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Cambridge, United Kingdom

Joerger A.C.,Center for Protein Engineering
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology | Year: 2010

Even 30 years after its discovery, the tumor suppressor protein p53 is still somewhat of an enigma. p53's intimate and multifaceted role in the cell cycle is mirrored in its equally complex structural biology that is being unraveled only slowly. Here, we discuss key structural aspects of p53 function and its inactivation by oncogenic mutations. Concerted action of folded and intrinsically disordered domains of the highly dynamic p53 protein provides binding promiscuity and specificity, allowing p53 to process a myriad of cellular signals to maintain the integrity of the human genome. Importantly, progress in elucidating the structural biology of p53 and its partner proteins has opened various avenues for structure-guided rescue of p53 function in tumors. These emerging anticancer strategies include targeting mutant-specific lesions on the surface of destabilized cancer mutants with small molecules and selective inhibition of p53's degradative pathways.


Rossmann M.,University of Cambridge | Sukumaran M.,University of Cambridge | Penn A.C.,University of Cambridge | Penn A.C.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 3 more authors.
EMBO Journal | Year: 2011

The assembly of AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) into distinct ion channel tetramers ultimately governs the nature of information transfer at excitatory synapses. How cells regulate the formation of diverse homo- and heteromeric AMPARs is unknown. Using a sensitive biophysical approach, we show that the extracellular, membrane-distal AMPAR N-terminal domains (NTDs) orchestrate selective routes of heteromeric assembly via a surprisingly wide spectrum of subunit-specific association affinities. Heteromerization is dominant, occurs at the level of the dimer, and results in a preferential incorporation of the functionally critical GluA2 subunit. Using a combination of structure-guided mutagenesis and electrophysiology, we further map evolutionarily variable hotspots in the NTD dimer interface, which modulate heteromerization capacity. This flexibility of the NTD not only explains why heteromers predominate but also how GluA2-lacking, Ca2+-permeable homomers could form, which are induced under specific physiological and pathological conditions. Our findings reveal that distinct NTD properties set the stage for the biogenesis of functionally diverse pools of homo- and heteromeric AMPAR tetramers. © 2011 European Molecular Biology Organization.


Mittal R.,University of Cambridge | Peak-Chew S.Y.,University of Cambridge | Sade R.S.,Center for Protein Engineering | Vallis Y.,University of Cambridge | McMahon H.T.,University of Cambridge
Journal of Biological Chemistry | Year: 2010

Plague, one of the most devastating diseases in human history, is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The bacteria use a syringe-like macromolecular assembly to secrete various toxins directly into the host cells they infect. One such Yersinia outer protein, YopJ, performs the task of dampening innate immune responses in the host by simultaneously inhibiting the MAPK and NFκB signaling pathways. YopJ catalyzes the transfer of acetyl groups to serine, threonine, and lysine residues on target proteins. Acetylation of serine and threonine residues prevents them from being phosphorylated thereby preventing the activation of signaling molecules on which they are located. In this study, we describe the requirement of a host-cell factor for full activation of the acetyltransferase activity of YopJ and identify this activating factor to be inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6). We extend the applicability of our results to show that IP6 also stimulates the acetyltransferase activity of AvrA, the YopJ homologue from Salmonella typhimurium. Furthermore, an IP6-induced conformational change in AvrA suggests that IP 6 acts as an allosteric activator of enzyme activity. Our results suggest that YopJ-family enzymes are quiescent in the bacterium where they are synthesized, because bacteria lack IP6; once injected into mammalian cells by the pathogen these toxins bind host cell IP6, are activated, and deregulate the MAPK and NFκB signaling pathways thereby subverting innate immunity. © 2010 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


Gossage L.,CRUK Cambridge Research Institute | Gossage L.,Center for Protein Engineering | Eisen T.,CRUK Cambridge Research Institute | Eisen T.,Cambridge Biomedical Research Center
Clinical Cancer Research | Year: 2010

Anticancer drugs that target protein kinases include small molecule inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies. Feedback loops and cross talk between signaling pathways impact significantly on the efficacy of cancer therapeutics, and resistance to targeted agents is a major barrier to effective treatments. Increasingly, therapies are being designed to target multiple kinase pathways. This can be achieved using a single agent that inhibits multiple signaling pathways or a combination of highly selective agents. In this review we discuss the principles of specifically targeting multiple kinase pathways with particular reference to angiogenic signaling pathways. ©2010 AACR.


Van Den Ent F.,University of Cambridge | Johnson C.M.,Center for Protein Engineering | Persons L.,Case Western Reserve University | De Boer P.,Case Western Reserve University | Lowe J.,University of Cambridge
EMBO Journal | Year: 2010

Bacterial actin homologue MreB is required for cell shape maintenance in most non-spherical bacteria, where it assembles into helical structures just underneath the cytoplasmic membrane. Proper assembly of the actin cytoskeleton requires RodZ, a conserved, bitopic membrane protein that colocalises to MreB and is essential for cell shape determination. Here, we present the first crystal structure of bacterial actin engaged with a natural partner and provide a clear functional significance of the interaction. We show that the cytoplasmic helix-turn-helix motif of Thermotoga maritima RodZ directly interacts with monomeric as well as filamentous MreB and present the crystal structure of the complex. In vitro and in vivo analyses of mutant T. maritima and Escherichia coli RodZ validate the structure and reveal the importance of the MreB-RodZ interaction in the ability of cells to propagate as rods. Furthermore, the results elucidate how the bacterial actin cytoskeleton might be anchored to the membrane to help constrain peptidoglycan synthesis in the periplasm. © 2010 European Molecular Biology Organization | All Rights Reserved.

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