Discovery of conical intersection mediated photochemistry with growing string methods.
ABSTRACT: Conical intersections (CIs) are important features of photochemistry that determine yields and selectivity. Traditional CI optimizers require significant human effort and chemical intuition, which typically restricts searching to only a small region of the CI space. Herein, a systematic approach utilizing the growing string method is introduced to locate multiple CIs. Unintuitive MECI are found using driving coordinates that can be generated using a combinatorial search, and subsequent optimization allows reaction pathways, transition states, products, and seam-space pathways to be located. These capabilities are demonstrated by application to two prototypical photoisomerization reactions and the dimerization of butadiene. In total, many reaction pathways were uncovered, including the elusive stilbene hula-twist mechanism, and a previously unidentified product in butadiene dimerization. Overall, these results suggest that growing string methods provide a predictive strategy for exploring photochemistry.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Weighted hula-hoops have gained popularity, but whether they indeed reshape the trunk or have beneficial metabolic effects in overweight subjects is unknown. OBJECTIVES:To determine effects of hula-hooping and walking matched for energy expenditure on android fat %, trunk muscle mass, and metabolic parameters in a randomized cross-over study. DESIGN:We recruited 55 overweight nondiabetic subjects, who were randomized to hula-hooping (HULA) for 6 weeks using a 1.5-kg weighted hula-hoop followed by walking (WALK) for another 6 weeks or vice versa. The increments in energy expenditure were similar by HULA and WALK. Body composition (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and metabolic parameters were measured at baseline and after HULA and WALK. The primary endpoint was the change in fat % in the android region. RESULTS:A total of 53subjects (waist 92 ± 1 cm, body mass index 28 ± 1 kg/m2) completed the study. Body weight changed similarly (-0.6 ± 0.2 vs. -0.5 ± 0.2 kg, nonsignificant; HULA vs. WALK). During the intervention the subjects hula-hooped on average 12.8 ± 0.5 min/day and walked 9,986 ± 376 steps/day. The % fat in the android region decreased significantly by HULA but not by WALK (between-group change p < 0.001). Trunk muscle mass increased more by HULA than by WALK (p < 0.05). Waist circumference decreased more by HULA than by WALK (-3.1 ± 0.3 cm vs. -0.7 ± 0.4 cm, p < 0.001; HULA vs. WALK). WALK but not HULA significantly lowered systolic blood pressure and increased HDL cholesterol while HULA significantly decreased LDL cholesterol. CONCLUSIONS:Hula-hooping with a weighted hula-hoop can be used to decrease abdominal fat % and increase trunk muscle mass in overweight subjects. Its LDL lowering effect resembles that described for resistance training.
Project description:The 14-kDa BlaI protein represses the transcription of blaZ, the gene encoding beta-lactamase. It is homologous to MecI, which regulates the expression of mecA, the gene encoding the penicillin binding protein PBP2a. These genes mediate resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics in staphylococci. Both repressors can bind either bla or mec DNA promoter-operator sequences. Regulated resistance genes are activated via receptor-mediated cleavage of the repressors. Cleavage is induced when beta-lactam antibiotics bind the extramembrane sensor of the sensor-transducer signaling molecules, BlaR1 or MecR1. The crystal structures of BlaI from Staphylococcus aureus, both in free form and in complex with 32 bp of DNA of the mec operator, have been determined to 2.0- and 2.7-A resolutions, respectively. The structure of MecI, also in free form and in complex with the bla operator, has been previously reported. Both repressors form homodimers, with each monomer composed of an N-terminal DNA binding domain of winged helix-turn-helix topology and a C-terminal dimerization domain. The structure of BlaI in complex with the mec operator shows a protein-DNA interface that is conserved between both mec and bla targets. The recognition helix alpha3 interacts specifically with the conserved TACA/TGTA DNA binding motif. BlaI and, probably, MecI dimers bind to opposite faces of the mec DNA double helix in an up-and-down arrangement, whereas MecI and, probably, BlaI dimers bind to the same DNA face of bla promoter-operator DNA. This is due to the different spacing of mec and bla DNA binding sites. Furthermore, the flexibility of the dimeric proteins may make the C-terminal proteolytic cleavage site more accessible when the repressors are bound to DNA than when they are in solution, suggesting that the induction cascade involves bound rather than free repressor.
Project description:Methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus is elicited by the MecI-MecR1-MecA axis encoded by the mec locus. Recently, MecR2 was also identified as a regulator of mec through binding of the methicillin repressor, MecI. Here we show that plasmid-encoded full-length MecR2 restores resistance in a sensitive S. aureus mecR2 deletion mutant of the resistant strain N315. The crystal structure of MecR2 reveals an N-terminal DNA-binding domain, an intermediate scaffold domain, and a C-terminal dimerization domain that contributes to oligomerization. The protein shows structural similarity to ROK (repressors, open reading frames, and kinases) family proteins, which bind DNA and/or sugar molecules. We found that functional cell-based assays of three point mutants affecting residues participating in sugar binding in ROK proteins had no effect on the resistance phenotype. By contrast, MecR2 bound short double-stranded DNA oligonucleotides nonspecifically, and a deletion mutant affecting the N-terminal DNA-binding domain showed a certain effect on activity, thus contributing to resistance less than the wild-type protein. Similarly, a deletion mutant, in which a flexible segment of intermediate scaffold domain had been replaced by four glycines, significantly reduced MecR2 function, thus indicating that this domain may likewise be required for activity. Taken together, these results provide the structural basis for the activity of a methicillin antirepressor, MecR2, which would sequester MecI away from its cognate promoter region and facilitate its degradation.
Project description:Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an important human pathogen, which is cross-resistant to virtually all ?-lactam antibiotics. MRSA strains are defined by the presence of mecA gene. The transcription of mecA can be regulated by a sensor-inducer (MecR1) and a repressor (MecI), involving a unique series of proteolytic steps. The induction of mecA by MecR1 has been described as very inefficient and, as such, it is believed that optimal expression of ?-lactam resistance by MRSA requires a non-functional MecR1-MecI system. However, in a recent study, no correlation was found between the presence of functional MecR1-MecI and the level of ?-lactam resistance in a representative collection of epidemic MRSA strains. Here, we demonstrate that the mecA regulatory locus consists, in fact, of an unusual three-component arrangement containing, in addition to mecR1-mecI, the up to now unrecognized mecR2 gene coding for an anti-repressor. The MecR2 function is essential for the full induction of mecA expression, compensating for the inefficient induction of mecA by MecR1 and enabling optimal expression of ?-lactam resistance in MRSA strains with functional mecR1-mecI regulatory genes. Our data shows that MecR2 interacts directly with MecI, destabilizing its binding to the mecA promoter, which results in the repressor inactivation by proteolytic cleavage, presumably mediated by native cytoplasmatic proteases. These observations point to a revision of the current model for the transcriptional control of mecA and open new avenues for the design of alternative therapeutic strategies for the treatment of MRSA infections. Moreover, these findings also provide important insights into the complex evolutionary pathways of antibiotic resistance and molecular mechanisms of transcriptional regulation in bacteria.
Project description:Double-bond photoisomerization in molecules such as the green fluorescent protein (GFP) chromophore can occur either via a volume-demanding one-bond-flip pathway or via a volume-conserving hula-twist pathway. Understanding the factors that determine the pathway of photoisomerization would inform the rational design of photoswitchable GFPs as improved tools for super-resolution microscopy. In this communication, we reveal the photoisomerization pathway of a photoswitchable GFP, rsEGFP2, by solving crystal structures of cis and trans rsEGFP2 containing a monochlorinated chromophore. The position of the chlorine substituent in the trans state breaks the symmetry of the phenolate ring of the chromophore and allows us to distinguish the two pathways. Surprisingly, we find that the pathway depends on the arrangement of protein monomers within the crystal lattice: in a looser packing, the one-bond-flip occurs, whereas, in a tighter packing (7% smaller unit cell size), the hula-twist occurs.
Project description:The dimeric repressor MecI regulates the mecA gene that encodes the penicillin-binding protein PBP-2a in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MecI is similar to BlaI, the repressor for the blaZ gene of beta-lactamase. MecI and BlaI can bind to both operator DNA sequences. The crystal structure of MecI in complex with the 32 base-pair cognate DNA of mec was determined to 3.8 A resolution. MecI is a homodimer and each monomer consists of a compact N-terminal winged-helix domain, which binds to DNA, and a loosely packed C-terminal helical domain, which intertwines with its counter-monomer. The crystal contains horizontal layers of virtual DNA double helices extending in three directions, which are separated by perpendicular DNA segments. Each DNA segment is bound to two MecI dimers. Similar to the BlaI-mec complex, but unlike the MecI-bla complex, the MecI repressors bind to both sides of the mec DNA dyad that contains four conserved sequences of TACA/TGTA. The results confirm the up-and-down binding to the mec operator, which may account for cooperative effect of the repressor.
Project description:In absence of beta-lactam antibiotics, BlaI and MecI homodimeric repressors negatively control the expression of genes involved in beta-lactam resistance in Bacillus licheniformis and in Staphylococcus aureus. Subsequently to beta-lactam presence, BlaI/MecI is inactivated by a single-point proteolysis that separates its N-terminal DNA-binding domain to its C-terminal domain responsible for its dimerization. Concomitantly to this proteolysis, the truncated repressor acquires a low affinity for its DNA target that explains the expression of the structural gene for resistance. To understand the loss of the high DNA affinity of the truncated repressor, we have determined the different dissociation constants of the system and solved the solution structure of the B. licheniformis monomeric repressor complexed to the semi-operating sequence OP1 of blaP (1/2OP1blaP) by using a de novo docking approach based on inter-molecular nuclear Overhauser effects and chemical-shift differences measured on each macromolecular partner. Although the N-terminal domain of the repressor is not subject to internal structural rearrangements upon DNA binding, the molecules adopt a tertiary conformation different from the crystallographic operator-repressor dimer complex, leading to a 30 degrees rotation of the monomer with respect to a central axis extended across the DNA. These results open new insights for the repression and induction mechanisms of bacterial resistance to beta-lactams.
Project description:After its recent rediscovery, the Hula painted frog (Latonia nigriventer) has remained one of the world's rarest and least understood amphibian species. Together with its apparently low dispersal capability and highly disturbed niche, the low abundance of this living fossil calls for urgent conservation measures. We used 18 newly developed microsatellite loci and four different models to calculate the effective population size (Ne) of a total of 125 Hula painted frog individuals sampled at a single location. We compare the Ne estimates to the estimates of potentially reproducing adults in this population (Nad) determined through a capture-recapture study on 118 adult Hula painted frogs captured at the same site. Surprisingly, our data suggests that, despite Nad estimates of only ~234-244 and Ne estimates of ~16.6-35.8, the species appears to maintain a very high genetic diversity (HO?=?0.771) and low inbreeding coefficient (FIS?=?-0.018). This puzzling outcome could perhaps be explained by the hypotheses of either genetic rescue from one or more unknown Hula painted frog populations nearby or by recent admixture of genetically divergent subpopulations. Independent of which scenario is correct, the original locations of these populations still remain to be determined.
Project description:Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is intrinsically cross-resistant to virtually all β-lactam antibiotics. The central determinant for the MRSA phenotype is the mecA gene, whose transcriptional control may be mediated by a repressor (mecI) and a sensor/inducer (mecR1). The mecI-mecR1-mediated induction of mecA takes several hours rendering the strains phenotypically susceptible in spite of the presence of the resistance gene. Therefore, it has been proposed that the full resistance to β-lactams observed in many contemporary clinical MRSA strains requires a non-functional mecI-mecR1 regulatory system. The mecA gene is embedded in a large chromosomal cassette (the SCCmec element) for which several structural types have been described. Some epidemic MRSA clones, typically expressing full β-lactam resistance, carry SCCmec elements that contain an intact mecI-mecR1 locus (e.g. SCCmec types II and III). We have addressed this apparent contradiction by first sequencing the mecI coding region and mecA promoter sequences in a collection of prototype MRSA strains characterized by different SCCmec types. A conserved non-sense mutation within mecI was detected in all SCCmec type III strains tested, presumably responsible for a non-functional truncated MecI protein and, therefore, explaining the full resistance phenotype. In SCCmec type II strains no conserved mutations were found. We next transformed a collection of prototype MRSA epidemic strains with a recombinant plasmid overexpressing a wild-type copy of mecI. Surprisingly, for the great majority of the strains no significant alterations in the phenotypic expression of β-lactam resistance could be detected. These findings were confirmed and further explored, challenging the currently accepted mechanism of mecA transcriptional control. Our observations suggest the existence of yet unidentified additional determinants involved in the transcriptional control of mecA gene and point to a revision of the mecA regulatory mechanism in contemporary MRSA strains.
Project description:Two monofunctional Delta(3), Delta(2)-enoyl-CoA isomerases, one in mitochondria (mECI) and the other in both mitochondria and peroxisomes (pECI), belong to the low-similarity isomerase/hydratase superfamily. Both enzymes catalyze the movement of a double bond from C3 to C2 of an unsaturated acyl-CoA substrate for re-entry into the beta-oxidation pathway. Mutagenesis has shown that Glu165 of rat mECI is involved in catalysis; however, the putative catalytic residue in yeast pECI, Glu158, is not conserved in mECI. To elucidate whether Glu165 of mECI is correctly positioned for catalysis, the crystal structure of rat mECI has been solved. Crystal packing suggests the enzyme is trimeric, in contrast to other members of the superfamily, which appear crystallographically to be dimers of trimers. The polypeptide fold of mECI, like pECI, belongs to a subset of this superfamily in which the C-terminal domain of a given monomer interacts with its own N-terminal domain. This differs from that of crotonase and 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphtoyl-CoA synthase, whose C-terminal domains are involved in domain swapping with an adjacent monomer. The structure confirms Glu165 as the putative catalytic acid/base, positioned to abstract the pro-R proton from C2 and reprotonate at C4 of the acyl chain. The large tunnel-shaped active site cavity observed in the mECI structure explains the relative substrate promiscuity in acyl-chain length and stereochemistry. Comparison with the crystal structure of pECI suggests the catalytic residues from both enzymes are spatially conserved but not in their primary structures, providing a powerful reminder of how catalytic residues cannot be determined solely by sequence alignments.