An increase in phosphorylation of the Tau protein is associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progression through unclear molecular mechanisms. In general, phosphorylation modifies the interaction of intrinsically disordered proteins, such as Tau, with other proteins; however, elucidating the structural basis of this regulation mechanism remains challenging. The bridging integrator-1 gene is an AD genetic determinant whose gene product, BIN1, directly interacts with Tau. The proline-rich motif recognized within a Tau(210–240) peptide by the SH3 domain of BIN1 (BIN1 SH3) is defined as 216PTPP219, and this interaction is modulated by phosphorylation. Phosphorylation of T217 within the Tau(210–240) peptide led to a 6-fold reduction in the affinity, while single phosphorylation at either T212, T231, or S235 had no effect on the interaction. Nonetheless, combined phosphorylation of T231 and S235 led to a 3-fold reduction in the affinity, although these phosphorylations are not within the BIN1 SH3-bound region of the Tau peptide. Using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, these phosphorylations were shown to affect the local secondary structure and dynamics of the Tau(210–240) peptide. Models of the (un)phosphorylated peptides were obtained from molecular dynamics (MD) simulation validated by experimental data and showed compaction of the phosphorylated peptide due to increased salt bridge formation. This dynamic folding might indirectly impact the BIN1 SH3 binding by a decreased accessibility of the binding site. Regulation of the binding might thus not only be due to local electrostatic or steric effects from phosphorylation but also to the modification of the conformational properties of Tau.
⏐ Published: May 11, 2023 ⏐ DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.biochem.2c00717
Deciphering the Structure and Formation of Amyloids in Neurodegenerative Diseases With Chemical Biology Tools
Protein aggregation into highly ordered, regularly repeated cross-β sheet structures called amyloid fibrils is closely associated to human disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, or systemic diseases like type II diabetes. Yet, in some cases, such as the HET-s prion, amyloids have biological functions. High-resolution structures of amyloids fibrils from cryo-electron microscopy have very recently highlighted their ultrastructural organization and polymorphisms. However, the molecular mechanisms and the role of co-factors (posttranslational modifications, non-proteinaceous components and other proteins) acting on the fibril formation are still poorly understood. Whether amyloid fibrils play a toxic or protective role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases remains to be elucidated. Furthermore, such aberrant protein-protein interactions challenge the search of small-molecule drugs or immunotherapy approaches targeting amyloid formation. In this review, we describe how chemical biology tools contribute to new insights on the mode of action of amyloidogenic proteins and peptides, defining their structural signature and aggregation pathways by capturing their molecular details and conformational heterogeneity. Challenging the imagination of scientists, this constantly expanding field provides crucial tools to unravel mechanistic detail of amyloid formation such as semisynthetic proteins and small-molecule sensors of conformational changes and/or aggregation. Protein engineering methods and bioorthogonal chemistry for the introduction of protein chemical modifications are additional fruitful strategies to tackle the challenge of understanding amyloid formation.
Open Access ⏐ Published: May 12, 2022 ⏐ DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fchem.2022.886382
Inhibition of Tau seeding by targeting Tau nucleation core within neurons with a single domain antibody fragment
Tau proteins aggregate into filaments in brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders referred to as tauopathies. Here, we used fragments of camelid heavy-chain-only antibodies (VHHs or single domain antibody fragments) targeting Tau as immuno-modulators of its pathologic seeding. A VHH issued from the screen against Tau of a synthetic phage-display library of humanized VHHs was selected for its capacity to bind Tau microtubule-binding domain, composing the core of Tau fibrils. This parent VHH was optimized to improve its biochemical properties and to act in the intra-cellular compartment, resulting in VHH Z70. VHH Z70 precisely binds the PHF6 sequence, known for its nucleation capacity, as shown by the crystal structure of the complex. VHH Z70 was more efficient than the parent VHH to inhibit in vitro Tau aggregation in heparin-induced assays. Expression of VHH Z70 in a cellular model of Tau seeding also decreased the aggregation-reporting fluorescence signal. Finally, intra-cellular expression of VHH Z70 in the brain of an established tauopathy mouse seeding model demonstrated its capacity to mitigate accumulation of pathological Tau. VHH Z70, by targeting Tau inside brain neurons, where most of the pathological Tau resides, provides an immunological tool to target the intra-cellular compartment in tauopathies.
Open Access ⏐ Published: January 06, 2022 ⏐ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ymthe.2022.01.009
Institut Pasteur de Lille research highlight: The S100B protein protects the brain from toxic protein Tau aggregates
Dynamic interactions and Ca2+-binding modulate the holdase-type chaperone activity of S100B preventing tau aggregation and seeding
The microtubule-associated protein tau is implicated in the formation of oligomers and fibrillar aggregates that evade proteostasis control and spread from cell-to-cell. Tau pathology is accompanied by sustained neuroinflammation and, while the release of alarmin mediators aggravates disease at late stages, early inflammatory responses encompass protective functions. This is the case of the Ca2+-binding S100B protein, an astrocytic alarmin which is augmented in AD and which has been recently implicated as a proteostasis regulator, acting over amyloid β aggregation. Here we report the activity of S100B as a suppressor of tau aggregation and seeding, operating at sub-stoichiometric conditions. We show that S100B interacts with tau in living cells even in microtubule-destabilizing conditions. Structural analysis revealed that tau undergoes dynamic interactions with S100B, in a Ca2+-dependent manner, notably with the aggregation prone repeat segments at the microtubule binding regions. This interaction involves contacts of tau with a cleft formed at the interface of the S100B dimer. Kinetic and mechanistic analysis revealed that S100B inhibits the aggregation of both full-length tau and of the microtubule binding domain, and that this proceeds through effects over primary and secondary nucleation, as confirmed by seeding assays and direct observation of S100B binding to tau oligomers and fibrils. In agreement with a role as an extracellular chaperone and its accumulation near tau positive inclusions, we show that S100B blocks proteopathic tau seeding. Together, our findings establish tau as a client of the S100B chaperone, providing evidence for neuro-protective functions of this inflammatory mediator across different tauopathies.
NMR Spectroscopy of the Main Protease of SARS-CoV-2 and Fragment-Based Screening Identify Three Protein Hotspots and an Antiviral Fragment
The main protease (3CLp) of the SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent for the COVID-19 pandemic, is one of the main targets for drug development. To be active, 3CLp relies on a complex interplay between dimerization, active site flexibility, and allosteric regulation. The deciphering of these mechanisms is a crucial step to enable the search for inhibitors. In this context, using NMR spectroscopy, we studied the conformation of dimeric 3CLp from the SARS-CoV-2 and monitored ligand binding, based on NMR signal assignments. We performed a fragment-based screening that led to the identification of 38 fragment hits. Their binding sites showed three hotspots on 3CLp, two in the substrate binding pocket and one at the dimer interface. F01 is a non-covalent inhibitor of the 3CLp and has antiviral activity in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells. This study sheds light on the complex structure-function relationships of 3CLp and constitutes a strong basis to assist in developing potent 3CLp inhibitors.
⏐ Published: September 27, 2021 ⏐ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.202109965
Phosphorylation and O-GlcNAcylation of the PHF-1 Epitope of Tau Protein Induce Local Conformational Changes of the C-Terminus and Modulate Tau Self-Assembly Into Fibrillar Aggregates
Phosphorylation of the neuronal microtubule-associated Tau protein plays a critical role in the aggregation process leading to the formation of insoluble intraneuronal fibrils within Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brains. In recent years, other posttranslational modifications (PTMs) have been highlighted in the regulation of Tau (dys)functions. Among these PTMs, the O–β-linked N-acetylglucosaminylation (O-GlcNAcylation) modulates Tau phosphorylation and aggregation. We here focus on the role of the PHF-1 phospho-epitope of Tau C-terminal domain that is hyperphosphorylated in AD (at pS396/pS404) and encompasses S400 as the major O-GlcNAc site of Tau while two additional O-GlcNAc sites were found in the extreme C-terminus at S412 and S413. Using high resolution NMR spectroscopy, we showed that the O-GlcNAc glycosylation reduces phosphorylation of PHF-1 epitope by GSK3β alone or after priming by CDK2/cyclin A. Furthermore, investigations of the impact of PTMs on local conformation performed in small peptides highlight the role of S404 phosphorylation in inducing helical propensity in the region downstream pS404 that is exacerbated by other phosphorylations of PHF-1 epitope at S396 and S400, or O-GlcNAcylation of S400. Finally, the role of phosphorylation and O-GlcNAcylation of PHF-1 epitope was probed in in-vitro fibrillization assays in which O-GlcNAcylation slows down the rate of fibrillar assembly while GSK3β phosphorylation stimulates aggregation counteracting the effect of glycosylation.
Open Access ⏐ Published: June 21, 2021 ⏐ DOI: 10.3389/fnmol.2021.661368
Take your PIC
Cryo-electron microscopy has enabled unprecedented progress in the quest to reveal the structure of the whole transcription preinitiation complex. Four recent studies pave the way for a complete description of how transcription is initiated at near-atomic level.
⏐ Published: June 5, 2021 ⏐ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tibs.2021.05.008
Probing Long-Range Anisotropic Interactions: a General and Sign-Sensitive Strategy to Measure 1H- 1H Residual Dipolar Couplings as a Key Advance for Organic Structure Determination
Residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) are amongst the most powerful NMR parameters for organic structure elucidation. In order to maximize their effectiveness in increasingly complex cases such as flexible compounds, a maximum of RDCs between nuclei sampling a large distribution of orientations is needed, including sign information. For this, the easily accessible one-bond 1H–13C RDCs alone often fall short. Long-range 1H–1H RDCs are both abundant and typically sample highly complementary orientations, but accessing them in a sign-sensitive way has been severely obstructed due to the overflow of 1H–1H couplings. Here, we present a generally applicable strategy that allows the measurement of a large number of 1H–1H RDCs, including their signs, which is based on a combination of an improved PSYCHEDELIC method and a new selective constant-time β-COSY experiment. The potential of 1H–1H RDCs to better determine molecular alignment and to discriminate between enantiomers and diastereomers is demonstrated.
⏐ Published: February 11, 2020 ⏐ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.201915278