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2021
Brás, NF, Neves RPP, Lopes FAA, Correia MAS, Palma AS, Sousa SF, Ramos MJ.  2021.  Combined in silico and in vitro studies to identify novel antidiabetic flavonoids targeting glycogen phosphorylase, 2021. 108:104552. AbstractWebsite

Novel pharmacological strategies for the treatment of diabetic patients are now focusing on inhibiting glycogenolysis steps. In this regard, glycogen phosphorylase (GP) is a validated target for the discovery of innovative antihyperglycemic molecules. Natural products, and in particular flavonoids, have been reported as potent inhibitors of GP at the cellular level. Herein, free-energy calculations and microscale thermophoresis approaches were performed to get an in-depth assessment of the binding affinities and elucidate intermolecular interactions of several flavonoids at the inhibitor site of GP. To our knowledge, this is the first study indicating genistein, 8-prenylgenistein, apigenin, 8-prenylapigenin, 8-prenylnaringenin, galangin and valoneic acid dilactone as natural molecules with high inhibitory potency toward GP. We identified: i) the residues Phe285, Tyr613, Glu382 and/or Arg770 as the most relevant for the binding of the best flavonoids to the inhibitor site of GP, and ii) the 5-OH, 7-OH, 8-prenyl substitutions in ring A and the 4′-OH insertion in ring B to favor flavonoid binding at this site. Our results are invaluable to plan further structural modifications through organic synthesis approaches and develop more effective pharmaceuticals for Type 2 Diabetes treatment, and serve as the starting point for the exploration of food products for therapeutic usage, as well as for the development of novel bio-functional food and dietary supplements/herbal medicines.

Duarte, M, Viegas A, Alves VD, Prates JAM, Ferreira LMA, Najmudin S, Cabrita EJ, Carvalho AL, Fontes CMGA, Bule P.  2021.  A dual cohesin–dockerin complex binding mode in Bacteroides cellulosolvens contributes to the size and complexity of its cellulosome, 2021. :100552. AbstractWebsite

The Cellulosome is an intricate macromolecular protein complex that centralizes the cellulolytic efforts of many anaerobic microorganisms through the promotion of enzyme synergy and protein stability. The assembly of numerous carbohydrate processing enzymes into a macromolecular multi-protein structure results from the interaction of enzyme-borne dockerin modules with repeated cohesin modules present in non-catalytic scaffold proteins, termed scaffoldins. Cohesin–dockerin (Coh–Doc) modules are typically classified into different types, depending on structural conformation and cellulosome role. Thus, type I Coh–Doc complexes are usually responsible for enzyme integration into the cellulosome, while type II Coh–Doc complexes tether the cellulosome to the bacterial wall. In contrast to other known cellulosomes, cohesin types from Bacteroides cellulosolvens, a cellulosome-producing bacterium capable of utilizing cellulose and cellobiose as carbon sources, are reversed for all scaffoldins, i.e., the type II cohesins are located on the enzyme-integrating primary scaffoldin, whereas the type I cohesins are located on the anchoring scaffoldins. It has been previously shown that type I B. cellulosolvens interactions possess a dual-binding mode that adds flexibility to scaffoldin assembly. Herein, we report the structural mechanism of enzyme recruitment into B. cellulosolvens cellulosome and the identification of the molecular determinants of its type II cohesin–dockerin interactions. The results indicate that, unlike other type II complexes, these possess a dual binding mode of interaction, akin to type I complexes. Therefore, the plasticity of dual-binding mode interactions seems to play a pivotal role in the assembly of B. cellulosolvens cellulosome, which is consistent with its unmatched complexity and size.

Mota, C, Diniz A, Coelho C, Santos-Silva T, Esmaeeli M, Leimkühler S, Cabrita EJ, Marcelo F, Romão MJ.  2021.  Interrogating the Inhibition Mechanisms of Human Aldehyde Oxidase by X-ray Crystallography and NMR Spectroscopy: The Raloxifene Case, 2021. Journal of Medicinal ChemistryJournal of Medicinal Chemistry. : American Chemical Society AbstractWebsite

Human aldehyde oxidase (hAOX1) is mainly present in the liver and has an emerging role in drug metabolism, since it accepts a wide range of molecules as substrates and inhibitors. Herein, we employed an integrative approach by combining NMR, X-ray crystallography, and enzyme inhibition kinetics to understand the inhibition modes of three hAOX1 inhibitors—thioridazine, benzamidine, and raloxifene. These integrative data indicate that thioridazine is a noncompetitive inhibitor, while benzamidine presents a mixed type of inhibition. Additionally, we describe the first crystal structure of hAOX1 in complex with raloxifene. Raloxifene binds tightly at the entrance of the substrate tunnel, stabilizing the flexible entrance gates and elucidating an unusual substrate-dependent mechanism of inhibition with potential impact on drug–drug interactions. This study can be considered as a proof-of-concept for an efficient experimental screening of prospective substrates and inhibitors of hAOX1 relevant in drug discovery.Human aldehyde oxidase (hAOX1) is mainly present in the liver and has an emerging role in drug metabolism, since it accepts a wide range of molecules as substrates and inhibitors. Herein, we employed an integrative approach by combining NMR, X-ray crystallography, and enzyme inhibition kinetics to understand the inhibition modes of three hAOX1 inhibitors—thioridazine, benzamidine, and raloxifene. These integrative data indicate that thioridazine is a noncompetitive inhibitor, while benzamidine presents a mixed type of inhibition. Additionally, we describe the first crystal structure of hAOX1 in complex with raloxifene. Raloxifene binds tightly at the entrance of the substrate tunnel, stabilizing the flexible entrance gates and elucidating an unusual substrate-dependent mechanism of inhibition with potential impact on drug–drug interactions. This study can be considered as a proof-of-concept for an efficient experimental screening of prospective substrates and inhibitors of hAOX1 relevant in drug discovery.

Goodfellow, BJ, Freire F, Carvalho AL, Aveiro SS, Charbonnier P, Moulis J-M, Delgado L, Ferreira GC, Rodrigues JE, Poussin-Courmontagne P, Birck C, McEwen A, Macedo AL.  2021.  The SOUL family of heme-binding proteins: Structure and function 15 years later, 2021. 448:214189. AbstractWebsite

The SOUL, or heme-binding protein HBP/SOUL, family represents a group of evolutionary conserved putative heme-binding proteins that contains a number of members in animal, plant andbacterial species. The structures of the murine form of HEBP1, or p22HBP, and the human form of HEBP2, or SOUL, have been determined in 2006 and 2011 respectively. In this work we discuss the structures of HEBP1 and HEBP2 in light of new X-ray data for heme bound murine HEBP1. The interaction between tetrapyrroles and HEBP1, initially proven to be hydrophobic in nature, was thought to also involve electrostatic interactions between heme propionate groups and positively charged amino acid side chains. However, the new X-ray structure, and results from murine HEBP1 variants and human HEBP1, confirm the hydrophobic nature of the heme-HEBP1 interaction, resulting in Kd values in the low nanomolar range, and rules out any electrostatic stabilization. Results from NMR relaxation time measurements for human HEBP1 describe a rigid globular protein with no change in motional regime upon heme binding. X-ray structures deposited in the PDB for human HEBP2 are very similar to each other and to the new heme-bound murine HEBP1 X-ray structure (backbone rmsd ca. 1 Å). Results from a HSQC spectrum centred on the histidine side chain Nδ-proton region for HEBP2 confirm that HEBP2 does not bind heme via H42 as no chemical shift differences were observed upon heme addition for backbone NH and Nδ protons. A survey of the functions attributed to HEBP1 and HEBP2 over the last 20 years span a wide range of cellular pathways. Interestingly, many of them are specific to higher eukaryotes, particularly mammals and a potential link between heme release under oxidative stress and human HEBP1 is also examined using recent data. However, at the present moment, trying to relate function to the involvement of heme or tetrapyrrole binding, specifically, makes little sense with our current biological knowledge and can only be applied to HEBP1, as HEBP2 does not interact with heme. We suggest that it may not be justified to call this very small family of proteins, heme-binding proteins. The family may be more correctly called “the SOUL family of proteins related to cellular fate” as, even though only HEBP1 binds heme tightly, both proteins may be involved in cell survival and/or proliferation.

Lima, CDL, Coelho H, Gimeno A, Trovão F, Diniz A, Dias JS, Jiménez-Barbero J, Corzana F, Carvalho AL, Cabrita EJ, Marcelo F.  2021.  Structural insights into the molecular recognition mechanism of the cancer and pathogenic epitope, LacdiNAc by immune-related lectins, 2021. Chemistry – A European JournalChemistry – A European Journal. n/a(n/a): John Wiley & Sons, Ltd AbstractWebsite

Interactions of glycan-specific epitopes to human lectin receptors represent novel immune checkpoints for investigating cancer and infection diseases. By employing a multidisciplinary approach that combines isothermal titration calorimetry, NMR spectroscopy, molecular dynamics simulations, and X-ray crystallography, we disclosed the molecular determinants that govern the recognition of the tumour and pathogenic glycobiomarker LacdiNAc (GalNAc?1-4GlcNAc, LDN), including their comparison with the ubiquitous LacNAc epitope (Gal?1-4GlcNAc, LN), by two human immune-related lectins, galectin-3 (hGal-3) and the macrophage galactose C-type lectin (hMGL). A different mechanism of binding and interactions is observed for the hGal-3/LDN and hMGL/LDN complexes, which explains the remarkable difference in the binding specificity of LDN and LN by these two lectins. The new structural clues reported herein are fundamental for the chemical design of mimetics targeting hGal-3/hMGL recognition process.

dos Santos, R, Romão MJ, Roque ACA, Carvalho AL.  2021.  Magnetic particles used in a new approach for designed protein crystallization. CrystEngComm. 23:1083-1090.: The Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

After more than one hundred and thirty thousand protein structures determined by X-ray crystallography{,} the challenge of protein crystallization for 3D structure determination remains. In the quest for additives for efficient protein crystallization{,} inorganic materials emerge as an alternative. Magnetic particles (MPs) are versatile inorganic materials{,} easy to use{,} modify and manipulate in a wide range of biological assays. The potential of using functionalised MPs as crystallization chaperones for protein crystallization was shown in this work. MPs with distinct coatings were rationally designed to promote protein crystallization by affinity-triggered heterogeneous nucleation. Hen egg white lysozyme (HEWL) and trypsin{,} were crystallized in the presence of MPs either bare or coated with a polysaccharide (chitin) or a protein (casein){,} respectively. The addition of MPs was characterized in terms of bound protein to the MPs{,} crystal morphology{,} time-lapse of crystal emergence{,} crystallization yield fold change and crystal diffraction quality for structure determination. The MPs additives have shown to bind to the respective target protein{,} and to promote nucleation and crystal growth without compromising crystal morphology. On the other hand{,} MPs addition led to faster detectable crystal emergence and up to 13 times higher crystallization yield{,} addressing some the challenges in protein crystallization{,} the main bottleneck of macromolecular crystallography. Structure determination of the protein crystallized in the presence of MPs revealed that the structural characteristics of the protein remained unchanged{,} as shown by the superposition with PDB annotated proteins. Moreover{,} and unlike most reported cases{,} it was possible to exclude the inhibitor benzamidine during trypsin crystallisation{,} which is a remarkable result opening new prospects in enzyme engineering and drug design. Our results show that MPs coated with affinity ligands to target proteins can be used as controlled and tailor-made crystallization inducers.

Polino, M, Rho HS, Pina MP, Mallada R, Carvalho AL, Romão MJ, Coelhoso I, Gardeniers JGE, Crespo JG, Portugal CAM.  2021.  Protein Crystallization in a Microfluidic Contactor with Nafion®117 Membranes. Membranes. 11, Number 8 AbstractWebsite

Protein crystallization still remains mostly an empirical science, as the production of crystals with the required quality for X-ray analysis is dependent on the intensive screening of the best protein crystallization and crystal’s derivatization conditions. Herein, this demanding step was addressed by the development of a high-throughput and low-budget microfluidic platform consisting of an ion exchange membrane (117 Nafion® membrane) sandwiched between a channel layer (stripping phase compartment) and a wells layer (feed phase compartment) forming 75 independent micro-contactors. This microfluidic device allows for a simultaneous and independent screening of multiple protein crystallization and crystal derivatization conditions, using Hen Egg White Lysozyme (HEWL) as the model protein and Hg2+ as the derivatizing agent. This microdevice offers well-regulated crystallization and subsequent crystal derivatization processes based on the controlled transport of water and ions provided by the 117 Nafion® membrane. Diffusion coefficients of water and the derivatizing agent (Hg2+) were evaluated, showing the positive influence of the protein drop volume on the number of crystals and crystal size. This microfluidic system allowed for crystals with good structural stability and high X-ray diffraction quality and, thus, it is regarded as an efficient tool that may contribute to the enhancement of the proteins’ crystals structural resolution.

2020
Ferreira, P, Cerqueira NSMFA, Fernandes PA, Romão MJ, Ramos MJ.  2020.  Catalytic Mechanism of Human Aldehyde Oxidase, 2020. ACS CatalysisACS Catalysis. 10(16):9276-9286.: American Chemical Society AbstractWebsite

The mechanism of oxidation of N-heterocycle phthalazine to phthalazin-1(2H)-one and its associated free energy profile, catalyzed by human aldehyde oxidase (hAOX1), was studied in atomistic detail using QM/MM methodologies. The studied reaction was found to involve three sequential steps: (i) protonation of the substrate’s N2 atom by Lys893, (ii) nucleophilic attack of the hydroxyl group of the molybdenum cofactor (Moco) to the substrate, and (iii) hydride transfer from the substrate to the sulfur atom of the Moco. The free energy profile that was calculated revealed that the rate-limiting step corresponds to hydride transfer. It was also found that Lys893 plays a relevant role in the reaction, being important not only for the anchorage of the substrate close to the Moco, but also in the catalytic reaction. The variations of the oxidation state of the molybdenum ion throughout the catalytic cycle were examined too. We found out that during the displacement of the products away from the Moco, the transfer of electrons from the catalytic site to the FAD site was proton-coupled. As a consequence, the most favorable and fastest pathway for the enzyme to complete its catalytic cycle was that with MoV and a deprotonated SH ligand of the Moco with the FAD molecule converted to its semiquinone form, FADH•.The mechanism of oxidation of N-heterocycle phthalazine to phthalazin-1(2H)-one and its associated free energy profile, catalyzed by human aldehyde oxidase (hAOX1), was studied in atomistic detail using QM/MM methodologies. The studied reaction was found to involve three sequential steps: (i) protonation of the substrate’s N2 atom by Lys893, (ii) nucleophilic attack of the hydroxyl group of the molybdenum cofactor (Moco) to the substrate, and (iii) hydride transfer from the substrate to the sulfur atom of the Moco. The free energy profile that was calculated revealed that the rate-limiting step corresponds to hydride transfer. It was also found that Lys893 plays a relevant role in the reaction, being important not only for the anchorage of the substrate close to the Moco, but also in the catalytic reaction. The variations of the oxidation state of the molybdenum ion throughout the catalytic cycle were examined too. We found out that during the displacement of the products away from the Moco, the transfer of electrons from the catalytic site to the FAD site was proton-coupled. As a consequence, the most favorable and fastest pathway for the enzyme to complete its catalytic cycle was that with MoV and a deprotonated SH ligand of the Moco with the FAD molecule converted to its semiquinone form, FADH•.

Terao, M, Garattini E, Romão MJ, Leimkühler S.  2020.  Evolution, expression, and substrate specificities of aldehyde oxidase enzymes in eukaryotes, 2020. Journal of Biological ChemistryJournal of Biological Chemistry. 295(16):5377-5389.: Elsevier AbstractWebsite

Aldehyde oxidases (AOXs) are a small group of enzymes belonging to the larger family of molybdo-flavoenzymes, along with the well-characterized xanthine oxidoreductase. The two major types of reactions that are catalyzed by AOXs are the hydroxylation of heterocycles and the oxidation of aldehydes to their corresponding carboxylic acids. Different animal species have different complements of AOX genes. The two extremes are represented in humans and rodents; whereas the human genome contains a single active gene (AOX1), those of rodents, such as mice, are endowed with four genes (Aox1-4), clustering on the same chromosome, each encoding a functionally distinct AOX enzyme. It still remains enigmatic why some species have numerous AOX enzymes, whereas others harbor only one functional enzyme. At present, little is known about the physiological relevance of AOX enzymes in humans and their additional forms in other mammals. These enzymes are expressed in the liver and play an important role in the metabolisms of drugs and other xenobiotics. In this review, we discuss the expression, tissue-specific roles, and substrate specificities of the different mammalian AOX enzymes and highlight insights into their physiological roles.Aldehyde oxidases (AOXs) are a small group of enzymes belonging to the larger family of molybdo-flavoenzymes, along with the well-characterized xanthine oxidoreductase. The two major types of reactions that are catalyzed by AOXs are the hydroxylation of heterocycles and the oxidation of aldehydes to their corresponding carboxylic acids. Different animal species have different complements of AOX genes. The two extremes are represented in humans and rodents; whereas the human genome contains a single active gene (AOX1), those of rodents, such as mice, are endowed with four genes (Aox1-4), clustering on the same chromosome, each encoding a functionally distinct AOX enzyme. It still remains enigmatic why some species have numerous AOX enzymes, whereas others harbor only one functional enzyme. At present, little is known about the physiological relevance of AOX enzymes in humans and their additional forms in other mammals. These enzymes are expressed in the liver and play an important role in the metabolisms of drugs and other xenobiotics. In this review, we discuss the expression, tissue-specific roles, and substrate specificities of the different mammalian AOX enzymes and highlight insights into their physiological roles.

Fernandes, AR, Mendonça-Martins I, Santos MFA, Raposo LR, Mendes R, Marques J, Romão CC, Romão MJ, Santos-Silva T, Baptista PV.  2020.  Improving the Anti-inflammatory Response via Gold Nanoparticle Vectorization of CO-Releasing Molecules, 2020. ACS Biomaterials Science & EngineeringACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering. 6(2):1090-1101.: American Chemical Society AbstractWebsite

CO-releasing molecules (CORMs) have been widely studied for their anti-inflammatory, antiapoptotic, and antiproliferative effects. CORM-3 is a water-soluble Ru-based metal carbonyl complex, which metallates serum proteins and readily releases CO in biological media. In this work, we evaluated the anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effects of gold nanoparticles–CORM-3 conjugates, AuNPs@PEG@BSA·Ru(CO)x, exploring its use as an efficient CO carrier. Our results suggest that the nanoformulation was capable of inducing a more pronounced cell effect, at the anti-inflammatory level and a faster tissue repair, probably derived from a rapid cell uptake of the nanoformulation that results in the increase of CO inside the cell.CO-releasing molecules (CORMs) have been widely studied for their anti-inflammatory, antiapoptotic, and antiproliferative effects. CORM-3 is a water-soluble Ru-based metal carbonyl complex, which metallates serum proteins and readily releases CO in biological media. In this work, we evaluated the anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effects of gold nanoparticles–CORM-3 conjugates, AuNPs@PEG@BSA·Ru(CO)x, exploring its use as an efficient CO carrier. Our results suggest that the nanoformulation was capable of inducing a more pronounced cell effect, at the anti-inflammatory level and a faster tissue repair, probably derived from a rapid cell uptake of the nanoformulation that results in the increase of CO inside the cell.

dos Santos, R, Iria I, Manuel AM, Leandro AP, Madeira CAC, Goncalves J, Carvalho AL, Roque AC.  2020.  Magnetic Precipitation: A New Platform for Protein Purification, 2020. Biotechnology JournalBiotechnology Journal. n/a(n/a):2000151.: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd AbstractWebsite

One of the trends in downstream processing comprises the use of ?anything-but-chromatography? methods to overcome the current downfalls of standard packed-bed chromatography. Precipitation and magnetic separation are two techniques already proven to accomplish protein purification from complex media, yet never used in synergy. With the aim to capture antibodies directly from crude extracts, a new approach combining precipitation and magnetic separation was developed and named as affinity magnetic precipitation. A precipitation screening, based on the Hofmeister series, and a commercial precipitation kit were tested with affinity magnetic particles to assess the best condition for antibody capture from human serum plasma and clarified cell supernatant. The best conditions were obtained when using PEG3350 as precipitant at 4°C for 1h, reaching 80% purity and 50% recovery of polyclonal antibodies from plasma, and 99% purity with 97% recovery yield of anti-TNFα mAb from cell supernatants. These results show that the synergetic use of precipitation and magnetic separation can represent an alternative for the efficient capture of antibodies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

Leisico, F, Godinho LM, Gonçalves IC, Silva SP, Carneiro B, Romão MJ, Santos-Silva T, de Sá-Nogueira I.  2020.  Multitask ATPases (NBDs) of bacterial ABC importers type I and their interspecies exchangeability, 2020. 10(1):19564. AbstractWebsite

ATP-binding cassette (ABC) type I importers are widespread in bacteria and play a crucial role in its survival and pathogenesis. They share the same modular architecture comprising two intracellular nucleotide-binding domains (NBDs), two transmembrane domains (TMDs) and a substrate-binding protein. The NBDs bind and hydrolyze ATP, thereby generating conformational changes that are coupled to the TMDs and lead to substrate translocation. A group of multitask NBDs that are able to serve as the cellular motor for multiple sugar importers was recently discovered. To understand why some ABC importers share energy-coupling components, we used the MsmX ATPase from Bacillus subtilis as a model for biological and structural studies. Here we report the first examples of functional hybrid interspecies ABC type I importers in which the NBDs could be exchanged. Furthermore, the first crystal structure of an assigned multitask NBD provides a framework to understand the molecular basis of the broader specificity of interaction with the TMDs.

Gomes, AS, Ramos H, Gomes S, Loureiro JB, Soares J, Barcherini V, Monti P, Fronza G, Oliveira C, Domingues L, Bastos M, Dourado DFAR, Carvalho AL, Romão MJ, Pinheiro B, Marcelo F, Carvalho A, Santos MMM, Saraiva L.  2020.  SLMP53-1 interacts with wild-type and mutant p53 DNA-binding domain and reactivates multiple hotspot mutations, 2020. 1864(1):129440. AbstractWebsite

BackgroundHalf of human cancers harbour TP53 mutations that render p53 inactive as a tumor suppressor. As such, reactivation of mutant (mut)p53 through restoration of wild-type (wt)-like function represents one of the most promising therapeutic strategies in cancer treatment. Recently, we have reported the (S)-tryptophanol-derived oxazoloisoindolinone SLMP53-1 as a new reactivator of wt and mutp53 R280K with in vitro and in vivo p53-dependent antitumor activity. The present work aimed a mechanistic elucidation of mutp53 reactivation by SLMP53-1.
Methods and results
By cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA), it is shown that SLMP53-1 induces wt and mutp53 R280K thermal stabilization, which is indicative of intermolecular interactions with these proteins. Accordingly, in silico studies of wt and mutp53 R280K DNA-binding domain with SLMP53-1 unveiled that the compound binds at the interface of the p53 homodimer with the DNA minor groove. Additionally, using yeast and p53-null tumor cells ectopically expressing distinct highly prevalent mutp53, the ability of SLMP53-1 to reactivate multiple mutp53 is evidenced.
Conclusions
SLMP53-1 is a p53-activating agent with the ability to directly target wt and a set of hotspot mutp53.
General Significance
This work reinforces the encouraging application of SLMP53-1 in the personalized treatment of cancer patients harboring distinct p53 status.

Oliveira, AR, Mota C, Mourato C, Domingos RM, Santos MFA, Gesto D, Guigliarelli B, Santos-Silva T, Romão MJ, Pereira IAC.  2020.  Towards the mechanistic understanding of enzymatic CO2 reduction, 2020. ACS CatalysisACS Catalysis. : American Chemical Society AbstractWebsite

Reducing CO2 is a challenging chemical transformation that biology solves easily, with high efficiency and specificity. In particular, formate dehydrogenases are of great interest since they reduce CO2 to formate, a valuable chemical fuel and hydrogen storage compound. The metal-dependent formate dehydrogenases of prokaryotes can show high activity for CO2 reduction. Here, we report an expression system to produce recombinant W/Sec-FdhAB from Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough fully loaded with cofactors, its cata-lytic characterization and crystal structures in oxidised and reduced states. The enzyme has very high activi-ty for CO2 reduction and displays remarkable oxygen stability. The crystal structure of the formate-reduced enzyme shows Sec still coordinating the tungsten, supporting a mechanism of stable metal coordination during catalysis. Comparison of the oxidised and reduced structures shows significant changes close to the active site. The DvFdhAB is an excellent model for studying catalytic CO2 reduction and probing the mecha-nism of this conversion.Reducing CO2 is a challenging chemical transformation that biology solves easily, with high efficiency and specificity. In particular, formate dehydrogenases are of great interest since they reduce CO2 to formate, a valuable chemical fuel and hydrogen storage compound. The metal-dependent formate dehydrogenases of prokaryotes can show high activity for CO2 reduction. Here, we report an expression system to produce recombinant W/Sec-FdhAB from Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough fully loaded with cofactors, its cata-lytic characterization and crystal structures in oxidised and reduced states. The enzyme has very high activi-ty for CO2 reduction and displays remarkable oxygen stability. The crystal structure of the formate-reduced enzyme shows Sec still coordinating the tungsten, supporting a mechanism of stable metal coordination during catalysis. Comparison of the oxidised and reduced structures shows significant changes close to the active site. The DvFdhAB is an excellent model for studying catalytic CO2 reduction and probing the mecha-nism of this conversion.

Ribeiro, DO, Viegas A, Pires VMR, Medeiros-Silva J, Bule P, Chai W, Marcelo F, Fontes CMGA, Cabrita EJ, Palma AS, Carvalho AL.  2020.  Molecular basis for the preferential recognition of β1,3-1,4-glucans by the family 11 carbohydrate-binding module from Clostridium thermocellum. The FEBS Journal. 287:2723-2743., Number 13 AbstractWebsite

Understanding the specific molecular interactions between proteins and β1,3-1,4-mixed-linked d-glucans is fundamental to harvest the full biological and biotechnological potential of these carbohydrates and of proteins that specifically recognize them. The family 11 carbohydrate-binding module from Clostridium thermocellum (CtCBM11) is known for its binding preference for β1,3-1,4-mixed-linked over β1,4-linked glucans. Despite the growing industrial interest of this protein for the biotransformation of lignocellulosic biomass, the molecular determinants of its ligand specificity are not well defined. In this report, a combined approach of methodologies was used to unravel, at a molecular level, the ligand recognition of CtCBM11. The analysis of the interaction by carbohydrate microarrays and NMR and the crystal structures of CtCBM11 bound to β1,3-1,4-linked glucose oligosaccharides showed that both the chain length and the position of the β1,3-linkage are important for recognition, and identified the tetrasaccharide Glcβ1,4Glcβ1,4Glcβ1,3Glc sequence as a minimum epitope required for binding. The structural data, along with site-directed mutagenesis and ITC studies, demonstrated the specificity of CtCBM11 for the twisted conformation of β1,3-1,4-mixed-linked glucans. This is mediated by a conformation–selection mechanism of the ligand in the binding cleft through CH-π stacking and a hydrogen bonding network, which is dependent not only on ligand chain length, but also on the presence of a β1,3-linkage at the reducing end and at specific positions along the β1,4-linked glucan chain. The understanding of the detailed mechanism by which CtCBM11 can distinguish between linear and mixed-linked β-glucans strengthens its exploitation for the design of new biomolecules with improved capabilities and applications in health and agriculture. Database Structural data are available in the Protein Data Bank under the accession codes 6R3M and 6R31.

Outis, M, Rosa V, Laia CAT, Lima JC, Barroso S, Carvalho AL, Calhorda MJ, Avilés T.  2020.  Synthesis, Crystal Structure, and DFT Study of Two New Dinuclear Copper(I) Complexes Bearing Ar-BIAN Ligands Functionalized with NO2 Groups. European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry. 2020:2900-2911., Number 30 AbstractWebsite

{Two new bis(aryl-imino)-acenaphthene, Ar-BIAN (Ar = 2

2019
Peixoto, D, Malta G, Cruz H, Barroso S, Carvalho AL, Ferreira LM, Branco PS.  2019.  N-Heterocyclic olefin catalysis for the ring opening of cyclic amidine compounds: a pathway to the synthesis of ε-caprolactam and γ-lactam-derived amines, 2019. The Journal of Organic Chemistry. : American Chemical Society AbstractWebsite

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Ferreira, P, Cerqueira NMFSA, Coelho C, Fernandes PA, Romão MJ, Ramos MJ.  2019.  New insights about the monomer and homodimer structures of the human AOX1, 2019. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. 21(25):13545-13554.: The Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

Human aldehyde oxidase (hAOX1) is a molybdenum dependent enzyme that plays an important role in the metabolism of various compounds either endogenous or xenobiotics. Due to its promiscuity, hAOX1 plays a major role in the pharmacokinetics of many drugs and therefore has gathered a lot of attention from the scientific community and, particularly, from the pharmaceutical industry. In this work, homology modelling, molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulations were used to study the structure of the monomer and dimer of human AOX. The results with the monomer of hAOX1 allowed to shed some light on the role played by thioridazine and two malonate ions that are co-crystalized in the recent X-ray structure of hAOX1. The results show that these molecules endorse several conformational rearrangements in the binding pocket of the enzyme and these changes have an impact in the active site topology as well as in the stability of the substrate (phthalazine). The results show that the presence of both molecules open two gates located at the entrance of the binding pocket, from which results the flooding of the active site. They also endorse several modifications in the shape of the binding pocket (namely the position of Lys893) that, together with the presence of the solvent molecules, favour the release of the substrate to the solvent. Further insights were also obtained with the assembled homodimer of hAOX1. The allosteric inhibitor (THI) binds closely to the region where the dimerization of both monomers occur. These findings suggest that THI can interfere with protein dimerization.

Mota, C, Santos Silva T, Terao M, Garattini E, Romão MJ, Leimkuehler S.  2019.  Aldehyde Oxidases as Enzymes in Phase I Drug Metabolism. Pharmaceutical Biocatalysis. (Peter Grunwald, Ed.)., New York: Jenny Stanford Publishing
Mota, C, Esmaeeli M, Coelho C, Santos-Silva T, Wolff M, Foti A, Leimkühler S, Romão MJ.  2019.  Human aldehyde oxidase (hAOX1): structure determination of the Moco-free form of the natural variant G1269R and biophysical studies of single nucleotide polymorphisms. FEBS Open Bio. 9:925-934., Number 5 AbstractWebsite

Human aldehyde oxidase (hAOX1) is a molybdenum enzyme with high toxicological importance, but its physiological role is still unknown. hAOX1 metabolizes different classes of xenobiotics and is one of the main drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver, along with cytochrome P450. hAOX1 oxidizes and inactivates a large number of drug molecules and has been responsible for the failure of several phase I clinical trials. The interindividual variability of drug-metabolizing enzymes caused by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) is highly relevant in pharmaceutical treatments. In this study, we present the crystal structure of the inactive variant G1269R, revealing the first structure of a molybdenum cofactor (Moco)-free form of hAOX1. These data allowed to model, for the first time, the flexible Gate 1 that controls access to the active site. Furthermore, we inspected the thermostability of wild-type hAOX1 and hAOX1 with various SNPs (L438V, R1231H, G1269R or S1271L) by CD spectroscopy and ThermoFAD, revealing that amino acid exchanges close to the Moco site can impact protein stability up to 10 °C. These results correlated with biochemical and structural data and enhance our understanding of hAOX1 and the effect of SNPs in the gene encoding this enzyme in the human population. Enzymes Aldehyde oxidase (EC1.2.3.1); xanthine dehydrogenase (EC1.17.1.4); xanthine oxidase (EC1.1.3.2). Databases Structural data are available in the Protein Data Bank under the accession number 6Q6Q.

Correia, VG, Pinheiro BA, Carvalho AL, Palma AS.  2019.  Resistance to Aminoglycosides. Antibiotic Drug Resistance. :1-38.: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd Abstract

Summary The emergence of bacterial resistance to different antibiotics in clinical use, together with the knowledge on the mechanisms by which bacteria resist the action of aminoglycosides, have contributed to the renewed interest in these molecules as potential antimicrobials. Here, we give an overview on natural and semisynthetic aminoglycosides and their structural features and modes of action, focusing on the structural insight underlying resistance mechanisms. Developments on carbohydrate chemistry and microarray technology are highlighted as powerful approaches toward generation of new aminoglycosides and for screening their interactions with RNAs and proteins. The link between antibiotic uptake and the human gut microbiome is also addressed, focusing on gut microbiome function and composition, antibiotic-induced alterations in host health, and antibiotic resistance. In addition, strategies to modulate human microbiome responses to antibiotics are discussed as novel approaches for aminoglycoside usage and for the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy.

Coelho, C, Muthukumaran J, Santos-Silva T, Romão MJ.  2019.  Systematic exploration of predicted destabilizing nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (nsSNPs) of human aldehyde oxidase: A Bio-informatics study. Pharmacology Research & Perspectives. 7:e00538., Number 6 AbstractWebsite

Abstract Aldehyde Oxidase (hAOX1) is a cytosolic enzyme involved in the metabolism of drugs and xenobiotic compounds. The enzyme belongs to the xanthine oxidase (XO) family of Mo containing enzyme and is a homo-dimer of two 150 kDa monomers. Nonsynonymous Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (nsSNPs) of hAOX1 have been reported as affecting the ability of the enzyme to metabolize different substrates. Some of these nsSNPs have been biochemically and structurally characterized but the lack of a systematic and comprehensive study regarding all described and validated nsSNPs is urgent, due to the increasing importance of the enzyme in drug development, personalized medicine and therapy, as well as in pharmacogenetic studies. The objective of the present work was to collect all described nsSNPs of hAOX1 and utilize a series of bioinformatics tools to predict their effect on protein structure stability with putative implications on phenotypic functional consequences. Of 526 nsSNPs reported in NCBI-dbSNP, 119 are identified as deleterious whereas 92 are identified as nondeleterious variants. The stability analysis was performed for 119 deleterious variants and the results suggest that 104 nsSNPs may be responsible for destabilizing the protein structure, whereas five variants may increase the protein stability. Four nsSNPs do not have any impact on protein structure (neutral nsSNPs) of hAOX1. The prediction results of the remaining six nsSNPs are nonconclusive. The in silico results were compared with available experimental data. This methodology can also be used to identify and prioritize the stabilizing and destabilizing variants in other enzymes involved in drug metabolism.

2018
Carvalho, AL, Santos-Silva T, Romão MJ, Eurico J, Marcelo F.  2018.  {CHAPTER 2 Structural Elucidation of Macromolecules}, sep. Essential Techniques for Medical and Life Scientists: A Guide to Contemporary Methods and Current Applications with the Protocols. :30–91.: BENTHAM SCIENCE PUBLISHERS AbstractWebsite
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Mota, C, Coelho C, Leimkühler S, Garattini E, Terao M, Santos-Silva T, Romão MJ.  2018.  Critical overview on the structure and metabolism of human aldehyde oxidase and its role in pharmacokinetics, 2018. 368:35-59. AbstractWebsite

Aldehyde oxidases are molybdenum and flavin dependent enzymes characterized by a very wide substrate specificity and performing diverse reactions that include oxidations (e.g., aldehydes and aza-heterocycles), hydrolysis of amide bonds, and reductions (e.g., nitro, S-oxides and N-oxides). Oxidation reactions and amide hydrolysis occur at the molybdenum site while the reductions are proposed to occur at the flavin site. AOX activity affects the metabolism of different drugs and xenobiotics, some of which designed to resist other liver metabolizing enzymes (e.g., cytochrome P450 monooxygenase isoenzymes), raising its importance in drug development. This work consists of a comprehensive overview on aldehyde oxidases, concerning the genetic evolution of AOX, its diversity among the human population, the crystal structures available, the known catalytic reactions and the consequences in pre-clinical pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies. Analysis of the different animal models generally used for pre-clinical trials and comparison between the human (hAOX1), mouse homologs as well as the related xanthine oxidase (XOR) are extensively considered. The data reviewed also include a systematic analysis of representative classes of molecules that are hAOX1 substrates as well as of typical and well characterized hAOX1 inhibitors. The considerations made on the basis of a structural and functional analysis are correlated with reported kinetic and metabolic data for typical classes of drugs, searching for potential structural determinants that may dictate substrate and/or inhibitor specificities.

Leisico, F, V. Vieira D, Figueiredo TA, Silva M, Cabrita EJ, Sobral RG, Ludovice AM, Trincão J, Romão MJ, de Lencastre H, Santos-Silva T.  2018.  First insights of peptidoglycan amidation in Gram-positive bacteria - the high-resolution crystal structure of Staphylococcus aureus glutamine amidotransferase GatD, 2018. Scientific Reports. 8(1):5313. AbstractWebsite

Gram-positive bacteria homeostasis and antibiotic resistance mechanisms are dependent on the intricate architecture of the cell wall, where amidated peptidoglycan plays an important role. The amidation reaction is carried out by the bi-enzymatic complex MurT-GatD, for which biochemical and structural information is very scarce. In this work, we report the first crystal structure of the glutamine amidotransferase member of this complex, GatD from Staphylococcus aureus, at 1.85 Å resolution. A glutamine molecule is found close to the active site funnel, hydrogen-bonded to the conserved R128. In vitro functional studies using 1H-NMR spectroscopy showed that S. aureus MurT-GatD complex has glutaminase activity even in the absence of lipid II, the MurT substrate. In addition, we produced R128A, C94A and H189A mutants, which were totally inactive for glutamine deamidation, revealing their essential role in substrate sequestration and catalytic reaction. GatD from S. aureus and other pathogenic bacteria share high identity to enzymes involved in cobalamin biosynthesis, which can be grouped in a new sub-family of glutamine amidotransferases. Given the ubiquitous presence of GatD, these results provide significant insights into the molecular basis of the so far undisclosed amidation mechanism, contributing to the development of alternative therapeutics to fight infections.