Apoptosis is an essential process in the development and homeostasis of all metazoans. The inhibitor-of-apoptosis (IAP) proteins suppress cell death by inhibiting the activity of caspases; this inhibition is performed by the zinc-binding BIR domains of the IAP proteins. The mitochondrial protein Smac/DIABLO promotes apoptosis by eliminating the inhibitory effect of IAPs through physical interactions. Amino-terminal sequences in Smac/DIABLO are required for this function, as mutation of the very first amino acid leads to loss of interaction with IAPs and concomitant loss of Smac/DIABLO function. Here we report the high-resolution crystal structure of Smac/DIABLO complexed with the third BIR domain (BIR3) of XIAP. Our results show that the N-terminal four residues (Ala-Val-Pro-Ile) in Smac/DIABLO recognize a surface groove on BIR3, with the first residue Ala binding a hydrophobic pocket and making five hydrogen bonds to neighbouring residues on BIR3. These observations provide a structural explanation for the roles of the Smac N terminus as well as the conserved N-terminal sequences in the Drosophila proteins Hid/Grim/Reaper. In conjunction with other observations, our results reveal how Smac may relieve IAP inhibition of caspase-9 activity. In addition to explaining a number of biological observations, our structural analysis identifies potential targets for drug screening.
The design of active, selective, and stable CO reduction electrocatalysts is still challenging. A series of atomically dispersed Co catalysts with different nitrogen coordination numbers were prepared and their CO electroreduction catalytic performance was explored. The best catalyst, atomically dispersed Co with two-coordinate nitrogen atoms, achieves both high selectivity and superior activity with 94 % CO formation Faradaic efficiency and a current density of 18.1 mA cm at an overpotential of 520 mV. The CO formation turnover frequency reaches a record value of 18 200 h , surpassing most reported metal-based catalysts under comparable conditions. Our experimental and theoretical results demonstrate that lower a coordination number facilitates activation of CO to the CO intermediate and hence enhances CO electroreduction activity.
Caspase-9-mediated apoptosis (programmed cell death) plays a central role in the development and homeostasis of all multicellular organisms. Mature caspase-9 is derived from its procaspase precursor as a result of recruitment by the activating factor Apaf-1. The crystal structures of the caspase-recruitment domain of Apaf-1 by itself and in complex with the prodomain of procaspase-9 have been determined at 1.6 and 2.5 A resolution, respectively. These structures and other evidence reveal that each molecule of Apaf-1 interacts with a molecule of procaspase-9 through two highly charged and complementary surfaces formed by non-conserved residues; these surfaces determine recognition specificity through networks of intermolecular hydrogen bonds and van der Waals interactions. Mutation of the important interface residues in procaspase-9 or Apaf-1 prevents or reduces activation of procaspase-9 in a cell-free system. Wild-type, but not mutant, prodomains of caspase-9 completely inhibit catalytic processing of procaspase-9. Furthermore, analysis of homologues from Caenorhabditis elegans indicates that recruitment of CED-3 by CED-4 is probably mediated by the same set of conserved structural motifs, with a corresponding change in the specificity-determining residues.
The SCF ubiquitin ligases catalyze protein ubiquitination in diverse cellular processes. SCFs bind substrates through the interchangeable F box protein subunit, with the >70 human F box proteins allowing the recognition of a wide range of substrates. The F box protein beta-TrCP1 recognizes the doubly phosphorylated DpSGphiXpS destruction motif, present in beta-catenin and IkappaB, and directs the SCF(beta-TrCP1) to ubiquitinate these proteins at specific lysines. The 3.0 A structure of a beta-TrCP1-Skp1-beta-catenin complex reveals the basis of substrate recognition by the beta-TrCP1 WD40 domain. The structure, together with the previous SCF(Skp2) structure, leads to the model of SCF catalyzing ubiquitination by increasing the effective concentration of the substrate lysine at the E2 active site. The model's prediction that the lysine-destruction motif spacing is a determinant of ubiquitination efficiency is confirmed by measuring ubiquitination rates of mutant beta-catenin peptides, solidifying the model and also providing a mechanistic basis for lysine selection.
The Rehai and Ruidian geothermal fields, located in Tengchong County, Yunnan Province, China, host a variety of geochemically distinct hot springs. In this study, we report a comprehensive, cultivation-independent census of microbial communities in 37 samples collected from these geothermal fields, encompassing sites ranging in temperature from 55.1 to 93.6°C, in pH from 2.5 to 9.4, and in mineralogy from silicates in Rehai to carbonates in Ruidian. Richness was low in all samples, with 21–123 species-level OTUs detected. The bacterial phylum Aquificae or archaeal phylum Crenarchaeota were dominant in Rehai samples, yet the dominant taxa within those phyla depended on temperature, pH, and geochemistry. Rehai springs with low pH (2.5–2.6), high temperature (85.1–89.1°C), and high sulfur contents favored the crenarchaeal order Sulfolobales, whereas those with low pH (2.6–4.8) and cooler temperature (55.1–64.5°C) favored the Aquificae genus Hydrogenobaculum. Rehai springs with neutral-alkaline pH (7.2–9.4) and high temperature (>80°C) with high concentrations of silica and salt ions (Na, K, and Cl) favored the Aquificae genus Hydrogenobacter and crenarchaeal orders Desulfurococcales and Thermoproteales. Desulfurococcales and Thermoproteales became predominant in springs with pH much higher than the optimum and even the maximum pH known for these orders. Ruidian water samples harbored a single Aquificae genus Hydrogenobacter, whereas microbial communities in Ruidian sediment samples were more diverse at the phylum level and distinctly different from those in Rehai and Ruidian water samples, with a higher abundance of uncultivated lineages, close relatives of the ammonia-oxidizing archaeon “Candidatus Nitrosocaldus yellowstonii”, and candidate division O1aA90 and OP1. These differences between Ruidian sediments and Rehai samples were likely caused by temperature, pH, and sediment mineralogy. The results of this study significantly expand the current understanding of the microbiology in Tengchong hot springs and provide a basis for comparison with other geothermal systems around the world.
The Smad proteins mediate transforming growth factor-beta (TGFbeta) signaling from the transmembrane serine-threonine receptor kinases to the nucleus. The Smad anchor for receptor activation (SARA) recruits Smad2 to the TGFbeta receptors for phosphorylation. The crystal structure of a Smad2 MH2 domain in complex with the Smad-binding domain (SBD) of SARA has been determined at 2.2 angstrom resolution. SARA SBD, in an extended conformation comprising a rigid coil, an alpha helix, and a beta strand, interacts with the beta sheet and the three-helix bundle of Smad2. Recognition between the SARA rigid coil and the Smad2 beta sheet is essential for specificity, whereas interactions between the SARA beta strand and the Smad2 three-helix bundle contribute significantly to binding affinity. Comparison of the structures between Smad2 and a comediator Smad suggests a model for how receptor-regulated Smads are recognized by the type I receptors.
The ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis of the Cdk2 inhibitor p27(Kip1) plays a central role in cell cycle progression, and enhanced degradation of p27(Kip1) is associated with many common cancers. Proteolysis of p27(Kip1) is triggered by Thr187 phosphorylation, which leads to the binding of the SCF(Skp2) (Skp1-Cul1-Rbx1-Skp2) ubiquitin ligase complex. Unlike other known SCF substrates, p27(Kip1) ubiquitination also requires the accessory protein Cks1. The crystal structure of the Skp1-Skp2-Cks1 complex bound to a p27(Kip1) phosphopeptide shows that Cks1 binds to the leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain and C-terminal tail of Skp2, whereas p27(Kip1) binds to both Cks1 and Skp2. The phosphorylated Thr187 side chain of p27(Kip1) is recognized by a Cks1 phosphate binding site, whereas the side chain of an invariant Glu185 inserts into the interface between Skp2 and Cks1, interacting with both. The structure and biochemical data support the proposed model that Cdk2-cyclin A contributes to the recruitment of p27(Kip1) to the SCF(Skp2)-Cks1 complex.
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