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Concept: Histidine


Enamel matrix self-assembly has long been suggested as the driving force behind aligned nanofibrous hydroxyapatite formation. We tested if amelogenin, the main enamel matrix protein, can self-assemble into ribbon-like structures in physiologic solutions. Ribbons 17 nm wide were observed to grow several micrometers in length, requiring calcium, phosphate, and pH 4.0-6.0. The pH range suggests that the formation of ion bridges through protonated histidine residues is essential to self-assembly, supported by a statistical analysis of 212 phosphate-binding proteins predicting 12 phosphate-binding histidines. Thermophoretic analysis verified the importance of calcium and phosphate in self-assembly. X-ray scattering characterized amelogenin dimers with dimensions fitting the cross-section of the amelogenin ribbon, leading to the hypothesis that antiparallel dimers are the building blocks of the ribbons. Over 5-7 days, ribbons self-organized into bundles composed of aligned ribbons mimicking the structure of enamel crystallites in enamel rods. These observations confirm reports of filamentous organic components in developing enamel and provide a new model for matrix-templated enamel mineralization.

Concepts: DNA, Scientific method, Protein, Histidine, Observation, Hypothesis, Amorphous calcium phosphate, Tooth enamel


FtsZ, an essential protein for bacterial cell division, is a highly promising therapeutic target, especially for the discovery and development of new-generation anti-TB agents. Following up the identification of two lead 2,5,6-trisubstituted benzimidazoles, 1 and 2, targeting Mtb-FtsZ in our previous study, an extensive SAR study for optimization of these lead compounds was performed through systematic modification of the 5 and 6 positions. This study has successfully led to the discovery of a highly potent advanced lead 5f (MIC = 0.06 μg/mL) and several other compounds with comparable potencies. These advanced lead compounds possess a dimethylamino group at the 6 position. The functional groups at the 5 position exhibit substantial effects on the antibacterial activity as well. In vitro experiments such as the FtsZ polymerization inhibitory assay and TEM analysis of Mtb-FtsZ treated with 5f and others indicate that Mtb-FtsZ is the molecular target for their antibacterial activity.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Bacteria, Functional group, Histidine, Enzyme assay, FtsZ


A key effector route of the Sugar Code involves lectins that exert crucial regulatory controls by targeting distinct cellular glycans. We demonstrate that a single amino-acid substitution in a banana lectin, replacing histidine 84 with a threonine, significantly reduces its mitogenicity, while preserving its broad-spectrum antiviral potency. X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, and glycocluster assays reveal that loss of mitogenicity is strongly correlated with loss of pi-pi stacking between aromatic amino acids H84 and Y83, which removes a wall separating two carbohydrate binding sites, thus diminishing multivalent interactions. On the other hand, monovalent interactions and antiviral activity are preserved by retaining other wild-type conformational features and possibly through unique contacts involving the T84 side chain. Through such fine-tuning, target selection and downstream effects of a lectin can be modulated so as to knock down one activity, while preserving another, thus providing tools for therapeutics and for understanding the Sugar Code.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Amino acid, Amine, Posttranslational modification, Histidine, Essential amino acid, Carbohydrates


Textilinin-1 is a Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitor from Australian brown snake venom. Its ability to potently and specifically inhibit human plasmin (K(i) = 0.44 nM) makes it a potential therapeutic drug as a systemic anti-bleeding agent. The crystal structures of the human microplasmin-textilinin-1 and the trypsin-textilinin-1 complexes have been determined to 2.78 Å and 1.64 Å resolution respectively, and show that textilinin-1 binds to trypsin in a canonical mode but to microplasmin in an atypical mode with the catalytic histidine of microplasmin rotated out of the active site. The space vacated by the histidine side-chain in this complex is partially occupied by a water molecule. In the structure of microplasminogen the χ(1) dihedral angle of the side-chain of the catalytic histidine is rotated by 67° from its “active” position in the catalytic triad, as exemplified by its location when microplasmin is bound to streptokinase. However, when textilinin-1 binds to microplasmin the χ(1) dihedral angle of this amino acid residue changes by -157° (i.e. in the opposite rotation direction compared to microplasminogen). The unusual mode of interaction between textilinin-1 and plasmin explains textilinin-1’s selectivity for human plasmin over plasma kallikrein. This difference can be exploited in future drug design efforts.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Amine, Histidine, Serine protease, Protease, Glycine, Catalytic triad


Investigating the effect of pressure sheds light on the dynamics and plasticity of proteins, intrinsically correlated to functional efficiency. Here we detail the structural response to pressure of neuroglobin (Ngb), a hexacoordinate globin likely to be involved in neuroprotection. In murine Ngb, reversible coordination is achieved by repositioning the heme more deeply into a large internal cavity, the “heme sliding mechanism”. Combining high pressure crystallography and coarse-grain simulations on wild type Ngb as well as two mutants, one (V101F) with unaffected and another (F106W) with decreased affinity for CO, we show that Ngb hinges around a rigid mechanical nucleus of five hydrophobic residues (V68, I72, V109, L113, Y137) during its conformational transition induced by gaseous ligand, that the intrinsic flexibility of the F-G loop appears essential to drive the heme sliding mechanism, and that residue Val 101 may act as a sensor of the interaction disruption between the heme and the distal histidine.

Concepts: Hemoglobin, Protein, Amino acid, Histidine, Ligand, Heme, ACT, Myoglobin


Carnosine is a dipeptide of β-alanine and L-histidine found in high concentrations in skeletal muscle. Combined with β-alanine, the pKa of the histidine imidazole ring is raised to ∼6.8, placing it within the muscle intracellular pH high-intensity exercise transit range. Combination with β-alanine renders the dipeptide inert to intracellular enzymic hydrolysis and blocks the histidinyl residue from participation in proteogenesis, thus making it an ideal, stable intracellular buffer. For vegetarians, synthesis is limited by β-alanine availability; for meat-eaters, hepatic synthesis is supplemented with β-alanine from the hydrolysis of dietary carnosine. Direct oral β-alanine supplementation will compensate for low meat and fish intake, significantly raising the muscle carnosine concentration. This is best achieved with a sustained-release formulation of β-alanine to avoid paresthesia symptoms and decreasing urinary spillover. In humans, increased levels of carnosine through β-alanine supplementation have been shown to increase exercise capacity and performance of several types, particularly where the high-intensity exercise range is 1-4 min. β-Alanine supplementation is used by athletes competing in high-intensity track and field cycling, rowing, swimming events and other competitions. Copyright © 2013 Nestec Ltd., Vevey/S. Karger AG, Basel.

Concepts: Protein, Glycogen, Histidine, Acid dissociation constant, PH, Buffer solution, Imidazole, Carnosine


Pyrimidine-nucleoside phosphorylase catalyzes the phosphorolytic cleavage of thymidine and uridine with equal activity. Investigation of this protein is essential for anticancer drug design. Here, the structure of this protein from Bacillus subtilis in complex with imidazole and sulfate is reported at 1.9 Å resolution, which is an improvement on the previously reported structure at 2.6 Å resolution. The localization and position of imidazole in the nucleoside-binding site reflects the possible binding of ligands that possess an imidazole ring.

Concepts: Hemoglobin, Histidine, Solid, Bacillus, Field, Bacillus subtilis, Pyridine, Imidazole


A systematic rationalization of the hundreds of proteins harboring iron-sulfur clusters and able to exhibit the most diverse biological functions is missing. In this picture we have already reviewed structure/electrochemistry of metalloproteins expressing single types of iron-sulfur centres [namely, {Fe(Cys)4}, { [Fe2S2](Cys)4}, {[Fe2S2](Cys)3(X)} (X = Asp, Arg, His), [Fe2S2](Cys)2(His)2}, { [Fe3S4](Cys)3}, { [Fe4S4](Cys)4} and { [Fe4S4](SγCys)3(nonthiolate ligand)}] and their synthetic analogs. Recently we are focussing on structure/electrochemistry of metalloproteins containing iron-sulfur centres of different nuclearities. Having started such a subject with proteins harboring [4Fe-4S] and [2Fe-2S] (Zanello, 2017c) as well as [4Fe-4S] and [3Fe-4S] (Zanello, in press) clusters, we now provide the state of art of proteins harboring [4Fe-4S], [3Fe-4S] and [2Fe-2S] clusters, a subject that resulted strictly limited to enzymes active in the respiratory Complex II.

Concepts: Histidine, Sentence, Iron-sulfur protein, Bioinorganic chemistry


Nutrition during pregnancy and lactation is a critical factor in the development of the offspring. Both protein content and source in maternal diet affect neonatal health, but the long-term effects of maternal low-quality protein diet on the offspring are less clear. This study aimed to examine the effects of maternal low-quality protein diet on offspring’s growth, development, circulating metabolites and hepatic expression of methyltransferases. Virgin Wistar rats were mated at 11 weeks of age. Dams were then maintained on either a chow diet with 20% casein as the control group ©, or a low-quality protein diet with 20% wheat gluten as the experimental group (WG) throughout gestation and lactation. After weaning, all offspring were fed a control chow diet until the age of 20 weeks. Male WG offspring had significantly lower body weight and energy intake, whereas female WG offspring had significantly higher body weight and energy intake when compared with controls. Early life exposure to WG diet had no significant effect on circulating metabolites. However, fasting insulin concentrations and homoeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance were decreased in WG male and female offspring. Maternal low-quality protein diet increased plasma aspartic acid, glutamic acid, histidine, cystathione and decreased lysine in male WG offspring. Conversely, the same amino acids were reduced in female WG offspring. Adult offspring exposed to WG diet had significantly upregulated hepatic DNMT3a and DNMT3b expressions. Our study showed that there were differential effects of maternal poor-quality protein diet upon adult offspring’s metabolism.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Metabolism, Nutrition, Histidine, Essential amino acid, Lysine


Light is known to induce histidine (His) oxidation and His-His crosslinking in proteins. The crosslinking is resulted from the nucleophilic attack of a His to a photooxidized His from another protein. The goal of this work is to understand if covalent buffer adducts on His residues can be generated by light through similar mechanisms in nucleophilic buffers such as Tris and His.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Nitrogen, Histidine, Essential amino acid, Buffer solution, Buffers, Tris