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The anthrax toxin receptors, ANTXR1 and ANTXR2, act as molecular clamps to prevent the protective antigen (PA) toxin subunit from forming pores until exposure to low pH. PA forms pores at pH approximately 6.0 or below when it is bound to ANTXR1, but only at pH approximately 5.0 or below when it is bound to ANTXR2. Here, structure-based mutagenesis was used to identify non-conserved ANTXR2 residues responsible for this striking 1.0 pH unit difference in pH threshold. Residues conserved between ANTXR2 and ANTXR1 that influence the ANTXR2-associated pH threshold of pore formation were also identified. All of these residues contact either PA domain 2 or the neighboring edge of PA domain 4. These results provide genetic evidence for receptor release of these regions of PA as being necessary for the protein rearrangements that accompany anthrax toxin pore formation.
Anthrax toxin receptors 1 and 2 (ANTXR1 and ANTXR2) have a related integrin-like inserted (I) domain which interacts with a metal cation that is coordinated by residue D683 of the protective antigen (PA) subunit of anthrax toxin. The receptor-bound metal ion and PA residue D683 are critical for ANTXR1-PA binding. Since PA can bind to ANTXR2 with reduced affinity in the absence of metal ions, we reasoned that D683 mutant forms of PA might specifically interact with ANTXR2. We show here that this is the case. The differential ability of ANTXR1 and ANTXR2 to bind D683 mutant PA proteins was mapped to nonconserved receptor residues at the binding interface with PA domain 2. Moreover, a D683K mutant form of PA that bound specifically to human and rat ANTXR2 mediated killing of rats by anthrax lethal toxin, providing strong evidence for the physiological importance of ANTXR2 in anthrax disease pathogenesis.
After binding to cellular receptors and proteolytic activation, the protective antigen component of anthrax toxin forms a heptameric prepore. The prepore later undergoes pH-dependent conversion to a pore, mediating translocation of the edema and lethal factors to the cytosol. We describe structures of the prepore (3.6 A) and a prepore:receptor complex (4.3 A) that reveal the location of pore-forming loops and an unexpected interaction of the receptor with the pore-forming domain. Lower pH is required for prepore-to-pore conversion in the presence of the receptor, indicating that this interaction regulates pH-dependent pore formation. We present an example of a receptor negatively regulating pH-dependent membrane insertion.
Anthrax toxin is released from Bacillus anthracis as three monomeric proteins, which assemble into toxic complexes at the surface of receptor-bearing host cells. One of the proteins, protective antigen (PA), binds to receptors and orchestrates the delivery of the other two (the lethal and edema factors) into the cytosol. PA has been shown to bind to two cellular receptors: anthrax toxin receptor/tumor endothelial marker 8 and capillary morphogenesis protein 2 (CMG2). Both are type 1 membrane proteins that include an approximately 200-aa extracellular von Willebrand factor A (VWA) domain with a metal ion-dependent adhesion site (MIDAS) motif. The anthrax toxin receptor/tumor endothelial marker 8 and CMG2 VWA domains share approximately 60% amino acid identity and bind PA directly in a metal-dependent manner. Here, we report the crystal structure of the CMG2 VWA domain, with and without its intramolecular disulfide bond, to 1.5 and 1.8 A, respectively. Both structures contain a carboxylate ligand-mimetic bound at the MIDAS and appear as open conformations when compared with the VWA domains from alpha-integrins. The CMG2 structures provide a template to begin probing the high-affinity CMG2-PA interaction (200 pM) and may facilitate understanding of toxin assembly/internalization and the development of new anthrax treatments. The structural data also allow molecular interpretation of known CMG2 VWA domain mutations linked to the genetic disorders, juvenile hyaline fibromatosis, and infantile systemic hyalinosis.
The protective antigen (PA) moiety of anthrax toxin binds to cellular receptors and mediates entry of the two enzymatic moieties of the toxin into the cytosol. Two PA receptors, anthrax toxin receptor (ATR)/tumor endothelial marker 8 (TEM8) and capillary morphogenesis protein 2 (CMG2), have been identified. We expressed and purified the von Willebrand A (VWA) domain of CMG2 and examined its interactions with monomeric and heptameric forms of PA. Monomeric PA bound a stoichiometric equivalent of CMG2, whereas the heptameric prepore form bound 7 eq. The Kd of the VWA domain-PA interaction is 170 pm when liganded by Mg2+, reflecting a 1000-fold tighter interaction than most VWA domains with their endogenous ligands. The dissociation rate constant is extremely slow, indicating a 30-h lifetime for the CMG2.PA monomer complex. CMG2 metal ion-dependent adhesion site (MIDAS) was studied kinetically and thermodynamically. The association rate constant (approximately 10(5) m(-1) s(-1)) is virtually identical in the presence or absence of Mg2+ or Ca2+ , but the dissociation rate of metal ion liganded complex is up to 4 orders of magnitude slower than metal ion free complex. Residual affinity (Kd approximately 960 nm) in the absence of divalent metal ions allowed the free energy for the contribution of the metal ion to be calculated as 5 kcal mol(-1), demonstrating that the metal ion-dependent adhesion site is directly coordinated by CMG2 and PA in the binding interface. The high affinity of the VWA domain for PA supports its potency in neutralizing anthrax toxin, demonstrating its potential utility as a novel therapeutic for anthrax.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) must constantly compete for interactions with G proteins, kinases, and arrestins. To evaluate the interactions of these proteins with GPCRs in greater detail, we generated a fusion protein between the N-formyl peptide receptor and the G(alpha)(i2) protein. The functional capabilities of this chimeric protein were determined both in vivo, in stably transfected U937 cells, and in vitro, using a novel reconstitution system of solubilized components. The chimeric protein exhibited a cellular ligand binding affinity indistinguishable from that of the wild-type receptor and existed as a complex, when solubilized, containing betagamma subunits, as demonstrated by sucrose density sedimentation. The chimeric protein mobilized intracellular calcium and desensitized normally in response to agonist. Furthermore, the chimeric receptor was internalized and recycled at rates similar to those of the wild-type FPR. Confocal fluorescence microscopy revealed that internalized chimeric receptors, as identified with fluorescent ligand, colocalized with arrestin, as well as G protein, unlike wild-type receptors. Soluble reconstitution experiments demonstrated that the chimeric receptor, even in the phosphorylated state, existed as a high ligand affinity G protein complex, in the absence of exogenous G protein. This interaction was only partially prevented through the addition of arrestins. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that the GTP-bound state of the G protein alpha subunit displays no detectable affinity for the receptor. Together, these results indicate that complex interactions exist between GPCRs, in their unphosphorylated and phosphorylated states, G proteins, and arrestins, which result in the highly regulated control of GPCR function.
Arrestins regulate the signaling and endocytosis of many G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). It has been suggested that the functions of arrestins are dependent upon both the number and pattern of phosphorylation sites present in an activated GPCR. However, little is currently known about the relationships between the sites of receptor phosphorylation, the resulting affinities of arrestin binding, and the ensuing mechanisms of receptor regulation for any given GPCR. To investigate these interactions, we used an active truncated mutant of arrestin (amino acids 1-382) and phosphorylation-deficient mutants of the N-formyl peptide receptor (FPR). In contrast to results with wild type arrestins, the truncated arrestin-2 protein bound to the unphosphorylated wild type FPR, although with lower affinity and a low affinity for the agonist as revealed by competition studies with heterotrimeric G proteins. Using FPR mutants, we further demonstrated that the phosphorylation status of serines and threonines between residues 328-332 is a key determinant that regulates the affinity of the FPR for arrestins. Furthermore, we found that the phosphorylation status of serine and threonine residues between amino acids 334 and 339 regulates the affinity of the receptor for agonist when arrestin is bound. These results suggest that the agonist affinity state of the receptor is principally regulated by phosphorylation at specific sites and is not simply a consequence of arrestin binding as has previously been proposed. Furthermore, this is the first demonstration that agonist affinity of a GPCR and the affinity of arrestin binding to the phosphorylated receptor are regulated by distinct receptor phosphodomains.
The phosphorylation-dependent binding of arrestins to cytoplasmic domains of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is thought to be a crucial step in receptor desensitization. In some GPCR systems, arrestins have also been demonstrated to be involved in receptor internalization, resensitization, and the activation of signaling cascades. The objective of the current study was to examine binding interactions of members of the arrestin family with the formyl peptide receptor (FPR), a member of the GPCR family of receptors. Peptides representing the unphosphorylated and phosphorylated carboxyl terminus of the FPR were synthesized and bound to polystyrene beads via a biotin/streptavidin interaction. Using fluorescein-conjugated arrestins, binding interactions between arrestins and the bead-bound FPR carboxyl terminus were analyzed by flow cytometry. Arrestin-2 and arrestin-3 bound to the FPR carboxyl-terminal peptide in a phosphorylation-dependent manner, with K(d) values in the micromolar range. Binding of visual arrestin, which binds rhodopsin with high selectivity, was not observed. Arrestin-2-(1--382) and arrestin-3-(1--393), truncated mutant forms of arrestin that display phosphorylation-independent binding to intact receptors, were also observed to bind the bead-bound FPR terminus in a phosphorylation-dependent manner, but with much greater affinity than the full-length arrestins, yielding K(d) values in the 5--50 nm range. Two additional arrestin mutants, which are full-length but display phosphorylation-independent binding to intact GPCRs, were evaluated for their binding affinity to the FPR carboxyl terminus. Whereas the single point mutant, arrestin-2 R169E, displayed an affinity similar to that of the full-length arrestins, the triple point mutant, arrestin-2 I386A/V387A/F388A, displayed an affinity more similar to that of the truncated forms of arrestin. The results suggest that the carboxyl terminus of arrestin is a critical determinant in regulating the binding affinity of arrestin for the phosphorylated domains of GPCRs.
It is now well accepted that G protein-coupled receptors activated by agonist binding become targets for phosphorylation, leading to desensitization of the receptor. Using a series of phosphorylation deficient mutants of the N-formyl peptide receptor (FPR), we have explored the role of phosphorylation on the ability of the receptor to interact with G proteins and arrestins. Using a fluorometric assay in conjunction with solubilized receptors, we demonstrate that phosphorylation of the wild type FPR lowers its affinity for G protein, whereas mutant receptors lacking four potential phosphorylation sites retain their ability to couple to G protein. Phosphorylated mutant receptors lacking only two potential phosphorylation sites are again unable to couple to G protein. Furthermore, whereas stimulated wild type FPR in whole cells colocalizes with arrestin-2, and the solubilized, phosphorylated FPR binds arrestin-2, the stimulated receptors lacking four potential phosphorylation sites display no interaction with arrestin-2. However, the mutant receptors lacking only two potential phosphorylation sites are restored in their ability to bind and colocalize with arrestin-2. Thus, there is a submaximal threshold of FPR phosphorylation that simultaneously results in an inhibition of G protein binding and an induction of arrestin binding. These results are the first to demonstrate that less than maximal levels of receptor phosphorylation can block G protein binding, independent of arrestin binding. We therefore propose that phosphorylation alone may be sufficient to desensitize the FPR in vivo, raising the possibility that for certain G protein-coupled receptors, desensitization may not be the primary function of arrestin.
Although heptahelical chemoattractant and chemokine receptors are known to play a significant role in the host immune response and the pathophysiology of disease, the molecular mechanisms and transient macroassemblies underlying their activation and regulation remain largely uncharacterized. We report herein real time analyses of molecular assemblies involving the formyl peptide receptor (FPR), a well described member of the chemoattractant subfamily of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), with both arrestins and heterotrimeric G proteins. In our system, the ability to define and discriminate distinct, in vitro receptor complexes relies on quantitative differences in the dissociation rate of a fluorescent agonist as well as the guanosine 5'-3-O-(thio)triphosphate (GTP gamma S) sensitivity of the complex, as recently described for FPR-G protein interactions. In the current study, we demonstrate a concentration- and time-dependent reconstitution of liganded, phosphorylated FPR with exogenous arrestin-2 and -3 to form a high agonist affinity, nucleotide-insensitive complex with EC(50) values of 0.5 and 0.9 microm, respectively. In contrast, neither arrestin-2 nor arrestin-3 altered the ligand dissociation kinetics of activated, nonphosphorylated FPR. Moreover, we demonstrated that the addition of G proteins was unable to alter the ligand dissociation kinetics or induce a GTP gamma S-sensitive state of the phosphorylated FPR. The properties of the phosphorylated FPR were entirely reversible upon treatment of the receptor preparation with phosphatase. These results represent to our knowledge the first report of the reconstitution of a detergent-solubilized, phosphorylated GPCR with arrestins and, furthermore, the first demonstration that phosphorylation of a nonvisual GPCR is capable of efficiently blocking G protein binding in the absence of arrestin. The significance of these results with respect to receptor desensitization and internalization are discussed.