Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications

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    The structure of the extracellular domains of human interleukin 11? receptor reveals mechanisms of cytokine engagement
    Metcalfe, RD ; Aizel, K ; Zlatic, CO ; Nguyen, PM ; Morton, CJ ; Lio, DS-S ; Cheng, H-C ; Dobson, RCJ ; Parker, MW ; Gooley, PR ; Putoczki, TL ; Griffin, MDW (AMER SOC BIOCHEMISTRY MOLECULAR BIOLOGY INC, 2020-06-12)
    Interleukin (IL) 11 activates multiple intracellular signaling pathways by forming a complex with its cell surface α-receptor, IL-11Rα, and the β-subunit receptor, gp130. Dysregulated IL-11 signaling has been implicated in several diseases, including some cancers and fibrosis. Mutations in IL-11Rα that reduce signaling are also associated with hereditary cranial malformations. Here we present the first crystal structure of the extracellular domains of human IL-11Rα and a structure of human IL-11 that reveals previously unresolved detail. Disease-associated mutations in IL-11Rα are generally distal to putative ligand-binding sites. Molecular dynamics simulations showed that specific mutations destabilize IL-11Rα and may have indirect effects on the cytokine-binding region. We show that IL-11 and IL-11Rα form a 1:1 complex with nanomolar affinity and present a model of the complex. Our results suggest that the thermodynamic and structural mechanisms of complex formation between IL-11 and IL-11Rα differ substantially from those previously reported for similar cytokines. This work reveals key determinants of the engagement of IL-11 by IL-11Rα that may be exploited in the development of strategies to modulate formation of the IL-11-IL-11Rα complex.
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    The Roc-COR tandem domain of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 forms dimers and exhibits conventional Ras-like GTPase properties
    Mills, RD ; Liang, L-Y ; Lio, DS-S ; Mok, Y-F ; Mulhern, TD ; Cao, G ; Griffin, M ; Kenche, VB ; Culvenor, JG ; Cheng, H-C (WILEY, 2018-11-01)
    The Parkinson's disease (PD)-causative leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) belongs to the Roco family of G-proteins comprising a Ras-of-complex (Roc) domain followed by a C-terminal of Roc (COR) domain in tandem (called Roc-COR domain). Two prokaryotic Roc-COR domains have been characterized as 'G proteins activated by guanine nucleotide-dependent dimerization' (GADs), which require dimerization for activation of their GTPase activity and bind guanine nucleotides with relatively low affinities. Additionally, LRRK2 Roc domain in isolation binds guanine nucleotides with relatively low affinities. As such, LRRK2 GTPase domain was predicted to be a GAD. Herein, we describe the design and high-level expression of human LRRK2 Roc-COR domain (LRRK2 Roc-COR). Biochemical analyses of LRRK2 Roc-COR reveal that it forms homodimers, with the C-terminal portion of COR mediating its dimerization. Furthermore, it co-purifies and binds Mg2+ GTP/GDP at 1 : 1 stoichiometry, and it hydrolyzes GTP with Km  and kcat  of 22 nM and 4.70 × 10-4  min-1 ,  respectively. Thus, even though LRRK2 Roc-COR forms GAD-like homodimers, it exhibits conventional Ras-like GTPase properties, with high-affinity binding of Mg2+ -GTP/GDP and low intrinsic catalytic activity. The PD-causative Y1699C mutation mapped to the COR domain was previously reported to reduce the GTPase activity of full-length LRRK2. In contrast, this mutation induces no change in the GTPase activity, and only slight perturbations in the secondary structure contents of LRRK2 Roc-COR. As this mutation does not directly affect the GTPase activity of the isolated Roc-COR tandem, it is possible that the effects of this mutation on full-length LRRK2 occur via other functional domains. Open Practices Open Science: This manuscript was awarded with the Open Materials Badge. For more information see: https://cos.io/our-services/open-science-badges/.
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    Regulation and function of protein kinases and phosphatases.
    Cheng, H-C ; Qi, RZ ; Paudel, H ; Zhu, H-J (Hindawi Limited, 2011)
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    Modulating Astrocyte Transition after Stroke to Promote Brain Rescue and Functional Recovery: Emerging Targets Include Rho Kinase
    Abeysinghe, HCS ; Phillips, EL ; Chin-Cheng, H ; Beart, PM ; Roulston, CL (MDPI, 2016-03-01)
    Stroke is a common and serious condition, with few therapies. Whilst previous focus has been directed towards biochemical events within neurons, none have successfully prevented the progression of injury that occurs in the acute phase. New targeted treatments that promote recovery after stroke might be a better strategy and are desperately needed for the majority of stroke survivors. Cells comprising the neurovascular unit, including blood vessels and astrocytes, present an alternative target for supporting brain rescue and recovery in the late phase of stroke, since alteration in the unit also occurs in regions outside of the lesion. One of the major changes in the unit involves extensive morphological transition of astrocytes resulting in altered energy metabolism, decreased glutamate reuptake and recycling, and retraction of astrocyte end feed from both blood vessels and neurons. Whilst globally inhibiting transitional change in astrocytes after stroke is reported to result in further damage and functional loss, we discuss the available evidence to suggest that the transitional activation of astrocytes after stroke can be modulated for improved outcomes. In particular, we review the role of Rho-kinase (ROCK) in reactive gliosis and show that inhibiting ROCK after stroke results in reduced scar formation and improved functional recovery.
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    Csk-homologous kinase (Chk) is an efficient inhibitor of Src-family kinases but a poor catalyst of phosphorylation of their C-terminal regulatory tyrosine
    Advani, G ; Lim, YC ; Catimel, B ; Lio, DSS ; Ng, NLY ; Chueh, AC ; Tran, M ; Anasir, MI ; Verkade, H ; Zhu, H-J ; Turk, BE ; Smithgall, TE ; Ang, C-S ; Griffin, M ; Cheng, H-C (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2017-08-07)
    BACKGROUND: C-terminal Src kinase (Csk) and Csk-homologous kinase (Chk) are the major endogenous inhibitors of Src-family kinases (SFKs). They employ two mechanisms to inhibit SFKs. First, they phosphorylate the C-terminal tail tyrosine which stabilizes SFKs in a closed inactive conformation by engaging the SH2 domain in cis. Second, they employ a non-catalytic inhibitory mechanism involving direct binding of Csk and Chk to the active forms of SFKs that is independent of phosphorylation of their C-terminal tail. Csk and Chk are co-expressed in many cell types. Contributions of the two mechanisms towards the inhibitory activity of Csk and Chk are not fully clear. Furthermore, the determinants in Csk and Chk governing their inhibition of SFKs by the non-catalytic inhibitory mechanism are yet to be defined. METHODS: We determined the contributions of the two mechanisms towards the inhibitory activity of Csk and Chk both in vitro and in transduced colorectal cancer cells. Specifically, we assayed the catalytic activities of Csk and Chk in phosphorylating a specific peptide substrate and a recombinant SFK member Src. We employed surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy to measure the kinetic parameters of binding of Csk, Chk and their mutants to a constitutively active mutant of the SFK member Hck. Finally, we determined the effects of expression of recombinant Chk on anchorage-independent growth and SFK catalytic activity in Chk-deficient colorectal cancer cells. RESULTS: Our results revealed Csk as a robust enzyme catalysing phosphorylation of the C-terminal tail tyrosine of SFKs but a weak non-catalytic inhibitor of SFKs. In contrast, Chk is a poor catalyst of SFK tail phosphorylation but binds SFKs with high affinity, enabling it to efficiently inhibit SFKs with the non-catalytic inhibitory mechanism both in vitro and in transduced colorectal cancer cells. Further analyses mapped some of the determinants governing this non-catalytic inhibitory mechanism of Chk to its kinase domain. CONCLUSIONS: SFKs are activated by different upstream signals to adopt multiple active conformations in cells. SFKs adopting these conformations can effectively be constrained by the two complementary inhibitory mechanisms of Csk and Chk. Furthermore, the lack of this non-catalytic inhibitory mechanism accounts for SFK overactivation in the Chk-deficient colorectal cancer cells.
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    Hemopoietic Cell Kinase amplification with Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Receptor T depletion leads to polycythemia, aberrant marrow erythoid maturation, and splenomegaly
    Ku, M ; MacKinnon, RN ; Wall, M ; Narayan, N ; Walkley, C ; Cheng, H-C ; Campbell, LJ ; Purton, LE ; Nandurkar, H (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-05-07)
    Deletion of long arm of chromosome 20 [del(20q)] is the second most frequent recurrent chromosomal abnormality in hematological malignancies. It is detected in 10% of myeloproliferative neoplasms, 4-5% of myelodysplastic syndromes, and 1-2% of acute myeloid leukaemia. Recurrent, non-random occurrence of del(20q) indicates that it is a pathogenic driver in myeloid malignancies. Genetic mapping of patient samples has identified two regions of interest on 20q - the "Common Deleted Region" (CDR) and "Common Retained Region" (CRR), which was often amplified. We proposed that the CDR contained tumor suppressor gene(s) (TSG) and the CRR harbored oncogene(s); loss of a TSG together with over-expression of an oncogene favored development of myeloid malignancies. Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Receptor T (PTPRT) and Hemopoietic cell kinase (HCK) were identified to be the likely candidate TSG and oncogene respectively. Retroviral transduction of HCK into PTPRT-null murine LKS+ stem and progenitor cells resulted in hyperproliferation in colony forming assays and hyperphosphorylation of intracellular STAT3. Furthermore, over half of the murine recipients of these transduced cells developed erythroid hyperplasia, polycythemia and splenomegaly at 12 months, although no leukemic phenotype was observed. The findings suggested that HCK amplification coupled with PTPRT loss in del(20q) leads to development of a myeloproliferative phenotype.
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    Identification of functional domains in Arabidopsis thaliana mRNA decapping enzyme (AtDcp2)
    Gunawardana, D ; Cheng, H-C ; Gayler, KR (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2008-01-01)
    The Arabidopsis thaliana decapping enzyme (AtDcp2) was characterized by bioinformatics analysis and by biochemical studies of the enzyme and mutants produced by recombinant expression. Three functionally significant regions were detected: (i) a highly disordered C-terminal region with a putative PSD-95, Discs-large, ZO-1 (PDZ) domain-binding motif, (ii) a conserved Nudix box constituting the putative active site and (iii) a putative RNA binding domain consisting of the conserved Box B and a preceding loop region. Mutation of the putative PDZ domain-binding motif improved the stability of recombinant AtDcp2 and secondary mutants expressed in Escherichia coli. Such recombinant AtDcp2 specifically hydrolysed capped mRNA to produce 7-methyl GDP and decapped RNA. AtDcp2 activity was Mn(2+)- or Mg(2+)-dependent and was inhibited by the product 7-methyl GDP. Mutation of the conserved glutamate-154 and glutamate-158 in the Nudix box reduced AtDcp2 activity up to 400-fold and showed that AtDcp2 employs the catalytic mechanism conserved amongst Nudix hydrolases. Unlike many Nudix hydrolases, AtDcp2 is refractory to inhibition by fluoride ions. Decapping was dependent on binding to the mRNA moiety rather than to the 7-methyl diguanosine triphosphate cap of the substrate. Mutational analysis of the putative RNA-binding domain confirmed the functional significance of an 11-residue loop region and the conserved Box B.
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    Quantitative proteomic analyses of dynamic signalling events in cortical neurons undergoing excitotoxic cell death
    Hoque, A ; Williamson, NA ; Ameen, SS ; Ciccotosto, GD ; Hossain, MI ; Oakhill, JS ; Ng, DCH ; Ang, C-S ; Cheng, H-C (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-03-01)
    Excitotoxicity, caused by overstimulation or dysregulation of ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs), is a pathological process directing neuronal death in many neurological disorders. The aberrantly stimulated iGluRs direct massive influx of calcium ions into the affected neurons, leading to changes in expression and phosphorylation of specific proteins to modulate their functions and direct their participation in the signalling pathways that induce excitotoxic neuronal death. To define these pathways, we used quantitative proteomic approaches to identify these neuronal proteins (referred to as the changed proteins) and determine how their expression and/or phosphorylation dynamically changed in association with excitotoxic cell death. Our data, available in ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD008353, identified over 100 changed proteins exhibiting significant alterations in abundance and/or phosphorylation levels at different time points (5-240 min) in neurons after glutamate overstimulation. Bioinformatic analyses predicted that many of them are components of signalling networks directing defective neuronal morphology and functions. Among them, the well-known neuronal survival regulators including mitogen-activated protein kinases Erk1/2, glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) and microtubule-associated protein (Tau), were selected for validation by biochemical approaches, which confirmed the findings of the proteomic analysis. Bioinformatic analysis predicted Protein Kinase B (Akt), c-Jun kinase (JNK), cyclin-dependent protein kinase 5 (Cdk5), MAP kinase kinase (MEK), Casein kinase 2 (CK2), Rho-activated protein kinase (Rock) and Serum/glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 (SGK1) as the potential upstream kinases phosphorylating some of the changed proteins. Further biochemical investigation confirmed the predictions of sustained changes of the activation states of neuronal Akt and CK2 in excitotoxicity. Thus, future investigation to define the signalling pathways directing the dynamic alterations in abundance and phosphorylation of the identified changed neuronal proteins will help elucidate the molecular mechanism of neuronal death in excitotoxicity.
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    Structural elements and allosteric mechanisms governing regulation and catalysis of CSK-family kinases and their inhibition of Src-family kinases
    Ia, KK ; Mills, RD ; Hossain, MI ; Chan, K-C ; Jarasrassamee, B ; Jorissen, RN ; Cheng, H-C (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2010-10-01)
    C-terminal Src kinase (CSK) and CSK-homologous kinase (CHK) are endogenous inhibitors constraining the activity of the oncogenic Src-family kinases (SFKs) in cells. Both kinases suppress SFKs by selectively phosphorylating their consensus C-terminal regulatory tyrosine. In addition to phosphorylation, CHK can suppress SFKs by a unique non-catalytic inhibitory mechanism that involves tight binding of CHK to SFKs to form stable complexes. In this review, we discuss how allosteric regulators, phosphorylation, and inter-domain interactions interplay to govern the activity of CSK and CHK and their ability to inhibit SFKs. In particular, based upon the published results of structural and biochemical analysis of CSK and CHK, we attempt to chart the allosteric networks in CSK and CHK that govern their catalysis and ability to inhibit SFKs. We also discuss how the published three-dimensional structure of CSK complexed with an SFK member sheds light on the structural basis of substrate recognition by protein kinases.
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    Allosteric networks governing regulation and catalysis of Src-family protein tyrosine kinases: Implications for disease-associated kinases
    Cheng, H-C ; Johnson, TM ; Mills, RD ; Chong, Y-P ; Chan, K-C ; Culvenor, JG (WILEY, 2010-01-01)
    1. The Src-family protein tyrosine kinases (SFKs) are multidomain oncogenic protein tyrosine kinases. Their overactivation contributes to cancer formation and progression. Thus, synthetic inhibitors of SFKs are being developed as therapeutics for cancer treatment. Understanding the regulatory and catalytic mechanisms of SFKs is necessary for the development of therapeutic SFK inhibitors. 2. Although many upstream regulators and protein substrates of SFKs have been identified, both the mechanisms of activation and catalysis of SFKs are not fully understood. In particular, it is still unclear how the inactive SFKs undergo conformational transition during activation. The mechanism governing the binding of substrates and the release of products during catalysis is another area that requires investigation. 3. Several recent publications indicate the presence of a 'hydrophobic spine' formed by four conserved interacting hydrophobic residues in the kinase domain of SFKs. In the present review, we discuss how the assembly and disassembly of the hydrophobic spine residues may govern conformational transition of SFKs during activation. In addition to regulation of kinase activity, the hydrophobic spine is implicated to be involved in catalysis. It has been postulated recently that perturbation of the hydrophobic spine residues is a key step in catalysis. 4. Further investigations to decipher the roles of the hydrophobic spine residues in regulation and catalysis of SFKs will benefit the development of therapeutic SFK inhibitors for cancer treatment.