Studies on Redesign and Solution Structure Determination of Nonribosomal Peptide Synthetases and Redox Regulation of Phosphatases

Thumbnail Image




Donald, Bruce R

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



We present a computational structure-based redesign of the phenylalanine adenylation domain of the non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) enzyme gramicidin S synthetase A (GrsA-PheA) for a set of non-cognate substrates for which the wild-type enzyme has little or virtually no specificity. Experimental validation of a set of top-ranked computationally-predicted enzyme mutants shows significant improvement in the specificity for the target substrates. We further present enhancements to the methodology for computational enzyme redesign that are experimentally shown to result in significant additional improvements in the target substrate specificity. The mutant with the highest activity for a non-cognate substrate exhibits 1/6 of the wild-type enzyme/wild-type substrate activity, further confirming the feasibility of our computational approach. Our results suggest that structure-based protein design can identify active mutants different from those selected by evolution.

Knowledge about the structures of individual domains and domain interactions can further our redesign of the NRPS enzymes for new bioactive nature product. So far, little structure information has been available for the auxiliary domains such as the epimerization domains and how they interact with the NRPS modules. Solution structure studies by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) provide advantages for understanding the dynamics of the domains and reveal active conformations that sometimes are not represented by the crystal structures. However, the large size of the NRPS proteins present challenges for structure studies in solution. In chapter 3, we study the solution structure of the 56 kDa epimerization domain of GrsA (GrsA-PheE) by NMR. We use multidimensional backbone resonance experiments as well as specific labeling strategy to assign the backbone resonances of GrsA-PheE. Secondary structures are determined by sets of residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) measured in multiple alignment media. To determine the global fold of the protein, we obtain long-range distance restraints by measuring the paramagnetic relaxation enhancements (PREs) from 15 site-directed spin labeling samples.

In chapter 4, we investigate the redox regulation of phosphatases. The activity levels of protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) in cells are highly regulated in various ways including by phosphorylation, localization and protein-protein interaction. Additionally, redox-dependent modification has emerged as a critical part in attenuating PTPs activity in response to cellular stimuli. The tandem Src homology 2 domain-containing PTPs (SHPs) belong to the family of nonreceptor PTPs. The activity level of SHPs is highly regulated by interaction of SH2 domain, phosphorylation level of C-terminal tail and by reversible oxidation. In vivo evidence has shown the reversible oxidation of catalytic cysteine inhibits SHPs activity transiently as a result, affecting the phosphorylation level of its target proteins. In this chapter, we investigate in vitro the reversible oxidation of full-length and catalytic domain of SHP-1 and SHP-2 by using kinetic measurements and mass spectrometry. We have confirmed the susceptibility of the active site cysteines of SHPs to oxidative inactivation, with rate constants for oxidation similar to other PTPs (2-10 M-1s-1). Both SHP-1 and SHP-2 can be reduced and reactivated with the reductants DTT and gluthathione, whereas only the catalytic domain of SHP-2 is subject to reactivation by thioredoxin. Unlike PTPs whose oxidation contains a catalytic cysteine disulfide bonding to a backdoor cysteine or forms a sulfenylamide bonding to nearby backbone nitrogen, we have found that in the reversibly oxidized SHPs, the catalytic cysteines is re-reduced while two conserved backdoor cysteines form a disulfide linkage. Knocking out either of the backdoor cysteine preserves the reversibility of the oxidized SHPs with a disulfide formation between the catalytic cysteine and the remaining backdoor cysteine. However, removal of both backdoor cysteines leads to irreversible oxidative inactivation, demonstrating that these two cysteines are necessary and sufficient for ensuring reversible oxidation of the SHPs. Our results extend the mechanisms by which redox regulation of PTPs is used to modulate intracellular signaling pathways.






Chen, Cheng-Yu (2013). Studies on Redesign and Solution Structure Determination of Nonribosomal Peptide Synthetases and Redox Regulation of Phosphatases. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.