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Title: Structural, functional and evolutionary studies on prolyl-hydroxylases
Author: Scotti, John Salvatore
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 1339
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis studies the prolyl-hydroxylase family of 2-oxoglutarate dependent oxygenases from structural, functional and evolutionary perspectives. The role of prolyl-hydroxylation was first identified in collagen, wherein hydroxyproline was found to stabilise the collagen triple helix. In the 1960s, the presence of hydroxyproline in collagen was found to be a result of enzyme catalysed protein modification. An enzyme, now known as collagen prolyl-4-hydroxylase (CP4H), was found to be completely dependent on Fe(II), 2-oxoglutarate (2OG) and molecular oxygen for catalysis, and was the inaugural member of enzyme family known as the Fe(II) and 2OG-dependent oxygenases (2OG oxygenases), the members of which have since expanded dramatically – more than 60 2OG oxygenases are predicted to exist in humans alone. It was not until the 21st century that hydroxyproline was found to play roles in human biology beyond its well-characterised role in collagen stabilisation. In animals, cells adapt to low oxygen conditions (hypoxia) via the upregulation of hundreds of target genes as governed by the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (HIF). The mammalian hypoxic sensing system was discovered to be regulated by a conserved family of hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl-hydroxylases (PHDs or EGLNs), which catalyse the prolyl-4-hydroxylation of a conserved proline residue in HIF-α under normoxic conditions, so targeting HIF-α for proteasomal degradation via the von Hippel-Lindau (pVHL) E3 ubiquitin ligase pathway. As a result, the PHDs are current therapeutic targets for the treatment of anemia and ischemia-related diseases. Thus, hydroxyproline also plays a critical role in mammalian oxygen sensing. However, the discovery also raised the question of the evolutionary origin of these enzymes and what roles, if any, they may play in other organisms. This thesis begins by describing the identification and biochemical characterisation of the first homologue of the human PHDs in prokaryotes, specifically, in Pseudomonas species, which contains pathogens such as P. aeruginosa. Pseudomonas PHD (PPHD) was discovered to catalyse the prolyl-hydroxylation of a conserved region of elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu), a translational GTPase universally conserved in prokaryotes and known for its critical role in bacterial translation. A crystal structure of PPHD, the first of a prokaryotic prolyl-hydroxylase, was then determined, revealing a striking structural homology of PPHD to the human PHDs. The further determination of crystal structures of Pseudomonas EF-Tu and a PPHD:EF-Tu protein-protein complex, the first of any 2OG oxygenase in complex with its full-length protein substrate, provides important insights into the substrate recognition mechanisms of both the CP4Hs and the PHDs and reveals an evolutionarily conserved pathway of substrate recognition that extends to prokaryotes and will be useful in the design of selective inhibitors of the PHDs. Differences were investigated between the PHDs and a recently discovered subfamily of eukaryotic prolyl-3-hydroxylases, which catalyse the hydroxylation of a conserved proline residue in the small ribosomal subunit S23 (RPS23) and have been implicated in translation accuracy and the stress response. Crystal structures of the RPS23 hydroxylases human OGFOD1 and yeast Tpa1 in complex with 2OG-mimetic inhibitors provide insight into their evolutionary origins. Analyses of the structures will be useful for targeting either OGFOD1 or the PHDs for human therapy. The thesis then describes work on human CP4H, a 240 kDa α2β2 heterotetramer. A novel expression and purification protocol is described for the CP4H complex in addition to the first known reports of its crystallisation and diffraction. Further, the foundations of a high-throughput inhibition assay of the human CP4Hs is presented and will be of immediate interest for assaying inhibitors of the human PHDs in clinical trials, some of which are also predicted to inhibit the CP4Hs. In closing, the thesis attempts to synthesise the results presented in order to provide further insight into the question of the ancestral origins of the prolyl-hydroxylases, a family of enzymes whose range of functions and biological roles likely will continue to expand.
Supervisor: Schofield, Christopher J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Chemistry ; Biochemistry ; oxygenases ; X-ray crystallography ; enzyme ; protein syntheis