Retention of local conformational compactness in unfolding of barnase; Contribution of end-to-end interactions within quasi-modules.
ABSTRACT: To understand how protein reduces the conformational space to be searched for the native structure, it is crucial to characterize ensembles of conformations on the way of folding processes, in particular ensembles of relatively long-range structures connecting between an extensively unfolded state and a state with a native-like overall chain topology. To analyze such intermediate conformations, we performed multiple unfolding molecular dynamics simulations of barnase at 498K. Some short-range structures such as part of helix and turn were well sustained while most of the secondary structures and the hydrophobic cores were eventually lost, which is consistent with the results by other experimental and computational studies. The most important novel findings were persistence of long-range relatively compact substructures, which was captured by exploiting the concept of module. Module is originally introduced to describe the hierarchical structure of a globular protein in the native state. Modules are conceptually such relatively compact substructures that are resulted from partitioning the native structure of a globular protein completely into several contiguous segments with the least extended conformations. We applied this concept of module to detect a possible hierarchical structure of each snapshot structure in unfolding processes as well. Along with this conceptual extension, such detected relatively compact substructures are named quasi-modules. We found almost perfect persistence of quasi-module boundaries that are positioned close to the native module boundaries throughout the unfolding trajectories. Relatively compact conformations of the quasi-modules seemed to be retained mainly by hydrophobic interactions formed between residues located at both terminal regions within each module. From these results, we propose a hypothesis that hierarchical folding with the early formation of quasi-modules effectively reduces search space for the native structure.
Project description:Whether mechanically unfolded fibronectin (Fn) is present within native extracellular matrix fibrils is controversial. Fn extensibility under the influence of cell traction forces has been proposed to originate either from the force-induced lengthening of an initially compact, folded quaternary structure as is found in solution (quaternary structure model, where the dimeric arms of Fn cross each other), or from the force-induced unfolding of type III modules (unfolding model). Clarification of this issue is central to our understanding of the structural arrangement of Fn within fibrils, the mechanism of fibrillogenesis, and whether cryptic sites, which are exposed by partial protein unfolding, can be exposed by cell-derived force. In order to differentiate between these two models, two fluorescence resonance energy transfer schemes to label plasma Fn were applied, with sensitivity to either compact-to-extended conformation (arm separation) without loss of secondary structure or compact-to-unfolded conformation. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer studies revealed that a significant fraction of fibrillar Fn within a three-dimensional human fibroblast matrix is partially unfolded. Complete relaxation of Fn fibrils led to a refolding of Fn. The compactly folded quaternary structure with crossed Fn arms, however, was never detected within extracellular matrix fibrils. We conclude that the resting state of Fn fibrils does not contain Fn molecules with crossed-over arms, and that the several-fold extensibility of Fn fibrils involves the unfolding of type III modules. This could imply that Fn might play a significant role in mechanotransduction processes.
Project description:After decades of using urea as denaturant, the kinetic role of this molecule in the unfolding process is still undefined: does urea actively induce protein unfolding or passively stabilize the unfolded state? By analyzing a set of 30 proteins (representative of all native folds) through extensive molecular dynamics simulations in denaturant (using a range of force-fields), we derived robust rules for urea unfolding that are valid at the proteome level. Irrespective of the protein fold, presence or absence of disulphide bridges, and secondary structure composition, urea concentrates in the first solvation shell of quasi-native proteins, but with a density lower than that of the fully unfolded state. The presence of urea does not alter the spontaneous vibration pattern of proteins. In fact, it reduces the magnitude of such vibrations, leading to a counterintuitive slow down of the atomic-motions that opposes unfolding. Urea stickiness and slow diffusion is, however, crucial for unfolding. Long residence urea molecules placed around the hydrophobic core are crucial to stabilize partially open structures generated by thermal fluctuations. Our simulations indicate that although urea does not favor the formation of partially open microstates, it is not a mere spectator of unfolding that simply displaces to the right of the folded ?? unfolded equilibrium. On the contrary, urea actively favors unfolding: it selects and stabilizes partially unfolded microstates, slowly driving the protein conformational ensemble far from the native one and also from the conformations sampled during thermal unfolding.
Project description:Many small proteins fold highly cooperatively in an all-or-none fashion and thus their native states are well protected from thermal fluctuations by an extensive network of interactions across the folded structure. Because protein structures are stabilized by local and nonlocal interactions among distal residues, dissecting individual substructures from the context of folded proteins results in large destabilization and loss of unique three-dimensional structure. Thus, mini-protein substructures can only rarely be derived from natural templates. Here, we describe a compact native 24-residues-long supersecondary structure derived from the hyperstable villin headpiece subdomain consisting of helices 2 and 3 (HP24). Using a combination of experimental techniques, including NMR and small-angle x-ray scattering, as well as all-atom replica exchange molecular-dynamics simulations, we show that a variant with stabilizing substitutions (HP24stab) forms a densely packed and compact conformation. In HP24stab, interactions between helices 2 and 3 are similar to those observed in native folded HP35, and the two helices cooperatively stabilize each other by completing the hydrophobic core lining the central part of HP35. Interestingly, even though the HP24wt fragment shows a more expanded and less structured conformation, NMR and simulations demonstrate a preference for a native-like topology. Thus, the two stabilizing residues in HP24stab shift the energy balance toward the native state, leading to a minimal folding motif.
Project description:Protein unfolding is modeled as an ensemble of pathways, where each step in each pathway is the addition of one topologically possible conformational degree of freedom. Starting with a known protein structure, GeoFold hierarchically partitions (cuts) the native structure into substructures using revolute joints and translations. The energy of each cut and its activation barrier are calculated using buried solvent accessible surface area, side chain entropy, hydrogen bonding, buried cavities, and backbone degrees of freedom. A directed acyclic graph is constructed from the cuts, representing a network of simultaneous equilibria. Finite difference simulations on this graph simulate native unfolding pathways. Experimentally observed changes in the unfolding rates for disulfide mutants of barnase, T4 lysozyme, dihydrofolate reductase, and factor for inversion stimulation were qualitatively reproduced in these simulations. Detailed unfolding pathways for each case explain the effects of changes in the chain topology on the folding energy landscape. GeoFold is a useful tool for the inference of the effects of disulfide engineering on the energy landscape of protein unfolding.
Project description:The 28.6 kDa vaccinia virus complement control protein (VCP) is an inhibitor of the complement system and has therapeutic potential. It is composed of four domains or modules and is a homologue of complement receptor 1 (CR1) and other mammalian regulators of complement activation. A key aspect to structure-function relationships in these proteins is the extent of intramolecular module-module interactions, since these dictate the overall shape and flexibility of the molecules. A protein fragment (VCP approximately 2,3) encompassing modules 2 and 3 of VCP was over-expressed in Pichia pastoris. Ultracentrifugation showed that VCP approximately 2,3 is highly asymmetric with an axial ratio of 5.3:1, which is consistent with an end-to-end arrangement of the two modules. NMR spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, CD and intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence were used to monitor unfolding of VCP approximately 2,3. Experiments performed over a range of temperatures and concentrations of guanidinium chloride revealed that module 2 unfolds under milder conditions than, and independently of, module 3. Unfolding of module 2 is not associated with extensive changes in amide (15)N and (1)H chemical shifts of module 3, implying that the modules do not form an extensive intermodular interface. Results obtained in this work for VCP approximately 2,3 are compared with those obtained in a study of CR1 modules 15-17 [Kirkitadze, Krych, Uhrin, Dryden, Smith, Cooper, Wang, Hauhart, Atkinson and Barlow (1999) Biochemistry 38, 7019-7031].
Project description:Fibronectin is a large vertebrate glycoprotein that is found in soluble and insoluble forms and involved in diverse processes. Protomeric fibronectin is a dimer of subunits, each of which comprises 29-31 modules - 12 type I, two type II and 15-17 type III. Plasma fibronectin is secreted by hepatocytes and circulates in a compact conformation before it binds to cell surfaces, converts to an extended conformation and is assembled into fibronectin fibrils. Here we review biophysical and structural studies that have shed light on how plasma fibronectin transitions from the compact to the extended conformation. The three types of modules each have a well-organized secondary and tertiary structure as defined by NMR and crystallography and have been likened to "beads on a string". There are flexible sequences in the N-terminal tail, between the fifth and sixth type I modules, between the first two and last two of the type III modules, and at the C-terminus. Several specific module-module interactions have been identified that likely maintain the compact quaternary structure of circulating fibronectin. The quaternary structure is perturbed in response to binding events, including binding of fibronectin to the surface of vertebrate cells for fibril assembly and to bacterial adhesins.
Project description:Folding stability and cooperativity of the three forms of 1-110 residues fragment of staphylococcal nuclease (SNase110) have been studied by various biophysical and NMR methods. Samples of G-88W- and V-66W-mutant SNase110, namely G-88W110 and V-66W110, in aqueous solution and SNase110 in 2.0 M TMAO are adopted in this study. The unfolding transitions and folded conformations of the three SNase fragments were detected by far- and near-ultraviolet circular dichroism and intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence measurements. The tertiary structures and internal motions of the fragments were determined by NMR spectroscopy. Both G-88W and V-66W single mutations as well as a small organic osmolyte (Trimethylamine N-oxide, TMAO) can fold the fragment into a native-like conformation. However, the tertiary structures of the three fragments exhibit different degrees of folding stability and compactness. G-88W110 adopts a relatively rigid structure representing a most stable native-like beta-subdomain conformation of the three fragments. V-66W110- and TMAO-stabilized SNase110 produce less compact structures having a less stable "beta-barrel" structural region. The different folding status accounts for the different backbone dynamic and urea-unfolding transition features of the three fragments. The G-20I/G-29I-mutant variants of the three fragments have provided the evidence that the folding status is correlated closely to the packing of the beta-strands in the beta-barrel of the fragments. The native-like beta-barrel structural region acts as a nonlocal nucleus for folding the fragment. The tertiary folding of the three fragments is initiated by formation of the local nucleation sites at two beta-turn regions, I-18-D-21 and Y-27-Q-30, and developed by the formation of a nonlocal nucleation site at the beta-barrel region. The formation of beta-barrel and overall structure is concerted, but the level of cooperativity is different for the three 1-110 residues SNase fragments.
Project description:Group II intron ribozymes fold into their native structure by a unique stepwise process that involves an initial slow compaction followed by fast formation of the native state in a Mg(2+)-dependent manner. Single-molecule fluorescence reveals three distinct on-pathway conformations in dynamic equilibrium connected by relatively small activation barriers. From a most stable near-native state, the unobserved catalytically active conformer is reached. This most compact conformer occurs only transiently above 20 mM Mg(2+) and is stabilized by substrate binding, which together explain the slow cleavage of the ribozyme. Structural dynamics increase with increasing Mg(2+) concentrations, enabling the enzyme to reach its active state.
Project description:Chitinase 60 from the psychrophilic bacterium Moritella marina (MmChi60) is a four-domain protein whose structure revealed flexible hinge regions between the domains, yielding conformations in solution that range from fully extended to compact. The catalytic domain is a shallow-grooved TIM-barrel. Heat-induced denaturation experiments of the wild-type and mutants resulting from the deletions of the two-Ig-like domains and the chitin binding domain reveal calorimetric profiles that are consistent with non-collaborative thermal unfolding of the individual domains, a property that must be associated to the "hinge-regions". The calorimetric measurements of the (?/?)8 catalytic domain reveal that the thermal unfolding is a slow-relaxation transition exhibiting a stable, partially structured intermediate state. Circular dichroism provides evidence that the intermediate exhibits features of a molten globule i.e., loss of tertiary structure while maintaining the secondary structural elements of the native. GdnHCl-induced denaturation studies of the TIM-barrel demonstrate an extraordinarily high resistance to the denaturant. Slow-relaxation kinetics characterize the unfolding with equilibration times exceeding six days, a property that is for the first time observed for a psychrophilic TIM barrel. On the other hand, the thermodynamic stability is ?G=6.75±1.3 kcal/mol, considerably lower than for structural-insertions-containing barrels. The mutant E153Q used for the crystallographic studies of MmChi60 complexes with NAG ligands has a much lower stability than the wild-type.
Project description:Box C/D guide RNAs are abundant noncoding RNAs that primarily function to direct the 2'-O-methylation of specific nucleotides by base-pairing with substrate RNAs. In archaea, a bipartite C/D RNA assembles with L7Ae, Nop5, and the methyltransferase fibrillarin into a modification enzyme with unique substrate specificity. Here, we determined the crystal structure of an archaeal C/D RNA-protein complex (RNP) composed of all 3 core proteins and an engineered half-guide RNA at 4 A resolution, as well as 2 protein substructures at higher resolution. The RNP structure reveals that the C-terminal domains of Nop5 in the dimeric complex provide symmetric anchoring sites for 2 L7Ae-associated kink-turn motifs of the C/D RNA. A prominent protrusion in Nop5 seems to be important for guide RNA organization and function and for discriminating the structurally related U4 snRNA. Multiple conformations of the N-terminal domain of Nop5 and its associated fibrillarin in different structures indicate the inherent flexibility of the catalytic module, suggesting that a swinging motion of the catalytic module is part of the enzyme mechanism. We also built a model of a native C/D RNP with substrate and fibrillarin in an active conformation. Our results provide insight into the overall organization and mechanism of action of C/D RNA-guided RNA methyltransferases.