Brian Kobilka, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Structural insights into the activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors.
Metabotropic glutamate receptors are family C G-protein-coupled receptors. They form obligate dimers and possess extracellular ligand-binding Venus flytrap domains, which are linked by cysteine-rich domains to their 7-transmembrane domains. Spectroscopic studies show that signalling is a dynamic process, in which large-scale conformational changes underlie the transmission of signals from the extracellular Venus flytraps to the G protein-coupling domains-the 7-transmembrane domains-in the membrane. Here, using a combination of X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and signalling studies, we present a structural framework for the activation mechanism of metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5. Our results show that agonist binding at the Venus flytraps leads to a compaction of the intersubunit dimer interface, thereby bringing the cysteine-rich domains into close proximity. Interactions between the cysteine-rich domains and the second extracellular loops of the receptor enable the rigid-body repositioning of the 7-transmembrane domains, which come into contact with each other to initiate signalling.
View details for PubMedID 30675062
Development of an antibody fragment that stabilizes GPCR/G-protein complexes.
2018; 9 (1): 3712
Single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) has recently enabled high-resolution structure determination of numerous biological macromolecular complexes. Despite this progress, the application of high-resolution cryo-EM to G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in complex with heterotrimeric G proteins remains challenging, owning to both the relative small size and the limited stability of these assemblies. Here we describe the development of antibody fragments that bind and stabilize GPCR-G protein complexes for the application of high-resolution cryo-EM. One antibody in particular, mAb16, stabilizes GPCR/G-protein complexes by recognizing an interface between Galpha and Gbetagamma subunits in the heterotrimer, and confers resistance to GTPgammaS-triggered dissociation. The unique recognition mode of this antibody makes it possible to transfer its binding and stabilizing effect to other G-protein subtypes through minimal protein engineering. This antibody fragment is thus a broadly applicable tool for structural studies of GPCR/G-protein complexes.
View details for PubMedID 30213947
Structure of the µ-opioid receptor-Gi protein complex.
The mu-opioid receptor (muOR) is a G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) and the target of most clinically and recreationally used opioids. The induced positive effects of analgesia and euphoria are mediated by muOR signalling through the adenylyl cyclase-inhibiting heterotrimeric G protein Gi. Here we present the 3.5A resolution cryo-electron microscopy structure of the muOR bound to the agonist peptide DAMGO and nucleotide-free Gi. DAMGO occupies the morphinan ligand pocket, with its Nterminus interacting with conserved receptor residues and its Cterminus engaging regions important for opioid-ligand selectivity. Comparison of the muOR-Gi complex to previously determined structures of other GPCRs bound to the stimulatory G protein Gs reveals differences in the position of transmembrane receptor helix 6 and in the interactions between the G protein alpha-subunit and the receptor core. Together, these results shed light on the structural features that contribute to the Gi protein-coupling specificity of the OR.
View details for PubMedID 29899455
Crystal structure of the human sigma 1 receptor
2016; 532 (7600): 527-?
The human σ1 receptor is an enigmatic endoplasmic-reticulum-resident transmembrane protein implicated in a variety of disorders including depression, drug addiction, and neuropathic pain. Recently, an additional connection to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has emerged from studies of human genetics and mouse models. Unlike many transmembrane receptors that belong to large, extensively studied families such as G-protein-coupled receptors or ligand-gated ion channels, the σ1 receptor is an evolutionary isolate with no discernible similarity to any other human protein. Despite its increasingly clear importance in human physiology and disease, the molecular architecture of the σ1 receptor and its regulation by drug-like compounds remain poorly defined. Here we report crystal structures of the human σ1 receptor in complex with two chemically divergent ligands, PD144418 and 4-IBP. The structures reveal a trimeric architecture with a single transmembrane domain in each protomer. The carboxy-terminal domain of the receptor shows an extensive flat, hydrophobic membrane-proximal surface, suggesting an intimate association with the cytosolic surface of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane in cells. This domain includes a cupin-like β-barrel with the ligand-binding site buried at its centre. This large, hydrophobic ligand-binding cavity shows remarkable plasticity in ligand recognition, binding the two ligands in similar positions despite dissimilar chemical structures. Taken together, these results reveal the overall architecture, oligomerization state, and molecular basis for ligand recognition by this important but poorly understood protein.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature17391
View details for Web of Science ID 000374815900053
View details for PubMedID 27042935
Structure of a putative ClpS N-end rule adaptor protein from the malaria pathogen Plasmodium falciparum
2016; 25 (3): 689-701
The N-end rule pathway uses an evolutionarily conserved mechanism in bacteria and eukaryotes that marks proteins for degradation by ATP-dependent chaperones and proteases such as the Clp chaperones and proteases. Specific N-terminal amino acids (N-degrons) are sufficient to target substrates for degradation. In bacteria, the ClpS adaptor binds and delivers N-end rule substrates for their degradation upon association with the ClpA/P chaperone/protease. Here, we report the first crystal structure, solved at 2.7 Å resolution, of a eukaryotic homolog of bacterial ClpS from the malaria apicomplexan parasite Plasmodium falciparum (Pfal). Despite limited sequence identity, Plasmodium ClpS is very similar to bacterial ClpS. Akin to its bacterial orthologs, plasmodial ClpS harbors a preformed hydrophobic pocket whose geometry and chemical properties are compatible with the binding of N-degrons. However, while the N-degron binding pocket in bacterial ClpS structures is open and accessible, the corresponding pocket in Plasmodium ClpS is occluded by a conserved surface loop that acts as a latch. Despite the closed conformation observed in the crystal, we show that, in solution, Pfal-ClpS binds and discriminates peptides mimicking bona fide N-end rule substrates. The presence of an apicoplast targeting peptide suggests that Pfal-ClpS localizes to this plastid-like organelle characteristic of all Apicomplexa and hosting most of its Clp machinery. By analogy with the related ClpS1 from plant chloroplasts and cyanobacteria, Plasmodium ClpS likely functions in association with ClpC in the apicoplast. Our findings open new venues for the design of novel anti-malarial drugs aimed at disrupting parasite-specific protein quality control pathways.
View details for DOI 10.1002/pro.2868
View details for Web of Science ID 000370952900013
View details for PubMedID 26701219
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4815404
Structural mapping of the ClpB ATPases of Plasmodium falciparum: Targeting protein folding and secretion for antimalarial drug design
2015; 24 (9): 1508-1520
Caseinolytic chaperones and proteases (Clp) belong to the AAA+ protein superfamily and are part of the protein quality control machinery in cells. The eukaryotic parasite Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of malaria, has evolved an elaborate network of Clp proteins including two distinct ClpB ATPases. ClpB1 and ClpB2 are involved in different aspects of parasitic proteostasis. ClpB1 is present in the apicoplast, a parasite-specific and plastid-like organelle hosting various metabolic pathways necessary for parasite growth. ClpB2 localizes to the parasitophorous vacuole membrane where it drives protein export as core subunit of a parasite-derived protein secretion complex, the Plasmodium Translocon of Exported proteins (PTEX); this process is central to parasite virulence and survival in the human host. The functional associations of these two chaperones with parasite-specific metabolism and protein secretion make them prime drug targets. ClpB proteins function as unfoldases and disaggregases and share a common architecture consisting of four domains-a variable N-terminal domain that binds different protein substrates, followed by two highly conserved catalytic ATPase domains, and a C-terminal domain. Here, we report and compare the first crystal structures of the N terminal domains of ClpB1 and ClpB2 from Plasmodium and analyze their molecular surfaces. Solution scattering analysis of the N domain of ClpB2 shows that the average solution conformation is similar to the crystalline structure. These structures represent the first step towards the characterization of these two malarial chaperones and the reconstitution of the entire PTEX to aid structure-based design of novel anti-malarial drugs.
View details for DOI 10.1002/pro.2739
View details for Web of Science ID 000360380400016
View details for PubMedID 26130467
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4570544
Capture and X-ray diffraction studies of protein microcrystals in a microfluidic trap array.
Acta crystallographica. Section D, Biological crystallography
2015; 71: 928-940
X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) promise to enable the collection of interpretable diffraction data from samples that are refractory to data collection at synchrotron sources. At present, however, more efficient sample-delivery methods that minimize the consumption of microcrystalline material are needed to allow the application of XFEL sources to a wide range of challenging structural targets of biological importance. Here, a microfluidic chip is presented in which microcrystals can be captured at fixed, addressable points in a trap array from a small volume (<10 µl) of a pre-existing slurry grown off-chip. The device can be mounted on a standard goniostat for conducting diffraction experiments at room temperature without the need for flash-cooling. Proof-of-principle tests with a model system (hen egg-white lysozyme) demonstrated the high efficiency of the microfluidic approach for crystal harvesting, permitting the collection of sufficient data from only 265 single-crystal still images to permit determination and refinement of the structure of the protein. This work shows that microfluidic capture devices can be readily used to facilitate data collection from protein microcrystals grown in traditional laboratory formats, enabling analysis when cryopreservation is problematic or when only small numbers of crystals are available. Such microfluidic capture devices may also be useful for data collection at synchrotron sources.
View details for DOI 10.1107/S1399004715002308
View details for PubMedID 25849403
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4388268