Showing 1 - 16 of 16 results
Designing protein structures and complexes with the molecular modeling program Rosetta.
Proteins perform an amazingly diverse set of functions in all aspects of life. Critical to the function of many proteins are the highly specific three-dimensional structures they adopt. For this reason, there is strong interest in learning how to rationally design proteins that adopt user-defined structures. Over the last 25-years there has been significant progress in the field of computational protein design as rotamer-based sequence optimization protocols have enabled accurate design of protein tertiary and quaternary structure. In this award article I will summarize how the molecular modeling program Rosetta is used to design new protein structures and describe how we have taken advantage of this capability to create proteins that have important applications in research and medicine. I will highlight three protein design stories: the use of protein interface design to create therapeutic bispecific antibodies, the engineering of light-inducible proteins that can be used to recruit proteins to specific locations in the cell, and the de novo design of new protein structures from pieces of naturally occurring proteins.
Characterization and engineering of photoactivated adenylyl cyclases.
Cyclic nucleoside monophosphates (cNMP) serve as universal second messengers in signal transduction across prokaryotes and eukaryotes. As signaling often relies on transiently formed microdomains of elevated second messenger concentration, means to precisely perturb the spatiotemporal dynamics of cNMPs are uniquely poised for the interrogation of the underlying physiological processes. Optogenetics appears particularly suited as it affords light-dependent, accurate control in time and space of diverse cellular processes. Several sensory photoreceptors function as photoactivated adenylyl cyclases (PAC) and hence serve as light-regulated actuators for the control of intracellular levels of 3', 5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate. To characterize PACs and to refine their properties, we devised a test bed for the facile analysis of these photoreceptors. Cyclase activity is monitored in bacterial cells via expression of a fluorescent reporter, and programmable illumination allows the rapid exploration of multiple lighting regimes. We thus probed two PACs responding to blue and red light, respectively, and observed significant dark activity for both. We next engineered derivatives of the red-light-sensitive PAC with altered responses to light, with one variant, denoted DdPAC, showing enhanced response to light. These PAC variants stand to enrich the optogenetic toolkit and thus facilitate the detailed analysis of cNMP metabolism and signaling.
Luminescence-activated nucleotide cyclase regulates spatial and temporal cAMP synthesis.
cAMP is a ubiquitous second messenger that regulates cellular proliferation, differentiation, attachment, migration, and several other processes. It has become increasingly evident that tight regulation of cAMP accumulation and localization confers divergent yet specific signaling to downstream pathways. Currently, few tools are available that have sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to study location-biased cAMP signaling. Here, we introduce a new fusion protein consisting of a light-activated adenylyl cyclase (bPAC) and luciferase (nLuc). This construct allows dual activation of cAMP production through temporally precise photostimulation or chronic chemical stimulation that can be fined-tuned to mimic physiological levels and duration of cAMP synthesis to trigger downstream events. By targeting this construct to different compartments, we show that cAMP produced in the cytosol and nucleus stimulates proliferation in thyroid cells. The bPAC-nLuc fusion construct adds a new reagent to the available toolkit to study cAMP-regulated processes in living cells.
Plasticity in oligomerization, operator architecture, and DNA binding in the mode of action of a bacterial B12-based photoreceptor.
Newly discovered bacterial photoreceptors called CarH sense light by using 5'-deoxyadenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl). They repress their own expression and that of genes for carotenoid synthesis by binding in the dark to operator DNA as AdoCbl-bound tetramers, whose light-induced disassembly relieves repression. High-resolution structures of Thermus thermophilus CarHTt have provided snapshots of the dark and light states and have revealed a unique DNA-binding mode whereby only three out of four DNA binding domains contact an operator comprising three tandem direct repeats. To gain further insights into CarH photoreceptors and employing biochemical, spectroscopic, mutational and computational analyses, here we investigated CarHBm from Bacillus megaterium We found that apoCarHBm, unlike monomeric apoCarHTt, is an oligomeric molten globule that forms DNA-binding tetramers in the dark only upon AdoCbl binding, which requires a conserved W-x9-EH motif. Light relieved DNA binding by disrupting CarHBm tetramers to dimers, rather than to monomers as with CarHTt CarHBm operators resembled that of CarHTt, but were larger by one repeat and overlapped with the -35 or -10 promoter elements. This design persisted in a six-repeat, multipartite operator we discovered upstream of a gene encoding an Spx global redox-response regulator whose photoregulated expression links photooxidative and general redox responses in B. megaterium Interestingly, CarHBm recognized the smaller CarHTt operator, revealing an adaptability possibly related to the linker bridging the DNA- and AdoCbl-binding domains. Our findings highlight a remarkable plasticity in the mode of action of B12-based CarH photoreceptors, important for their biological functions and development as optogenetic tools.
Switchable inteins for conditional protein splicing.
Synthetic biologists aim at engineering controllable biological parts such as DNA, RNA and proteins in order to steer biological activities using external inputs. Proteins can be controlled in several ways, for instance by regulating the expression of their encoding genes with small molecules or light. However, post-translationally modifying pre-existing proteins to regulate their function or localization leads to faster responses. Conditional splicing of internal protein domains, termed inteins, is an attractive methodology for this purpose. Here we discuss methods to control intein activity with a focus on those compatible with applications in living cells.
Cyanobacteriochrome-based photoswitchable adenylyl cyclases (cPACs) for broad spectrum light regulation of cAMP levels in cells.
Class III adenylyl cyclases generate the ubiquitous second messenger cAMP from ATP often in response to environmental or cellular cues. During evolution, soluble adenylyl-cyclase catalytic domains have been repeatedly juxtaposed with signal-input domains to place cAMP synthesis under the control of a wide variety of these environmental and endogenous signals. Adenylyl cyclases with light-sensing domains have proliferated in photosynthetic species depending on light as an energy source, yet are also widespread in non-photosynthetic species. Among such naturally occurring light sensors, several flavin-based photoactivated adenylyl cyclases (PACs) have been adopted as optogenetic tools to manipulate cellular processes with blue light. In this report, we report the discovery of a cyanobacteriochrome-based photoswitchable adenylyl cyclase (cPAC) from the cyanobacterium Microcoleussp. PCC 7113. Unlike flavin-dependent PACs, which must thermally decay to be deactivated, cPAC exhibited a bistable photocycle whose adenylyl cyclase could be reversibly activated and inactivated by blue and green light, respectively. Through domain exchange experiments, we also document the ability to extend the wavelength-sensing specificity of cPAC into the near IR. In summary, our work has uncovered a cyanobacteriochrome-based adenylyl cyclase that holds great potential for design of bistable photoswitchable adenylyl cyclases to fine-tune cAMP-regulated processes in cells. tissues, and whole organisms with light across the visible spectrum and into near IR.
Structure and monomer/dimer equilibrium for the guanylyl cyclase domain of the optogenetics protein RhoGC.
RhoGC is a fusion protein from the aquatic fungus Blastocladiella emersonii, combining a type I rhodopsin domain with a guanylyl cyclase domain. It has generated excitement as an optogenetics tool for the manipulation of cyclic nucleotide signaling pathways. To investigate the regulation of the cyclase activity, we isolated the guanylyl cyclase domain from Escherichia coli with (GCwCCRho) and without (GCRho) the coiled-coil linker. Both constructs were constitutively active but were monomeric as determined by size-exclusion chromatography and analytical ultracentrifugation, whereas other class III nucleotidyl cyclases are functional dimers. We also observed that crystals of GCRho have only a monomer in an asymmetric unit. Dimers formed when crystals were grown in the presence of the non-cyclizable substrate analog 2',3'-dideoxyguanosine-5'-triphosphate, MnCl2, and tartrate, but their quaternary structure did not conform to the canonical pairing expected for class III enzymes. Moreover, the structure contained a disulfide bond formed with an active-site Cys residue required for activity. We consider it unlikely that the disulfide would form under intracellular reducing conditions, raising the possibility that this unusual dimer might have a biologically relevant role in the regulation of full-length RhoGC. Although we did not observe it with direct methods, a functional dimer was identified as the active state by following the dependence of activity on total enzyme concentration. The low affinity observed for GCRho monomers is unusual for this enzyme class and suggests that dimer formation may contribute to light activation of the full-length protein.
Two independent but synchronized Gβγ subunit-controlled pathways are essential for trailing-edge retraction during macrophage migration.
Chemokine-induced directional cell migration is a universal cellular mechanism and plays crucial roles in numerous biological processes, including embryonic development, immune system function, and tissue remodeling and regeneration. During the migration of a stationary cell, the cell polarizes, forms lamellipodia at the leading edge (LE), and triggers the concurrent retraction of the trailing edge (TE). During cell migration governed by inhibitory G protein (Gi)-coupled receptors (GPCRs), G protein βγ (Gβγ) subunits control the LE signaling. Interestingly, TE retraction has been linked to the activation of the small GTPase Ras homolog family member A (RhoA) by the Gα12/13 pathway. However, it is not clear how the activation of Gi-coupled GPCRs at the LE orchestrates the TE retraction in RAW264.7 macrophages. Here, using an optogenetic approach involving an opsin to activate the Gi pathway in defined subcellular regions of RAW cells, we show that in addition to their LE activities, free Gβγ subunits also govern TE retraction by operating two independent, yet synchronized, pathways. The first pathway involves RhoA activation, which prevents dephosphorylation of the myosin light chain, allowing actomyosin contractility to proceed. The second pathway activates phospholipase Cβ and induces myosin light chain phosphorylation to enhance actomyosin contractility through increasing cytosolic calcium. We further show that both of these pathways are essential, and inhibition of either one is sufficient to abolish the Gi-coupled GPCR-governed TE retraction and subsequent migration of RAW cells.
Expression, purification, and spectral tuning of RhoGC, a retinylidene/guanylyl cyclase fusion protein and optogenetics tool from the aquatic fungus Blastocladiella emersonii.
RhoGC is a rhodopsin (Rho)-guanylyl cyclase (GC) gene fusion molecule that is central to zoospore phototaxis in the aquatic fungus Blastocladiella emersonii It has generated considerable excitement because of its demonstrated potential as a tool for optogenetic manipulation of cell-signaling pathways involving cyclic nucleotides. However, a reliable method for expressing and purifying RhoGC is currently lacking. We present here an expression and purification system for isolation of the full-length RhoGC protein expressed in HEK293 cells in detergent solution. The protein exhibits robust light-dependent guanylyl cyclase activity, whereas a truncated form lacking the 17- to 20-kDa N-terminal domain is completely inactive under identical conditions. Moreover, we designed several RhoGC mutants to increase the utility of the protein for optogenetic studies. The first class we generated has altered absorption spectra designed for selective activation by different wavelengths of light. Two mutants were created with blue-shifted (E254D, λmax = 390 nm; D380N, λmax = 506 nm) and one with red-shifted (D380E, λmax = 533 nm) absorption maxima relative to the wild-type protein (λmax = 527 nm). We also engineered a double mutant, E497K/C566D, that changes the enzyme to a specific, light-stimulated adenylyl cyclase that catalyzes the formation of cAMP from ATP. We anticipate that this expression/purification system and these RhoGC mutants will facilitate mechanistic and structural exploration of this important enzyme.
Optogenetics for gene expression in mammalian cells.
Molecular switches that are controlled by chemicals have evolved as central research instruments in mammalian cell biology. However, these tools are limited in terms of their spatiotemporal resolution due to freely diffusing inducers. These limitations have recently been addressed by the development of optogenetic, genetically encoded, and light-responsive tools that can be controlled with the unprecedented spatiotemporal precision of light. In this article, we first provide a brief overview of currently available optogenetic tools that have been designed to control diverse cellular processes. Then, we focus on recent developments in light-controlled gene expression technologies and provide the reader with a guideline for choosing the most suitable gene expression system.
Blue light-induced dimerization of monomeric aureochrome-1 enhances its affinity for the target sequence.
Aureochrome-1 (AUREO1) is a blue light (BL) receptor that mediates the branching response in stramenopile alga, Vaucheria frigida. AUREO1 contains a basic leucine zipper (bZIP) domain in the central region and a light-oxygen-voltage sensing (LOV) domain at the C terminus, and has been suggested to function as a light-regulated transcription factor. We have previously reported that preparations of recombinant AUREO1 contained the complete coding sequence (full-length, FL) and N-terminal truncated protein (ZL) containing bZIP and LOV domains, and suggested that wild-type ZL (ZLwt2) was in a dimer form with intermolecular disulfide linkages at Cys(162) and Cys(182) (Hisatomi, O., Takeuchi, K., Zikihara, K., Ookubo, Y., Nakatani, Y., Takahashi, F., Tokutomi, S., and Kataoka, H. (2013) Plant Cell Physiol. 54, 93-106). In the present study, we report the photoreactions, oligomeric structures, and DNA binding of monomeric cysteine to serine-mutated ZL (ZLC2S), DTT-treated ZL (DTT-ZL), and FL (DTT-FL). Recombinant AUREO1 showed similar spectral properties and dark regeneration kinetics to those of dimeric ZLwt2. Dynamic light scattering and size exclusion chromatography revealed that ZLC2S and DTT-ZL were monomeric in the dark state. Dissociation of intermolecular disulfide bonds of ZLwt2 was in equilibrium with a midpoint oxidation-redox potential of approximately -245 ± 15 mV. BL induced the dimerization of monomeric ZL, which subsequently increased its affinity for the target sequence. Also, DTT-FL was monomeric in the dark state and underwent BL-induced dimerization, which led to formation of the FL2·DNA complex. Taken together, our results suggest that monomeric AUREO1 is present in vivo, with dimerization playing a key role in its role as a BL-regulated transcription factor.
Formation of Arabidopsis Cryptochrome 2 photobodies in mammalian nuclei: application as an optogenetic DNA damage checkpoint switch.
Nuclear bodies are discrete suborganelle structures that perform specialized functions in eukaryotic cells. In plant cells, light can induce de novo formation of nuclear bodies called photobodies (PBs) composed of the photosensory pigments, phytochrome (PHY) or cryptochrome (CRY). The mechanisms of formation, the exact compositions, and the functions of plant PBs are not known. Here, we have expressed Arabidopsis CRY2 (AtCRY2) in mammalian cells and analyzed its fate after blue light exposure to understand the requirements for PB formation, the functions of PBs, and their potential use in cell biology. We found that light efficiently induces AtCRY2-PB formation in mammalian cells, indicating that, other than AtCRY2, no plant-specific proteins or nucleic acids are required for AtCRY2-PB formation. Irradiation of AtCRY2 led to its degradation; however, degradation was not dependent upon photobody formation. Furthermore, we found that AtCRY2 photobody formation is associated with light-stimulated interaction with mammalian COP1 E3 ligase. Finally, we demonstrate that by fusing AtCRY2 to the TopBP1 DNA damage checkpoint protein, light-induced AtCRY2 PBs can be used to activate DNA damage signaling pathway in the absence of DNA damage.
Natural and engineered photoactivated nucleotidyl cyclases for optogenetic applications.
Cyclic nucleotides, cAMP and cGMP, are ubiquitous second messengers that regulate metabolic and behavioral responses in diverse organisms. We describe purification, engineering, and characterization of photoactivated nucleotidyl cyclases that can be used to manipulate cAMP and cGMP levels in vivo. We identified the blaC gene encoding a putative photoactivated adenylyl cyclase in the Beggiatoa sp. PS genome. BlaC contains a BLUF domain involved in blue-light sensing using FAD and a nucleotidyl cyclase domain. The blaC gene was overexpressed in Escherichia coli, and its product was purified. Irradiation of BlaC in vitro resulted in a small red shift in flavin absorbance, typical of BLUF photoreceptors. BlaC had adenylyl cyclase activity that was negligible in the dark and up-regulated by light by 2 orders of magnitude. To convert BlaC into a guanylyl cyclase, we constructed a model of the nucleotidyl cyclase domain and mutagenized several residues predicted to be involved in substrate binding. One triple mutant, designated BlgC, was found to have photoactivated guanylyl cyclase in vitro. Irradiation with blue light of the E. coli cya mutant expressing BlaC or BlgC resulted in the significant increases in cAMP or cGMP synthesis, respectively. BlaC, but not BlgC, restored cAMP-dependent growth of the mutant in the presence of light. Small protein sizes, negligible activities in the dark, high light-to-dark activation ratios, functionality at broad temperature range and physiological pH, as well as utilization of the naturally occurring flavins as chromophores make BlaC and BlgC attractive for optogenetic applications in various animal and microbial models.
Light modulation of cellular cAMP by a small bacterial photoactivated adenylyl cyclase, bPAC, of the soil bacterium Beggiatoa.
The recent success of channelrhodopsin in optogenetics has also caused increasing interest in enzymes that are directly activated by light. We have identified in the genome of the bacterium Beggiatoa a DNA sequence encoding an adenylyl cyclase directly linked to a BLUF (blue light receptor using FAD) type light sensor domain. In Escherichia coli and Xenopus oocytes, this photoactivated adenylyl cyclase (bPAC) showed cyclase activity that is low in darkness but increased 300-fold in the light. This enzymatic activity decays thermally within 20 s in parallel with the red-shifted BLUF photointermediate. bPAC is well expressed in pyramidal neurons and, in combination with cyclic nucleotide gated channels, causes efficient light-induced depolarization. In the Drosophila central nervous system, bPAC mediates light-dependent cAMP increase and behavioral changes in freely moving animals. bPAC seems a perfect optogenetic tool for light modulation of cAMP in neuronal cells and tissues and for studying cAMP-dependent processes in live animals.
A novel photoreaction mechanism for the circadian blue light photoreceptor Drosophila cryptochrome.
Cryptochromes are flavoproteins that are evolutionary related to the DNA photolyases but lack DNA repair activity. Drosophila cryptochrome (dCRY) is a blue light photoreceptor that is involved in the synchronization of the circadian clock with the environmental light-dark cycle. Until now, spectroscopic and structural studies on this and other animal cryptochromes have largely been hampered by difficulties in their recombinant expression. We have therefore established an expression and purification scheme that enables us to purify mg amounts of monomeric dCRY from Sf21 insect cell cultures. Using UV-visible spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and reversed phase high pressure liquid chromatography, we show that insect cell-purified dCRY contains flavin adenine dinucleotide in its oxidized state (FAD(ox)) and residual amounts of methenyltetrahydrofolate. Upon blue light irradiation, dCRY undergoes a reversible absorption change, which is assigned to the conversion of FAD(ox) to the red anionic FAD(.) radical. Our findings lead us to propose a novel photoreaction mechanism for dCRY, in which FAD(ox) corresponds to the ground state, whereas the FAD(.) radical represents the light-activated state that mediates resetting of the Drosophila circadian clock.
An unorthodox bacteriophytochrome from Rhodobacter sphaeroides involved in turnover of the second messenger c-di-GMP.
Bacteriophytochromes are bacterial photoreceptors that sense red/far red light using the biliverdin chromophore. Most bacteriophytochromes work as photoactivated protein kinases. The Rhodobacter sphaeroides bacteriophytochrome BphG1 is unconventional in that it has GGDEF and EAL output domains, which are involved, respectively, in synthesis (diguanylate cyclase) and degradation (phosphodiesterase) of the bacterial second messenger c-di-GMP. The GGDEF-EAL proteins studied to date displayed either diguanylate cyclase or phosphodiesterase activity but not both. To elucidate the function of BphG1, the holoprotein was purified from an Escherichia coli overexpression system designed to produce biliverdin. The holoprotein contained covalently bound biliverdin and interconverted between the red (dark) and far red (light-activated) forms. BphG1 had c-di-GMP-specific phosphodiesterase activity. Unexpectedly for a photochromic protein, this activity was essentially light-independent. BphG1 expressed in E. coli was found to undergo partial cleavage into two species. The smaller species was identified as the EAL domain of BphG1. It possessed c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase activity. Surprisingly, the larger species lacking EAL possessed diguanylate cyclase activity, which was dependent on biliverdin and strongly activated by light. BphG1 therefore is the first phytochrome with a non-kinase photoactivated enzymatic activity. This shows that the photosensory modules of phytochromes can transmit light signals to various outputs. BphG1 is potentially the first "bifunctional" enzyme capable of both c-di-GMP synthesis and hydrolysis. A model for the regulation of the "opposite" activities of BphG1 is presented.