Protein structural dynamics revealed by time-resolved X-ray solution scattering.
ABSTRACT: One of the most important questions in biological science is how a protein functions. When a protein performs its function, it undergoes regulated structural transitions. In this regard, to better understand the underlying principle of a protein function, it is desirable to monitor the dynamic evolution of the protein structure in real time. To probe fast and subtle motions of a protein in physiological conditions demands an experimental tool that is not only equipped with superb spatiotemporal resolution but also applicable to samples in solution phase. Time-resolved X-ray solution scattering (TRXSS), discussed in this Account, fits all of those requirements needed for probing the movements of proteins in aqueous solution. The technique utilizes a pump-probe scheme employing an optical pump pulse to initiate photoreactions of proteins and an X-ray probe pulse to monitor ensuing structural changes. The technical advances in ultrafast lasers and X-ray sources allow us to achieve superb temporal resolution down to femtoseconds. Because X-rays scatter off all atomic pairs in a protein, an X-ray scattering pattern provides information on the global structure of the protein with subangstrom spatial resolution. Importantly, TRXSS is readily applicable to aqueous solution samples of proteins with the aid of theoretical models and therefore is well suited for investigating structural dynamics of protein transitions in physiological conditions. In this Account, we demonstrate that TRXSS can be used to probe real-time structural dynamics of proteins in solution ranging from subtle helix movement to global conformational change. Specifically, we discuss the photoreactions of photoactive yellow protein (PYP) and homodimeric hemoglobin (HbI). For PYP, we revealed the kinetics of structural transitions among four transient intermediates comprising a photocycle and, by applying structural analysis based on ab initio shape reconstruction, showed that the signaling of PYP involves the protrusion of the N-terminus with significant increase of the overall protein size. For HbI, we elucidated the dynamics of complex allosteric transitions among transient intermediates. In particular, by applying structural refinement analysis based on rigid-body modeling, we found that the allosteric transition of HbI accompanies the rotation of quaternary structure and the contraction between two heme domains. By making use of the experimental and analysis methods presented in this Account, we envision that the TRXSS can be used to probe the structural dynamics of various proteins, allowing us to decipher the working mechanisms of their functions. Furthermore, when combined with femtosecond X-ray pulses generated from X-ray free electron lasers, TRXSS will gain access to ultrafast protein dynamics on sub-picosecond time scales.
Project description:Real-time probing of structural transitions of a photoactive protein is challenging owing to the lack of a universal time-resolved technique that can probe the changes in both global conformation and light-absorbing chromophores of the protein. In this work, we combine time-resolved X-ray solution scattering (TRXSS) and transient absorption (TA) spectroscopy to investigate how the global conformational changes involved in the photoinduced signal transduction of photoactive yellow protein (PYP) is temporally and spatially related to the local structural change around the light-absorbing chromophore. In particular, we examine the role of internal proton transfer in developing a signaling state of PYP by employing its E46Q mutant (E46Q-PYP), where the internal proton transfer is inhibited by the replacement of a proton donor. The comparison of TRXSS and TA spectroscopy data directly reveals that the global conformational change of the protein, which is probed by TRXSS, is temporally delayed by tens of microseconds from the local structural change of the chromophore, which is probed by TA spectroscopy. The molecular shape of the signaling state reconstructed from the TRXSS curves directly visualizes the three-dimensional conformations of protein intermediates and reveals that the smaller structural change in E46Q-PYP than in wild-type PYP suggested by previous studies is manifested in terms of much smaller protrusion, confirming that the signaling state of E46Q-PYP is only partially developed compared with that of wild-type PYP. This finding provides direct evidence of how the environmental change in the vicinity of the chromophore alters the conformational change of the entire protein matrix.
Project description:The quaternary transition between the relaxed (R) and tense (T) states of heme-binding proteins is a textbook example for the allosteric structural transition. Homodimeric hemoglobin (HbI) from Scapharca inaequivalvis is a useful model system for investigating the allosteric behavior because of the relatively simple quaternary structure. To understand the cooperative transition of HbI, wild-type and mutants of HbI have been studied by using time-resolved X-ray solution scattering (TRXSS), which is sensitive to the conformational changes. Herein, we review the structural dynamics of HbI investigated by TRXSS and compare the results of TRXSS with those of other techniques.
Project description:A salt bridge, one of the representative structural factors established by non-covalent interactions, plays a crucial role in stabilizing the structure and regulating the protein function, but its role in dynamic processes has been elusive. Here, to scrutinize the structural and functional roles of the salt bridge in the process of performing the protein function, we investigated the effects of salt bridges on the allosteric structural transition of homodimeric hemoglobin (HbI) by applying time-resolved X-ray solution scattering (TRXSS) to the K30D mutant, in which the interfacial salt bridges of the wild type (WT) are abolished. The TRXSS data of K30D are consistent with the kinetic model that requires one monomer intermediate in addition to three structurally distinct dimer intermediates (I<sub>1</sub>, I<sub>2</sub>, and I<sub>3</sub>) observed in WT and other mutants. The kinetic and structural analyses show that K30D has an accelerated biphasic transition from I<sub>2</sub> to I<sub>3</sub> by more than nine times compared to WT and lacks significant structural changes in the transition from R-like I<sub>2</sub> to T-like I<sub>3</sub> observed in WT, unveiling that the loss of the salt bridges interrupts the R-T allosteric transition of HbI. Besides, the correlation between the bimolecular CO recombination rates in K30D, WT, and other mutants reveals that the bimolecular CO recombination is abnormally decelerated in K30D, indicating that the salt bridges also affect the cooperative ligand binding in HbI. These comparisons of the structural dynamics and kinetics of K30D and WT show that the interfacial salt bridges not only assist the physical connection of two subunits but also play a critical role in the global structural signal transduction of one subunit to the other subunit <i>via</i> a series of well-organized structural transitions.
Project description:Biological functions frequently require protein-protein interactions that involve secondary and tertiary structural perturbation. Here we study protein-protein dissociation and reassociation dynamics in insulin, a model system for protein oligomerization. Insulin dimer dissociation into monomers was induced by a nanosecond temperature-jump (T-jump) of ?8 °C in aqueous solution, and the resulting protein and solvent dynamics were tracked by time-resolved X-ray solution scattering (TRXSS) on time scales of 10 ns to 100 ms. The protein scattering signals revealed the formation of five distinguishable transient species during the association process that deviate from simple two-state kinetics. Our results show that the combination of T-jump pump coupled to TRXSS probe allows for direct tracking of structural dynamics in nonphotoactive proteins.
Project description:Ultrafast motion of molecules, particularly the coherent motion, has been intensively investigated as a key factor guiding the reaction pathways. Recently, X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) have been utilized to elucidate the ultrafast motion of molecules. However, the studies on proteins using XFELs have been typically limited to the crystalline phase, and proteins in solution have rarely been investigated. Here we applied femtosecond time-resolved X-ray solution scattering (fs-TRXSS) and a structure refinement method to visualize the ultrafast motion of a protein. We succeeded in revealing detailed ultrafast structural changes of homodimeric hemoglobin involving the coherent motion. In addition to the motion of the protein itself, the time-dependent change of electron density of the hydration shell was tracked. Besides, the analysis on the fs-TRXSS data of myoglobin allows for observing the effect of the oligomeric state on the ultrafast coherent motion.
Project description:It is widely accepted that PYP undergoes global structural changes during the formation of the biologically active intermediate PYP(M). High-angle solution x-ray scattering experiments were performed using PYP variants that lacked the N-terminal 6-, 15-, or 23-amino-acid residues (T6, T15, and T23, respectively) to clarify these structural changes. The scattering profile of the dark state of intact PYP exhibited two broad peaks in the high-angle region (0.3 A(-1) < Q < 0.8 A(-1)). The intensities and positions of the peaks were systematically changed as a result of the N-terminal truncations. These observations and the agreement between the observed scattering profiles and the calculated profiles based on the crystal structure confirm that the high-angle scattering profiles were caused by intramolecular interference and that the structure of the chromophore-binding domain was not affected by the N-terminal truncations. The profiles of the PYP(M) intermediates of the N-terminally truncated PYP variants were significantly different from the profiles of the dark states of these proteins, indicating that substantial conformational rearrangements occur within the chromophore-binding domain during the formation of PYP(M). By use of molecular fluctuation analysis, structural models of the chromophore-binding region of PYP(M) were constructed to reproduce the observed profile of T23. The structure obtained by averaging 51 potential models revealed the displacement of the loop connecting beta4 and beta5, and the deformation of the alpha4 helix. High-angle x-ray scattering with molecular fluctuation simulation allows us to derive the structural properties of the transient state of a protein in solution.
Project description:Homodimeric hemoglobin (HbI) consisting of two subunits is a good model system for investigating the allosteric structural transition as it exhibits cooperativity in ligand binding. In this work, as an effort to extend our previous study on wild-type and F97Y mutant HbI, we investigate structural dynamics of a mutant HbI in solution to examine the role of well-organized interfacial water cluster, which has been known to mediate intersubunit communication in HbI. In the T72V mutant of HbI, the interfacial water cluster in the T state is perturbed due to the lack of Thr72, resulting in two less interfacial water molecules than in wild-type HbI. By performing picosecond time-resolved X-ray solution scattering experiment and kinetic analysis on the T72V mutant, we identify three structurally distinct intermediates (I1, I2, and I3) and show that the kinetics of the T72V mutant are well described by the same kinetic model used for wild-type and F97Y HbI, which involves biphasic kinetics, geminate recombination, and bimolecular CO recombination. The optimized kinetic model shows that the R-T transition and bimolecular CO recombination are faster in the T72V mutant than in the wild type. From structural analysis using species-associated difference scattering curves for the intermediates, we find that the T-like deoxy I3 intermediate in solution has a different structure from deoxy HbI in crystal. In addition, we extract detailed structural parameters of the intermediates such as E-F distance, intersubunit rotation angle, and heme-heme distance. By comparing the structures of protein intermediates in wild-type HbI and the T72V mutant, we reveal how the perturbation in the interfacial water cluster affects the kinetics and structures of reaction intermediates of HbI.
Project description:We have exploited the principle of photoselection and the method of time-resolved small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) to investigate protein size and shape changes following photoactivation of photoactive yellow protein (PYP) in solution with ?150 ps time resolution. This study partially overcomes the orientational average intrinsic to solution scattering methods and provides structural information at a higher level of detail. Photoactivation of the p-coumaric acid (pCA) chromophore in PYP produces a highly contorted, short-lived, red-shifted intermediate (pR0), and triggers prompt, protein compaction of approximately 0.3% along the direction defined by the electronic transition dipole moment of the chromophore. Contraction along this dimension is accompanied by expansion along the orthogonal directions, with the net protein volume change being approximately -0.25%. More than half the strain arising from formation of pR0 is relieved by the pR0 to pR1 structure transition (1.8 ± 0.2 ns), with the persistent strain presumably contributing to the driving force needed to generate the spectroscopically blue-shifted pB signaling state. The results reported here are consistent with the near-atomic resolution structural dynamics reported in a recent time-resolved Laue crystallography study of PYP crystals and suggest that the early time structural dynamics in the crystalline state carry over to proteins in solution.
Project description:Small molecules such as molecular oxygen, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide play important roles in life, and many proteins require the transport of small molecules to and from the bulk solvent for their function. Ligand migration within a protein molecule is expected to be closely related to the overall structural changes of the protein, but the detailed and quantitative connection remains elusive. For example, despite numerous studies, how occluded ligand migration affects the kinetics and structural dynamics of the R-T transition remains unclear. To shed light on this issue, we chose homodimeric hemoglobin (HbI) with the I114F mutation (I114F), which is known to interfere with ligand migration between the primary and secondary docking sites, and studied its kinetics and structural dynamics using time-resolved X-ray solution scattering. The kinetic analysis shows that I114F has three structurally distinct intermediates (I1, I2, and I3) as in the wild type (WT), but its geminate CO recombination occurs directly from I1 without the path via I2 observed in WT. Moreover, the structural transitions, which involve ligand migration (the transitions from I1 to I2 and from I3 to the initial state), are decelerated compared to WT. The structural analysis revealed that I114F involves generally smaller structural changes in all three intermediates compared to WT.
Project description:Proteins serve as molecular machines in performing their biological functions, but the detailed structural transitions are difficult to observe in their native aqueous environments in real time. For example, despite extensive studies, the solution-phase structures of the intermediates along the allosteric pathways for the transitions between the relaxed (R) and tense (T) forms have been elusive. In this work, we employed picosecond X-ray solution scattering and novel structural analysis to track the details of the structural dynamics of wild-type homodimeric hemoglobin (HbI) from the clam Scapharca inaequivalvis and its F97Y mutant over a wide time range from 100 ps to 56.2 ms. From kinetic analysis of the measured time-resolved X-ray solution scattering data, we identified three structurally distinct intermediates (I(1), I(2), and I(3)) and their kinetic pathways common for both the wild type and the mutant. The data revealed that the singly liganded and unliganded forms of each intermediate share the same structure, providing direct evidence that the ligand photolysis of only a single subunit induces the same structural change as the complete photolysis of both subunits does. In addition, by applying novel structural analysis to the scattering data, we elucidated the detailed structural changes in the protein, including changes in the heme-heme distance, the quaternary rotation angle of subunits, and interfacial water gain/loss. The earliest, R-like I(1) intermediate is generated within 100 ps and transforms to the R-like I(2) intermediate with a time constant of 3.2 ± 0.2 ns. Subsequently, the late, T-like I(3) intermediate is formed via subunit rotation, a decrease in the heme-heme distance, and substantial gain of interfacial water and exhibits ligation-dependent formation kinetics with time constants of 730 ± 120 ns for the fully photolyzed form and 5.6 ± 0.8 ?s for the partially photolyzed form. For the mutant, the overall kinetics are accelerated, and the formation of the T-like I(3) intermediate involves interfacial water loss (instead of water entry) and lacks the contraction of the heme-heme distance, thus underscoring the dramatic effect of the F97Y mutation. The ability to keep track of the detailed movements of the protein in aqueous solution in real time provides new insights into the protein structural dynamics.