Hepatitis B core (HBc) particles have been extensively exploited as carriers for foreign immunological epitopes in the development of multicomponent vaccines and diagnostic reagents. Crystals of the T = 4 HBc particle were grown in PEG 20,000, ammonium sulfate and various types of alcohols. A temperature jump from 277 or 283 to 290 K was found to enhance crystal growth. A crystal grown using MPD as a cryoprotectant diffracted X-rays to 7.7 A resolution and data were collected to 99.6% completeness at 8.9 A. The crystal belongs to space group P2(1)2(1)2(1), with unit-cell parameters a = 352.3, b = 465.5, c = 645.0 A. The electron-density map reveals a protrusion that is consistent with the N-terminus extending out from the surface of the capsid. The structure presented here supports the idea that N-terminal insertions can be exploited in the development of diagnostic reagents, multicomponent vaccines and delivery vehicles into mammalian cells.
Exotic functions of antifreeze proteins (AFP) and antifreeze glycopeptides (AFGP) have recently been attracted with much interest to develop them as commercial products. AFPs and AFGPs inhibit ice crystal growth by lowering the water freezing point without changing the water melting point. Our group isolated the Antarctic yeast Glaciozyma antarctica that expresses antifreeze protein to assist it in its survival mechanism at sub-zero temperatures. The protein is unique and novel, indicated by its low sequence homology compared to those of other AFPs. We explore the structure-function relationship of G. antarctica AFP using various approaches ranging from protein structure prediction, peptide design and antifreeze activity assays, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies and molecular dynamics simulation. The predicted secondary structure of G. antarctica AFP shows several α-helices, assumed to be responsible for its antifreeze activity. We designed several peptide fragments derived from the amino acid sequences of α-helical regions of the parent AFP and they also showed substantial antifreeze activities, below that of the original AFP. The relationship between peptide structure and activity was explored by NMR spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulation. NMR results show that the antifreeze activity of the peptides correlates with their helicity and geometrical straightforwardness. Furthermore, molecular dynamics simulation also suggests that the activity of the designed peptides can be explained in terms of the structural rigidity/flexibility, i.e., the most active peptide demonstrates higher structural stability, lower flexibility than that of the other peptides with lower activities, and of lower rigidity. This report represents the first detailed report of downsizing a yeast AFP into its peptide fragments with measurable antifreeze activities.
The aim of this study was to produce a valuable protein hydrolysate from palm kernel cake (PKC) for the development of natural antioxidants. Extracted PKC protein was hydrolyzed using different proteases (alcalase, chymotrypsin, papain, pepsin, trypsin, flavourzyme, and bromelain). Subsequently, antioxidant activity and degree of hydrolysis (DH) of each hydrolysate were evaluated using DPPH• radical scavenging activity and O-phthaldialdehyde spectrophotometric assay, respectively. The results revealed a strong correlation between DH and radical scavenging activity of the hydrolysates, where among these, protein hydrolysates produced by papain after 38 h hydrolysis exhibited the highest DH (91 ± 0.1%) and DPPH• radical scavenging activity (73.5 ± 0.25%) compared to the other hydrolysates. In addition, fractionation of the most effective (potent) hydrolysate by reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography indicated a direct association between hydrophobicity and radical scavenging activity of the hydrolysates. Isoelectric focusing tests also revealed that protein hydrolysates with basic and neutral isoelectric point (pI) have the highest radical scavenging activity, although few fractions in the acidic range also exhibited good antioxidant potential.
Bcl-2 family proteins are crucial regulators of apoptosis. Both pro- and antiapoptotic members exist, and overexpression of the latter facilitates evasion of apoptosis in many cancer types. Bcl-2 homology domain 3 (BH3) mimetics are small molecule inhibitors of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family members, and these inhibitors are promising anticancer agents. In this study, we report that gamma-tocotrienol (γT3), an isomer of vitamin E, can inhibit Bcl-2 to induce apoptosis. We demonstrate that γT3 induces cell death in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells by depolarising the mitochondrial membrane potential, enabling release of cytochrome c to the cytosol and increasing the activities of caspases-9 and -3. Treatment of cells with inhibitors of Bax or caspase-9 attenuated the cell death induced by γT3. Simulated docking analysis suggested that γT3 binds at the hydrophobic groove of Bcl-2, while a binding assay showed that γT3 competed with a fluorescent probe to bind at the hydrophobic groove. Our data suggest that γT3 mimics the action of BH3-only protein by binding to the hydrophobic groove of Bcl-2 and inducing apoptosis via the intrinsic pathway in a Bax- and caspase-9-dependent manner.
The peptides derived from envelope proteins have been shown to inhibit the protein-protein interactions in the virus membrane fusion process and thus have a great potential to be developed into effective antiviral therapies. There are three types of envelope proteins each exhibiting distinct structure folds. Although the exact fusion mechanism remains elusive, it was suggested that the three classes of viral fusion proteins share a similar mechanism of membrane fusion. The common mechanism of action makes it possible to correlate the properties of self-derived peptide inhibitors with their activities. Here we developed a support vector machine model using sequence-based statistical scores of self-derived peptide inhibitors as input features to correlate with their activities. The model displayed 92% prediction accuracy with the Matthew's correlation coefficient of 0.84, obviously superior to those using physicochemical properties and amino acid decomposition as input. The predictive support vector machine model for self- derived peptides of envelope proteins would be useful in development of antiviral peptide inhibitors targeting the virus fusion process.
The L-amino acid oxidase of Malayan pit viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) venom was purified to electrophoretic homogeneity. The molecular weight of the enzyme was 132,000 as determined by Sephadex G-200 gel filtration chromatography and 66,000 as determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. It is a glycoprotein, has an isoelectric point of 4.4, and contains 2 mol of flavin mononucleotide per mole of enzyme. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of the enzyme was A-D-D-R-N-P-L-A-E-E-F-Q-E-N-N-Y-E-E-F-L. Kinetic studies suggest the presence of a alkyl side-chain binding site in the enzyme and that the binding site comprises at least four hydrophobic subsites. The characteristics of the binding site differ slightly from those of cobra venom L-amino acid oxidases.
Human enterovirus 71 has emerged as an important pathogen of children in the Asia Pacific region, and it may be important to consider the development of a vaccine against this virus. Human cord serum was used as a source of neutralizing antibodies to determine whether the N- or C-terminal half of the VP1 capsid protein was more likely to harbour neutralizing determinants. Cord sera from 205 individuals were tested for neutralizing antibodies against human enterovirus 71 in an indirect ELISA against recombinant VP1 antigen as well as the N- and C-terminal portions of VP1 antigen. High-titred human neutralizing antibodies were significantly more reactive with the N-terminal half of VP1 than weak or negative sera. The N-terminal half of human enterovirus 71 is likely to have important neutralizing antibody determinants and should be investigated further in vaccine development efforts.
The HIV-1 genetic variation in 60 infected Malaysian intravenous drug users (IDU) was studied by comparison of the nucleotide sequences and their predicted amino acid sequences in the V3 loop of the external glycoprotein gp120. In this study, HIV-1 B, C and E subtypes were identified among Malaysian IDU, with HIV-1 B being the predominant subtype (91.7%). HIV-1 C and HIV-1 E were minority subtypes among Malaysian IDU. Analysis of the amino acid alignment of the C2-V3 region of the env gene suggests a genetic relationship between Thai and Malaysian B and E subtype strains. This study serves as a baseline for monitoring HIV-1 genetic diversity and spread in Malaysia.
Sea cucumber (Stichopus vastus) is considered an underutilized resource, since only its stomach and intestines are eaten raw as salad in a few countries and the remaining parts, especially the integument rich in collagen, is discarded. Hence a valuable by-product having potential nutraceutical and pharmaceutical applications is wasted. In the present investigation, pepsin-solubilized collagen (PSC) from the integument of S. vastus was isolated, purified and characterized.
A high incidence of sensitization to Blomia tropicalis, the predominant house dust mite species in tropical regions, is strongly associated with allergic diseases in Singapore, Malaysia, and Brazil. IgE binding to the group 5 allergen, Blo t 5, is found to be the most prevalent among all B. tropicalis allergens. The NMR structure of Blo t 5 determined represents a novel helical bundle structure consisting of three antiparallel alpha-helices. Based on the structure and sequence alignment with other known group 5 dust mite allergens, surface-exposed charged residues have been identified for site-directed mutagenesis and IgE binding assays. Four charged residues, Glu76, Asp81, Glu86, and Glu91 at around the turn region connecting helices alpha2 and alpha3 have been identified to be involved in the IgE binding. Using overlapping peptides, we have confirmed that these charged residues are located on a major putative linear IgE epitope of Blo t 5 from residues 76-91 comprising the sequence ELKRTDLNILERFNYE. Triple and quadruple mutants have been generated and found to exhibit significantly lower IgE binding and reduced responses in skin prick tests. The mutants induced similar PBMC proliferation as the wild-type protein but with reduced Th2:Th1 cytokines ratio. Mass screening on a quadruple mutant showed a 40% reduction in IgE binding in 35 of 42 sera of atopic individuals. Findings in this study further stressed the importance of surface-charged residues on IgE binding and have implications in the cross-reactivity and use of Blo t 5 mutants as a hypoallergen for immunotherapy.
The Ricinus communis biomarker peptides RCB-1 to -3 comprise homologous sequences of 19 (RCB-1) or 18 (RCB-2 and -3) amino acid residues. They all include four cysteine moieties, which form two disulfide bonds. However, neither the 3D structure nor the biological activity of any of these peptides is known. The synthesis of RCB-1, using microwave-assisted, Fmoc-based solid-phase peptide synthesis, and a method for its oxidative folding are reported. The tertiary structure of RCB-1, subsequently established using solution-state NMR, reveals a twisted loop fold with antiparallel β-sheets reinforced by the two disulfide bonds. Moreover, RCB-1 was tested for antibacterial, antifungal, and cytotoxic activity, as well as in a serum stability assay, in which it proved to be remarkably stable.
Melanoma drug resistance is often attributed to abrogation of the intrinsic apoptosis pathway. Targeting regulators of apoptosis is thus considered a promising approach to sensitizing melanomas to treatment. The development of small-molecule inhibitors that mimic natural antagonists of either antiapoptotic members of the BCL-2 family or the inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs), known as BH3- or SMAC-mimetics, respectively, are helping us to understand the mechanisms behind apoptotic resistance. Studies using BH3-mimetics indicate that the antiapoptotic BCL-2 protein MCL-1 and its antagonist NOXA are particularly important regulators of BCL-2 family signaling, while SMAC-mimetic studies show that both XIAP and the cIAPs must be targeted to effectively induce apoptosis of cancer cells. Although most solid tumors, including melanoma, are insensitive to these mimetic drugs as single agents, combinations with other therapeutics have yielded promising results, and tests combining them with BRAF-inhibitors, which have already revolutionized melanoma treatment, are a clear priority.
Dysregulation of p27(Kip1) due to proteolysis that involves the ubiquitin ligase (SCF) complex with S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (Skp2) as the substrate-recognition component (SCF(Skp2)) frequently results in tumorigenesis. In this report, we developed a high-throughput screening system to identify small-molecule inhibitors of p27(Kip1) degradation. This system was established by tagging Skp2 with fluorescent monomeric Azami Green (mAG) and CDK subunit 1 (Cks1) (mAGSkp2-Cks1) to bind to p27(Kip1) phosphopeptides. We identified two compounds that inhibited the interaction between mAGSkp2-Cks1 and p27(Kip1): linichlorin A and gentian violet. Further studies have shown that the compounds inhibit the ubiquitination of p27(Kip1) in vitro as well as p27(Kip1) degradation in HeLa cells. Notably, both compounds exhibited preferential antiproliferative activity against HeLa and tsFT210 cells compared with NIH3T3 cells and delayed the G1 phase progression in tsFT210 cells. Our approach indicates a potential strategy for restoring p27(Kip1) levels in human cancers.
Most HIV-1-specific neutralizing antibodies isolated to date exhibit unusual characteristics that complicate their elicitation. Neutralizing antibodies that target the V1V2 apex of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) trimer feature unusually long protruding loops, which enable them to penetrate the HIV-1 glycan shield. As antibodies with loops of requisite length are created through uncommon recombination events, an alternative mode of apex binding has been sought. Here, we isolated a lineage of Env apex-directed neutralizing antibodies, N90-VRC38.01-11, by using virus-like particles and conformationally stabilized Env trimers as B cell probes. A crystal structure of N90-VRC38.01 with a scaffolded V1V2 revealed a binding mode involving side-chain-to-side-chain interactions that reduced the distance the antibody loop must traverse the glycan shield, thereby facilitating V1V2 binding via a non-protruding loop. The N90-VRC38 lineage thus identifies a solution for V1V2-apex binding that provides a more conventional B cell pathway for vaccine design.