Biomolecules2014, 4(2), 390-401; doi:10.3390/biom4020390 - published online 11 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Uranium is one of the most important metal resources, and the technology for the recovery of uranyl ions (UO22+) from aqueous solutions is required to ensure a semi-permanent supply of uranium. The NikR protein is a Ni2+-dependent transcriptional repressor of the nickel-ion uptake system in Escherichia coli, but its mutant protein (NikRm) is able to selectively bind uranyl ions in the interface of the two monomers. In this study, NikRm protein with ability to adsorb uranyl ions was displayed on the cell surface of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To perform the binding of metal ions in the interface of the two monomers, two metal-binding domains (MBDs) of NikRm were tandemly fused via linker peptides and displayed on the yeast cell surface by fusion with the cell wall-anchoring domain of yeast α-agglutinin. The NikRm-MBD-displaying yeast cells with particular linker lengths showed the enhanced adsorption of uranyl ions in comparison to the control strain. By treating cells with citrate buffer (pH 4.3), the uranyl ions adsorbed on the cell surface were recovered. Our results indicate that the adsorption system by yeast cells displaying tandemly fused MBDs of NikRm is effective for simple and concentrated recovery of uranyl ions, as well as adsorption of uranyl ions.
Biomolecules2014, 4(2), 374-389; doi:10.3390/biom4020374 - published online 31 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A minor product, rebaudioside M2 (2), from the bioconversion reaction of rebaudioside A (4) to rebaudioside D (3), was isolated and the complete structure of the novel steviol glycoside was determined. Rebaudioside M2 (2) is considered an isomer of rebaudioside M (1) and contains a relatively rare 1→6 sugar linkage. It was isolated and characterized with NMR (1H, 13C, COSY, HSQC-DEPT, HMBC, 1D-TOCSY, and NOESY) and mass spectral data. Additionally, we emphasize the importance of 1D and 2D NMR techniques when identifying complex steviol glycosides. Numerous NMR spectroscopy studies of rebaudioside M (1), rebaudioside D (3), and mixture of 1 and 3 led to the discovery that SG17 which was previously reported in literature, is a mixture of rebaudioside D (3), rebaudioside M (1), and possibly other related steviol glycosides.
Biomolecules2014, 4(1), 354-373; doi:10.3390/biom4010354 - published online 18 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Understanding protein folding has been one of the great challenges in biochemistry and molecular biophysics. Over the past 50 years, many thermodynamic and kinetic studies have been performed addressing the stability of globular proteins. In comparison, advances in the membrane protein folding field lag far behind. Although membrane proteins constitute about a third of the proteins encoded in known genomes, stability studies on membrane proteins have been impaired due to experimental limitations. Furthermore, no systematic experimental strategies are available for folding these biomolecules in vitro. Common denaturing agents such as chaotropes usually do not work on helical membrane proteins, and ionic detergents have been successful denaturants only in few cases. Refolding a membrane protein seems to be a craftsman work, which is relatively straightforward for transmembrane β-barrel proteins but challenging for α-helical membrane proteins. Additional complexities emerge in multidomain membrane proteins, data interpretation being one of the most critical. In this review, we will describe some recent efforts in understanding the folding mechanism of membrane proteins that have been reversibly refolded allowing both thermodynamic and kinetic analysis. This information will be discussed in the context of current paradigms in the protein folding field.
Biomolecules2014, 4(1), 315-353; doi:10.3390/biom4010315 - published online 14 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The sphingolipids are one of the major lipid families in eukaryotes, incorporating a diverse array of structural variants that exert a powerful influence over cell fate and physiology. Increased expression of sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK1), which catalyses the synthesis of the pro-survival, pro-angiogenic metabolite sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), is well established as a hallmark of multiple cancers. Metabolic alterations that reduce levels of the pro-apoptotic lipid ceramide, particularly its glucosylation by glucosylceramide synthase (GCS), have frequently been associated with cancer drug resistance. However, the simple notion that the balance between ceramide and S1P, often referred to as the sphingolipid rheostat, dictates cell survival contrasts with recent studies showing that highly potent and selective SPHK1 inhibitors do not affect cancer cell proliferation or survival, and studies demonstrating higher ceramide levels in some metastatic cancers. Recent reports have implicated other sphingolipid metabolic enzymes such as acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) more strongly in cancer pathogenesis, and highlight lysosomal sphingolipid metabolism as a possible weak point for therapeutic targeting in cancer. This review describes the evidence implicating different sphingolipid metabolic enzymes and their products in cancer pathogenesis, and suggests how newer systems-level approaches may improve our overall understanding of how oncogenic transformation reconfigures sphingolipid metabolism.
Biomolecules2014, 4(1), 291-314; doi:10.3390/biom4010291 - published online 7 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The properties of biomolecules depend both on physics and on the evolutionary process that formed them. These two points of view produce a powerful synergism. Physics sets the stage and the constraints that molecular evolution has to obey, and evolutionary theory helps in rationalizing the physical properties of biomolecules, including protein folding thermodynamics. To complete the parallelism, protein thermodynamics is founded on the statistical mechanics in the space of protein structures, and molecular evolution can be viewed as statistical mechanics in the space of protein sequences. In this review, we will integrate both points of view, applying them to detecting selection on the stability of the folded state of proteins. We will start discussing positive design, which strengthens the stability of the folded against the unfolded state of proteins. Positive design justifies why statistical potentials for protein folding can be obtained from the frequencies of structural motifs. Stability against unfolding is easier to achieve for longer proteins. On the contrary, negative design, which consists in destabilizing frequently formed misfolded conformations, is more difficult to achieve for longer proteins. The folding rate can be enhanced by strengthening short-range native interactions, but this requirement contrasts with negative design, and evolution has to trade-off between them. Finally, selection can accelerate functional movements by favoring low frequency normal modes of the dynamics of the native state that strongly correlate with the functional conformation change.