|dc.description.abstract||Ribosome Inactivating Proteins (RIPs) are protein or glycoprotein toxins that bring about the arrest of protein synthesis by directly interacting with and inactivating the ribosomes. Such toxins are in general, of plant origin and differ from bacterial toxins that inhibit protein synthesis by mechanisms other than ribosome inactivation. After the toxins had been in the centre of interest in biomedical research for a couple of decades in the end of 19th century, the scientific community largely lost interest in the plant toxins. Interest in these toxins was revived when it was found that they are more toxic to tumor cells when compared to normal cells. Based on their structure RIPs can be classified into three types: Type I RIPs – They consist exclusively of a single RNA-N-glycosidase chain of ~30kDa. Type II RIPs – They consists of chain-A comparable to type I RIPs linked by a disulfide bridge to an unrelated chain-B, which has carbohydrate binding activity. The molecular weight of the type II RIPs is ~60kDa. Type III RIPs – Besides the classical type II RIPs a 60kDa RIP (called JIP60) has been identified in barley (Hordeum vulgare) that consists of chain-A resembling type I RIPs linked to an unrelated chain-B with unknown function.
In addition to these classes of RIPs there is another group of toxins called four subunit toxins, whose structure is almost similar to type II RIPs, but are made up of two such subunits linked by non-covalent interactions forming tetramers having two A- and two B-chains. The definition and classification of these toxins is not so clear as they are frequently referred to as agglutinins or lectins (e.g Abrus precatorius agglutinins I and II, Ricinus communis agglutinin etc.), having red blood cell (RBC) agglutinating activity. However they have been found to be less toxic and better agglutinins when compared with type II RIPs.
The present thesis reports the crystal structure of a type II RIP, Abrus precatorius agglutinin-I (APA-I) from the seeds of Abrus precatorius plant. The protein was purified from the plant seed and crystallized. The crystal structure was solved by molecular replacement method. Preliminary crystals of abrus agglutinin were obtained almost thirty years ago and unsuccessful attempts to solve the crystal Structure of APA-I were made almost five years ago by other groups. The structure solution of API-I was obtained at 3.5 Å using synchrotron data set collected at room temperature from a single crystal. Crystal structure is already known for Abrin, another type II RIP isolated from the same seeds. Abrin and APA-I have similar therapeutic indices for the treatment of experimental mice with tumors, but APA-I has much lower toxicity, with lethal dose (LD50) being 5mg/kg of body weight when compared with Abrin-a (LD50 = 20 μg/kg of body weight). The striking difference in the toxicity shown by Abrin and its agglutinin (APA-I) encouraged us to look at the structure function relationship of these proteins, which might prove to be useful in the design and construction of immunotoxins. As apparent from the comparative study, the reduced toxicity of APA-I can be attributed to fewer interactions it can possibly have with the substrate due to the presence of Pro199 at the binding site and not due to any kink formed in the helix due to the presence of praline as reported by other groups.
In recent years, these plant RIPs which inhibit protein synthesis have become a subject of intense investigation not only because of the possible role played by them in synthesizing immunotoxins that are used in cancer therapy but also because they serve as model system for studying the molecular mechanism of transmembrane translocation of proteins. In silico docking studies were carried out in search of inhibitors that could modulate the toxicity of RIPs. Many adenine like ringed compounds were studied in order to identify them as novel inhibitors of Abrin-a molecule and facilitate detailed analyis of protein ligand complex in various ways to ascertain their potential as ligands.
In addition, the structural analysis of conformationally constrained, α β-dehydrophenylalanine containing dipeptides is carried out. While there are several studies of molecular self assembly of peptides containing coded amino acids, not much work has been done on molecular assembly formation utilizing non-coded amino acids. The non-coded amino acid used in the analysis is a member of α β-dehydroamino acids. These are the derivatives of protein amino acids with a double bond between Cα
And Cβ atoms and are represented by a prefix symbol ‘Δ’. They are frequently found in natural peptides of microbial and fungal origins. The presence of α , β-dehydroamino acid residues in bioactive peptides confers altered bioactivity as well as an increased resistance to enzymatic degradation. Thus, α, β-dehydroamino acid residues, in particular α, β-dehydrophenylalaine(ΔPhe) has become one of the most promising residues in the study of structure-activity relationships of biologically important peptides. The utilization of in the molecular self assembly ΔPhe in the molecular self assembly offers in added benfit in terms of variey and stability. Taking advantage of the conformation constraining property of the ΔPhe residue, its incorporation in three dipeptide molecules has been probed.
In this thesis the crystal structures of the following designed dipeptide are reported.(I). +H3N-Phe-ΔPhe-COO˙ (FΔF); (II). +H3N-Val-ΔPhe- COO˙ (VΔF); +H3N-Ala-ΔPhe-COO˙ (AΔF). The peptides were found to be in the zwitterionic conformation and two (I, II) of the three dipeptides have resulted in tubular structures of dimensions in the nanoscale range.
Chapter 1 starts with a brief introduction of RIPs, their classification and overall fold, with Abrin-a as example. A brief mention is made about how the protein is translocated in the cell and the depurination mechanism.
Chapter 2 presents the purification of APA-I from the seeds of Abrus precatorius plant, the crystallization of APA-I, X-ray intensity data collection on these crystals and processing of data sets for APA-I.
Chapter 3 details the structure determination of tetramer Abrus precatorius agglutinin-I,(APA-I), using the molecular replacement method, iterative model building and refinement and the quality of final protein structure model.
Chapter 4 details the crystal structure of Abrus precatorius agglutinin-I (APA-I), the comparison of primary and secondary structure of APA-I with Abrin-a and the structural insights into the reduced toxicity in relation to Abrin-a and future prospects.
Chapter 5 deals with the in-silico modeling of Abrin-a inhibitors using the docking method. Abrin-a is being tested extensively for the design of therapeutic immunotoxins.
Chapter 6 deals with the self-assembly of dipeptides containing conformationally constrained amino acid, α. β -dehydrophenylalanine (ΔF).||en