Solution Structure Studies on the Effects of Aromatic Interactions and Cross-Strand Disulfide Bonds on Protein Folding
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The work presented in this thesis focusses primarily on the determination of protein structure at atomic resolution, with NMR spectroscopy as the principle investigative tool. The thesis is divided into four parts. Part I consists of Chapter 1 which provides an introduction to protein structure, folding and NMR spectroscopy. Part II, consisting of Chapters 2 and 3, describes the effects of aromatic interactions on nucleating structure in disordered regions of proteins, using variants of apo-cytochrome b5 as a model system. Part III consists of Chapter 4, which describes structural effects of introducing cross-strand disulfide bonds using variants of Thioredoxin. Part IV of this thesis consists of the Appendices A, B and C. Appendix A describes the purification and characterization of ilvM, the regulatory subunit of the E.coli enzyme AHAS II. Appendices B and C contain chemical shift information corresponding to Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 respectively. Part I : Introduction to protein structure, folding and solution structure studies Chapter 1 first gives a brief overview of protein structure followed by an introduction to protein folding, focussing on the forces involved in determining the final three-dimensional shape of the protein as well as the experimental and computational techniques involved in studying or predicting the fold of a given protein. The second section of this chapter details the methodology followed to obtain solution structures of proteins using NMR spectroscopy. Part II : Engineering aromatic interactions to nucleate folding in intrinsically disordered regions of proteins Chapter 2 describes site-specific mutagenesis, recombinant over-expression, purifica-tion and preliminary biophysical characterization of two aromatic mutants of the molten globule apo-cytochrome b5 (apocytb5) : H43F H67F cytochrome b5 (FFcytb5) and H43W H67F cytochrome b5 (WFcytb5). Analysis of the structure of wild-type apo - cytochrome b5 was done to introduce surface mutations and avoid perturbation of the interior pack-ing of the protein. The bacterial host E.coli BL21(DE3) was used for recombinant over-expression, and both mutant proteins were purified by anion-exchange chromatography followed by size-exclusion chromatography. Biophysical studies show a decrease in the hydrodynamic radii and surface hydropho-bicity of FFcytb5 and WFcytb5 compared to wt -apo cytb5. An increase in protein stability was also seen from the wt apocytb5 to WFcytb5 and FFcytb5 in the presence of the chemical denaturant Urea. Proton 1D NMR spectra exhibited sharp lines and good spectral dispersion in the amide region, indicating that both mutant proteins are well folded. In addition, conservation of two distinctive up field and downfield shifted resonances present in apocytb5 indicated that structural changes upon mutation accrued on the upon the scaffold of apocytb5. Chapter 3 describes solution structure studies to determine secondary and tertiary structure of FFcytb5 and WFcytb5. Structural studies were carried out using homonu-clear and heteronuclear NMR methods, for which isotopically enriched 15N- and 13C, 15N samples were prepared for each protein. Additionally a 2H, 13C, 15N ILV methyl labeled sample was prepared for FFcytb5 to obtain unambiguous NOE correlation data. The hydrogen bond network for WFcytb5 was determined using hydrogen/deuterium exchange data. The restraints required to define the orientations and interactions of the aromatic groups were obtained from 15N-edited NOESY HSQC, 13C -edited NOESY HSQC and 2D 1H - 1H NOE spectra. These correlations were crucial in determining the aromatic interactions present within each protein. The structure of FFcytb5 was calculated using 1163 NOE distance restraints, 179 φ and ψ dihedral angle restraints, along with 40 hydrogen bond restraints. Similarly the structure of WFcytb5 was calculated using 1282 NOE distance restraints, 177 φ and ψ dihedral angle restraints and 40 hydrogen bond restraints. The ensemble of structures obtained for FFcytb5 showed a root mean square deviation of 1.01±0.21 Å . The ensemble of structures obtained for WFcytb5 showed a root mean square deviation of 0.58±0.09 Å . In both cases, ≈ 80% of backbone dihedral angles were found to be in the allowed regions and ≈ 20% in the additionally allowed regions of the Ramachandran map. The final tertiary structure of both FFcytb5 and WFcytb5 consisted of a mixed four strand β -sheet with a four helix bundle resting on top and were seen to align well, with an RMSD of 0.6 Å. A comparison of the solution structures of apocytb5 with FFcytb5 and WFcytb5 convincingly showed the nucleation secondary and tertiary structure well beyond the site of mutation. The presence of aromatic trimers, non-canonical in context of the wt apoc-ytb5, was confirmed upon analysis of the structures of FFcytb5 and WFcytb5, with NOE correlations assigned to verify these interactions. The reduction in the hydrodynamic radii of FFcytb5 and WFcytb5 in relation to apocytb5 was also verified from tsuperscript15N-NMR relaxometry studies. The nucleation of long-range structure using aromatic interactions has been demonstrated in proteins for the first time, and can in principle be used to incorporate aromatic residues and interactions in protein design. Structural data, chemical shift data and restraints lists used for structure calculation of WFcytb5 and FFcytb5 were deposited with the PDB (accession numbers 5XE4 and 5XEE) and BMRB(accession numbers 36070, 36071) respectively1. Part III : Structural consequences of introducing disulfide bonds into β - sheets Chapter 3 describes the solution structure studies on two mutants of E.coli Thiore-doxin which were designed to incorporate a disulfide bond between two anti-parallel β-strands at the edge of the β-sheet. One mutant was designed with a disulfide bond at the hydrogen bonding position (HB, 78c90cTrx) and the other with the disulfide bond at the non-hydrogen bonding position (NHB, 77c91cTrx). Here we study the structural changes that accompany the introduction of a cross-strand disulfide and whether such structural changes could be correlated with the previously seen thermodynamic and catalytic changes. Solution structure studies were conducted using a suite of multidimensional heteronu-clear NMR experiments, for which isotopically enriched 15N and 13C, 15N labelled samples were used. The solution structure for 77c91cTrx was calculated using 1190 NOE distance restraints, 199 φ and ψ dihedral angle restraints and 48 hydrogen bond restraints. The solution structure for 78c90cTrx was calculated using 1123 NOE distance restraints, 197 φ and ψ dihedral angle restraints and 50 hydrogen bond restraints. The ensemble of structures for 77c91cTrx showed an RMSD of 0.78± 0.13 Å while the RMSD for the ensemble of structures of 78c90cTrx was seen to be 0.76±0.09 Å . In both cases, ≈ 80% of backbone dihedral angles were seen to be in the allowed regions and ≈ 20% in the additionally allowed regions of the Ramachandran map. The tertiary structures of both proteins were seen to have a 5-strand mixed β-sheet and 4 helices surrounding it. . A comparison of the solution structures of mutant and wt -Trx showed significant changes in secondary and tertiary structure. For example, an α helix was reduced from 3 turns to a single turn, and of the β-strands containing the mutation was elongated by 3 residues. A ≈ 50% loss of hydrogen bonds, primarily from the β -sheet, was seen for both mutants. The secondary and tertiary structure for both 77c91cTrx and 78c90cTrx was seen to be near identical, despite the greater strain of the disulfide bond at the hydrogen bonding position. In addition to this, the Ile75-Pro76 peptide bond is now seen to be in the trans conformation in 78c90cTrx, while in wt -Trx the Ile75-Pro76 peptide bond is in the cis conformation. This cis peptide bond is known to play a role in both folding and catalysis, and the solution structures were analyzed in the context of observed changes in folding and catalysis. The study shows that introducing disulfide bonds even at the edge of β sheets have long-range structural effects, and the structural effects cannot be directly correlated with the changes in stability. Part III: Appendix Appendix A describes the expression, purification and preliminary characterization of ilvM, the regulatory subunit of E.coliAHAS II, one of three enzyme isomers that catal-yse the first step in the synthesis of all branched chain amino acids. AHAS II is known to be insensitive to feedback regulation, but our studies showed that the presence of Ile, Leu and Val causes structural changes and increases the stability of ilvM. However we were not able to purify ilvM in sufficient quantities to proceed with solution structure studies. Appendices B and C contain chemical shift information for the structural studies carried out on FFcytb5, WFcytb5, 77c91cTrx and 78c90cTrx.