Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications

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    Glutathione transferase P1-1 as an arsenic drug-sequestering enzyme
    Parker, LJ ; Bocedi, A ; Ascher, DB ; Aitken, JB ; Harris, HH ; Lo Bello, M ; Ricci, G ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW (WILEY, 2017-02-01)
    Arsenic-based compounds are paradoxically both poisons and drugs. Glutathione transferase (GSTP1-1) is a major factor in resistance to such drugs. Here we describe using crystallography, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, mutagenesis, mass spectrometry, and kinetic studies how GSTP1-1 recognizes the drug phenylarsine oxide (PAO). In conditions of cellular stress where glutathione (GSH) levels are low, PAO crosslinks C47 to C101 of the opposing monomer, a distance of 19.9 Å, and causes a dramatic widening of the dimer interface by approximately 10 Å. The GSH conjugate of PAO, which forms rapidly in cancerous cells, is a potent inhibitor (Ki  = 90 nM) and binds as a di-GSH complex in the active site forming part of a continuous network of interactions from one active site to the other. In summary, GSTP1-1 can detoxify arsenic-based drugs by sequestration at the active site and at the dimer interface, in situations where there is a plentiful supply of GSH, and at the reactive cysteines in conditions of low GSH.
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    Bridging Crystal Engineering and Drug Discovery by Utilizing Intermolecular Interactions and Molecular Shapes in Crystals
    Spackman, PR ; Yu, L-J ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW ; Bond, CS ; Spackman, MA ; Jayatilaka, D ; Thomas, SP (WILEY-V C H VERLAG GMBH, 2019-08-19)
    Most structure-based drug discovery methods utilize crystal structures of receptor proteins. Crystal engineering, on the other hand, utilizes the wealth of chemical information inherent in small-molecule crystal structures in the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD). We show that the interaction surfaces and shapes of molecules in experimentally determined small-molecule crystal structures can serve as effective tools in drug discovery. Our description of the shape and interaction propensities of molecules in their crystal structures can be used to screen them for specific binding compatibility with protein targets, as demonstrated through the high-throughput profiling of around 138 000 small-molecule structures in the CSD and a series of drug-protein crystal structures. Electron-density-based intermolecular boundary surfaces in small-molecule crystal structures and in target-protein pockets are utilized to identify potential ligand molecules from the CSD based on 3D shape and intermolecular interaction matching.
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    Bridging Crystal Engineering and Drug Discovery by Utilizing Intermolecular Interactions and Molecular Shapes in Crystals
    Spackman, PR ; Yu, LJ ; Bond, CS ; Spackman, MA ; Jayatilaka, D ; Thomas, SP ; Yu, LJ ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW ; Parker, MW ; Thomas, SP (Wiley, 2019-01-01)
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    An Intermolecular pi-Stacking Interaction Drives Conformational Changes Necessary to beta-Barrel Formation in a Pore-Forming Toxin
    Burns, JR ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW ; Tweten, RK ; McClane, BA (AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2019-07-01)
    The crystal structures of the soluble monomers of the pore-forming cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) contain two α-helical bundles that flank a twisted core β-sheet. This protein fold is the hallmark of the CDCs, as well as of the membrane attack complex/perforin immune defense proteins and the stonefish toxins. To form the β-barrel pore, a core β-sheet is flattened to align the membrane-spanning β-hairpins. Concomitantly with this conformational change, the two α-helical bundles that flank the core β-sheet break their restraining contacts and refold into two membrane-spanning β-hairpins of the β-barrel pore. The studies herein show that in the monomer structure of the archetype CDC perfringolysin O (PFO), a conserved Met-Met-Phe triad simultaneously contributes to maintaining the twist in this core β-sheet, as well as restricting the α-helical-to-β-strand transition necessary to form one of two membrane-spanning β-hairpins. A previously identified intermolecular π-stacking interaction is now shown to disrupt the interactions mediated by this conserved triad. This is required to establish the subsequent intermolecular electrostatic interaction, which has previously been shown to drive the final conformational changes necessary to form the β-barrel pore. Hence, these studies show that the intermolecular π-stacking and electrostatic interactions work in tandem to flatten the core β-sheet and initiate the α-helical-to-β-strand transitions to form the β-barrel pore.IMPORTANCE A unique feature of the CDC/MACPF/SNTX (cholesterol-dependent cytolysin/membrane attack complex perforin/stonefish toxin) superfamily of pore-forming toxins is that the β-strands that comprise the β-barrel pore are derived from a pair of α-helical bundles. These studies reveal the molecular basis by which the formation of intermolecular interactions within the prepore complex drive the disruption of intramolecular interactions within each monomer of the prepore to trigger the α-helical-to-β-strand transition and formation of the β-barrel pore.
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    A structure-based mechanism of cisplatin resistance mediated by glutathione transferase P1-1
    De Luca, A ; Parker, LJ ; Ang, WH ; Rodolfo, C ; Gabbarini, V ; Hancock, NC ; Palone, F ; Mazzetti, AP ; Menin, L ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW ; Lo Bello, M ; Dyson, PJ (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2019-07-09)
    Cisplatin [cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(II) (cis-DDP)] is one of the most successful anticancer agents effective against a wide range of solid tumors. However, its use is restricted by side effects and/or by intrinsic or acquired drug resistance. Here, we probed the role of glutathione transferase (GST) P1-1, an antiapoptotic protein often overexpressed in drug-resistant tumors, as a cis-DDP-binding protein. Our results show that cis-DDP is not a substrate for the glutathione (GSH) transferase activity of GST P1-1. Instead, GST P1-1 sequesters and inactivates cisplatin with the aid of 2 solvent-accessible cysteines, resulting in protein subunits cross-linking, while maintaining its GSH-conjugation activity. Furthermore, it is well known that GST P1-1 binding to the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibits JNK phosphorylation, which is required for downstream apoptosis signaling. Thus, in turn, GST P1-1 overexpression and Pt-induced subunit cross-linking could modulate JNK apoptotic signaling, further confirming the role of GST P1-1 as an antiapoptotic protein.
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    The Structural Basis for a Transition State That Regulates Pore Formation in a Bacterial Toxin
    Wade, KR ; Lawrence, SL ; Farrand, AJ ; Hotze, EM ; Kuiper, MJ ; Gorman, MA ; Christie, MP ; Panjikar, S ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW ; Tweten, RK ; Johnson, EA (AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2019-03-01)
    The cholesterol-dependent cytolysin (CDC) genes are present in bacterial species that span terrestrial, vertebrate, and invertebrate niches, which suggests that they have evolved to function under widely different environmental conditions. Using a combination of biophysical and crystallographic approaches, we reveal that the relative stability of an intramolecular interface in the archetype CDC perfringolysin O (PFO) plays a central role in regulating its pore-forming properties. The disruption of this interface allows the formation of the membrane spanning β-barrel pore in all CDCs. We show here that the relative strength of the stabilizing forces at this interface directly impacts the energy barrier posed by the transition state for pore formation, as reflected in the Arrhenius activation energy (Ea) for pore formation. This change directly impacts the kinetics and temperature dependence of pore formation. We further show that the interface structure in a CDC from a terrestrial species enables it to function efficiently across a wide range of temperatures by minimizing changes in the strength of the transition state barrier to pore formation. These studies establish a paradigm that CDCs, and possibly other β-barrel pore-forming proteins/toxins, can evolve significantly different pore-forming properties by altering the stability of this transitional interface, which impacts the kinetic parameters and temperature dependence of pore formation.IMPORTANCE The cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) are the archetype for the superfamily of oligomeric pore-forming proteins that includes the membrane attack complex/perforin (MACPF) family of immune defense proteins and the stonefish venom toxins (SNTX). The CDC/MACPF/SNTX family exhibits a common protein fold, which forms a membrane-spanning β-barrel pore. We show that changing the relative stability of an extensive intramolecular interface within this fold, which is necessarily disrupted to form the large β-barrel pore, dramatically alters the kinetic and temperature-dependent properties of CDC pore formation. These studies show that the CDCs and other members of the CDC/MACPF/SNTX superfamily have the capacity to significantly alter their pore-forming properties to function under widely different environmental conditions encountered by these species.
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    A dual role for the N-terminal domain of the IL-3 receptor in cell signalling
    Broughton, SE ; Hercus, TR ; Nero, TL ; Kan, WL ; Barry, EF ; Dottore, M ; Shing, KSCT ; Morton, CJ ; Dhagat, U ; Hardy, MP ; Wilson, NJ ; Downton, MT ; Schieber, C ; Hughes, TP ; Lopez, AF ; Parker, MW (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2018-01-26)
    The interleukin-3 (IL-3) receptor is a cell-surface heterodimer that links the haemopoietic, vascular and immune systems and is overexpressed in acute and chronic myeloid leukaemia progenitor cells. It belongs to the type I cytokine receptor family in which the α-subunits consist of two fibronectin III-like domains that bind cytokine, and a third, evolutionarily unrelated and topologically conserved, N-terminal domain (NTD) with unknown function. Here we show by crystallography that, while the NTD of IL3Rα is highly mobile in the presence of IL-3, it becomes surprisingly rigid in the presence of IL-3 K116W. Mutagenesis, biochemical and functional studies show that the NTD of IL3Rα regulates IL-3 binding and signalling and reveal an unexpected role in preventing spontaneous receptor dimerisation. Our work identifies a dual role for the NTD in this cytokine receptor family, protecting against inappropriate signalling and dynamically regulating cytokine receptor binding and function.
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    Transitional changes in the CRP structure lead to the exposure of proinflammatory binding sites
    Braig, D ; Nero, TL ; Koch, H-G ; Kaiser, B ; Wang, X ; Thiele, JR ; Morton, CJ ; Zeller, J ; Kiefer, J ; Potempa, LA ; Mellett, NA ; Miles, LA ; Du, X-J ; Meikle, PJ ; Huber-Lang, M ; Stark, GB ; Parker, MW ; Peter, K ; Eisenhardt, SU (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017-01-23)
    C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations rise in response to tissue injury or infection. Circulating pentameric CRP (pCRP) localizes to damaged tissue where it leads to complement activation and further tissue damage. In-depth knowledge of the pCRP activation mechanism is essential to develop therapeutic strategies to minimize tissue injury. Here we demonstrate that pCRP by binding to cell-derived microvesicles undergoes a structural change without disrupting the pentameric symmetry (pCRP*). pCRP* constitutes the major CRP species in human-inflamed tissue and allows binding of complement factor 1q (C1q) and activation of the classical complement pathway. pCRP*-microvesicle complexes lead to enhanced recruitment of leukocytes to inflamed tissue. A small-molecule inhibitor of pCRP (1,6-bis(phosphocholine)-hexane), which blocks the pCRP-microvesicle interactions, abrogates these proinflammatory effects. Reducing inflammation-mediated tissue injury by therapeutic inhibition might improve the outcome of myocardial infarction, stroke and other inflammatory conditions.
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    Crystal structure of Streptococcus pneumoniae pneumolysin provides key insights into early steps of pore formation
    Lawrence, SL ; Feil, SC ; Morton, CJ ; Farrand, AJ ; Mulhern, TD ; Gorman, MA ; Wade, KR ; Tweten, RK ; Parker, MW (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2015-09-25)
    Pore-forming proteins are weapons often used by bacterial pathogens to breach the membrane barrier of target cells. Despite their critical role in infection important structural aspects of the mechanism of how these proteins assemble into pores remain unknown. Streptococcus pneumoniae is the world's leading cause of pneumonia, meningitis, bacteremia and otitis media. Pneumolysin (PLY) is a major virulence factor of S. pneumoniae and a target for both small molecule drug development and vaccines. PLY is a member of the cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs), a family of pore-forming toxins that form gigantic pores in cell membranes. Here we present the structure of PLY determined by X-ray crystallography and, in solution, by small-angle X-ray scattering. The crystal structure reveals PLY assembles as a linear oligomer that provides key structural insights into the poorly understood early monomer-monomer interactions of CDCs at the membrane surface.
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    Potent hepatitis C inhibitors bind directly to NS5A and reduce its affinity for RNA
    Ascher, DB ; Wielens, J ; Nero, TL ; Doughty, L ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2014-04-23)
    Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects more than 170 million people. The high genetic variability of HCV and the rapid development of drug-resistant strains are driving the urgent search for new direct-acting antiviral agents. A new class of agents has recently been developed that are believed to target the HCV protein NS5A although precisely where they interact and how they affect function is unknown. Here we describe an in vitro assay based on microscale thermophoresis and demonstrate that two clinically relevant inhibitors bind tightly to NS5A domain 1 and inhibit RNA binding. Conversely, RNA binding inhibits compound binding. The compounds bind more weakly to known resistance mutants L31V and Y93H. The compounds do not affect NS5A dimerisation. We propose that current NS5A inhibitors act by favouring a dimeric structure of NS5A that does not bind RNA.