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[en] Conformational changes of Klebsiella aerogenes urease apoprotein (UreABC)3 induced upon binding of the UreD and UreF accessory proteins were examined by a combination of flexibility analysis, mutagenesis, and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). ProFlex analysis of urease provided evidence that the major domain of UreB can move in a hinge-like motion to account for prior chemical cross-linking results. Rigidification of the UreB hinge region, accomplished through a G11P mutation, reduced the extent of urease activation, in part by decreasing the nickel content of the mutant enzyme, and by sequestering a portion of the urease apoprotein in a novel activation complex that includes all of the accessory proteins. SAXS analyses of urease, (UreABC-UreD)3, and (UreABC-UreDF)3 confirm that UreD and UreF bind near UreB at the periphery of the (UreAC)3 structure. This study supports an activation model in which a domain-shifted UreB conformation in (UreABC-UreDF)3 allows CO2 and nickel ions to gain access to the nascent active site
[en] As researchers strive to understand the interplay between the complex molecular systems that make up living cells, tools for characterizing the interactions between the various players involved have developed. Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) plays an important role in building a molecular-level understanding of the structures of macromolecular systems that make up cells. SANS is widely applicable to the study of biological structures including, but by no means limited to, protein-protein or protein-nucleic acid complexes, lipid membranes, cellular scaffolding, and amyloid plaques. Here, we present a brief description of the technique as it is commonly applied to the study of biological systems and an overview instrumentation that is available at the various facilities around the world.
[en] Cellular membranes are complex mixtures of lipids, proteins, and other small molecules that provide functional, dynamic barriers between the cell and its environment, as well as between environments within the cell. The lipid composition of the membrane is highly specific and controlled in terms of both content and lipid localization. The membrane structure results from the complex interplay between the wide varieties of molecules present. Here, small-angle neutron scattering and selective deuterium labeling were used to probe the impact of the membrane-active peptides melittin and alamethicin on the structure of lipid bilayers composed of a mixture of the lipids dimyristoyl phosphatidylglycerol (DMPG) and chain-perdeuterated dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine (DMPC). We found that both peptides enriched the outer leaflet of the bilayer with the negatively charged DMPG, creating an asymmetric distribution of lipids. The level of enrichment is peptide concentration-dependent and is stronger for melittin than it is for alamethicin. The enrichment between the inner and outer bilayer leaflets occurs at very low peptide concentrations and increases with peptide concentration, including when the peptide adopts a membrane-spanning, pore-forming state. The results suggest that these membrane-active peptides may have a secondary stressful effect on target cells at low concentrations that results from a disruption of the lipid distribution between the inner and outer leaflets of the bilayer that is independent of the formation of transmembrane pores.
[en] As we advance our understanding, ionic liquids (ILs) are finding ever broader scope within the chemical sciences including, most recently, pharmaceutical, enzymatic, and bioanalytical applications. With examples of enzymatic activity reported in both neat ILs and in IL/water mixtures, enzymes are frequently assumed to adopt a quasi-native conformation, even if little work has been carried out to date toward characterizing the conformation, dynamics, active-site perturbation, cooperativity of unfolding transitions, free energy of stabilization, or aggregation/oligomerization state of enzymes in the presence of an IL solvent component. In this study, human serum albumin and equine heart cytochrome c were characterized in aqueous solutions of the fully water-miscible IL 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride, (bmim)Cl, by small-angle neutron and X-ray scattering. At (bmim)Cl concentrations up to 25 vol.%, these two proteins were found to largely retain their higher-order structures whereas both proteins become highly denatured at the highest IL concentration studied here (i.e., 50 vol.% (bmim)Cl). The response of these proteins to (bmim)Cl is analogous to their behavior in the widely studied denaturants guanidine hydrochloride and urea which similarly lead to random coil conformations at excessive molar concentrations. Interestingly, human serum albumin dimerizes in response to (bmim)Cl, whereas cytochrome c remains predominantly in monomeric form. These results have important implications for enzymatic studies in aqueous IL media, as they suggest a facile pathway through which biocatalytic activity can be altered in these nascent and potentially green electrolyte systems
[en] ORNL-SAS is software for calculating solution small-angle scattering intensity profiles from any structure provided in the Protein Data Bank format and can also compare the results with experimental data
[en] Membrane proteins (MPs), which play vital roles in trans-membrane trafficking and signalling between cells and their external environment, comprise a major fraction of the expressed proteomes of many organisms. MP production for biophysical characterization requires detergents for extracting MPs from their native membrane and to solubilize the MP in solution for purification and study. In a proper detergent solution, the detergent-associated MPs retain their native fold and oligomerization state, key requirements for biophysical characterization and crystallization. SANS with contrast variation was performed to characterize BR in complex with OG to better understand the MP-detergent complex. Contrast variation makes it possible to not only probe the conformation of the entire structure but also investigate the conformation of the polypeptide chain within the BR-OG complex. The BR-OG SANS contrast variation series is not consistent with a compact structure, such as a trimeric BR complex surrounded by a belt of detergent. The data strongly suggest that the protein is partially unfolded through its association with the detergent micelles.
[en] The properties of spinach light harvesting complex II (LHC II), stabilized in the detergents Triton X-100 (TX100) and n-Octyl-β-D-Glucoside (BOG), were investigated by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). The LHC II-BOG scattering curve overlaid well with the theoretical scattering curve generated from the crystal structure of LHC II indicating that the protein preparation was in its native functional state. On the other hand, the simulated LHC II curve deviated significantly from the LHC II-TX100 experimental data. Analysis by circular dichroism spectroscopy supported the SANS analysis and showed that LHC II-TX100 is inactivated. This investigation has implications for extracting and stabilizing photosynthetic membrane proteins for the development of biohybrid photoconversion devices.
[en] Ionic liquids (ILs) are finding a vast array of applications as novel solvents for a wide variety of processes that include enzymatic chemistry, particularly as more biocompatible ILs are designed and discovered. While it is assumed that a native or near-native structure is required for enzymatic activity, there is some evidence that ILs alter protein structure and oligomerization states in a manner than can negatively impact function. The IL 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride, (bmim)Cl, is a well-studied, water-miscible member of the popular 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium IL family. To improve our understanding of the impact of water-miscible ILs on proteins, we have characterized the structure and oligomerization state of green fluorescent protein (GFP) in aqueous solutions containing 25 and 50 vol % (bmim)Cl using a combination of optical spectroscopy and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). Measurements were also performed as a function of temperature to provide insight into the effect of the IL on the thermal stability of GFP. While GFP exists as a dimer in water, the presence of 25 vol % (bmim)Cl causes GFP to transition to a monomeric state. The SANS data indicate that GFP is a great deal less compact in 50 vol % (bmim)Cl than in neat water, indicative of unfolding from the native structure. The oligomerization state of the protein in IL-containing aqueous solution changes from a dimer to a monomer in response to the IL, but does not change as a function of temperature in the IL-containing solution. The SANS and spectroscopic results also demonstrate that the addition of (bmim)Cl to the solution decreases the thermal stability of GFP, allowing the protein to unfold at lower temperatures than in aqueous solution.
[en] The self-assembly of multiblock copolymers in solutions is controlled by a delicate balance between inherent phase segregation due to incompatibility of the blocks and the interaction of the individual blocks with the solvent. The current study elucidates the association of pentablock copolymers in a mixture of selective solvents which are good for the hydrophobic segments and poor for the hydrophilic blocks using small angle neutron scattering (SANS). The pentablock consists of a center block of randomly sulfonated polystyrene, designed for transport, tethered to poly-ethylene-r-propylene and end-capped by poly-t-butyl styrene, for mechanical stability. We find that the pentablock forms ellipsoidal core-shell micelles with the sulfonated polystyrene in the core and Gaussian decaying chains of swollen poly-ethylene-r-propylene and poly-t-butyl styrene tertiary in the corona. With increasing solution concentration, the size of the micelle, the thickness of the corona, and the aggregation number increase, while the solvent fraction in the core decreases. As a result, in dilute solution the micelle increases in size as the temperature is increased, however, temperature effects dissipate with increasing solution concentration.
[en] Highly ordered HfO2 nanotube arrays were prepared through an electrochemical anodization in the presence of NH4F and ethylene glycol. The voltage-dependent pore size, wall thickness and porosity were studied using scanning electron microscopy and a wall thickness to pore size ratio was proposed on the basis of the results to serve as a boundary condition additional to the 10% porosity rule introduced by the Gosele group. The average distributions of the tube sizes and wall thicknesses of the nanotubes prepared at 20 V were determined from the small-angle x-ray scattering data using a simple polydisperse core-shell cylinder model fit. Temperature-dependent x-ray diffraction measurements show that the as-grown amorphous nanotube arrays can be converted into crystalline nanotube arrays at a temperature above 500 0C. Transmission electron microscopy study of the dimple layer under the as-grown nanotube arrays reveals the presence of a layer of ordered HfO2 nanocrystals. Further microscopic investigation of the nanotube root region indicates that the nanotubes develop from bulbs produced during anodization. A possible gas bubble initiated growth mechanism based on these observations was proposed.