Ph.D., Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Biotechnology and Bioengineering
M.Sc., Koç University, Chemical and Biological Engineering
B.Sc., Istanbul Technical University, Chemistry
Ron Dror, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Structure and mechanism of the SGLT family of glucose transporters.
Glucose is a primary energy source in living cells. The discovery in 1960s that a sodium gradient powers the active uptake of glucose in the intestine1 heralded the concept of a secondary active transporter that can catalyse the movement of a substrate against an electrochemical gradient by harnessing energy from another coupled substrate. Subsequently, coupled Na+/glucose transport was found to be mediated by sodium-glucose cotransporters2,3 (SGLTs). SGLTs are responsible for active glucose and galactose absorption in the intestine and for glucose reabsorption in the kidney4, and are targeted by multiple drugs to treat diabetes5. Several members within the SGLT family transport key metabolites other than glucose2. Here we report cryo-electron microscopy structures of the prototypic human SGLT1 and a related monocarboxylate transporter SMCT1 from the same family. The structures, together with molecular dynamics simulations and functional studies, define the architecture of SGLTs, uncover the mechanism of substrate binding and selectivity, and shed light on water permeability of SGLT1. These results provide insights into the multifaceted functions of SGLTs.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-021-04211-w
View details for PubMedID 34880492
Structure and mechanism of blood-brain-barrier lipid transporter MFSD2A.
MFSD2A is a sodium-dependent lysophosphatidylcholine symporter that is responsible for the uptake of docosahexaenoic acid into the brain1,2, which is crucial for the development and performance of the brain3. Mutations that affect MFSD2A cause microcephaly syndromes4,5. The ability of MFSD2A to transport lipid is also a key mechanism that underlies its function as an inhibitor of transcytosis to regulate the blood-brain barrier6,7. Thus, MFSD2A represents an attractive target for modulating the permeability of the blood-brain barrier for drug delivery. Here we report the cryo-electron microscopy structure of mouse MFSD2A. Our structure defines the architecture of this important transporter, reveals its unique extracellular domain and uncovers its substrate-binding cavity. The structure-together with our functional studies and molecular dynamics simulations-identifies a conserved sodium-binding site, reveals a potential lipid entry pathway and helps to rationalize MFSD2A mutations that underlie microcephaly syndromes. These results shed light on the critical lipid transport function of MFSD2A and provide a framework to aid in the design of specific modulators for therapeutic purposes.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-021-03782-y
View details for PubMedID 34349262
CLoNe: automated clustering based on local density neighborhoods for application to biomolecular structural ensembles
2021; 37 (7): 921-928
Proteins are intrinsically dynamic entities. Flexibility sampling methods, such as molecular dynamics or those arising from integrative modeling strategies, are now commonplace and enable the study of molecular conformational landscapes in many contexts. Resulting structural ensembles increase in size as technological and algorithmic advancements take place, making their analysis increasingly demanding. In this regard, cluster analysis remains a go-to approach for their classification. However, many state-of-the-art algorithms are restricted to specific cluster properties. Combined with tedious parameter fine-tuning, cluster analysis of protein structural ensembles suffers from the lack of a generally applicable and easy to use clustering scheme.We present CLoNe, an original Python-based clustering scheme that builds on the Density Peaks algorithm of Rodriguez and Laio. CLoNe relies on a probabilistic analysis of local density distributions derived from nearest neighbors to find relevant clusters regardless of cluster shape, size, distribution and amount. We show its capabilities on many toy datasets with properties otherwise dividing state-of-the-art approaches and improves on the original algorithm in key aspects. Applied to structural ensembles, CLoNe was able to extract meaningful conformations from membrane binding events and ligand-binding pocket opening as well as identify dominant dimerization motifs or inter-domain organization. CLoNe additionally saves clusters as individual trajectories for further analysis and provides scripts for automated use with molecular visualization software.www.epfl.ch/labs/lbm/resources, github.com/LBM-EPFL/CLoNe.Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
View details for DOI 10.1093/bioinformatics/btaa742
View details for Web of Science ID 000654708400005
View details for PubMedID 32821900
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8128458
Delineating the Ligand-Receptor Interactions That Lead to Biased Signaling at the μ-Opioid Receptor.
Journal of chemical information and modeling
Biased agonists, which selectively stimulate certain signaling pathways controlled by a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), hold great promise as drugs that maximize efficacy while minimizing dangerous side effects. Biased agonists of the μ-opioid receptor (μOR) are of particular interest as a means to achieve analgesia through G protein signaling without dose-limiting side effects such as respiratory depression and constipation. Rational structure-based design of biased agonists remains highly challenging, however, because the ligand-mediated interactions that are key to activation of each signaling pathway remain unclear. We identify several compounds for which the R- and S-enantiomers have distinct bias profiles at the μOR. These compounds serve as excellent comparative tools to study bias because the identical physicochemical properties of enantiomer pairs ensure that differences in bias profiles are due to differences in interactions with the μOR binding pocket. Atomic-level simulations of compounds at μOR indicate that R- and S-enantiomers adopt different poses that form distinct interactions with the binding pocket. A handful of specific interactions with highly conserved binding pocket residues appear to be responsible for substantial differences in arrestin recruitment between enantiomers. Our results offer guidance for rational design of biased agonists at μOR and possibly at related GPCRs.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jcim.1c00585
View details for PubMedID 34251810
An Isoprene Lipid-Binding Protein Promotes Eukaryotic Coenzyme Q Biosynthesis
2019; 73 (4): 763-+
The biosynthesis of coenzyme Q presents a paradigm for how cells surmount hydrophobic barriers in lipid biology. In eukaryotes, CoQ precursors-among nature's most hydrophobic molecules-must somehow be presented to a series of enzymes peripherally associated with the mitochondrial inner membrane. Here, we reveal that this process relies on custom lipid-binding properties of COQ9. We show that COQ9 repurposes the bacterial TetR fold to bind aromatic isoprenes with high specificity, including CoQ intermediates that likely reside entirely within the bilayer. We reveal a process by which COQ9 associates with cardiolipin-rich membranes and warps the membrane surface to access this cargo. Finally, we identify a molecular interface between COQ9 and the hydroxylase COQ7, motivating a model whereby COQ9 presents intermediates directly to CoQ enzymes. Overall, our results provide a mechanism for how a lipid-binding protein might access, select, and deliver specific cargo from a membrane to promote biosynthesis.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2018.11.033
View details for Web of Science ID 000459253700012
View details for PubMedID 30661980
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6386619
Conserved Lipid and Small-Molecule Modulation of COQ8 Reveals Regulation of the Ancient Kinase-like UbiB Family
CELL CHEMICAL BIOLOGY
2018; 25 (2): 154-+
Human COQ8A (ADCK3) and Saccharomyces cerevisiae Coq8p (collectively COQ8) are UbiB family proteins essential for mitochondrial coenzyme Q (CoQ) biosynthesis. However, the biochemical activity of COQ8 and its direct role in CoQ production remain unclear, in part due to lack of known endogenous regulators of COQ8 function and of effective small molecules for probing its activity in vivo. Here, we demonstrate that COQ8 possesses evolutionarily conserved ATPase activity that is activated by binding to membranes containing cardiolipin and by phenolic compounds that resemble CoQ pathway intermediates. We further create an analog-sensitive version of Coq8p and reveal that acute chemical inhibition of its endogenous activity in yeast is sufficient to cause respiratory deficiency concomitant with CoQ depletion. Collectively, this work defines lipid and small-molecule modulators of an ancient family of atypical kinase-like proteins and establishes a chemical genetic system for further exploring the mechanistic role of COQ8 in CoQ biosynthesis.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chembiol.2017.11.001
View details for Web of Science ID 000425281100007
View details for PubMedID 29198567
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5819996
Cerebellar Ataxia and Coenzyme Q Deficiency through Loss of Unorthodox Kinase Activity
2016; 63 (4): 608–20
The UbiB protein kinase-like (PKL) family is widespread, comprising one-quarter of microbial PKLs and five human homologs, yet its biochemical activities remain obscure. COQ8A (ADCK3) is a mammalian UbiB protein associated with ubiquinone (CoQ) biosynthesis and an ataxia (ARCA2) through unclear means. We show that mice lacking COQ8A develop a slowly progressive cerebellar ataxia linked to Purkinje cell dysfunction and mild exercise intolerance, recapitulating ARCA2. Interspecies biochemical analyses show that COQ8A and yeast Coq8p specifically stabilize a CoQ biosynthesis complex through unorthodox PKL functions. Although COQ8 was predicted to be a protein kinase, we demonstrate that it lacks canonical protein kinase activity in trans. Instead, COQ8 has ATPase activity and interacts with lipid CoQ intermediates, functions that are likely conserved across all domains of life. Collectively, our results lend insight into the molecular activities of the ancient UbiB family and elucidate the biochemical underpinnings of a human disease.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2016.06.030
View details for Web of Science ID 000381620300009
View details for PubMedID 27499294
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5012427