Structural Studies on Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Peptidyl-tRNA Hydrolase and Ribosome Recycling Factor, Two Proteins Involved in Translation
Protein synthesis is a process by which organisms manufacture their proteins that perform various cellular activities either alone or in combination with other similar or different molecules. In eubacteria, protein synthesis proceeds at a rate of around 15 amino acids per second. The ribosomes, charged tRNAs and mRNAs can be considered as the core components of protein synthesis system which, in addition, involves a panel of non-ribosomal proteins that regulate the speed, specificity and accuracy of the process. Peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase (Pth) and ribosome recycling factor (RRF) are two such non-ribosomal proteins involved in protein synthesis. These two proteins are essential for eubacterial survival and the work reported in this thesis involves structural characterization of these two proteins from the bacterial pathogen, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The protein structures were solved using established techniques of protein crystallography. Hanging drop vapour diffusion method and crystallization under oil using microbatch plates were the methods employed for protein crystallization. X-ray intensity data were collected on a MAR Research imaging plate mounted on a Rigaku RU200 X-ray generator in all the cases. The data were processed using DENZO and MOSFLM. The structures were solved by molecular replacement method using the program PHASER. Structure refinements were carried out using programs CNS and REFMAC. Model building was carried out using COOT. PROCHECK, ALIGN, CHIMERA, and PYMOL were used for structure validation and analysis of the refined structures. Peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase cleaves the ester bond between tRNA and the attached peptide in peptidyl-tRNA that has dropped off from ribosome before reaching the stop codon, in order to avoid the toxicity resulting from peptidyl-tRNA accumulation and to free the tRNA to make it available for further rounds in protein synthesis. To begin with, the structure of the enzyme from M. tuberculosis (MtPth) was determined in three crystal forms. This structure and the structure of the same enzyme from Escherichia coli (EcPth) in its crystal differ substantially on account of the binding of the C-terminus of the E.coli enzyme to the peptide binding site of a neighboring molecule in the crystal. A detailed examination of this difference led to an elucidation of the plasticity of the binding site of the enzyme. The peptide-binding site of the enzyme is a cleft between the body of the molecule and a polypeptide stretch involving a loop and a helix. This stretch is in open conformation when the enzyme is in the free state as in the crystals of MtPth. Furthermore, there is no physical continuity between the tRNA and the peptide-binding sites. The molecule in the EcPth crystal mimics the peptide-bound conformation of the enzyme. The peptide stretch involving a loop and a helix, referred to earlier, now closes on the bound peptide. Concurrently, a gate connecting the tRNA and the peptide-binding site opens primarily through the concerted movement of the two residues. Thus, the crystal structure of MtPth when compared with that of EcPth, leads to a model of structural changes associated with enzyme action on the basis of the plasticity of the molecule. A discrepancy between the X-ray results and NMR results, which subsequently became available, led to X-ray studies on new crystal forms of the enzyme. The results of these studies and those of the enzyme from different sources that became available, confirmed the connection deduced previously between the closure of the lid at the peptide-binding site and the opening of the gate that separates the peptide-binding site and tRNA binding site. The plasticity of the molecule indicated by X-ray structures is in general agreement with that deduced from the available solution NMR results. The correlation between the lid and the gate movement is not, however, observed in the NMR structure of MtPth. The discrepancy between the X-ray and NMR structures of MtPth in relation to the functionally important plasticity of the molecule, referred to earlier, also led to molecular dynamics simulations. The X-ray and the NMR studies along with the simulations indicated an inverse correlation between crowding and molecular volume. A detailed comparison of proteins for which X-ray and the NMR structures are available appears to confirm this correlation. In consonance with the reported results of the investigation in cellular components and aqueous solutions, the comparison indicates that the crowding results in compaction of the molecule as well as change in its shape, which could specifically involve regions of the molecule important for function. Crowding could thus influence the action of proteins through modulation of the functionally important plasticity of the molecule. After termination of protein synthesis at the stop codon, the ribosome remains as a post-termination complex (PoTC), consisting of the 30S and the 50S subunits, mRNA and a deacylated tRNA. This complex has to be disassembled so that the ribosome is available for the next round of translation initiation. Ribosome recycling factor (RRF) binds to ribosome and in concert with elongation factor G (EF.G), performs the recycling of ribosome that results in disassembly of PoTC. The structure of this L-shaped protein with two domains connected by a hinge, from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MtRRF) was solved previously in our laboratory. The relative movement of domains lies at the heart of RRF function. Three salt bridges were hypothesized to reduce the flexibility of MtRRF when compared to the protein from E.coli (EcRRF), which has only one such salt bridge. Out of these three bridges, two are between domain 1 and domain 2, whereas the third is between the hinge region and the C-terminus of the molecule. These salt bridges were disrupted with appropriate mutations and the structure and activity of the mutants and their ability to complement EcRRF were explored. An inactive C-terminal deletion mutant of MtRRF was also studied. Major, but different, structural changes were observed in the C-terminal deletion mutant and the mutant involving the hinge region. Unlike the wild type protein and the other mutants, the hinge mutant complements EcRRF. This appears to result from the increased mobility of the domains in the mutant, as evidenced by the results of librational analysis. In addition to the work on PTH and RRF, the author was involved during the period of studentship in carrying out X-ray studies of crystalline complexes involving amino acids and carboxylic acids, which is described in the Appendix of the thesis. The complexes studied are that of tartaric acid with arginine and lysine.
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