Expression and structure-function characterisation of herpesviral proteins

University dissertation from Stockholm : Institutionen för biokemi och biofysik

Abstract: In order to determine and study a protein structure, large amounts of it is needed. The easiest way to obtain a protein is to recombinantly overexpress it in the well-studied bacterium Escherichia coli. However, this expression host has one major disadvantage, overexpressed proteins might not be folded or be insoluble. Within the field of structural genomics, protein production has become one of the most challenging problems and the recombinant overexpression of viral proteins has in particular proven to be difficult.The first part of the thesis concerns the recombinant overexpression of troublesome proteins in E. coli. A method has been developed to screen for soluble overexpression in E. coli at the colony level, making it suitable for screening large gene collections. This method was used to successfully screen deletion libraries of difficult mammalian proteins as well as ORFeomes from five herpesviruses. As a result soluble expression of previously insoluble mammalian proteins was obtained as well as crystals of three proteins from two oncogenic human herpesviruses, all linked to DNA synthesis of the viral genome. The second part of the work presented concerns the structural studies of three herpesviral proteins. SOX from Kaposi’s sarcoma associated herpesvirus is involved in processing and maturation of the viral genome. Recently SOX has also been implicated in host shutoff at the mRNA level. With this structure, we propose a substrate binding site and a likely exonucleolytic mechanism. The holoenzyme ribonucleotide reductase is solely responsible for the production of deoxyribonucleotides and regulates the nucleotide pool of the cell. The small subunit, R2, has been solved from both Epstein Barr virus and KSHV. Both structures show disordered secondary structure elements in their apo-and mono metal forms, located close to the iron binding sites in similarity to the p53 induced R2 indicating that these two R2 proteins might play a similar and important role.