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Title: Studies on ribosomal oxygenases
Author: Sekirnik, Rok
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 3904
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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The 2OG oxygenases comprise a superfamily of ferrous iron dependent dioxygenases with multiple biological roles, including in hypoxia sensing, transcriptional control, and splicing control. It was recently proposed that 2OG oxygenases catalyse the hydroxylation of ribosomal proteins in prokaryotes (ycfD) and in humans (NO66 and MINA53), raising the possibility that 2OG oxygenases also control translation. The work described in this thesis concerned investigations on the biochemical and functional aspects of prokaryotic and mammalian ribosomal protein hydroxylases (ROX) in vitro and in cells. An efficient chromatographic system linked to mass spectrometric analysis (LC-MS) was developed for studying the masses of individual ribosomal proteins (>90% coverage of ribosomal proteome) to ±1 Da accuracy. It was demonstrated that ycfD catalyses the hydroxylation of R81 on L16 in E. coli, in a manner dependent on atmospheric oxygen levels. YcfD deletion results in growth phenotype at low temperatures and in minimal medium, and in decreased global translation rates in minimal medium; ycfD deletion does not affect translational accuracy and ribosome assembly. Furthermore, ycfD-deletion results in increased sensitivity to the antibiotics chloramphenicol and lincomycin. Consistent with a 2OG-oxygenase mediated mechanism of antibiotic resistance, chloramphenicol sensitivity of the E. coli wild-type strain could be increased by inhibiting the activity of ycfD by removing co-factors required for catalytic activity (Fe(II) and O2), and, at least in part, by using a ycfD inhibitor, IOX1, which inhibits ycfD with IC50 of 38 μM in vitro. The therapeutic potential of a post-translational modification mediating antibiotic resistance provides an opportunity for medicinal targeting of ribosome-modifying enzymes, for example ycfD, which may be more ‘druggable’ than the ribosome itself. In co-treatment with an existing antibiotic, such as chloramphenicol, a small molecule inhibitor would achieve a potentiated antibiotic effect. Structural aspects of ROX hydroxylation were pursued by characterising a thermophilic ROX-substrate complex; a ycfD homologue was identified in the thermophilic bacterium Rhodothermus marinus and shown to be a thermophilic 2OG oxygenase ycfDRM, acting on R82 of ribosomal protein L16RM. The activity of ycfDRM in cells was limited at high growth temperature and oxygen solubility was demonstrated as a likely limiting factor of ycfDRM activity, thus identifiying a potential 2OG oxygenase oxygen sensor in prokaryotes. A crystal structure of ycfDRM in complex with L16RM substrate fragment was determined to 3.0 Å resolution. Structural analyses suggested that ycfDRM contains 30% more hydrophobic interactions and 100% more salt-bridge interactions than ycfDEC, suggesting that these interactions are important for thermal stabilisation of ycfDRM. The structures reveal key interactions required for binding of ribosomal proteins. Substantial structural changes were observed in the presence of the substrate fragment, which implies induced-fit binding of the L16RM substrate. The work has informed further structural studies on the evolutionarily related human ROX, NO66 and MINA53, for which substrate structures have been obtained since the completion of the work. The LC-MS analysis of ribosomal proteins was extended to mouse and human cells to demonstrate that the human ROX homologue of ycfD, MINA53, hydroxylates the 60S ribosomal protein rpL27a in cells. It was demonstrated that rpL27a hydroxylation is widespread and found in all mouse organs analysed, as well as in cancer cell lines and in clinical cancer tissues. A partial or complete reduction of rpL27a hydroxylation was observed in a number of clinically identified MINA53 mutations from the COSMIC database of cancer mutations. Structural analysis suggested that mutations occur more frequently at structurally important regions of MINA53, including the βIV-βV insert in the core fold of MINA53. The identification of inhibiting clinical mutations suggests that rpL27a hydroxylation level could be used as a cancer mark, and in the future for selective inhibition by ribosomal antibiotics. The work presented in this thesis demonstrates that it is possible to selectively inhibit modified ribosomes; an inhibitor of unhydroxylated rpL27a could therefore, at least in principle, be active against the sub-set of tumours with inactivating mutation(s) of MINA53, but not normal tissue. Future work should therefore focus on identifying a selective inhibitor of unhydroxylated eukaryotic ribosomes which could be applied for treatment of cancers harbouring deactivating MINA53 mutations. The same approach could be applied to other ribosome modifications (to rRNA, ribosomal proteins, and ribosome-associate factors) that are different in cancer compared to normal cells.
Supervisor: Schofield, Christopher J. ; Ratcliffe, Peter J. Sponsor: Cancer Research UK
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Antibiotics ; Chemical biology ; Crystallography ; Enzymes ; Protein chemistry ; Protein folding ; Molecular biophysics (biochemistry) ; oxygenases ; ribosome ; translation ; post-translational modifications ; protein structure ; enzyme inhibition