PP2C phosphatases control biological processes including stress responses, development, and cell division in all kingdoms of life. Diverse regulatory domains adapt PP2C phosphatases to specific functions, but how these domains control phosphatase activity was unknown. We present structures representing active and inactive states of the PP2C phosphatase SpoIIE from Bacillus subtilis. Based on structural analyses and genetic and biochemical experiments, we identify an α-helical switch that shifts a carbonyl oxygen into the active site to coordinate a metal cofactor. Our analysis indicates that this switch is widely conserved among PP2C family members, serving as a platform to control phosphatase activity in response to diverse inputs. Remarkably, the switch is shared with proteasomal proteases, which we identify as evolutionary and structural relatives of PP2C phosphatases. Although these proteases use an unrelated catalytic mechanism, rotation of equivalent helices controls protease activity by movement of the equivalent carbonyl oxygen into the active site.
- Richard Losick
- Anthony J Wilkinson
- Niels Bradshaw
- Christina M Zimanyi
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Michael T Laub, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
© 2017, Bradshaw et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Mutations in the Trypanosoma brucei aquaporin AQP2 are associated with resistance to pentamidine and melarsoprol. We show that TbAQP2 but not TbAQP3 was positively selected for increased pore size from a common ancestor aquaporin. We demonstrate that TbAQP2's unique architecture permits pentamidine permeation through its central pore and show how specific mutations in highly conserved motifs affect drug permeation. Introduction of key TbAQP2 amino acids into TbAQP3 renders the latter permeable to pentamidine. Molecular dynamics demonstrates that permeation by dicationic pentamidine is energetically favourable in TbAQP2, driven by the membrane potential, although aquaporins are normally strictly impermeable for ionic species. We also identify the structural determinants that make pentamidine a permeant although most other diamidine drugs are excluded. Our results have wide-ranging implications for optimising antitrypanosomal drugs and averting cross-resistance. Moreover, these new insights in aquaporin permeation may allow the pharmacological exploitation of other members of this ubiquitous gene family.
Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake is mediated by an inner mitochondrial membrane protein called the mitochondrial calcium uniporter. In humans, the uniporter functions as a holocomplex consisting of MCU, EMRE, MICU1 and MICU2, among which MCU and EMRE form a subcomplex and function as the conductive channel while MICU1 and MICU2 are EF-hand proteins that regulate the channel activity in a Ca2+ dependent manner. Here we present the EM structures of the human mitochondrial calcium uniporter holocomplex (uniplex) in the presence and absence of Ca2+, revealing distinct Ca2+ dependent assembly of the uniplex. Our structural observations suggest that Ca2+ changes the dimerization interaction between MICU1 and MICU2, which in turn determines how the MICU1-MICU2 subcomplex interacts with the MCU-EMRE channel and, consequently, changes the distribution of the uniplex assemblies between the blocked and unblocked states.