Biochemistry (Moscow) (v.78, #10)

Structure and functions of syndecans in vertebrates by E. I. Leonova; O. V. Galzitskaya (1071-1085).
Syndecans constitute a family of transmembrane proteoglycans that perform multiple functions during development, damage repair, tumor growth, angiogenesis, and neurogenesis. Through mediating binding of a great number of extracellular ligands to their receptors, these proteoglycans trigger a cascade of reactions regulating, thereby, various processes in a cell: cytoskeleton formation, proliferation, differentiation, adhesion, and migration. In fibroblasts, syndecans are responsible for cell adhesion by modulating functions of integrins through interaction with fibronectin at the external side of a cell and with cytoskeleton and signaling molecules inside the cell. The extracellular domain of syndecans is subjected to periodic shedding from the cell membrane. This process may be stimulated in response to inflammation, tissue damage, and other pathological manifestations. Cleaved domain may act as either competitive inhibitor or activator of signaling cascades. This review summarizes and analyzes the available data regarding structure, main biochemical properties, and functions of syndecans in vertebrates.
Keywords: syndecan; heparan sulfate; chondroitin sulfate; proteoglycan; extracellular matrix

Molecular mechanisms of apoptosis. Structure of cytochrome c-cardiolipin complex by Yu. A. Vladimirov; E. V. Proskurnina; A. V. Alekseev (1086-1097).
One of the functions of cytochrome c in living cells is the initiation of apoptosis by catalyzing lipid peroxidation in the inner mitochondrial membrane, which involves cytochrome c bound with acidic lipids, especially cardiolipin. In this paper the results of studies of cytochrome c-cardiolipin complex structure carried out by different authors mainly on unilamellar cardiolipin-containing phospholipid liposomes are critically analyzed. The principal conclusion from the published papers is that cytochrome c-cardiolipin complex is formed by attachment of a cytochrome c molecule to the membrane surface via electrostatic interactions and the subsequent penetration of one of the fatty-acid cardiolipin chains into the protein globule, this being associated with hydrophobic interactions that break the >Fe…S(Met80) coordinate bond and giving rise to appearance of cytochrome c peroxidase activity. Nevertheless, according to data obtained in our laboratory, cytochrome c and cardiolipin form spherical nanoparticles in which protein is surrounded by a monolayer of cardiolipin molecules. Under the action of cooperative forces, the protein in the globule expands greatly in volume, its conformation is modified, and the protein becomes a peroxidase. In extended membranes, such as giant monolayer liposomes, and very likely in biological membranes, the formation of nanospheres of cytochrome c-cardiolipin complex causes fusion of membrane sections and dramatic chaotization of the whole membrane structure. The subsequent disintegration of the outer mitochondrial membrane is accompanied by cytochrome c release from the mitochondria and triggering of a cascade of programmed cell death reactions.
Keywords: apoptosis; cytochrome; c ; cardiolipin; peroxidase activity

In recent years, bioinformatics analyses of protein networks have allowed researchers to obtain exceptional theoretical predictions and subsequent experimental confirmations. The current view is that protein networks are scale-free networks and have a topology analogous to that of transport networks, the Internet, and social networks. However, an alternative hypothesis exists in which protein networks and scale-free networks possess significantly different properties. In this work, we show that existing information is insufficient to describe protein networks as scale-free networks.
Keywords: bioinformatics; protein-protein interaction networks; scale-free networks; probabilistic and statistical models; yeast interactome; Arabidopsis interactome

Atrazine chlorohydrolase (AtzA, EC has attracted widespread interests as it catalyzes conversion of toxic atrazine to nontoxic hydroxyatrazine and can be used in the biodegradation of atrazine. To facilitate this application, a Haematococcus pluvialis-based method was applied to screen AtzA variants from a random mutagenesis library. Eight variants with enhanced enzyme activity were obtained. They showed 2.7- to 5.0-fold increase in specific activity compared with the wild type. Sequencing revealed that the two most active variants contained single substitution at Val12 and Leu395, respectively, while several improved variants contained substitutions at the four sites of Met315, His399, Asn429, and Val466 simultaneously, indicating that these residues contribute to the enzyme activity of AtzA. Kinetic analysis showed that five variants decreased the K m value 0.6- to 0.9-fold, whereas all the variants increased the catalytic efficiency (k cat/K m value) 2.5- to 4.1-fold compared to the wild type. The modeled three-dimensional structure showed that AtzA is comprised of a typical (β/α)8 domain of the amidohydrolase superfamily and a dual β-sheet domain. An iron ion and five ligand-binding residues are located in the β-barrel core of the (β/α)8 domain. Some substituted residues are involved in hydrogen bond formation in the (β/α)8-neighboring β-sheet.
Keywords: atrazine chlorohydrolase (AtzA); DNA shuffling; error-prone PCR (EP-PCR); homology modeling; kinetic parameter

Improvement of the efficiency of transglycosylation catalyzed by α-galactosidase from Thermotoga maritima by protein engineering by K. S. Bobrov; A. S. Borisova; E. V. Eneyskaya; D. R. Ivanen; K. A. Shabalin; A. A. Kulminskaya; G. N. Rychkov (1112-1123).
At high concentrations of p-nitrophenyl-α-D-galactopyranoside (pNPGal) as a substrate, its hydrolysis catalyzed by α-galactosidase from Thermotoga maritima (TmGalA) is accompanied by transglycosylation resulting in production of a mixture of (α1,2)-, (α1,3)-, and (α1,6)-p-nitrophenyl (pNP)-digalactosides. Molecular modeling of the reaction stage preceding the formation of the pNP-digalactosides within the active site of the enzyme revealed amino acid residues which modification was expected to increase the efficiency of transglycosylation. Upon the site-directed mutagenesis to the predicted substitutions of the amino acid residues, genes encoding the wild type TmGalA and its mutants were expressed in E. coli, and the corresponding enzymes were isolated and tested for the presence of the transglycosylating activity in synthesis of different pNP-digalactosides. Three mutants, F328A, P402D, and G385L, were shown to markedly increase the total transglycosylation as compared to the wild type enzyme. Moreover, the F328A mutant displayed an ability to produce a regio-isomer with the (α1,2)-bond at yield 16-times higher than the wild type TmGalA.
Keywords: α-D-galactosidase; transglycosylation; enzymatic synthesis of pNP-digalactosides

Proteasomes in the brain of β2-microglobulin knockout mice by Yu. V. Lyupina; M. E. Bogatyrev; A. Sh. Orlova; E. V. Marjukhnich; D. B. Kazansky; N. P. Sharova (1124-1133).
MHC class I molecules play an important role in synaptic plasticity of the mammalian nervous system. Proteolytic complexes (proteasomes) produce oligopeptides that are presented on cell surfaces in complexes with MHC class I molecules and regulate many cellular processes beside this. The goal of the present work was to study peculiarities in functioning of proteasomes and associated signaling pathways along with evaluation of NeuN and gFAP expression in different sections of the brain in mice with knockout of β2-microglobulin, a constituent of MHC class I molecules. It was found that the frontal cortex and the brainstem, structures with different ratio of NeuN and gFAP expression, are characterized by opposite changes in the proteasome pool under constant total proteasome levels in B2m-knockout mice in comparison with those in control animals. ChTL-activity as well as expression of LMP7 immune subunit and PA28 regulator of proteasomes was elevated in the cortex of B2m-knockout mice, while these indicators were decreased in the brainstem. The concentrations of the signaling molecules nNOS and HSP70 in B2m-knockout mice were increased in the cortex, while being decreased in the brainstem, and this indicates the possibility of control of expression of the LMP7 subunit and the regulator PA28 by these molecules. Changes in the proteasome pool observed in striatum of B2m-knockout mice are similar to those observed in the brainstem. At the same time, the cerebellum is characterized by a specific pattern of proteasome functioning in comparison with that in all other brain structures. In cerebellum the expression of immune subunits LMP7 and LMP2 and the regulator PA28 was increased, while expression of regulator PA700 was decreased. Deficiency of NeuN and gFAP was revealed in most brain compartments of B2m-knockout mice. Thus, increased expression of the above-mentioned immune subunits and the proteasome regulator PA28 in the cortex and cerebellum may compensate disturbances revealed in the brain structures and the absence of MHC class I molecules. Apparently, this promotes production of peptides necessary for cell-to-cell interactions and maintains nervous system plasticity in B2m-knockout mice.
Keywords: immune proteasomes; proteasome regulators; proteasome activity; major histocompatibility complex class I molecules; synaptic plasticity; brain; β2-microglobulin knockout mice

3-O-methoxyimino group inhibits interactions between progestins and blood transcortin by A. V. Polikarpova; I. S. Levina; A. N. Smirnov (1134-1136).
The interactions between E- and Z-isomers of 3-O-methoxyimino-pregn-4-ene-20-one and its 17α-hydroxy derivative and transcortin from human blood were investigated. The substitution of the progesterone 3-oxo group for a 3-O-methoxyimino group was shown to diminish the affinity of the steroid for transcortin by approximately one order of magnitude irrespective of the substituent’s orientation. The data suggests that progesterone derivatives substituted thereby must have higher bioavailability compared to progesterone and must not significantly affect the biodynamics of glucocorticoid in vivo.
Keywords: selective progesterone analogs; transcortin

Inhibition of Mn2+-induced error-prone DNA synthesis with Cd2+ and Zn2+ by L. V. Gening; A. V. Lakhin; E. V. Stelmashook; N. K. Isaev; V. Z. Tarantul (1137-1145).
Bivalent metal cations are key components in the reaction of DNA synthesis. They are necessary for all DNA polymerases, being involved as cofactors in catalytic mechanisms of nucleotide polymerization. It is also known that in the presence of Mn2+ the accuracy of DNA synthesis is considerably decreased. The findings of this work show that Cd2+ and Zn2+ selectively inhibit the Mn2+-induced error-prone DNA polymerase activity in extracts of cells from human and mouse tissues. Moreover, these cations in low concentrations also can efficiently inhibit the activity of homogeneous preparations of DNA polymerase iota (Pol ı), which is mainly responsible for the Mn2+-induced error-prone DNA polymerase activity in cell extracts. Using a primary culture of granular cells from postnatal rat cerebellum, we show that low concentrations of Cd2+ significantly increase cell survival in the presence of toxic Mn2+ doses. Thus, we have shown that in some cases low concentrations of Cd2+ can display a positive influence on cells, whereas it is widely acknowledged that this metal is not a necessary microelement and is toxic for organisms.
Keywords: DNA polymerase iota; manganese; manganism; cadmium

Disaccharide 1-phosphate polymers of some representatives of the Bacillus subtilis group by N. V. Potekhina; A. S. Shashkov; G. M. Streshinskaya; E. M. Tul’skaya; S. N. Senchenkova; E. B. Kudryashova; A. S. Dmitrenok (1146-1154).
Disaccharide 1-phosphate polymers as well as teichoic acids of various structures have been found in the cell walls of the representatives of the Bacillus subtilis group, namely Bacillus subtilis subsp. spizizenii VKM B-720 and VKM B-916, B. subtilis VKM B-517, and Bacillus vallismortis VKM B-2653T. Disaccharide 1-phosphate polymers are composed of repeating units of the following structure: -P-4)-β-D-GlcpNAc-(1→6)-α-D-Galp-(1-, the N-acetylglucosamine residues are partially acetylated at positions O3 and O6 (VKM B-720 and VKM B-916); -P-4)-β-D-Glcp-(1→6)-α-D-GlcpNAc-(1-, the glucopyranose residues are partially acetylated at positions O2 or O3 (VKM B-517); -P-6)-α-D-GlcpNH 3 + /α-D-GlcpNAc-(1→2)-α-D-Glcp-(1-, the N-acetylglucosamine residues are partially deacetylated (VKM B-2653T). The structures of the two last disaccharide 1-phosphate polymers have not been reported so far for Gram-positive bacteria. The teichoic acids in the studied strains are O-D-alanyl-1,5-poly(ribitol phosphates) substituted with β-D-glucopyranose (VKM B-517, VKM B-720, VKM B-916) or 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-β-D-glucopyranose (VKM B-2653T). The structures of the phosphate-containing polymers have been studied by chemical methods and by NMR spectroscopy.
Keywords: glycosyl 1-phosphate polymers; teichoic acids; Bacillus subtilis ; Bacillus subtilis subsp. spizizenii ; Bacillus vallismortis ; NMR spectroscopy

Mitochondria are targets for the antituberculosis drug rifampicin in cultured epithelial cells by M. V. Erokhina; A. V. Kurynina; G. E. Onishchenko (1155-1163).
Rifampicin is a widely used drug for antituberculosis therapy. Its target is the bacterial RNA polymerase. After entry into the human or mammalian organism, rifampicin is accumulated in cells of epithelial origin (kidneys, liver, lungs) where it induces apoptosis, necrosis, and fibrosis. The purpose of this study was to determine the intracellular mechanisms leading to rifampicin-induced pathological changes and cell death. We analyzed the survival and state of the chondriome of cultured epithelial cells of the SPEV line under the influence of rifampicin. Our data show that the drug induces pronounced pathological changes in the network and ultrastructure of mitochondria, and their dysfunction results in excessive production of reactive oxygen species and release of cytochrome c. These data suggest the initiation of the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. Simultaneously, we observed inhibition of cell proliferation and changes in morphology of the epithelial cells toward fibroblast-like appearance, which could indicate induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Thus, mitochondria are the main potential target for rifampicin in cells of epithelial origin. We suggest that similar mechanisms of pathological changes can be induced in vivo in organs and tissues accumulating rifampicin during chemotherapy of bacterial infectious diseases.
Keywords: rifampicin; fragmentation and pathology of mitochondria; oxidative stress; apoptosis

Leuconostoc mesenteroides NRRL B-1426 dextransucrase synthesized a high molecular mass dextran (>2 × 106 Da) with ∼85.5% α-(1→6) linear and ∼14.5% α-(1→3) branched linkages. This high molecular mass dextran containing branched α-(1→3) linkages can be readily hydrolyzed for the production of enzyme-resistant isomalto-oligosaccharides. The acceptor specificity of dextransucrase for the transglycosylation reaction was studied using sixteen different acceptors. Among the sixteen acceptors used, isomaltose was found to be the best, having 89% efficiency followed by gentiobiose (64%), glucose (30%), cellobiose (25%), lactose (22.5%), melibiose (17%), and trehalose (2.3%) with reference to maltose, a known best acceptor. The β-linked disaccharide, gentiobiose, showed significant efficiency for oligosaccharide production that can be used as a potential prebiotic.
Keywords: dextransucrase; dextran; Leuconostoc mesenteroides NRRL B-1426; acceptor; oligosaccharide

Ozone-induced oxidative modification of fibrinogen molecules by M. A. Rosenfeld; A. N. Shchegolikhin; A. V. Bychkova; V. B. Leonova; M. I. Biryukova; E. A. Kostanova; M. L. Konstantinova (1171-1179).
Ozone-induced oxidation of fibrinogen has been investigated. The conversion of oxidized fibrinogen to fibrin catalyzed either by thrombin or by a reptilase-like enzyme, ancistron, in both cases is accompanied by production of gels characterized by a higher weight/length ratio of fibrils in comparison with the native fibrin gels. IR spectra of the D and E fragments isolated from unoxidized and oxidized fibrinogen suggest a noticeable transformation of functional groups by oxidation. A decrease in content of N-H groups in the peptide backbone and in the number of C-H bonds in aromatic structures, as well as a decrease in the intensity of the C-H valence vibrations in aliphatic fragments CH2 and CH3 were found. The appearance in the differential spectra of the D fragments of rather intense peaks in the interval of 1200–800 cm−1 clearly indicates the interaction of ozone with amino acid residues of methionine, tryptophan, histidine, and phenylalanine. Comparison of the differential spectra for the D and E fragments suggests that fibrinogen fragment D is more sensitive to the oxidant action than fragment E. Using EPR spectroscopy, differences are found in the spectra of spin labels bound with degradation products of oxidized and unoxidized fibrinogen, the D and E fragments, caused by structural and dynamical modifications of the protein molecules in the areas of localization of the spin labels. The relationship between the molecular mechanism of oxidation of fibrinogen and its three-dimensional structure is discussed.
Keywords: fibrinogen; fibrin; fragments D and E ; oxidation; chemical transformation; structure

Comparative study of biochemical properties of glucoamylases from the filamentous fungi Penicillium and Aspergillus by P. V. Volkov; A. M. Rozhkova; M. V. Semenova; I. N. Zorov; A. P. Sinitsyn (1180-1189).
Here we report the first isolation to homogeneous forms of two glucoamylases from the fungus Penicillium verruculosum and their study in comparison with known glucoamylases from Aspergillus awamori and Aspergillus niger. Genes that encode glucoamylases from P. verruculosum were cloned and expressed in the fungus Penicillium canescens, and the recombinant glucoamylases were obtained with subsequent study of their molecular weights, isoelectric points, optimal temperature and pH values, and stability. The catalytic activities of the recombinant glucoamylases were determined in relation to soluble potato starch. Changes in molecular mass distribution and content of low molecular weight products during starch hydrolysis by glucoamylases from P. verruculosum, A. awamori, and A. niger were studied. An exo-depolymerization mechanism was established to be the pathway for destruction of starch by the glucoamylases.
Keywords: starch-degrading enzymes; glucoamylase; Penicillium canescens ; Penicillium verruculosum ; Aspergillus niger ; Aspergillus awamori

An explanation of the role of primordial germ cell (PGC) migration during embryogenesis is proposed. According to the hypothesis, various PGCs during their migrations through an early embryo are contacting with anlagen of organs and acquiring nonidentical organ specificities. An individual PGC gets such an organ specificity, which corresponds to specificity of the first anlage with which this PGC has the first contact. As a result, the cellular descendants of PGCs (oocytes or spermatocytes) will express nonidentical organ-specific receptors, hence becoming functionally heterogeneous. Therefore, each clone of germ cells becomes capable of recognizing specifically the molecular signals that correspond only to “its” organ of the body. Such signals are produced by the body’s organ when it functions in an extreme mode. Signals from the “exercising” organ of the body are delivered to the gonad only via the brain retransmitter, which is composed of neurons grouped as virtual organs of a homunculus. Homunculi are so-called somatotopic maps of the skeletomotor and other parts of the body represented in the brain. Signals, as complexes of regulatory RNAs and proteins, are transported from the “exercising” organ of the body to the corresponding virtual organ of the homunculus where they are processed and then forwarded to the gonad. The organ-specific signal will be selectively recognized by certain gametocytes according to their organ specificity, and then it will initiate the directed epimutation in the gametocyte genome. The nonrandomness of the gene order in chromosomes, that is the synteny and genetic map, is controlled by the so-called creatron that consolidates the soma and germline into a united system, providing the possibility of evolutionary responses of an organism to environmental influences.
Keywords: PGC migration; oocyte loss; synteny; crossover; epimutation; non-Darwinian evolution; biological regress; speciation