Peter, Christine

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Christine
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Visualizing the Residue Interaction Landscape of Proteins by Temporal Network Embedding

2023-04-25, Franke, Leon, Peter, Christine

Characterizing the structural dynamics of proteins with heterogeneous conformational landscapes is crucial to understanding complex biomolecular processes. To this end, dimensionality reduction algorithms are used to produce low-dimensional embeddings of the high-dimensional conformational phase space. However, identifying a compact and informative set of input features for the embedding remains an ongoing challenge. Here, we propose to harness the power of Residue Interaction Networks (RINs) and their centrality measures, established tools to provide a graph theoretical view on molecular structure. Specifically, we combine the closeness centrality, which captures global features of the protein conformation at residue-wise resolution, with EncoderMap, a hybrid neural-network autoencoder/multidimensional-scaling like dimensionality reduction algorithm. We find that the resulting low-dimensional embedding is a meaningful visualization of the residue interaction landscape that resolves structural details of the protein behavior while retaining global interpretability. This feature-based graph embedding of temporal protein graphs makes it possible to apply the general descriptive power of RIN formalisms to the analysis of protein simulations of complex processes such as protein folding and multidomain interactions requiring no protein-specific input. We demonstrate this on simulations of the fast folding protein Trp-Cage and the multidomain signaling protein FAT10. Due to its generality and modularity, the presented approach can easily be transferred to other protein systems.

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Lipid-mediated activation of plasma membrane-localized deubiquitylating enzymes modulate endosomal trafficking

2022-11-12, Vogel, Karin, Bläske, Tobias, Nagel, Marie-Kristin, Globisch, Christoph, Maguire, Shane, Mattes, Lorenz, Kovermann, Michael, Hauser, Karin, Peter, Christine, Isono, Erika

The abundance of plasma membrane-resident receptors and transporters has to be tightly regulated by ubiquitin-mediated endosomal degradation for the proper coordination of environmental stimuli and intracellular signaling. Arabidopsis OVARIAN TUMOR PROTEASE (OTU) 11 and OTU12 are plasma membrane-localized deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs) that bind to phospholipids through a polybasic motif in the OTU domain. Here we show that the DUB activity of OTU11 and OTU12 towards K63-linked ubiquitin is stimulated by binding to lipid membranes containing anionic lipids. In addition, we show that the DUB activity of OTU11 against K6- and K11-linkages is also stimulated by anionic lipids, and that OTU11 and OTU12 can modulate the endosomal degradation of a model cargo and the auxin efflux transporter PIN2-GFP in vivo. Our results suggest that the catalytic activity of OTU11 and OTU12 is tightly connected to their ability to bind membranes and that OTU11 and OTU12 are involved in the fine-tuning of plasma membrane proteins in Arabidopsis.

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Titin kinase ubiquitination aligns autophagy receptors with mechanical signals in the sarcomere

2021-10-05, Bogomolovas, Julius, Fleming, Jennifer R., Franke, Barbara, Manso, Bruno, Simon, Bernd, Markovic, Marija, Brunner, Thomas, Scheffner, Martin, Peter, Christine, Mayans, Olga

Striated muscle undergoes remodelling in response to mechanical and physiological stress, but little is known about the integration of such varied signals in the myofibril. The interaction of the elastic kinase region from sarcomeric titin (A168-M1) with the autophagy receptors Nbr1/p62 and MuRF E3 ubiquitin ligases is well suited to link mechanosensing with the trophic response of the myofibril. To investigate the mechanisms of signal cross-talk at this titin node, we elucidated its 3D structure, analysed its response to stretch using steered molecular dynamics simulations and explored its functional relation to MuRF1 and Nbr1/p62 using cellular assays. We found that MuRF1-mediated ubiquitination of titin kinase promotes its scaffolding of Nbr1/p62 and that the process can be dynamically down-regulated by the mechanical unfolding of a linker sequence joining titin kinase with the MuRF1 receptor site in titin. We propose that titin ubiquitination is sensitive to the mechanical state of the sarcomere, the regulation of sarcomere targeting by Nbr1/p62 being a functional outcome. We conclude that MuRF1/Titin Kinase/Nbr1/p62 constitutes a distinct assembly that predictably promotes sarcomere breakdown in inactive muscle.

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Coarse grained simulation of the aggregation and structure control of polyethylene nanocrystals

2021-05-25, Flachmüller, Alexander, Mecking, Stefan, Peter, Christine

Polyethylene (PE) telechelics with carboxylate functional groups at both ends have been shown to assemble into hexagonal nanocrystal platelets with a height defined by their chain length in basic CsOH-solution. In this coarse grained (CG) simulation study we show how properties of the functional groups alter the aggregation and crystallization behavior of those telechelics. Systematic variation of the parameters of the CG model showed that important factors which control nanoparticle stability and structure are the PE chain length and the hydrophilicity and the steric demand of the head groups. To characterize the aggregation process we analyzed the number and size of the obtained aggregates as well as intramolecular order and intermolecular alignment of the polymer chains. By comparison of CG and atomistic simulation data, it could be shown that atomistic simulations representing different chemical systems can be emulated with specific, different CG parameter sets. Thus, the results from the (generic) CG simulation models can be used to explain the effect of different head groups and different counterions on the aggregation of PE telechelics and the order of the obtained nanocrystals.

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Fast conformational clustering of extensive molecular dynamics simulation data

2023-04-14, Hunkler, Simon, Diederichs, Kay, Kukharenko, Oleksandra, Peter, Christine

We present an unsupervised data processing workflow that is specifically designed to obtain a fast conformational clustering of long molecular dynamics simulation trajectories. In this approach, we combine two dimensionality reduction algorithms (cc_analysis and encodermap) with a density-based spatial clustering algorithm (hierarchical density-based spatial clustering of applications with noise). The proposed scheme benefits from the strengths of the three algorithms while avoiding most of the drawbacks of the individual methods. Here, the cc_analysis algorithm is applied for the first time to molecular simulation data. The encodermap algorithm complements cc_analysis by providing an efficient way to process and assign large amounts of data to clusters. The main goal of the procedure is to maximize the number of assigned frames of a given trajectory while keeping a clear conformational identity of the clusters that are found. In practice, we achieve this by using an iterative clustering approach and a tunable root-mean-square-deviation-based criterion in the final cluster assignment. This allows us to find clusters of different densities and different degrees of structural identity. With the help of four protein systems, we illustrate the capability and performance of this clustering workflow: wild-type and thermostable mutant of the Trp-cage protein (TC5b and TC10b), NTL9, and Protein B. Each of these test systems poses their individual challenges to the scheme, which, in total, give a nice overview of the advantages and potential difficulties that can arise when using the proposed method.

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Electrostatic and steric effects underlie acetylation-induced changes in ubiquitin structure and function

2022-09-16, Kienle, Simon Maria, Schneider, Tobias, Stuber, Katrin, Globisch, Christoph, Jansen, Jasmin, Stengel, Florian, Peter, Christine, Marx, Andreas, Kovermann, Michael, Scheffner, Martin

Covalent attachment of ubiquitin (Ub) to proteins is a highly versatile posttranslational modification. Moreover, Ub is not only a modifier but itself is modified by phosphorylation and lysine acetylation. However, the functional consequences of Ub acetylation are poorly understood. By generation and comprehensive characterization of all seven possible mono-acetylated Ub variants, we show that each acetylation site has a particular impact on Ub structure. This is reflected in selective usage of the acetylated variants by different E3 ligases and overlapping but distinct interactomes, linking different acetylated variants to different cellular pathways. Notably, not only electrostatic but also steric effects contribute to acetylation-induced changes in Ub structure and, thus, function. Finally, we provide evidence that p300 acts as a position-specific Ub acetyltransferase and HDAC6 as a general Ub deacetylase. Our findings provide intimate insights into the structural and functional consequences of Ub acetylation and highlight the general importance of Ub acetylation.

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Three Reasons Why Aspartic Acid and Glutamic Acid Sequences Have a Surprisingly Different Influence on Mineralization

2021-09-16, Lemke, Tobias, Edte, Moritz, Gebauer, Denis, Peter, Christine

Understanding the role of polymers rich in aspartic acid (Asp) and glutamic acid (Glu) is the key to gaining precise control over mineralization processes. Despite their chemical similarity, experiments revealed a surprisingly different influence of Asp and Glu sequences. We conducted molecular dynamics simulations of Asp and Glu peptides in the presence of calcium and chloride ions to elucidate the underlying phenomena. In line with experimental differences, in our simulations, we indeed find strong differences in the way the peptides interact with ions in solution. The investigated Asp pentapeptide tends to pull a lot of ions into its vicinity, and many structures with clusters of calcium and chloride ions on the surface of the peptide can be observed. Under the same conditions, comparatively fewer ions can be found in proximity of the investigated Glu pentapeptide, and the structures are characterized by single calcium ions bound to multiple carboxylate groups. Based on our simulation data, we identified three reasons contributing to these differences, leading to a new level of understanding additive-ion interactions.

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Generating a conformational landscape of ubiquitin chains at atomistic resolution by back-mapping based sampling

2023-01-10, Hunkler, Simon, Buhl, Teresa, Kukharenko, Oleksandra, Peter, Christine

Ubiquitin chains are flexible multidomain proteins that have important biological functions in cellular signalling. Computational studies with all-atom molecular dynamics simulations of the conformational spaces of polyubiquitins can be challenging due to the system size and a multitude of long-lived meta-stable states. Coarse graining is an efficient approach to overcome this problem—at the cost of losing high-resolution details. Recently, we proposed the back-mapping based sampling (BMBS) approach that reintroduces atomistic information into a given coarse grained (CG) sampling based on a two-dimensional (2D) projection of the conformational landscape, produces an atomistic ensemble and allows to systematically compare the ensembles at the two levels of resolution. Here, we apply BMBS to K48-linked tri-ubiquitin, showing its applicability to larger systems than those it was originally introduced on and demonstrating that the algorithm scales very well with system size. In an extension of the original BMBS we test three different seeding strategies, i.e. different approaches from where in the CG landscape atomistic trajectories are initiated. Furthermore, we apply a recently introduced conformational clustering algorithm to the back-mapped atomistic ensemble. Thus, we obtain insight into the structural composition of the 2D landscape and illustrate that the dimensionality reduction algorithm separates different conformational characteristics very well into different regions of the map. This cluster analysis allows us to show how atomistic trajectories sample conformational states, move through the projection space and in sum converge to an atomistic conformational landscape that slightly differs from the original CG map, indicating a correction of flaws in the CG template.

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Solvent-mediated Isotope Effects Strongly Influence the Early Stages of Calcium Carbonate Formation : Exploring D2O vs. H2O in a Combined Computational and Experimental Approach

2022-07-14, King, Michael, Avaro, Jonathan Thomas, Peter, Christine, Hauser, Karin, Gebauer, Denis

In experimental studies, heavy water (D2O) is employed, e.g., so as to shift the spectroscopic solvent background, but any potential effects of this solvent exchange on reaction pathways are often neglected. While the important role of light water (H2O) during the early stages of calcium carbonate formation has been realized, studies into the actual effects of aqueous solvent exchanges are scarce. Here, we present a combined computational and experimental approach to start to fill this gap. We extended a suitable force field for molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Experimentally, we utilised advanced titration assays and time-resolved attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy. We find distinct effects in various mixtures of the two aqueous solvents, and in pure H2O or D2O. Disagreements between the computational results and experimental data regarding the stabilities of ion associates might be due to the unexplored role of HDO, or an unprobed complex phase behaviour of the solvent mixtures in the simulations. Altogether, however, our data suggest that calcium carbonate formation might proceed “more classically” in D2O. Also, there are indications for the formation of new structures in amorphous and crystalline calcium carbonates. There is huge potential towards further improving the understanding of mineralization mechanisms by studying solvent-mediated isotope effects, also beyond calcium carbonate. Last, it must be appreciated that H2O and D2O have significant, distinct effects on mineralization mechanisms, and that care has to be taken when experimental data from D2O studies are used, e.g., for the development of H2O-based computer models.

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Guanidine-II aptamer conformations and ligand binding modes through the lens of molecular simulation

2021-07-07, Steuer, Jakob, Kukharenko, Oleksandra, Riedmiller, Kai, Hartig, Jörg S., Peter, Christine

Regulation of gene expression via riboswitches is a widespread mechanism in bacteria. Here, we investigate ligand binding of a member of the guanidine sensing riboswitch family, the guanidine-II riboswitch (Gd-II). It consists of two stem-loops forming a dimer upon ligand binding. Using extensive molecular dynamics simulations we have identified conformational states corresponding to ligand-bound and unbound states in a monomeric stem-loop of Gd-II and studied the selectivity of this binding. To characterize these states and ligand-dependent conformational changes we applied a combination of dimensionality reduction, clustering, and feature selection methods. In absence of a ligand, the shape of the binding pocket alternates between the conformation observed in presence of guanidinium and a collapsed conformation, which is associated with a deformation of the dimerization interface. Furthermore, the structural features responsible for the ability to discriminate against closely related analogs of guanidine are resolved. Based on these insights, we propose a mechanism that couples ligand binding to aptamer dimerization in the Gd-II system, demonstrating the value of computational methods in the field of nucleic acids research.