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Cromar G.L.,University of Toronto | Xiong X.,Program in Molecular Structure and Function | Chautard E.,Ontario Cancer Institute | Ricard-Blum S.,University of Lyon | Parkinson J.,University of Toronto
Proteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics | Year: 2012

Advances in high throughput 'omic technologies are starting to provide unprecedented insights into how components of biological systems are organized and interact. Key to exploiting these datasets is the definition of the components that comprise the system of interest. Although a variety of knowledge bases exist that capture such information, a major challenge is determining how these resources may be best utilized. Here we present a systematic curation strategy to define a systems-level view of the human extracellular matrix (ECM)-a three-dimensional meshwork of proteins and polysaccharides that impart structure and mechanical stability to tissues. Employing our curation strategy we define a set of 357 proteins that represent core components of the ECM, together with an additional 524 genes that mediate related functional roles, and construct a map of their physical interactions. Topological properties help identify modules of functionally related proteins, including those involved in cell adhesion, bone formation and blood clotting. Because of its major role in cell adhesion, proliferation and morphogenesis, defects in the ECM have been implicated in cancer, atherosclerosis, asthma, fibrosis, and arthritis. We use MeSH annotations to identify modules enriched for specific disease terms that aid to strengthen existing as well as predict novel gene-disease associations. Mapping expression and conservation data onto the network reveal modules evolved in parallel to convey tissue-specific functionality on otherwise broadly expressed units. In addition to demonstrating an effective workflow for defining biological systems, this study crystallizes our current knowledge surrounding the organization of the ECM. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Crawford J.,University of Victoria | Lamb E.,U.S. National Institutes of Health | Wasmuth J.,Program in Molecular Structure and Function | Grujic O.,University of Victoria | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Biological Chemistry | Year: 2010

Toxoplasma gondii, the etiological agent of toxoplasmosis, utilizes stage-specific expression of antigenically distinct glycosylphosphatidylinositol-tethered surface coat proteins to promote and establish chronic infection. Of the three infective stages of T. gondii, sporozoites are encapsulated in highly infectious oocysts that have been linked to large scale outbreaks of toxoplasmosis. SporoSAG (surface antigen glycoprotein) is the dominant surface coat protein expressed on the surface of sporozoites. Using a bioinformatic approach, we show that SporoSAG clusters with the SAG2 subfamily of the SAG1-related superfamily (SRS) and is non-polymorphic among the 11 haplogroups of T. gondii strains. In contrast to the immunodominant SAG1 protein expressed on tachyzoites, SporoSAG is non-immunogenic during natural infection. We report the 1.60 Å resolution crystal structure of SporoSAG solved using cadmium single anomalous dispersion. SporoSAG crystallized as a monomer and displays unique features of the SRS β-sandwich fold relative to SAG1 and BSR4. Intriguingly, the structural diversity is localized to the upper sheets of the β-sandwich fold and may have important implications for multimerization and host cell ligand recognition. The structure of SporoSAG also reveals an unexpectedly acidic surface that contrasts with the previously determined SAG1 and BSR4 structures where a basic surface is predicted to play a role in binding negatively charged glycosaminoglycans. Our structural and functional characterization of SporoSAG provides a rationale for the evolutionary divergence of this key SRS family member.

Gront D.,University of Warsaw | Kulp D.W.,Los Alamos National Laboratory | Vernon R.M.,Program in Molecular Structure and Function | Strauss C.E.M.,Los Alamos National Laboratory | Baker D.,Howard Hughes Medical Institute
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

The Rosetta de novo structure prediction and loop modeling protocols begin with coarse grained Monte Carlo searches in which the moves are based on short fragments extracted from a database of known structures. Here we describe a new object oriented program for picking fragments that greatly extends the functionality of the previous program (nnmake) and opens the door for new approaches to structure modeling. We provide a detailed description of the code design and architecture, highlighting its modularity, and new features such as extensibility, total control over the fragment picking workflow and scoring system customization. We demonstrate that the program provides at least as good building blocks for ab-initio structure prediction as the previous program, and provide examples of the wide range of applications that are now accessible. © 2011 Gront et al.

Song H.,Program in Molecular Structure and Function | Parkinson J.,Program in Molecular Structure and Function | Parkinson J.,University of Toronto
PLoS Computational Biology | Year: 2012

Elastomeric proteins have evolved independently multiple times through evolution. Produced as monomers, they self-assemble into polymeric structures that impart properties of stretch and recoil. They are composed of an alternating domain architecture of elastomeric domains interspersed with cross-linking elements. While the former provide the elasticity as well as help drive the assembly process, the latter serve to stabilise the polymer. Changes in the number and arrangement of the elastomeric and cross-linking regions have been shown to significantly impact their assembly and mechanical properties. However, to date, such studies are relatively limited. Here we present a theoretical study that examines the impact of domain architecture on polymer assembly and integrity. At the core of this study is a novel simulation environment that uses a model of diffusion limited aggregation to simulate the self-assembly of rod-like particles with alternating domain architectures. Applying the model to different domain architectures, we generate a variety of aggregates which are subsequently analysed by graph-theoretic metrics to predict their structural integrity. Our results show that the relative length and number of elastomeric and cross-linking domains can significantly impact the morphology and structural integrity of the resultant polymeric structure. For example, the most highly connected polymers were those constructed from asymmetric rods consisting of relatively large cross-linking elements interspersed with smaller elastomeric domains. In addition to providing insights into the evolution of elastomeric proteins, simulations such as those presented here may prove valuable for the tuneable design of new molecules that may be exploited as useful biomaterials. © 2012 Song, Parkinson.

Wong A.P.,Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology | Bear C.E.,Program in Molecular Structure and Function | Chin S.,Program in Molecular Structure and Function | Pasceri P.,Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology | And 7 more authors.
Nature Biotechnology | Year: 2012

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a fatal genetic disease caused by mutations in the CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) gene, which regulates chloride and water transport across all epithelia and affects multiple organs, including the lungs. Here we report an in vitro directed differentiation protocol for generating functional CFTR-expressing airway epithelia from human embryonic stem cells. Carefully timed treatment by exogenous growth factors that mimic endoderm developmental pathways in vivo followed by air-liquid interface culture results in maturation of patches of tight junctionĝ€" coupled differentiated airway epithelial cells that demonstrate active CFTR transport function. As a proof of concept, treatment of CF patient induced pluripotent stem cellĝ€"derived epithelial cells with a small-molecule compound to correct for the common CF processing mutation resulted in enhanced plasma membrane localization of mature CFTR protein. Our study provides a method for generating patient-specific airway epithelial cells for disease modeling and in vitro drug testing. © 2012 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

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