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Branco, PS, Peixoto D, Figueiredo M, Malta G, Roma-Rodrigues C, Batista PV, Fernandes AR, Barroso S, Carvalho AL, Afonso CAM, Ferreira LM.  2018.  Synthesis, cytotoxicity evaluation in human cell lines and in vitro DNA interaction of a hetero arylidene-9(10H)-anthrone. European Journal of Organic Chemistry. :n/a–n/a. AbstractWebsite

A new and never yet reported hetero arylidene-9(10H)-anthrone structure (4) was unexpectedly isolated on reaction of 1,2-dimethyl-3-ethylimidazolium iodide (2) and 9-anthracenecarboxaldehyde (3) under basic conditions. Its structure was unequivocally attributed by X-ray crystallography. No cytotoxicity in human healthy fibroblasts and in two different cancer cell lines was observed indicating its applicability in biological systems. Compound 4 interacts with CT-DNA by intercalation between the adjacent base pairs of DNA with a high binding affinity (Kb = 2.0(± 0.20) x 105 M-1) which is 10x higher than that described for doxorubicin (Kb = 3.2 (±0.23) × 104 M-1). Furthermore, compound 4 quenches the fluorescence emission of GelRed-CT-DNA system with a quenching constant (KSV) of 3.3(±0.3) x 103 M-1 calculated by the Stern-Volmer equation.

Gomes, AS, Trovão F, Andrade Pinheiro B, Freire F, Gomes S, Oliveira C, Domingues L, Romão MJ, Saraiva L, Carvalho AL.  2018.  The Crystal Structure of the R280K Mutant of Human p53 Explains the Loss of DNA Binding. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 19, Number 4}, ARTICLE NUMBER = {1184 AbstractWebsite

The p53 tumor suppressor is widely found to be mutated in human cancer. This protein is regarded as a molecular hub regulating different cell responses, namely cell death. Compelling data have demonstrated that the impairment of p53 activity correlates with tumor development and maintenance. For these reasons, the reactivation of p53 function is regarded as a promising strategy to halt cancer. In the present work, the recombinant mutant p53R280K DNA binding domain (DBD) was produced for the first time, and its crystal structure was determined in the absence of DNA to a resolution of 2.0 Å. The solved structure contains four molecules in the asymmetric unit, four zinc(II) ions, and 336 water molecules. The structure was compared with the wild-type p53 DBD structure, isolated and in complex with DNA. These comparisons contributed to a deeper understanding of the mutant p53R280K structure, as well as the loss of DNA binding related to halted transcriptional activity. The structural information derived may also contribute to the rational design of mutant p53 reactivating molecules with potential application in cancer treatment.

Ribeiro, DO, Pinheiro BA, Carvalho AL, Palma AS.  2018.  Targeting protein-carbohydrate interactions in plant cell-wall biodegradation: the power of carbohydrate microarrays. Carbohydrate Chemistry: Chemical and Biological Approaches Volume 43. 43:159-176.: The Royal Society of Chemistry Abstract

The plant cell-wall is constituted by structurally diverse polysaccharides. The biodegradation of these is a crucial process for life sustainability. Cellulolytic microorganisms are highly efficient in this process by assembling modular architectures of carbohydrate-active enzymes with appended non-catalytic carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs). Carbohydrate microarrays offer high-throughput and sensitive tools for uncovering carbohydrate-binding specificities of CBMs{,} which is pivotal to understand the function of these modules in polysaccharide biodegradation mechanisms. Features of this technology will be here briefly reviewed with highlights of microarray approaches to study plant-carbohydrates and CBM-carbohydrate interactions{,} along with an overview of plant polysaccharides and microorganisms strategies for their recognition.

Kryshtafovych, A, Albrecht R, Baslé A, Bule P, Caputo AT, Carvalho AL, Chao KL, Diskin R, Fidelis K, Fontes CMGA, Fredslund F, Gilbert HJ, Goulding CW, Hartmann MD, Hayes CS, Herzberg O, Hill JC, Joachimiak A, Kohring G-W, Koning RI, {Lo Leggio} L, Mangiagalli M, Michalska K, Moult J, Najmudin S, Nardini M, Nardone V, Ndeh D, Nguyen TH, Pintacuda G, Postel S, van Raaij MJ, Roversi P, Shimon A, Singh AK, Sundberg EJ, Tars K, Zitzmann N, Schwede T.  2017.  Target highlights from the first post-PSI CASP experiment (CASP12, May-August 2016), oct. Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics. AbstractWebsite

The functional and biological significance of the selected CASP12 targets are described by the authors of the structures. The crystallographers discuss the most interesting structural features of the target proteins and assess whether these features were correctly reproduced in the predictions submitted to the CASP12 experiment. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Pires, VMR, Pereira PMM, Brás JLA, Correia M, Cardoso V, Bule P, Alves VD, Najmudin S, Venditto I, Ferreira LMA, Romão MJ, Carvalho AL, Fontes CMGA, Prazeres DM.  2017.  Stability and ligand promiscuity of type A carbohydrate-binding modules are illustrated by the structure of Spirochaeta thermophila StCBM64C, mar. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 292:4847–4860., Number 12 AbstractWebsite

Deconstruction of cellulose, the most abundant plant cell wall polysaccharide, requires the cooperative activity of a large repertoire of microbial enzymes. Modular cellulases contain non-catalytic type A Carbohydrate-Binding Modules (CBMs) that specifically bind to the crystalline regions of cellulose, thus promoting enzyme efficacy through proximity and targeting effects. Although type A CBMs play a critical role in cellulose recycling, their mechanism of action remains poorly understood. Here we produced a library of recombinant CBMs representative of the known diversity of type A modules. The binding properties of 40 CBMs, in fusion with an N-terminal green fluorescence protein (GFP) domain, revealed that type A CBMs possess the ability to recognize different crystalline forms of cellulose and chitin over a wide range of temperatures, pHs and ionic strengths. A Spirochaeta thermophila CBM64, in particular, displayed plasticity in its capacity to bind both crystalline and soluble carbohydrates under a wide range of extreme conditions. The structure of S. thermophila StCBM64C revealed an untwisted, flat, carbohydrate-binding interface comprising the side chains of four tryptophan residues in a coplanar linear arrangement. Significantly, two highly conserved asparagine side chains, each one located between two tryptophan residues, are critical to insoluble and soluble glucan recognition but not to bind xyloglucan. Thus, CBM64 compact structure and its extended and versatile ligand interacting platform illustrates how type A CBMs target their appended plant cell wall degrading enzymes to a diversity of recalcitrant carbohydrates under a wide range of environmental conditions.

dos Santos, R, Carvalho AL, Roque CAA.  2017.  Renaissance of protein crystallization and precipitation in biopharmaceuticals purification, 2017/1//. 35(1):41-50. AbstractWebsite

AbstractThe current chromatographic approaches used in protein purification are not keeping pace with the increasing biopharmaceutical market demand. With the upstream improvements, the bottleneck shifted towards the downstream process. New approaches rely in Anything But Chromatography methodologies and revisiting former techniques with a bioprocess perspective. Protein crystallization and precipitation methods are already implemented in the downstream process of diverse therapeutic biological macromolecules, overcoming the current chromatographic bottlenecks. Promising work is being developed in order to implement crystallization and precipitation in the purification pipeline of high value therapeutic molecules. This review focuses in the role of these two methodologies in current industrial purification processes, and highlights their potential implementation in the purification pipeline of high value therapeutic molecules, overcoming chromatographic holdups.

Bule, P, Alves VD, Israeli-Ruimy V, Carvalho AL, Ferreira LMA, Smith SP, Gilbert HJ, Najmudin S, Bayer EA, Fontes CMGA.  2017.  Assembly of Ruminococcus flavefaciens cellulosome revealed by structures of two cohesin-dockerin complexes, 2017. Scientific Reports. 7:759. AbstractWebsite

Cellulosomes are sophisticated multi-enzymatic nanomachines produced by anaerobes to effectively deconstruct plant structural carbohydrates. Cellulosome assembly involves the binding of enzyme-borne dockerins (Doc) to repeated cohesin (Coh) modules located in a non-catalytic scaffoldin. Docs appended to cellulosomal enzymes generally present two similar Coh-binding interfaces supporting a dual-binding mode, which may confer increased positional adjustment of the different complex components. Ruminococcus flavefaciens’ cellulosome is assembled from a repertoire of 223 Doc-containing proteins classified into 6 groups. Recent studies revealed that Docs of groups 3 and 6 are recruited to the cellulosome via a single-binding mode mechanism with an adaptor scaffoldin. To investigate the extent to which the single-binding mode contributes to the assembly of R. flavefaciens cellulosome, the structures of two group 1 Docs bound to Cohs of primary (ScaA) and adaptor (ScaB) scaffoldins were solved. The data revealed that group 1 Docs display a conserved mechanism of Coh recognition involving a single-binding mode. Therefore, in contrast to all cellulosomes described to date, the assembly of R. flavefaciens cellulosome involves single but not dual-binding mode Docs. Thus, this work reveals a novel mechanism of cellulosome assembly and challenges the ubiquitous implication of the dual-binding mode in the acquisition of cellulosome flexibility.

Otrelo-Cardoso, AR, Nair RR, Correia MAS, Cordeiro RCS, Panjkovich A, Svergun DI, Santos-Silva T, Rivas MG.  2017.  Highly selective tungstate transporter protein TupA from Desulfovibrio alaskensis G20, 2017. Scientific Reports. 7(1):5798. AbstractWebsite

Molybdenum and tungsten are taken up by bacteria and archaea as their soluble oxyanions through high affinity transport systems belonging to the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. The component A (ModA/TupA) of these transporters is the first selection gate from which the cell differentiates between MoO4 2−, WO4 2− and other similar oxyanions. We report the biochemical characterization and the crystal structure of the apo-TupA from Desulfovibrio desulfuricans G20, at 1.4 Å resolution. Small Angle X-ray Scattering data suggests that the protein adopts a closed and more stable conformation upon ion binding. The role of the arginine 118 in the selectivity of the oxyanion was also investigated and three mutants were constructed: R118K, R118E and R118Q. Isothermal titration calorimetry clearly shows the relevance of this residue for metal discrimination and oxyanion binding. In this sense, the three variants lost the ability to coordinate molybdate and the R118K mutant keeps an extremely high affinity for tungstate. These results contribute to an understanding of the metal-protein interaction, making it a suitable candidate for a recognition element of a biosensor for tungsten detection.

Polino, M, Carvalho AL, Juknaitė L, Portugal CAM, Coelhoso IM, Romão MJ, Crespo JG.  2017.  Ion-Exchange Membranes for Stable Derivatization of Protein Crystals, 2017. Crystal Growth & DesignCrystal Growth & Design. : American Chemical Society AbstractWebsite
Liu, Y, McBride R, Stoll M, Palma AS, Silva L, Agravat S, Aoki-Kinoshita KF, Campbell MP, Costello CE, Dell A, Haslam SM, Karlsson NG, Khoo K-H, Kolarich D, Novotny MV, Packer NH, Ranzinger R, Rapp E, Rudd PM, Struwe WB, Tiemeyer M, Wells L, York WS, Zaia J, Kettner C, Paulson JC, Feizi T, Smith DF.  2017.  The minimum information required for a glycomics experiment (MIRAGE) project: improving the standards for reporting glycan microarray-based data, 2016/11/21/accep. Glycobiology. 27(4):280-284.: Oxford University Press AbstractWebsite

MIRAGE (Minimum Information Required for AGlycomics Experiment) is an initiative that was created by experts in the fields of glycobiology, glycoanalytics and glycoinformatics to produce guidelines for reporting results from the diverse types of experiments and analyses used in structural and functional studies of glycans in the scientific literature. As a sequel to the guidelines for sample preparation (Struwe et al. 2016, Glycobiology, 26:907–910) and mass spectrometry  data (Kolarich et al. 2013, Mol. Cell Proteomics, 12:991–995), here we present the first version of guidelines intended to improve the standards for reporting data from glycan microarray analyses. For each of eight areas in the workflow of a glycan microarray experiment, we provide guidelines for the minimal information that should be provided in reporting results. We hope that the MIRAGE glycan microarray guidelines proposed here will gain broad acceptance by the community, and will facilitate interpretation and reproducibility of the glycan microarray results with implications in comparison of data from different laboratories and eventual deposition of glycan microarray data in international databases.

Kowacz, M, Marchel M, Juknaité L, Esperança JMSS, Romão MJ, Carvalho AL, Rebelo LPN.  2017.  Infrared light-induced protein crystallization. Structuring of protein interfacial water and periodic self-assembly. Journal of Crystal Growth. 457:362-368. AbstractWebsite

Abstract We show that a physical trigger, a non-ionizing infrared (IR) radiation at wavelengths strongly absorbed by liquid water, can be used to induce and kinetically control protein (periodic) self-assembly in solution. This phenomenon is explained by considering the effect of İR\} light on the structuring of protein interfacial water. Our results indicate that the İR\} radiation can promote enhanced mutual correlations of water molecules in the protein hydration shell. We report on the radiation-induced increase in both the strength and cooperativeness of H-bonds. The presence of a structured dipolar hydration layer can lead to attractive interactions between like-charged biomacromolecules in solution (and crystal nucleation events). Furthermore, our study suggests that enveloping the protein within a layer of structured solvent (an effect enhanced by İR\} light) can prevent the protein non-specific aggregation favoring periodic self-assembly. Recognizing the ability to affect protein-water interactions by means of İR\} radiation may have important implications for biological and bio-inspired systems.

Romão, MJ, Coelho C, Santos-Silva T, Foti A, Terao M, Garattini E, Leimkühler S.  2017.  Structural basis for the role of mammalian aldehyde oxidases in the metabolism of drugs and xenobiotics. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology. 37:39-47. AbstractWebsite

Aldehyde oxidases (AOXs) are molybdo-flavoenzymes characterized by broad substrate specificity, oxidizing aromatic/aliphatic aldehydes into the corresponding carboxylic acids and hydroxylating various heteroaromatic rings. Mammals are characterized by a complement of species-specific \{AOX\} isoenzymes, that varies from one in humans (AOX1) to four in rodents (AOX1, AOX2, \{AOX3\} and AOX4). The physiological function of mammalian \{AOX\} isoenzymes is unknown, although human \{AOX1\} is an emerging enzyme in phase-I drug metabolism. Indeed, the number of therapeutic molecules under development which act as \{AOX\} substrates is increasing. The recent crystallization and structure determination of human \{AOX1\} as well as mouse \{AOX3\} has brought new insights into the mechanisms underlying substrate/inhibitor binding as well as the catalytic activity of this class of enzymes.

Hussain, A, Semeano ATS, Palma SICJ, Pina AS, Almeida J, Medrado BF, Pádua ACCS, Carvalho AL, Dionísio M, Li RWC, Gamboa H, Ulijn RV, Gruber J, Roque ACA.  2017.  Tunable Gas Sensing Gels by Cooperative Assembly. Advanced Functional Materials. 27:1700803–n/a., Number 27 AbstractWebsite

The cooperative assembly of biopolymers and small molecules can yield functional materials with precisely tunable properties. Here, the fabrication, characterization, and use of multicomponent hybrid gels as selective gas sensors are reported. The gels are composed of liquid crystal droplets self-assembled in the presence of ionic liquids, which further coassemble with biopolymers to form stable matrices. Each individual component can be varied and acts cooperatively to tune gels' structure and function. The unique molecular environment in hybrid gels is explored for supramolecular recognition of volatile compounds. Gels with distinct compositions are used as optical and electrical gas sensors, yielding a combinatorial response conceptually mimicking olfactory biological systems, and tested to distinguish volatile organic compounds and to quantify ethanol in automotive fuel. The gel response is rapid, reversible, and reproducible. These robust, versatile, modular, pliant electro-optical soft materials possess new possibilities in sensing triggered by chemical and physical stimuli.

Correia, MAS, Otrelo-Cardoso AR, Schwuchow V, {Sigfridsson Clauss} KGV, Haumann M, Romão MJ, Leimkühler S, Santos-Silva T.  2016.  {The Escherichia coli Periplasmic Aldehyde Oxidoreductase Is an Exceptional Member of the Xanthine Oxidase Family of Molybdoenzymes}, oct. ACS Chemical Biology. 11:2923–2935., Number 10 AbstractWebsite

The xanthine oxidase (XO) family comprises molybdenum-dependent enzymes that usually form homodimers (or dimers of heterodimers/trimers) organized in three domains that harbor two [2Fe-2S] clusters, one FAD, and a Mo cofactor. In this work, we crystallized an unusual member of the family, the periplasmic aldehyde oxidoreductase PaoABC from Escherichia coli. This is the first example of an E. coli protein containing a molybdopterin-cytosine-dinucleotide cofactor and is the only heterotrimer of the XO family so far structurally characterized. The crystal structure revealed the presence of an unexpected [4Fe-4S] cluster, anchored to an additional 40 residues subdomain. According to phylogenetic analysis, proteins containing this cluster are widely spread in many bacteria phyla, putatively through repeated gene transfer events. The active site of PaoABC is highly exposed to the surface with no aromatic residues and an arginine (PaoC-R440) making a direct interaction with PaoC-E692, which acts as a base catalyst. In order to understand the importance of R440, kinetic assays were carried out, and the crystal structure of the PaoC-R440H variant was also determined.

Brás, JLA, Pinheiro BA, Cameron K, Cuskin F, Viegas A, Najmudin S, Bule P, Pires VMR, Romão MJ, Bayer EA, Spencer HL, Smith S, Gilbert HJ, Alves VD, Carvalho AL, Fontes CMGA.  2016.  Diverse specificity of cellulosome attachment to the bacterial cell surface, dec. Scientific Reports. 6:38292.: The Author(s) AbstractWebsite

During the course of evolution, the cellulosome, one of Nature's most intricate multi-enzyme complexes, has been continuously fine-tuned to efficiently deconstruct recalcitrant carbohydrates. To facilitate the uptake of released sugars, anaerobic bacteria use highly ordered protein-protein interactions to recruit these nanomachines to the cell surface. Dockerin modules located within a non-catalytic macromolecular scaffold, whose primary role is to assemble cellulosomal enzymatic subunits, bind cohesin modules of cell envelope proteins, thereby anchoring the cellulosome onto the bacterial cell. Here we have elucidated the unique molecular mechanisms used by anaerobic bacteria for cellulosome cellular attachment. The structure and biochemical analysis of five cohesin-dockerin complexes revealed that cell surface dockerins contain two cohesin-binding interfaces, which can present different or identical specificities. In contrast to the current static model, we propose that dockerins utilize multivalent modes of cohesin recognition to recruit cellulosomes to the cell surface, a mechanism that maximises substrate access while facilitating complex assembly.

Foti, A, Hartmann T, Coelho C, Santos-Silva T, Romão MJ, Leimkühler S.  2016.  Optimization of the Expression of Human Aldehyde Oxidase for Investigations of Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms. Drug Metabolism and Disposition. 44:1277–1285., Number 8: American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics AbstractWebsite

Aldehyde oxidase (AOX1) is an enzyme with broad substrate specificity, catalyzing the oxidation of a wide range of endogenous and exogenous aldehydes as well as N-heterocyclic aromatic compounds. In humans, the enzyme’s role in phase I drug metabolism has been established and its importance is now emerging. However, the true physiologic function of AOX1 in mammals is still unknown. Further, numerous single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been identified in human AOX1. SNPs are a major source of interindividual variability in the human population, and SNP-based amino acid exchanges in AOX1 reportedly modulate the catalytic function of the enzyme in either a positive or negative fashion. For the reliable analysis of the effect of amino acid exchanges in human proteins, the existence of reproducible expression systems for the production of active protein in ample amounts for kinetic, spectroscopic, and crystallographic studies is required. In our study we report an optimized expression system for hAOX1 in Escherichia coli using a codon-optimized construct. The codon-optimization resulted in an up to 15-fold increase of protein production and a simplified purification procedure. The optimized expression system was used to study three SNPs that result in amino acid changes C44W, G1269R, and S1271L. In addition, the crystal structure of the S1271L SNP was solved. We demonstrate that the recombinant enzyme can be used for future studies to exploit the role of AOX in drug metabolism, and for the identification and synthesis of new drugs targeting AOX when combined with crystallographic and modeling studies.

Terao, M, Romão MJ, Leimkühler S, Bolis M, Fratelli M, Coelho C, Santos-Silva T, Garattini E.  2016.  Structure and function of mammalian aldehyde oxidases. Archives of Toxicology. 90:753–780., Number 4 AbstractWebsite

Mammalian aldehyde oxidases (AOXs; EC1.2.3.1) are a group of conserved proteins belonging to the family of molybdo-flavoenzymes along with the structurally related xanthine dehydrogenase enzyme. AOXs are characterized by broad substrate specificity, oxidizing not only aromatic and aliphatic aldehydes into the corresponding carboxylic acids, but also hydroxylating a series of heteroaromatic rings. The number of AOX isoenzymes expressed in different vertebrate species is variable. The two extremes are represented by humans, which express a single enzyme (AOX1) in many organs and mice or rats which are characterized by tissue-specific expression of four isoforms (AOX1, AOX2, AOX3, and AOX4). In vertebrates each AOX isoenzyme is the product of a distinct gene consisting of 35 highly conserved exons. The extant species-specific complement of AOX isoenzymes is the result of a complex evolutionary process consisting of a first phase characterized by a series of asynchronous gene duplications and a second phase where the pseudogenization and gene deletion events prevail. In the last few years remarkable advances in the elucidation of the structural characteristics and the catalytic mechanisms of mammalian AOXs have been made thanks to the successful crystallization of human AOX1 and mouse AOX3. Much less is known about the physiological function and physiological substrates of human AOX1 and other mammalian AOX isoenzymes, although the importance of these proteins in xenobiotic metabolism is fairly well established and their relevance in drug development is increasing. This review article provides an overview and a discussion of the current knowledge on mammalian AOX.

De Schutter, A, Correia HD, Freire DM, Rivas MG, Rizzi A, Santos-Silva T, González PJ, Van Doorslaer S.  2015.  Ligand Binding to Chlorite Dismutase from Magnetospirillum sp, October. The journal of physical chemistry. B. 119:13859—13869., Number 43 AbstractWebsite
Pessoa, JC, Garribba E, Santos MFA, Santos-Silva T.  2015.  Vanadium and proteins: Uptake, transport, structure, activity and function, 2015/10/15/. The Ninth International Symposium on the Chemistry and Biological Chemistry of Vanadium. 301–302:49-86. AbstractWebsite

AbstractVanadium is an element ubiquitously present in our planet's crust and thus there are several organisms that use vanadium for activity or function of proteins. Examples are the vanadium-dependent haloperoxidases and the vanadium-containing nitrogenases. Some organisms that use vanadium have extremely efficient and selective protein-dependent systems for uptake and transport of vanadium and are able to accumulate high levels of vanadium from seawater, vanabins being a unique family of vanadium binding proteins found in ascidians involved in this process. For all of the systems a discussion regarding the role of the V-containing proteins is provided, mostly centered on structural aspects of the vanadium site and, when possible or relevant, relating this to the mechanisms operating. Phosphate is very important in biological systems and is involved in an extensive number of biological recognition and bio-catalytic systems. Vanadate(V) is able to inhibit many of the enzymes involved in these processes, such as ATPases, phosphatases, ribonucleases, phosphodiesterases, phosphoglucomutase and glucose-6-phosphatase, and it appears clear that this is closely related to the analogous physicochemical properties of vanadate and phosphate. The ability of vanadium to interfere with the metabolic processes involving Ca2+ and Mg2+, connected with its versatility to undergo changes in coordination geometry, allow V to influence the function of a large variety of phosphate-metabolizing enzymes and vanadate(V) salts and compounds have been frequently used either as inhibitors of these enzymes, or as probes to study the mechanisms of their reactions and catalytic cycle. In this review we give an overview of the many examples so far reported, also disclosing that vanadate(IV) may also have an equally efficient inhibiting effect. The prospective application of vanadium compounds as therapeutics has also been an important topic of research. How vanadium may be transported in blood and up-taken by cells are particularly relevant issues, this being mainly dependent on transferrin (and albumin) present in blood plasma. The thousands of studies reported on the effects of vanadium compounds reflect the complexity of the interactions occurring. Although it is not easy to anticipate/determine if a particular effect observed in a test tube or in vitro is also going to take place in vivo, it is clear that vanadium ions may interfere with many metabolic processes at many distinct levels. Emphasis is given on structural and functional aspects of vanadium–protein interactions relevant for vanadium binding and/or for clarification of role of the metal center in the reaction mechanisms. The additional knowledge that the presence of vanadium can change the action of a protein, other than simply inhibiting it, may also be important to understand how vanadium affects biological systems. This possibility, together with the vanadate–phosphate analogy further potentiates the belief that vanadium probably has relevant functions in living beings, which may involve interaction or incorporation of the metal ion and/or its compounds with several proteins.

Coelho, C, Romao MJ.  2015.  Structural and mechanistic insights on nitrate reductases, 2015. Protein Science. 24(12):1901-1911. AbstractWebsite

Nitrate reductases (NR) belong to the DMSO reductase family of Mo-containing enzymes and perform key roles in the metabolism of the nitrogen cycle, reducing nitrate to nitrite. Due to variable cell location, structure and function, they have been divided into periplasmic (Nap), cytoplasmic, and membrane-bound (Nar) nitrate reductases. The first crystal structure obtained for a NR was that of the monomeric NapA from Desulfovibrio desulfuricans in 1999. Since then several new crystal structures were solved providing novel insights that led to the revision of the commonly accepted reaction mechanism for periplasmic nitrate reductases. The two crystal structures available for the NarGHI protein are from the same organism (Escherichia coli) and the combination with electrochemical and spectroscopic studies also lead to the proposal of a reaction mechanism for this group of enzymes. Here we present an overview on the current advances in structural and functional aspects of bacterial nitrate reductases, focusing on the mechanistic implications drawn from the crystallographic data.

Coelho, C, Foti A, Hartmann T, Santos-Silva T, Leimk S, Rom MJ.  2015.  Structural insights into xenobiotic and inhibitor binding to human aldehyde oxidase, 2015. Nat Chem Biol. 11(10):779-83.Website
Correia, HD, Marangon J, Brondino CD, Moura JJG, Romao MJ, Gonzalez PJ, Santos-Silva T.  2015.  Aromatic aldehydes at the active site of aldehyde oxidoreductase from Desulfovibrio gigas: reactivity and molecular details of the enzyme-substrate and enzyme-product interaction. Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry. 20:219-229., Number 2 AbstractWebsite

Desulfovibrio gigas aldehyde oxidoreductase (DgAOR) is a mononuclear molybdenum-containing enzyme from the xanthine oxidase (XO) family, a group of enzymes capable of catalyzing the oxidative hydroxylation of aldehydes and heterocyclic compounds. The kinetic studies reported in this work showed that DgAOR catalyzes the oxidative hydroxylation of aromatic aldehydes, but not heterocyclic compounds. NMR spectroscopy studies using C-13-labeled benzaldehyde confirmed that DgAOR catalyzes the conversion of aldehydes to the respective carboxylic acids. Steady-state kinetics in solution showed that high concentrations of the aromatic aldehydes produce substrate inhibition and in the case of 3-phenyl propionaldehyde a suicide substrate behavior. Hydroxyl-substituted aromatic aldehydes present none of these behaviors but the kinetic parameters are largely affected by the position of the OH group. High-resolution crystallographic structures obtained from single crystals of active-DgAOR soaked with benzaldehyde showed that the side chains of Phe(425) and Tyr(535) are important for the stabilization of the substrate in the active site. On the other hand, the X-ray data of DgAOR soaked with trans-cinnamaldehyde showed a cinnamic acid molecule in the substrate channel. The X-ray data of DgAOR soaked with 3-phenyl propionaldehyde showed clearly how high substrate concentrations inactivate the enzyme by binding covalently at the surface of the enzyme and blocking the substrate channel. The different reactivity of DgAOR versus aldehyde oxidase and XO towards aromatic aldehydes and N-heterocyclic compounds is explained on the basis of the present kinetic and structural data.

Seixas, JD, Santos MFA, Mukhopadhyay A, Coelho AC, Reis PM, Veiros LF, Marques AR, Penacho N, Goncalves AML, Romao MJ, Bernardes GJL, Santos-Silva T, Romao CC.  2015.  A contribution to the rational design of Ru(CO)(3)Cl2L complexes for in vivo delivery of CO. Dalton Transactions. 44:5058-5075., Number 11 AbstractWebsite

A few ruthenium based metal carbonyl complexes, e.g. CORM-2 and CORM-3, have therapeutic activity attributed to their ability to deliver CO to biological targets. In this work, a series of related complexes with the formula [Ru(CO)(3)Cl2L] (L = DMSO (3), L-H3CSO(CH2)(2)CH(NH2)CO2H) (6a); D,L-H3CSO(CH2)(2)CH-(NH2)CO2H (6b); 3-NC5H4(CH2)(2)SO3.Na (7); 4-NC5H4(CH2)(2)SO3Na (8); PTA (9); DAPTA (10); H3CS-(CH2)(2)CH(OH) CO2H (11); CNCMe2CO2Me (12); CNCMeEtCO2Me (13); CN(c-C3H4)CO2Et) (14)) were designed, synthesized and studied. The effects of L on their stability, CO release profile, cytotoxicity and anti-inflammatory properties are described. The stability in aqueous solution depends on the nature of L as shown using HPLC and LC-MS studies. The isocyanide derivatives are the least stable complexes, and the S-bound methionine oxide derivative is the more stable one. The complexes do not release CO gas to the headspace, but release CO2 instead. X-ray diffraction of crystals of the model protein Hen Egg White Lysozyme soaked with 6b (4UWN) and 8 (4UWV) shows the addition of Ru-II(CO)(H2O)(4) at the His15 binding site. Soakings with 7 (4UWU) produced the metallacarboxylate [Ru(COOH)(CO)(H2O)(3)](+) bound to the His15 site. The aqueous chemistry of these complexes is governed by the water-gas shift reaction initiated with the nucleophilic attack of HO- on coordinated CO. DFT calculations show this addition to be essentially barrierless. The complexes have low cytotoxicity and low hemolytic indices. Following i.v. administration of CORM-3, the in vivo bio-distribution of CO differs from that obtained with CO inhalation or with heme oxygenase stimulation. A mechanism for CO transport and delivery from these complexes is proposed.

Cerqueira, NMFSA, Coelho C, Bras NF, Fernandes PA, Garattini E, Terao M, Romao MJ, Ramos MJ.  2015.  Insights into the structural determinants of substrate specificity and activity in mouse aldehyde oxidases. Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry. 20:209-217., Number 2 AbstractWebsite

In this work, a combination of homology modeling and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations was used to investigate the factors that modulate substrate specificity and activity of the mouse AOX isoforms: mAOX1, mAOX2 (previously mAOX3l1), mAOX3 and mAOX4. The results indicate that the AOX isoform structures are highly preserved and even more conserved than the corresponding amino acid sequences. The only differences are at the protein surface and substrate-binding site region. The substrate-binding site of all isoforms consists of two regions: the active site, which is highly conserved among all isoforms, and a isoform-specific region located above. We predict that mAOX1 accepts a broader range of substrates of different shape, size and nature relative to the other isoforms. In contrast, mAOX4 appears to accept a more restricted range of substrates. Its narrow and hydrophobic binding site indicates that it only accepts small hydrophobic substrates. Although mAOX2 and mAOX3 are very similar to each other, we propose the following pairs of overlapping substrate specificities: mAOX2/mAOX4 and mAOX3/mAXO1. Based on these considerations, we propose that the catalytic activity between all isoforms should be similar but the differences observed in the binding site might influence the substrate specificity of each enzyme. These results also suggest that the presence of several AOX isoforms in mouse allows them to oxidize more efficiently a wider range of substrates. This contrasts with the same or other organisms that only express one isoform and are less efficient or incapable of oxidizing the same type of substrates.

Kowacz, M, Marchel M, Juknaite L, Esperanca J, Romao MJ, Carvalho AL, Rebelo LPN.  2015.  Ionic-Liquid-Functionalized Mineral Particles for Protein Crystallization. Crystal Growth & Design. 15:2994-3003., Number 6 AbstractWebsite

Nucleation is a critical step determining the outcome of the entire crystallization process. Finding an effective nucleant for protein crystallization is of utmost importance for structural biology. The latter relies on good-quality crystals to solve the three-dimensional structures of macromolecules. In this study we show that crystalline barium sulfate (BaSO4) with an etched and/or ionic liquid (IL)-functionalized surface (1) can induce protein nucleation at concentrations well below the concentration needed to promote crystal growth under control conditions, (2) can shorten the nucleation time, (3) can increase the growth rate, and finally (4) may help to improve the protein crystal morphology. These effects were shown for lysozyme, RNase A, trypsin, proteinase K, myoglobin, and hemoglobin. Therefore, the use of BaSO4 particles enables us to reduce the amount of protein in crystallization trials and increases the chance of obtaining protein crystals of the desired quality. In the context of the underlying mechanism, it is shown that the protein-solid contact formation is governed by the interaction of the polar compartments of the biomacromolecule with the support. The tendency of a protein to concentrate near the solid surface is enhanced by both the hydrophobicity of the protein and that of the surface (tuned by the functionalizing IL). These mechanisms of interaction of biomacromolecules with inorganic hydrophilic solids correspond to the principles of amphiphilic IL-mineral interactions.