protein splicing is a posttranslational modification where intervening proteins (inteins) cleave themselves from larger precursor proteins and ligate their flanking polypeptides (exteins) through a multistep chemical reaction. First thought to be an anomaly found in only a few organisms, protein splicing by inteins has since been observed in microorganisms from all domains of life. Despite this broad phylogenetic distribution, all inteins share common structural features such as a horseshoe-like pseudo two-fold symmetric fold, several canonical sequence motifs, and similar splicing mechanisms. Intriguingly, the splicing efficiencies and substrate specificity of different inteins vary considerably, reflecting subtle changes in the chemical mechanism of splicing, linked to their local structure and dynamics. As intein chemistry has widespread use in protein chemistry, understanding the structural and dynamical aspects of inteins is crucial for intein engineering and the improvement of intein-based technologies.
Project description:Inteins are internal protein sequences that post-translationally self-excise and splice together the flanking sequences, the so-called exteins. Natural and engineered inteins have been used in many practical applications. However, inteins are often inefficient or inactive when placed in a non-native host protein and may require the presence of several amino acid residues of the native exteins, which will then remain as a potential scar in the spliced protein. Thus, more general inteins that overcome these limitations are highly desirable. Here we report sequential directed evolution as a new approach to produce inteins with such properties. Random mutants of the Ssp (Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803) DnaB mini-intein were inserted into the protein conferring kanamycin resistance at a site where the parent intein was inactive for splicing. The mutants selected for splicing activity were further improved by iterating the procedure for two more cycles at different positions in the same protein. The resulting improved inteins showed high activity in the positions of the first rounds of selection, in multiple new insertion sites, and in different proteins. One of these inteins, the M86 mutant, which accumulated 8 amino acid substitutions, was also biochemically characterized in an artificially split form with a chemically synthesized N-terminal intein fragment consisting of 11 amino acids. When compared with the unevolved split intein, it exhibited an ?60-fold increased rate in the protein trans-splicing reaction and a K(d) value for the interaction of the split intein fragments improved by an order of magnitude. Implications on the intein structure-function, practical application, and evolution are discussed.
Project description:Inteins are prevalent among extremophiles. Mini-inteins with robust splicing properties are of particular interest for biotechnological applications due to their small size. However, biochemical and structural characterization has still been limited to a small number of inteins, and only a few serve as widely used tools in protein engineering. We determined the crystal structure of a naturally occurring Pol-II mini-intein from <i>Pyrococcus horikoshii</i> and compared all three mini-inteins found in the genome of <i>P. horikoshii</i>. Despite their similar sizes, the comparison revealed distinct differences in the insertions and deletions, implying specific evolutionary pathways from distinct ancestral origins. Our studies suggest that sporadically distributed mini-inteins might be more promising for further protein engineering applications than highly conserved mini-inteins. Structural investigations of additional inteins could guide the shortest path to finding novel robust mini-inteins suitable for various protein engineering purposes.