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91 Publications

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    Gonen Lab
    04/05/12 | The influence of lipids on voltage-gated ion channels.
    Jiang Q, Gonen T
    Current Opinion in Structural Biology. 2012 Apr 5;22(4):529-36. doi: 10.1016/

    Voltage-gated ion channels are responsible for transmitting electrochemical signals in both excitable and non-excitable cells. Structural studies of voltage-gated potassium and sodium channels by X-ray crystallography have revealed atomic details on their voltage-sensor domains (VSDs) and pore domains, and were put in context of disparate mechanistic views on the voltage-driven conformational changes in these proteins. Functional investigation of voltage-gated channels in membranes, however, showcased a mechanism of lipid-dependent gating for voltage-gated channels, suggesting that the lipids play an indispensible and critical role in the proper gating of many of these channels. Structure determination of membrane-embedded voltage-gated ion channels appears to be the next frontier in fully addressing the mechanism by which the VSDs control channel opening. Currently electron crystallography is the only structural biology method in which a membrane protein of interest is crystallized within a complete lipid-bilayer mimicking the native environment of a biological membrane. At a sufficiently high resolution, an electron crystallographic structure could reveal lipids, the channel and their mutual interactions at the atomic level. Electron crystallography is therefore a promising avenue toward understanding how lipids modulate channel activation through close association with the VSDs.

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    Gonen Lab
    01/01/12 | AKAP2 anchors PKA with aquaporin-0 to support ocular lens transparency.
    Gold MG, Reichow SL, O’Neill SE, Weisbrod CR, Langeberg LK, Bruce JE, Gonen T, Scott JD
    EMBO Molecular Medicine. 2012 Jan;4(1):15-26. doi: 10.1002/emmm.201100184

    A decline in ocular lens transparency known as cataract afflicts 90% of individuals by the age 70. Chronic deterioration of lens tissue occurs as a pathophysiological consequence of defective water and nutrient circulation through channel and transporter proteins. A key component is the aquaporin-0 (AQP0) water channel whose permeability is tightly regulated in healthy lenses. Using a variety of cellular and biochemical approaches we have discovered that products of the A-kinase anchoring protein 2 gene (AKAP2/AKAP-KL) form a stable complex with AQP0 to sequester protein kinase A (PKA) with the channel. This permits PKA phosphorylation of serine 235 within a calmodulin (CaM)-binding domain of AQP0. The additional negative charge introduced by phosphoserine 235 perturbs electrostatic interactions between AQP0 and CaM to favour water influx through the channel. In isolated mouse lenses, displacement of PKA from the AKAP2-AQP0 channel complex promotes cortical cataracts as characterized by severe opacities and cellular damage. Thus, anchored PKA modulation of AQP0 is a homeostatic mechanism that must be physically intact to preserve lens transparency.

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    Gonen Lab
    01/01/12 | Intrinsic tethering activity of endosomal Rab proteins.
    Lo S, Brett CL, Plemel RL, Vignali M, Fields S, Gonen T, Merz AJ
    Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2012 Jan;19(1):40-7. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2162

    Rab small G proteins control membrane trafficking events required for many processes including secretion, lipid metabolism, antigen presentation and growth factor signaling. Rabs recruit effectors that mediate diverse functions including vesicle tethering and fusion. However, many mechanistic questions about Rab-regulated vesicle tethering are unresolved. Using chemically defined reaction systems, we discovered that Vps21, a Saccharomyces cerevisiae ortholog of mammalian endosomal Rab5, functions in trans with itself and with at least two other endosomal Rabs to directly mediate GTP-dependent tethering. Vps21-mediated tethering was stringently and reversibly regulated by an upstream activator, Vps9, and an inhibitor, Gyp1, which were sufficient to drive dynamic cycles of tethering and detethering. These experiments reveal a previously undescribed mode of tethering by endocytic Rabs. In our working model, the intrinsic tethering capacity Vps21 operates in concert with conventional effectors and SNAREs to drive efficient docking and fusion.

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    Gonen Lab
    10/12/11 | Advances in structural and functional analysis of membrane proteins by electron crystallography.
    Wisedchaisri G, Reichow SL, Gonen T
    Structure. 2011 Oct 12;19(10):1381-93. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2011.09.001

    Electron crystallography is a powerful technique for the study of membrane protein structure and function in the lipid environment. When well-ordered two-dimensional crystals are obtained the structure of both protein and lipid can be determined and lipid-protein interactions analyzed. Protons and ionic charges can be visualized by electron crystallography and the protein of interest can be captured for structural analysis in a variety of physiologically distinct states. This review highlights the strengths of electron crystallography and the momentum that is building up in automation and the development of high throughput tools and methods for structural and functional analysis of membrane proteins by electron crystallography.

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    Gonen Lab
    08/01/11 | Secretins: dynamic channels for protein transport across membranes.
    Korotkov KV, Gonen T, Hol WG
    Trends in Biochemical Sciences. 2011 Aug;36(8):433-43. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2011.04.002

    Secretins form megadalton bacterial-membrane channels in at least four sophisticated multiprotein systems that are crucial for translocation of proteins and assembled fibers across the outer membrane of many species of bacteria. Secretin subunits contain multiple domains, which interact with numerous other proteins, including pilotins, secretion-system partner proteins, and exoproteins. Our understanding of the structure of secretins is rapidly progressing, and it is now recognized that features common to all secretins include a cylindrical arrangement of 12-15 subunits, a large periplasmic vestibule with a wide opening at one end and a periplasmic gate at the other. Secretins might also play a key role in the biogenesis of their cognate secretion systems.

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    Gonen Lab
    07/13/11 | Fragment-based phase extension for three-dimensional structure determination of membrane proteins by electron crystallography.
    Wisedchaisri G, Gonen T
    Structure. 2011 Jul 13;19:976-87. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2011.04.008

    In electron crystallography, membrane protein structure is determined from two-dimensional crystals where the protein is embedded in a membrane. Once large and well-ordered 2D crystals are grown, one of the bottlenecks in electron crystallography is the collection of image data to directly provide experimental phases to high resolution. Here, we describe an approach to bypass this bottleneck, eliminating the need for high-resolution imaging. We use the strengths of electron crystallography in rapidly obtaining accurate experimental phase information from low-resolution images and accurate high-resolution amplitude information from electron diffraction. The low-resolution experimental phases were used for the placement of α helix fragments and extended to high resolution using phases from the fragments. Phases were further improved by density modifications followed by fragment expansion and structure refinement against the high-resolution diffraction data. Using this approach, structures of three membrane proteins were determined rapidly and accurately to atomic resolution without high-resolution image data.

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    Gonen Lab
    05/01/11 | The binding of cholera toxin to the periplasmic vestibule of the type II secretion channel.
    Reichow SL, Korotkov KV, Gonen M, Sun J, Delarosa JR, Hol WG, Gonen T
    Channels. 2011 May-Jun;5(3):215-8

    The type II secretion system (T2SS) is a large macromolecular complex spanning the inner and outer membranes of many gram-negative bacteria. The T2SS is responsible for the secretion of virulence factors such as cholera toxin (CT) and heat-labile enterotoxin (LT) from Vibrio cholerae and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, respectively. CT and LT are closely related AB5 heterohexamers, composed of one A subunit and a B-pentamer. Both CT and LT are translocated, as folded protein complexes, from the periplasm across the outer membrane through the type II secretion channel, the secretin GspD. We recently published the 19 Å structure of the V. cholerae secretin (VcGspD) in its closed state and showed by SPR measurements that the periplasmic domain of GspD interacts with the B-pentamer complex. Here we extend these studies by characterizing the binding of the cholera toxin B-pentamer to VcGspD using electron microscopy of negatively stained preparations. Our studies indicate that the pentamer is captured within the large periplasmic vestibule of VcGspD. These new results agree well with our previously published studies and are in accord with a piston-driven type II secretion mechanism.

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    Gonen Lab
    04/19/11 | N-terminal domain of alphaB-crystallin provides a conformational switch for multimerization and structural heterogeneity.
    Jehle S, Vollmar BS, Bardiaux B, Dove KK, Rajagopal P, Gonen T, Oschkinat H, Klevit RE
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011 Apr 19;108(16):6409-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1014656108

    The small heat shock protein (sHSP) αB-crystallin (αB) plays a key role in the cellular protection system against stress. For decades, high-resolution structural studies on heterogeneous sHSPs have been confounded by the polydisperse nature of αB oligomers. We present an atomic-level model of full-length αB as a symmetric 24-subunit multimer based on solid-state NMR, small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), and EM data. The model builds on our recently reported structure of the homodimeric α-crystallin domain (ACD) and C-terminal IXI motif in the context of the multimer. A hierarchy of interactions contributes to build multimers of varying sizes: Interactions between two ACDs define a dimer, three dimers connected by their C-terminal regions define a hexameric unit, and variable interactions involving the N-terminal region define higher-order multimers. Within a multimer, N-terminal regions exist in multiple environments, contributing to the heterogeneity observed by NMR. Analysis of SAXS data allows determination of a heterogeneity parameter for this type of system. A mechanism of multimerization into higher-order asymmetric oligomers via the addition of up to six dimeric units to a 24-mer is proposed. The proposed asymmetric multimers explain the homogeneous appearance of αB in negative-stain EM images and the known dynamic exchange of αB subunits. The model of αB provides a structural basis for understanding known disease-associated missense mutations and makes predictions concerning substrate binding and the reported fibrilogenesis of αB.

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    Gonen Lab
    11/25/10 | Tension directly stabilizes reconstituted kinetochore-microtubule attachments.
    Akiyoshi B, Sarangapani KK, Powers AF, Nelson CR, Reichow SL, Arellano-Santoyo H, Gonen T, Ranish JA, Asbury CL, Biggins S
    Nature. 2010 Nov 25;468(7323):576-9. doi: 10.1038/nature09594

    Kinetochores are macromolecular machines that couple chromosomes to dynamic microtubule tips during cell division, thereby generating force to segregate the chromosomes. Accurate segregation depends on selective stabilization of correct ’bi-oriented’ kinetochore-microtubule attachments, which come under tension as the result of opposing forces exerted by microtubules. Tension is thought to stabilize these bi-oriented attachments indirectly, by suppressing the destabilizing activity of a kinase, Aurora B. However, a complete mechanistic understanding of the role of tension requires reconstitution of kinetochore-microtubule attachments for biochemical and biophysical analyses in vitro. Here we show that native kinetochore particles retaining the majority of kinetochore proteins can be purified from budding yeast and used to reconstitute dynamic microtubule attachments. Individual kinetochore particles maintain load-bearing associations with assembling and disassembling ends of single microtubules for >30 min, providing a close match to the persistent coupling seen in vivo between budding yeast kinetochores and single microtubules. Moreover, tension increases the lifetimes of the reconstituted attachments directly, through a catch bond-like mechanism that does not require Aurora B. On the basis of these findings, we propose that tension selectively stabilizes proper kinetochore-microtubule attachments in vivo through a combination of direct mechanical stabilization and tension-dependent phosphoregulation.

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    Gonen Lab
    11/10/10 | Structural underpinnings of nitrogen regulation by the prototypical nitrogen-responsive transcriptional factor NrpR.
    Wisedchaisri G, Dranow DM, Lie TJ, Bonanno JB, Patskovsky Y, Ozyurt SA, Sauder JM, Almo SC, Wasserman SR, Burley SK, Leigh JA, Gonen T
    Structure. 2010 Nov 10;18(11):1512-21. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2010.08.014

    Plants and microorganisms reduce environmental inorganic nitrogen to ammonium, which then enters various metabolic pathways solely via conversion of 2-oxoglutarate (2OG) to glutamate and glutamine. Cellular 2OG concentrations increase during nitrogen starvation. We recently identified a family of 2OG-sensing proteins–the nitrogen regulatory protein NrpR–that bind DNA and repress transcription of nitrogen assimilation genes. We used X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of NrpR regulatory domain. We identified the NrpR 2OG-binding cleft and show that residues predicted to interact directly with 2OG are conserved among diverse classes of 2OG-binding proteins. We show that high levels of 2OG inhibit NrpRs ability to bind DNA. Electron microscopy analyses document that NrpR adopts different quaternary structures in its inhibited 2OG-bound state compared with its active apo state. Our results indicate that upon 2OG release, NrpR repositions its DNA-binding domains correctly for optimal interaction with DNA thereby enabling gene repression.

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