Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications

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    Field Effect Transistor-Like Control of Capillaric Flow Using Off-Valves
    Meffan, RC ; Mak, D ; Menges, J ; Dolamore, F ; Fee, C ; Dobson, RCJ ; Nock, V (IEEE, 2022-01-01)
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    The structure and function of modular Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteriophage FTBEc1 endolysin, LysT84: defining a new endolysin catalytic subfamily.
    Love, MJ ; Coombes, D ; Ismail, S ; Billington, C ; Dobson, RCJ (Portland Press Ltd., 2022-01-28)
    Bacteriophage endolysins degrade peptidoglycan and have been identified as antibacterial candidates to combat antimicrobial resistance. Considering the catalytic and structural diversity of endolysins, there is a paucity of structural data to inform how these enzymes work at the molecular level - key data that is needed to realize the potential of endolysin-based antibacterial agents. Here, we determine the atomic structure and define the enzymatic function of Escherichia coli O157:H7 phage FTEBc1 endolysin, LysT84. Bioinformatic analysis reveals that LysT84 is a modular endolysin, which is unusual for Gram-negative endolysins, comprising a peptidoglycan binding domain and an enzymatic domain. The crystal structure of LysT84 (2.99 Å) revealed a mostly α-helical protein with two domains connected by a linker region but packed together. LysT84 was determined to be a monomer in solution using analytical ultracentrifugation. Small-angle X-ray scattering data revealed that LysT84 is a flexible protein but does not have the expected bimodal P(r) function of a multidomain protein, suggesting that the domains of LysT84 pack closely creating a globular protein as seen in the crystal structure. Structural analysis reveals two key glutamate residues positioned on either side of the active site cavity; mutagenesis demonstrating these residues are critical for peptidoglycan degradation. Molecular dynamic simulations suggest that the enzymatically active domain is dynamic, allowing the appropriate positioning of these catalytic residues for hydrolysis of the β(1-4) bond. Overall, our study defines the structural basis for peptidoglycan degradation by LysT84 which supports rational engineering of related endolysins into effective antibacterial agents.
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    Fermentation of plant-based dairy alternatives by lactic acid bacteria
    Harper, AR ; Dobson, RCJ ; Morris, VK ; Moggre, G-J (WILEY, 2022-04-08)
    Ethical, environmental and health concerns around dairy products are driving a fast-growing industry for plant-based dairy alternatives, but undesirable flavours and textures in available products are limiting their uptake into the mainstream. The molecular processes initiated during fermentation by lactic acid bacteria in dairy products is well understood, such as proteolysis of caseins into peptides and amino acids, and the utilisation of carbohydrates to form lactic acid and exopolysaccharides. These processes are fundamental to developing the flavour and texture of fermented dairy products like cheese and yoghurt, yet how these processes work in plant-based alternatives is poorly understood. With this knowledge, bespoke fermentative processes could be engineered for specific food qualities in plant-based foods. This review will provide an overview of recent research that reveals how fermentation occurs in plant-based milk, with a focus on how differences in plant proteins and carbohydrate structure affect how they undergo the fermentation process. The practical aspects of how this knowledge has been used to develop plant-based cheeses and yoghurts is also discussed.
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    Capillaric field effect transistors.
    Meffan, C ; Menges, J ; Dolamore, F ; Mak, D ; Fee, C ; Dobson, RCJ ; Nock, V (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022)
    Controlling fluid flow in capillaric circuits is a key requirement to increase their uptake for assay applications. Capillary action off-valves provide such functionality by pushing an occluding bubble into the channel using a difference in capillary pressure. Previously, we utilized the binary switching mode of this structure to develop a powerful set of fundamental fluidic valving operations. In this work, we study the transistor-like qualities of the off-valve and provide evidence that these structures are in fact functionally complementary to electronic junction field effect transistors. In view of this, we propose the new term capillaric field effect transistor to describe these types of valves. To support this conclusion, we present a theoretical description, experimental characterization, and practical application of analog flow resistance control. In addition, we demonstrate that the valves can also be reopened. We show modulation of the flow resistance from fully open to pinch-off, determine the flow rate-trigger channel volume relationship and demonstrate that the latter can be modeled using Shockley's equation for electronic transistors. Finally, we provide a first example of how the valves can be opened and closed repeatedly.
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    Using cryo-EM to uncover mechanisms of bacterial
    Wood, DM ; Dobson, RCJ ; Horne, CR (PORTLAND PRESS LTD, 2021-12-02)
    Transcription is the principal control point for bacterial gene expression, and it enables a global cellular response to an intracellular or environmental trigger. Transcriptional regulation is orchestrated by transcription factors, which activate or repress transcription of target genes by modulating the activity of RNA polymerase. Dissecting the nature and precise choreography of these interactions is essential for developing a molecular understanding of transcriptional regulation. While the contribution of X-ray crystallography has been invaluable, the 'resolution revolution' of cryo-electron microscopy has transformed our structural investigations, enabling large, dynamic and often transient transcription complexes to be resolved that in many cases had resisted crystallisation. In this review, we highlight the impact cryo-electron microscopy has had in gaining a deeper understanding of transcriptional regulation in bacteria. We also provide readers working within the field with an overview of the recent innovations available for cryo-electron microscopy sample preparation and image reconstruction of transcription complexes.
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    Structure and inhibition of N-acetylneuraminate lyase from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
    North, RA ; Watson, AJA ; Pearce, FG ; Muscroft-Taylor, AC ; Friemann, R ; Fairbanks, AJ ; Dobson, RCJ (WILEY, 2016-12-01)
    N-Acetylneuraminate lyase is the first committed enzyme in the degradation of sialic acid by bacterial pathogens. In this study, we analyzed the kinetic parameters of N-acetylneuraminate lyase from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). We determined that the enzyme has a relatively high KM of 3.2 mm, suggesting that flux through the catabolic pathway is likely to be controlled by this enzyme. Our data indicate that sialic acid alditol, a known inhibitor of N-acetylneuraminate lyase enzymes, is a stronger inhibitor of MRSA N-acetylneuraminate lyase than of Clostridium perfringens N-acetylneuraminate lyase. Our analysis of the crystal structure of ligand-free and 2R-sialic acid alditol-bound MRSA N-acetylneuraminate lyase suggests that subtle dynamic differences in solution and/or altered binding interactions within the active site may account for species-specific inhibition.
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    Inhibition of Arabidopsis growth by the allelopathic compound azetidine-2-carboxylate is due to the low amino acid specificity of cytosolic prolyl-tRNA synthetase
    Lee, J ; Joshi, N ; Pasini, R ; Dobson, RCJ ; Allison, J ; Leustek, T (WILEY, 2016-10-01)
    The toxicity of azetidine-2-carboxylic acid (A2C), a structural analogue of L-proline, results from its incorporation into proteins due to misrecognition by prolyl-tRNA synthetase (ProRS). The growth of Arabidopsis thaliana seedling roots is more sensitive to inhibition by A2C than is cotyledon growth. Arabidopsis contains two ProRS isozymes. AtProRS-Org (At5g52520) is localized in chloroplasts/mitochondria, and AtProRS-Cyt (At3g62120) is cytosolic. AtProRS-Cyt mRNA is more highly expressed in roots than in cotyledons. Arabidopsis ProRS isoforms were expressed as His-tagged recombinant proteins in Escherichia coli. Both enzymes were functionally active in ATP-PPi exchange and aminoacylation assays, and showed similar Km for L-proline. A major difference was observed in the substrate specificity of the two enzymes. AtProRS-Cyt showed nearly identical substrate specificity for L-proline and A2C, but for AtProRS-Org the specificity constant was 77.6 times higher for L-proline than A2C, suggesting that A2C-sensitivity may result from lower amino acid specificity of AtProRS-Cyt. Molecular modelling and simulation results indicate that this specificity difference between the AtProRS isoforms may result from altered modes of substrate binding. Similar kinetic results were obtained with the ProRSs from Zea mays, suggesting that the difference in substrate specificity is a conserved feature of ProRS isoforms from plants that do not accumulate A2C and are sensitive to A2C toxicity. The discovery of the mode of action of A2C toxicity could lead to development of biorational weed management strategies.
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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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    Molecular basis of a redox switch: molecular dynamics simulations and surface plasmon resonance provide insight into reduced and oxidised angiotensinogen
    Crowther, JM ; Gilmour, LH ; Porebski, BT ; Heath, SG ; Pattinson, NR ; Owen, MC ; Fredericks, R ; Buckle, AM ; Fee, CJ ; Gobl, C ; Dobson, RCJ (PORTLAND PRESS LTD, 2021-09-01)
    Angiotensinogen fine-tunes the tightly controlled activity of the renin-angiotensin system by modulating the release of angiotensin peptides that control blood pressure. One mechanism by which this modulation is achieved is via angiotensinogen's Cys18-Cys138 disulfide bond that acts as a redox switch. Molecular dynamics simulations of each redox state of angiotensinogen reveal subtle dynamic differences between the reduced and oxidised forms, particularly at the N-terminus. Surface plasmon resonance data demonstrate that the two redox forms of angiotensinogen display different binding kinetics to an immobilised anti-angiotensinogen monoclonal antibody. Mass spectrometry mapped the epitope for the antibody to the N-terminal region of angiotensinogen. We therefore provide evidence that the different redox forms of angiotensinogen can be detected by an antibody-based detection method.
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    N-acetylmannosamine-6-phosphate 2-epimerase uses a novel substrate-assisted mechanism to catalyze amino sugar epimerization
    Currie, MJ ; Manjunath, L ; Horne, CR ; Rendle, PM ; Subramanian, R ; Friemann, R ; Fairbanks, AJ ; Muscroft-Taylor, AC ; North, RA ; Dobson, RCJ (ELSEVIER, 2021-10-01)
    There are five known general catalytic mechanisms used by enzymes to catalyze carbohydrate epimerization. The amino sugar epimerase N-acetylmannosamine-6-phosphate 2-epimerase (NanE) has been proposed to use a deprotonation-reprotonation mechanism, with an essential catalytic lysine required for both steps. However, the structural determinants of this mechanism are not clearly established. We characterized NanE from Staphylococcus aureus using a new coupled assay to monitor NanE catalysis in real time and found that it has kinetic constants comparable with other species. The crystal structure of NanE from Staphylococcus aureus, which comprises a triosephosphate isomerase barrel fold with an unusual dimeric architecture, was solved with both natural and modified substrates. Using these substrate-bound structures, we identified the following active-site residues lining the cleft at the C-terminal end of the β-strands: Gln11, Arg40, Lys63, Asp124, Glu180, and Arg208, which were individually substituted and assessed in relation to the mechanism. From this, we re-evaluated the central role of Glu180 in this mechanism alongside the catalytic lysine. We observed that the substrate is bound in a conformation that ideally positions the C5 hydroxyl group to be activated by Glu180 and donate a proton to the C2 carbon. Taken together, we propose that NanE uses a novel substrate-assisted proton displacement mechanism to invert the C2 stereocenter of N-acetylmannosamine-6-phosphate. Our data and mechanistic interpretation may be useful in the development of inhibitors of this enzyme or in enzyme engineering to produce biocatalysts capable of changing the stereochemistry of molecules that are not amenable to synthetic methods.