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Title: NMR and in silico studies of fucosylated chondroitin sulfate (fCS) and its interactions with selectins
Author: Brodaczewska, Natalia Anna
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 4064
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis describes structural studies on the interactions between the fucosylated chondroitin sulfate (fCS) oligosaccharides and human proteins known as selectins. fCS is a carbohydrate obtained from sea cucumbers, that can be classified as a branched glycosaminoglycan (GAG). It has attracted much attention due to its anti-coagulant, anti-inflammatory, antimetastatic and anti-HIV properties and its structure was previously determined by NMR. Selectins constitute a family of proteins involved in cell adhesion processes, such as inflammation, attachment of viral particles and migration of tumour cells. fCS oligosaccharides have been shown to bind to selectins, which is likely a reason behind their biological activity. However, the mechanism of this interaction is currently unknown. The initial part of the thesis describes the experimental work on expression and purification of the recombinant L- and P-selectin constructs in Pichia pastoris, Escherichia coli and HEK 293 cells. The aim of these experiments was to produce two constructs for each selectin, a single domain construct, consisting of the C-type lectin domain only, and a double domain construct, consisting of both the C-type lectin and the EGF-like domains. The intention was that the recombinant proteins would be labelled with 13C and 15N to allow for the in-depth structural NMR studies on the fCS-selectin interaction. Various experimental approaches have been explored, including the use of different cell lines, modifications to construct design, as well as alterations to expression and purification conditions. Although it was not possible to produce soluble selectin constructs in either bacterial or yeast cells, protein expression tests in HEK293 cells, performed in collaboration with the Oxford Protein Production facility (OPPF), led to production of a soluble L-selectin construct, consisting of the L-selectin C-type lectin domain. The produced L-selectin construct, as well as two commercially available constructs of the Land P-selectin extracellular domains, were used in the Saturation Transfer Difference (STD) NMR experiments to provide new information about the nature of the fCS-selectin binding. The STD experiments allowed to identify the regions within the fCS oligosaccharides that are in direct contact with the protein and likely play an important role in this interaction. Experiments on different protein constructs allowed the comparison of fCS binding to P-selectin and to two different recombinant constructs of L-selectin. Results of these studies suggest that the binding occurs via a similar mechanism for both L- and P-selectins and that the fCS oligosaccharides bind to one-domain L-selectin construct with similar affinity as to a larger construct, consisting of the entire extracellular region of the protein. Alongside the experimental work, theoretical in silico studies on the fCS-selectin binding were undertaken as part of this project. The existing X-ray structures of selectin complexes were subjected to Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations, which allowed to explore the dynamic behaviour of E-selectin upon binding to sialyl Lewis x (sLex). It was found that sLex forms a more favourable interaction with the extended conformation of E-selectin and that the protein in this conformation is characterised by a high degree of interdomain flexibility, with a new type of interdomain movement observed in the MD studies on this complex. In further in silico studies, the fCS oligosaccharides were docked to the existing P-selectin structures. The docking tests were performed on the computationally produced fCS trisaccharides with fucose branches either 2,4 or 3,4-sulfated. Results were evaluated with MD simulations and analysed in the light of current knowledge of selectin-ligand binding and the STD NMR experimental results. The in silico studies allowed to identify a subset of P-selectin residues that are likely involved in the interaction with fCS oligosaccharides in vivo. The conformational behaviour of P-selectin upon binding to fCS was also explored and it was found that the interdomain hinge is flexible during this interaction and allows transition from bent to extended conformational state. Finally, a new NMR method was developed to facilitate the studies of complex carbohydrates, incorporating the concepts of G-matrix Fourier Transform (GFT) NMR into 2D HSQC and 2D HSQC-TOCSY experiments. The method allows to separate peaks in the regions of high spectral overlap, providing information that can simplify the assignment process. The new experiments facilitated the structural evaluation of a sample containing a mixture of oligosaccharides resulting from the depolymerisation of fCS polysaccharide.
Supervisor: Uhrin, Dusan ; Barlow, Paul Sponsor: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: NMR ; molecular dynamics ; protein production ; selectins ; chondroitin sulfate ; marine ; carbohydrates ; sea cucumber ; STD ; GFT ; protein interactions