Publications

2009
Ren, Y., et al. A structure-based mechanism for vesicle capture by the multisubunit tethering complex Dsl1. Cell 139, 6, 1119-29 (2009).Abstract
Vesicle trafficking requires membrane fusion, mediated by SNARE proteins, and upstream events that probably include "tethering," an initial long-range attachment between a vesicle and its target organelle. Among the factors proposed to mediate tethering are a set of multisubunit tethering complexes (MTCs). The Dsl1 complex, with only three subunits, is the simplest known MTC and is essential for the retrograde traffic of COPI-coated vesicles from the Golgi to the ER. To elucidate structural principles underlying MTC function, we have determined the structure of the Dsl1 complex, revealing a tower containing at its base the binding sites for two ER SNAREs and at its tip a flexible lasso for capturing vesicles. The Dsl1 complex binds to individual SNAREs via their N-terminal regulatory domains and also to assembled SNARE complexes; moreover, it is capable of accelerating SNARE complex assembly. Our results suggest that even the simplest MTC may be capable of orchestrating vesicle capture, uncoating, and fusion.
Kelly, R.C., et al. The Vibrio cholerae quorum-sensing autoinducer CAI-1: analysis of the biosynthetic enzyme CqsA. Nat Chem Biol 5, 12, 891-5 (2009).Abstract
Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes the disease cholera, controls virulence factor production and biofilm development in response to two extracellular quorum-sensing molecules, called autoinducers. The strongest autoinducer, called CAI-1 (for cholera autoinducer-1), was previously identified as (S)-3-hydroxytridecan-4-one. Biosynthesis of CAI-1 requires the enzyme CqsA. Here, we determine the CqsA reaction mechanism, identify the CqsA substrates as (S)-2-aminobutyrate and decanoyl coenzyme A, and demonstrate that the product of the reaction is 3-aminotridecan-4-one, dubbed amino-CAI-1. CqsA produces amino-CAI-1 by a pyridoxal phosphate-dependent acyl-CoA transferase reaction. Amino-CAI-1 is converted to CAI-1 in a subsequent step via a CqsA-independent mechanism. Consistent with this, we find cells release > or =100 times more CAI-1 than amino-CAI-1. Nonetheless, V. cholerae responds to amino-CAI-1 as well as CAI-1, whereas other CAI-1 variants do not elicit a quorum-sensing response. Thus, both CAI-1 and amino-CAI-1 have potential as lead molecules in the development of an anticholera treatment.
2008
Hughson, F.M. Both layers of the COPII coat come into view. Cell 134, 3, 384-5 (2008).Abstract
Anterograde transport in the early secretory pathway is mediated by COPII-coated vesicles. Stagg et al. (2008) have now visualized the double-layered COPII coat using electron cryomicroscopy, providing insight into how coats are assembled to accommodate cargo of different sizes.
2007
Neiditch, M.B. & Hughson, F.M. The regulation of histidine sensor kinase complexes by quorum sensing signal molecules. Methods Enzymol 423, 250-63 (2007).Abstract
Two-component sensor kinase signaling systems are widespread in bacteria, but gaining mechanistic insight into how kinase activity is controlled by ligand binding has proved challenging. Here, we discuss this problem in the context of our structural and functional studies of bacterial quorum sensing receptors. Specifically, this chapter focuses on the transmembrane sensor kinase complex LuxPQ, which serves as the receptor for the "universal" quorum sensing signal molecule autoinducer-2 (AI-2). Methods are presented for the overproduction, purification, crystallization, and functional characterization of LuxPQ's ligand-binding (periplasmic) domain.
Cavanaugh, L.F., et al. Structural analysis of conserved oligomeric Golgi complex subunit 2. J Biol Chem 282, 32, 23418-26 (2007).Abstract
The conserved oligomeric Golgi (COG) complex is strongly implicated in retrograde vesicular trafficking within the Golgi apparatus. Although its mechanism of action is poorly understood, it has been proposed to function by mediating the initial physical contact between transport vesicles and their membrane targets. An analogous role in tethering vesicles has been suggested for at least six additional large multisubunit complexes, including the exocyst, a complex essential for trafficking to the plasma membrane. Here we report the solution structure of a large portion of yeast Cog2p, one of eight subunits composing the COG complex. The structure reveals a six-helix bundle with few conserved surface features but a general resemblance to recently determined crystal structures of four different exocyst subunits. This finding provides the first structural evidence that COG, like the exocyst and potentially other tethering complexes, is constructed from helical bundles. These structures may represent platforms for interaction with other trafficking proteins including SNAREs (soluble N-ethylmaleimide factor attachment protein receptors) and Rabs.
2006
Neiditch, M.B., et al. Ligand-induced asymmetry in histidine sensor kinase complex regulates quorum sensing. Cell 126, 6, 1095-108 (2006).Abstract
Bacteria sense their environment using receptors of the histidine sensor kinase family, but how kinase activity is regulated by ligand binding is not well understood. Autoinducer-2 (AI-2), a secreted signaling molecule originally identified in studies of the marine bacterium Vibrio harveyi, regulates quorum-sensing responses and allows communication between different bacterial species. AI-2 signal transduction in V. harveyi requires the integral membrane receptor LuxPQ, comprised of periplasmic binding protein (LuxP) and histidine sensor kinase (LuxQ) subunits. Combined X-ray crystallographic and functional studies show that AI-2 binding causes a major conformational change within LuxP, which in turn stabilizes a quaternary arrangement in which two LuxPQ monomers are asymmetrically associated. We propose that formation of this asymmetric quaternary structure is responsible for repressing the kinase activity of both LuxQ subunits and triggering the transition of V. harveyi into quorum-sensing mode.
Ungar, D., Oka, T., Krieger, M. & Hughson, F.M. Retrograde transport on the COG railway. Trends Cell Biol 16, 2, 113-20 (2006).Abstract
The conserved oligomeric Golgi (COG) complex is essential for establishing and/or maintaining the structure and function of the Golgi apparatus. The Golgi apparatus, in turn, has a central role in protein sorting and glycosylation within the eukaryotic secretory pathway. As a consequence, COG mutations can give rise to human genetic diseases known as congenital disorders of glycosylation. We review recent results from studies of yeast, worm, fly and mammalian COG that provide evidence that COG might function in retrograde vesicular trafficking within the Golgi apparatus. This hypothesis explains the impact of COG mutations by postulating that they impair the retrograde flow of resident Golgi proteins needed to maintain normal Golgi structure and function.
2005
Neiditch, M.B., Federle, M.J., Miller, S.T., Bassler, B.L. & Hughson, F.M. Regulation of LuxPQ receptor activity by the quorum-sensing signal autoinducer-2. Mol Cell 18, 5, 507-18 (2005).Abstract
The extracellular signaling molecule autoinducer-2 (AI-2) mediates quorum-sensing communication in diverse bacterial species. In marine vibrios, binding of AI-2 to the periplasmic receptor LuxP modulates the activity of the inner membrane sensor kinase LuxQ, transducing the AI-2 information into the cytoplasm. Here, we show that Vibrio harveyi LuxP associates with LuxQ in both the presence and absence of AI-2. The 1.9 A X-ray crystal structure of apoLuxP, complexed with the periplasmic domain of LuxQ, reveals that the latter contains two tandem Per/ARNT/Simple-minded (PAS) folds. Thus, although many prokaryotic PAS folds themselves bind ligands, the LuxQ periplasmic PAS folds instead bind LuxP, monitoring its AI-2 occupancy. Mutations that disrupt the apoLuxP:LuxQ interface sensitize V. harveyi to AI-2, implying that AI-2 binding causes the replacement of one set of LuxP:LuxQ contacts with another. These conformational changes switch LuxQ between two opposing enzymatic activities, each of which conveys information to the cytoplasm about the cell density of the surrounding environment.
Ungar, D., Oka, T., Vasile, E., Krieger, M. & Hughson, F.M. Subunit architecture of the conserved oligomeric Golgi complex. J Biol Chem 280, 38, 32729-35 (2005).Abstract
The conserved oligomeric Golgi (COG) complex is thought to function in intra-Golgi retrograde trafficking mediated by coat protein I vesicles, a pathway essential for the proper structure and function of the Golgi apparatus. Previous work suggested that COG might act as a tethering factor to mediate the initial attachment between coat protein I vesicles and Golgi membranes. Here, we present extensive in vitro co-translation and immunoprecipitation experiments leading to a new model for the overall architecture of the mammalian COG complex. The eight COG subunits (Cog1-8) are found to form two heterotrimeric subassemblies (Cog2/3/4 and Cog5/6/7) linked by a heterodimer composed of the remaining subunits (Cog1/8). This model is in excellent agreement with in vivo data presented in an accompanying paper (Oka, T., Vasile, E., Penman, M., Novina, C. D., Dykxhoorn, D. M., Ungar, D., Hughson, F. M., and Krieger, M. (2005) J. Biol. Chem. 280, 32736-32745).
2004
Miller, S.T., et al. Salmonella typhimurium recognizes a chemically distinct form of the bacterial quorum-sensing signal AI-2. Mol Cell 15, 5, 677-87 (2004).Abstract
Bacterial populations use cell-cell communication to coordinate community-wide regulation of processes such as biofilm formation, virulence, and bioluminescence. This phenomenon, termed quorum sensing, is mediated by small molecule signals known as autoinducers. While most autoinducers are species specific, autoinducer-2 (AI-2), first identified in the marine bacterium Vibrio harveyi, is produced and detected by many Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. The crystal structure of the V. harveyi AI-2 signaling molecule bound to its receptor protein revealed an unusual furanosyl borate diester. Here, we present the crystal structure of a second AI-2 signal binding protein, LsrB from Salmonella typhimurium. We find that LsrB binds a chemically distinct form of the AI-2 signal, (2R,4S)-2-methyl-2,3,3,4-tetrahydroxytetrahydrofuran (R-THMF), that lacks boron. Our results demonstrate that two different species of bacteria recognize two different forms of the autoinducer signal, both derived from 4,5-dihydroxy-2,3-pentanedione (DPD), and reveal new sophistication in the chemical lexicon used by bacteria in interspecies signaling.
2003
Ungar, D. & Hughson, F.M. SNARE protein structure and function. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol 19, 493-517 (2003).Abstract
The SNARE superfamily has become, since its discovery approximately a decade ago, the most intensively studied element of the protein machinery involved in intracellular trafficking. Intracellular membrane fusion in eukaryotes requires SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive-factor attachment protein receptor) proteins that form complexes bridging the two membranes. Although common themes have emerged from structural and functional studies of SNAREs and other components of the eukaryotic membrane fusion machinery, there is still much to learn about how the assembly and activity of this machinery is choreographed in living cells.
2002
Munson, M. & Hughson, F.M. Conformational regulation of SNARE assembly and disassembly in vivo. J Biol Chem 277, 11, 9375-81 (2002).Abstract
SNAP receptor (SNARE) proteins function in intracellular trafficking by forming complexes that bridge vesicle and target membranes prior to fusion. Biochemical studies indicate that the entry of certain SNARE proteins into complexes is inhibited by intramolecular interactions that generate a closed conformation. For example, an essential N-terminal regulatory domain of the yeast plasma membrane SNARE Sso1p sequesters the C-terminal SNARE motif and prevents it from binding to its assembly partners Sec9p and Sncp. Here, we introduce mutations into Sso1p that cause it to remain constitutively open. These open mutants can functionally substitute for wild-type Sso1p protein in vivo, demonstrating that inhibition of SNARE assembly is not the essential function of the N-terminal regulatory domain. Furthermore, the open mutants suppress sec9--4, a mutation that causes a severe defect in SNARE assembly. Elevated levels of SNARE complexes are observed in cells expressing the open mutants. In the presence of sufficient Sec9p, these complexes accumulate to levels that cause severe growth defects. Similarly, overexpression of the open mutants in yeast carrying mutations in the SNARE disassembly machinery impairs growth. Our findings indicate that elevated levels of SNARE complexes can be toxic and that these levels are normally controlled by the SNARE disassembly machinery, by the limited availability of Sec9p, and by the closed conformation of Sso1p.
Chen, X., et al. Structural identification of a bacterial quorum-sensing signal containing boron. Nature 415, 6871, 545-9 (2002).Abstract
Cell-cell communication in bacteria is accomplished through the exchange of extracellular signalling molecules called autoinducers. This process, termed quorum sensing, allows bacterial populations to coordinate gene expression. Community cooperation probably enhances the effectiveness of processes such as bioluminescence, virulence factor expression, antibiotic production and biofilm development. Unlike other autoinducers, which are specific to a particular species of bacteria, a recently discovered autoinducer (AI-2) is produced by a large number of bacterial species. AI-2 has been proposed to serve as a 'universal' signal for inter-species communication. The chemical identity of AI-2 has, however, proved elusive. Here we present the crystal structure of an AI-2 sensor protein, LuxP, in a complex with autoinducer. The bound ligand is a furanosyl borate diester that bears no resemblance to previously characterized autoinducers. Our findings suggest that addition of naturally occurring borate to an AI-2 precursor generates active AI-2. Furthermore, they indicate a potential biological role for boron, an element required by a number of organisms but for unknown reasons.

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