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See detailStructure and properties of a complex of alpha-synuclein and a single-domain camelid antibody.
De Genst, Erwin J; Guilliams, Tim; Wellens, Joke et al

in Journal of Molecular Biology (2010), 402(2), 326-43

The aggregation of the intrinsically disordered protein alpha-synuclein to form fibrillar amyloid structures is intimately associated with a variety of neurological disorders, most notably Parkinson's ... [more ▼]

The aggregation of the intrinsically disordered protein alpha-synuclein to form fibrillar amyloid structures is intimately associated with a variety of neurological disorders, most notably Parkinson's disease. The molecular mechanism of alpha-synuclein aggregation and toxicity is not yet understood in any detail, not least because of the paucity of structural probes through which to study the behavior of such a disordered system. Here, we describe an investigation involving a single-domain camelid antibody, NbSyn2, selected by phage display techniques to bind to alpha-synuclein, including the exploration of its effects on the in vitro aggregation of the protein under a variety of conditions. We show using isothermal calorimetric methods that NbSyn2 binds specifically to monomeric alpha-synuclein with nanomolar affinity and by means of NMR spectroscopy that it interacts with the four C-terminal residues of the protein. This latter finding is confirmed by the determination of a crystal structure of NbSyn2 bound to a peptide encompassing the nine C-terminal residues of alpha-synuclein. The NbSyn2:alpha-synuclein interaction is mediated mainly by side-chain interactions while water molecules cross-link the main-chain atoms of alpha-synuclein to atoms of NbSyn2, a feature we believe could be important in intrinsically disordered protein interactions more generally. The aggregation behavior of alpha-synuclein at physiological pH, including the morphology of the resulting fibrillar structures, is remarkably unaffected by the presence of NbSyn2 and indeed we show that NbSyn2 binds strongly to the aggregated as well as to the soluble forms of alpha-synuclein. These results give strong support to the conjecture that the C-terminal region of the protein is not directly involved in the mechanism of aggregation and suggest that binding of NbSyn2 could be a useful probe for the identification of alpha-synuclein aggregation in vitro and possibly in vivo. [less ▲]

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See detailPathophysiological mechanisms of dominant and recessive GLRA1 mutations in hyperekplexia.
Chung, Seo-Kyung; Vanbellinghen, Jean-François ULg; Mullins, Jonathan G L et al

in Journal of Neuroscience (2010), 30(28), 9612-20

Hyperekplexia is a rare, but potentially fatal, neuromotor disorder characterized by exaggerated startle reflexes and hypertonia in response to sudden, unexpected auditory or tactile stimuli. This ... [more ▼]

Hyperekplexia is a rare, but potentially fatal, neuromotor disorder characterized by exaggerated startle reflexes and hypertonia in response to sudden, unexpected auditory or tactile stimuli. This disorder is primarily caused by inherited mutations in the genes encoding the glycine receptor (GlyR) alpha1 subunit (GLRA1) and the presynaptic glycine transporter GlyT2 (SLC6A5). In this study, systematic DNA sequencing of GLRA1 in 88 new unrelated human hyperekplexia patients revealed 19 sequence variants in 30 index cases, of which 21 cases were inherited in recessive or compound heterozygote modes. This indicates that recessive hyperekplexia is far more prevalent than previous estimates. From the 19 GLRA1 sequence variants, we have investigated the functional effects of 11 novel and 2 recurrent mutations. The expression levels and functional properties of these hyperekplexia mutants were analyzed using a high-content imaging system and patch-clamp electrophysiology. When expressed in HEK293 cells, either as homomeric alpha1 or heteromeric alpha1beta GlyRs, subcellular localization defects were the major mechanism underlying recessive mutations. However, mutants without trafficking defects typically showed alterations in the glycine sensitivity suggestive of disrupted receptor function. This study also reports the first hyperekplexia mutation associated with a GlyR leak conductance, suggesting tonic channel opening as a new mechanism in neuronal ligand-gated ion channels. [less ▲]

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See detailA non-natural variant of human lysozyme (I59T) mimics the in vitro behaviour of the I56T variant that is responsible for a form of familial amyloidosis.
Hagan, Christine L; Johnson, Russell J K; Dhulesia, Anne et al

in Protein Engineering, Design & Selection (2010), 23(7), 499-506

We report here the detailed characterisation of a non-naturally occurring variant of human lysozyme, I59T, which possesses a destabilising point mutation at the interface of the alpha- and beta-domains ... [more ▼]

We report here the detailed characterisation of a non-naturally occurring variant of human lysozyme, I59T, which possesses a destabilising point mutation at the interface of the alpha- and beta-domains. Although more stable in its native structure than the naturally occurring variants that give rise to a familial form of systemic amyloidosis, I59T possesses many attributes that are similar to these disease-associated species. In particular, under physiologically relevant conditions, I59T populates transiently an intermediate in which a region of the structure unfolds cooperatively; this loss of global cooperativity has been suggested to be a critical feature underlying the amyloidogenic nature of the disease-associated lysozyme variants. In the present study, we have utilised this variant to provide direct evidence for the generic nature of the conformational transition that precedes the ready formation of the fibrils responsible for lysozyme-associated amyloid disease. This non-natural variant can be expressed at higher levels than the natural amyloidogenic variants, enabling, for example, singly isotopically labelled protein to be generated much more easily for detailed structural studies by multidimensional NMR spectroscopy. Moreover, we demonstrate that the I59T variant can readily form fibrils in vitro, similar in nature to those of the amyloidogenic I56T variant, under significantly milder conditions than are needed for the wild-type protein. [less ▲]

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See detail(1)H, (13)C and (15)N assignments of a camelid nanobody directed against human alpha-synuclein.
Vuchelen, Anneleen; O'Day, Elizabeth; De Genst, Erwin et al

in Biomolecular NMR Assignments (2009), 3(2), 231-3

Nanobodies are single chain antibodies that are uniquely produced in Camelidae, e.g. camels and llamas. They have the desirable features of small sizes (Mw < 14 kDa) and high affinities against antigens ... [more ▼]

Nanobodies are single chain antibodies that are uniquely produced in Camelidae, e.g. camels and llamas. They have the desirable features of small sizes (Mw < 14 kDa) and high affinities against antigens (Kd approximately nM), making them ideal as structural probes for biomedically relevant motifs both in vitro and in vivo. We have previously shown that nanobody binding to amyloidogenic human lysozyme variants can effectively inhibit their aggregation, the process that is at the origin of systemic amyloid disease. Here we report the NMR assignments of a new nanobody, termed NbSyn2, which recognises the C-terminus of the intrinsically disordered protein, human alpha-synuclein (aS), whose aberrant self-association is implicated in Parkinson's disease. [less ▲]

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See detailEngineering a camelid antibody fragment that binds to the active site of human lysozyme and inhibits its conversion into amyloid fibrils
Chan, Pak Ho; Pardon, Els; Menzer, Linda ULg et al

in Biochemistry (2008), 47

single-domain fragment, cAb-HuL22, of a camelid heavy-chain antibody specific for the active site of human lysozyme has been generated, and its effects on the properties of the I56T and D67H amyloidogenic ... [more ▼]

single-domain fragment, cAb-HuL22, of a camelid heavy-chain antibody specific for the active site of human lysozyme has been generated, and its effects on the properties of the I56T and D67H amyloidogenic variants of human lysozyme, which are associated with a form of systemic amyloidosis, have been investigated by a wide range of biophysical techniques. Pulse-labeling hydrogen-deuterium exchange experiments monitored by mass spectrometry reveal that binding of the antibody fragment strongly inhibits the locally cooperative unfolding of the I56T and D67H variants and restores their global cooperativity to that characteristic of the wild-type protein. The antibody fragment was, however, not stable enough under the conditions used to explore its ability to perturb the aggregation behavior of the lysozyme amyloidogenic variants. We therefore engineered a more stable version of cAb-HuL22 by adding a disulfide bridge between the two beta-sheets in the hydrophobic core of the protein. The binding of this engineered antibody fragment to the amyloidogenic variants of lysozyme inhibited their aggregation into fibrils. These findings support the premise that the reduction in global cooperativity caused by the pathogenic mutations in the lysozyme gene is the determining feature underlying their amyloidogenicity. These observations indicate further that molecular targeting of enzyme active sites, and of protein binding sites in general, is an effective strategy for inhibiting or preventing the aberrant self-assembly process that is often a consequence of protein mutation and the origin of pathogenicity. Moreover, this work further demonstrates the unique properties of camelid single-domain antibody fragments as structural probes for studying the mechanism of aggregation and as potential inhibitors of fibril formation. [less ▲]

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See detailRationalising Lysozyme Amyloidosis: Insights from the Structure and Solution Dynamics of T70N Lysozyme
Johnson, Russell J.K.; Christodoulou, John; Dumoulin, Mireille ULg et al

in Journal of Molecular Biology (2005), 352

T70N human lysozyme is the only known naturally occurring destabilised lysozyme variant that has not been detected in amyloid deposits in human patients. Its study and a comparison of its properties with ... [more ▼]

T70N human lysozyme is the only known naturally occurring destabilised lysozyme variant that has not been detected in amyloid deposits in human patients. Its study and a comparison of its properties with those of the amyloidogenic variants of lysozyme is therefore important for understanding the determinants of amyloid disease. We report here the X-ray crystal structure and the solution dynamics of T70N lysozyme, as monitored by hydrogen/deuterium exchange and NMR relaxation experiments. The X-ray crystal structure shows that a substantial structural rearrangement results from the amino acid substitution, involving residues 45–51 and 68–75 in particular, and gives rise to a concomitant separation of these two loops of up to 6.5 Å. A marked decrease in the magnitudes of the generalised order parameter (S2) values of the amide nitrogen atom, for residues 70–74, shows that the T70N substitution increases the flexibility of the peptide backbone around the site of mutation. Hydrogen/deuterium exchange protection factors measured by NMR spectroscopy were calculated for the T70N variant and the wild-type protein. The protection factors for many of backbone amide groups in the β-domain of the T70N variant are decreased relative to those in the wild-type protein, whereas those in the α-domain display wild-type-like values. In pulse-labelled hydrogen/deuterium exchange experiments monitored by mass spectrometry, transient but locally cooperative unfolding of the β-domain of the T70N variant and the wild-type protein was observed, but at higher temperatures than for the amyloidogenic variants I56T and D67H. These findings reveal that such partial unfolding is an intrinsic property of the human lysozyme structure, and suggest that the readiness with which it occurs is a critical feature determining whether or not amyloid deposition occurs in vivo. [less ▲]

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