Abstract: Protein-protein docking (PPD) predictions usually rely on the use of a scoring function to rank docking models generated by exhaustive sampling. To rank good models higher than bad ones, a large number of scoring functions have been developed and evaluated, but the methods used for the computation of PPD predictions remain largely unsatisfactory. Here, we report a network-based PPD scoring function, the NPPD, in which the network consists of two types of network nodes, one for hydrophobic and the other for hydrophilic amino acid residues, and the nodes are connected when the residues they represent are within a certain contact distance. We showed that network parameters that compute dyadic interactions and those that compute heterophilic interactions of the amino acid networks thus constructed allowed NPPD to perform well in a benchmark evaluation of 115 PPD scoring functions, most of which, unlike NPPD, are based on some sort of protein-protein interaction energy. We also showed that NPPD was highly complementary to these energy-based scoring functions, suggesting that the combined use of conventional scoring functions and NPPD might significantly improve the accuracy of current PPD predictions.
Abstract: The origin of the eukaryotic endomembrane system is still the subject of much speculation. We argue that the combination of two recent hypotheses addressing the eukaryotic endomembrane’s early evolution supports the possibility that the ancestral membranes were organised as a multi-functional tubulovesicular network. One of the potential selective advantages provided by this organisation was the capacity to perform endocytosis. This possibility is illustrated by membrane organisations observed in current organisms in the three domains of life. Based on this, we propose a coherent model of autogenous eukaryotic endomembrane system evolution in which mitochondria are involved at a late stage.
Abstract: The effects of cationic porphyrins on the catalytic activities of four group I ribozymes were investigated. A cationic porphyrin possessing four pyridinium moieties (pPyP) inhibited two group IC3 ribozymes (Syn Rz and Azo Rz) and a group IC1 ribozyme (Tet Rz). In the case of a group IA2 ribozyme (Td Rz), however, pPyP served not only as an inhibitor but also as an activator, and the effects of pPyP were dependent on its concentration. To analyze the structural and electronic factors determining the effects of pPyP on group I ribozymes, three cationic porphyrins (pPyNCP, pPyF4P, and TMPyP) were also examined. As interactions between small organic molecules and nucleic acids are attractive and important issues in biochemistry and biotechnology, this study contributes to the development of porphyrin-based molecules that can modulate functions of structured RNA molecules.
Abstract: Sedimentation in the analytical ultracentrifuge is a matrix free solution technique with no immobilisation, columns, or membranes required and can be used to study self-association and complex or “hetero”-interactions, stoichiometry, reversibility and interaction strength of a wide variety of macromolecular types and across a very large dynamic range (dissociation constants from 10−12 M to 10−1 M). We extend an earlier review specifically highlighting advances in sedimentation velocity and sedimentation equilibrium in the analytical ultracentrifuge applied to protein interactions and mucoadhesion and to review recent applications in protein self-association (tetanus toxoid, agrin), protein-like carbohydrate association (aminocelluloses), carbohydrate-protein interactions (polysaccharide-gliadin), nucleic-acid protein (G-duplexes), nucleic acid-carbohydrate (DNA-chitosan) and finally carbohydrate-carbohydrate (xanthan-chitosan and a ternary polysaccharide complex) interactions.
Abstract: In mammals, oocytes develop inside the ovarian follicles; this process is strongly supported by the surrounding follicular environment consisting of cumulus, granulosa and theca cells, and follicular fluid. In the antral follicle, the final stages of oogenesis require large amounts of energy that is produced by follicular cells from substrates including glucose, amino acids and fatty acids (FAs). Since lipid metabolism plays an important role in acquiring oocyte developmental competence, the aim of this study was to investigate site-specificity of lipid metabolism in ovaries by comparing lipid profiles and expression of FA metabolism-related genes in different ovarian compartments. Using MALDI Mass Spectrometry Imaging, images of porcine ovary sections were reconstructed from lipid ion signals for the first time. Cluster analysis of ion spectra revealed differences in spatial distribution of lipid species among ovarian compartments, notably between the follicles and interstitial tissue. Inside the follicles analysis differentiated follicular fluid, granulosa, theca and the oocyte-cumulus complex. Moreover, by transcript quantification using real time PCR, we showed that expression of five key genes in FA metabolism significantly varied between somatic follicular cells (theca, granulosa and cumulus) and the oocyte. In conclusion, lipid metabolism differs between ovarian and follicular compartments.
Abstract: The steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STAR) protein expression is required for cholesterol transport into mitochondria to initiate steroidogenesis in the adrenal and gonads. STAR is synthesized as a 37 kDa precursor protein which is targeted to the mitochondria and imported and processed to an intra-mitochondrial 30 kDa protein. Tropic hormone stimulation of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) signaling pathway is the major contributor to the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of STAR synthesis. Many studies have focused on the mechanisms of cAMP-PKA mediated control of STAR synthesis while there are few reports on STAR degradation pathways. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of cAMP-PKA-dependent signaling on STAR protein stability. We have used the cAMP-PKA responsive Y1 mouse adrenocortical cells and the PKA-deficient Kin-8 cells to measure STAR phosphorylation and protein half-life. Western blot analysis and standard radiolabeled pulse-chase experiments were used to determine STAR phosphorylation status and protein half-life, respectively. Our data demonstrate that PKA-dependent STAR phosphorylation does not contribute to 30 kDa STAR protein stability in the mitochondria. We further show that inhibition of the 26S proteasome does not block precursor STAR phosphorylation or steroid production in Y1 cells. These data suggest STAR can maintain function and promote steroidogenesis under conditions of proteasome inhibition.