Posts Tagged ‘binding’

Activation mechanism of the calcium-activated chloride channel TMEM16A revealed by cryo-EM

The calcium-activated chloride channel TMEM16A is a ligand-gated anion channel that opens in response to an increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration. The protein is broadly expressed and contributes to diverse physiological processes, including transepithelial chloride transport and the control of electrical signalling in smooth muscles and certain neurons. As a member of the TMEM16 (or anoctamin) family of membrane proteins, TMEM16A is closely related to paralogues that function as scramblases, which facilitate the bidirectional movement of lipids across membranes. The unusual functional diversity of the TMEM16 family and the relationship between two seemingly incompatible transport mechanisms has been the focus of recent investigations. Previous breakthroughs were obtained from the X-ray structure of the lipid scramblase of the fungus Nectria haematococca (nhTMEM16), and from the cryo-electron microscopy structure of mouse TMEM16A at 6.6 Å (ref. 14). Although the latter structure disclosed the architectural differences that distinguish ion channels from lipid scramblases, its low resolution did not permit a detailed molecular description of the protein or provide any insight into its activation by Ca2+. Here we describe the structures of mouse TMEM16A at high resolution in the presence and absence of Ca2+. These structures reveal the differences between ligand-bound and ligand-free states of a calcium-activated chloride channel, and when combined with functional experiments suggest a mechanism for gating. During activation, the binding of Ca2+ to a site located within the transmembrane domain, in the vicinity of the pore, alters the electrostatic properties of the ion conduction path and triggers a conformational rearrangement of an α-helix that comes into physical contact with the bound ligand, and thereby directly couples ligand binding and pore opening. Our study describes a process that is unique among channel proteins, but one that is presumably general for both functional branches of the TMEM16 family.

Structure of photosystem II and substrate binding at room temperature

Light-induced oxidation of water by photosystem II (PS II) in plants, algae and cyanobacteria has generated most of the dioxygen in the atmosphere. PS II, a membrane-bound multi-subunit pigment protein complex, couples the one-electron photochemistry at the reaction centre with the four-electron redox chemistry of water oxidation at the Mn4CaO5 cluster in the oxygen-evolving complex (OEC). Under illumination, the OEC cycles through five intermediate S-states (S0 to S4), in which S1 is the dark-stable state and S3 is the last semi-stable state before O–O bond formation and O2 evolution. A detailed understanding of the O–O bond formation mechanism remains a challenge, and will require elucidation of both the structures of the OEC in the different S-states and the binding of the two substrate waters to the catalytic site. Here we report the use of femtosecond pulses from an X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) to obtain damage-free, room temperature structures of dark-adapted (S1), two-flash illuminated (2F; S3-enriched), and ammonia-bound two-flash illuminated (2F-NH3; S3-enriched) PS II. Although the recent 1.95 Å resolution structure of PS II at cryogenic temperature using an XFEL provided a damage-free view of the S1 state, measurements at room temperature are required to study the structural landscape of proteins under functional conditions, and also for in situ advancement of the S-states. To investigate the water-binding site(s), ammonia, a water analogue, has been used as a marker, as it binds to the Mn4CaO5 cluster in the S2 and S3 states. Since the ammonia-bound OEC is active, the ammonia-binding Mn site is not a substrate water site. This approach, together with a comparison of the native dark and 2F states, is used to discriminate between proposed O–O bond formation mechanisms.

An oxidative N-demethylase reveals PAS transition from ubiquitous sensor to enzyme

The universal Per-ARNT-Sim (PAS) domain functions as a signal transduction module involved in sensing diverse stimuli such as small molecules, light, redox state and gases. The highly evolvable PAS scaffold can bind a broad range of ligands, including haem, flavins and metal ions. However, although these ligands can support catalytic activity, to our knowledge no enzymatic PAS domain has been found. Here we report characterization of the first PAS enzyme: a haem-dependent oxidative N-demethylase. Unrelated to other amine oxidases, this enzyme contains haem, flavin mononucleotide, 2Fe-2S and tetrahydrofolic acid cofactors, and specifically catalyses the NADPH-dependent oxidation of dimethylamine. The structure of the α subunit reveals that it is a haem-binding PAS domain, similar in structure to PAS gas sensors. The dimethylamine substrate forms part of a highly polarized oxygen-binding site, and directly assists oxygen activation by acting as both an electron and proton donor. Our data reveal that the ubiquitous PAS domain can make the transition from sensor to enzyme, suggesting that the PAS scaffold can support the development of artificial enzymes.

Structures of riboswitch RNA reaction states by mix-and-inject XFEL serial crystallography

Riboswitches are RNA structural elements generally located in the 3′untranslated region (3′UTR) of mRNA. In the genetic regulation, ligand binding to the aptamer domain of a riboswitch triggers a signal to the downstream expression platform1,2,3. A complete understanding of the structural basis for this mechanism requires the ability to study structural changes over time4. Here we apply femtosecond X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) pulses5,6 to obtain structural measurements from crystals so small that diffusion of a ligand can be timed to initiate a reaction prior to diffraction. We demonstrate this approach by determining four structures of the adenine riboswitch aptamer domain during the course of a reaction involving two apo, one ligand-bound intermediate, and the final bound states. These structures support a reaction mechanism model with at least four states and illustrate the structural basis for signal transmission. The two apo conformers differ significantly in the three-way junction and the P1 switch helix relative to the ligand-bound conformation. Our time-resolved crystallographic measurements with a 10-second delay captured the structure of an intermediate with changes in the binding pocket that accommodate the ligand. With a >10-minute delay, the RNA molecules were fully converted to the bound state, in which the substantial conformational changes resulted in conversion of the space group. Such drastic changes in crystallo highlight the important opportunities that micro/nanocrystals may offer in these and similar time-resolved diffraction studies. These results all together demonstrate the potential of ‘mix-and-inject’ time-resolved serial crystallography to study biochemically important interactions between biomacromolecules and ligands, including those involving large conformational changes.

The pathway to GTPase activation of elongation factor SelB on the ribosome

In all domains of life, selenocysteine (Sec) is delivered to the ribosome by selenocysteine-specific tRNA (tRNASec) with the help of a specialized translation factor, SelB in bacteria. Sec-tRNASec recodes a UGA stop codon next to a downstream mRNA stem–loop. Here we present the structures of six intermediates on the pathway of UGA recoding in Escherichia coli by single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. The structures explain the specificity of Sec-tRNASec binding by SelB and show large-scale rearrangements of Sec-tRNASec. Upon initial binding of SelB–Sec-tRNASec to the ribosome and codon reading, the 30S subunit adopts an open conformation with Sec-tRNASec covering the sarcin–ricin loop (SRL) on the 50S subunit. Subsequent codon recognition results in a local closure of the decoding site, which moves Sec-tRNASec away from the SRL and triggers a global closure of the 30S subunit shoulder domain. As a consequence, SelB docks on the SRL, activating the GTPase of SelB. These results reveal how codon recognition triggers GTPase activation in translational GTPases.

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