ResearchPad - chemical-physics https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Concept of an artificial muscle design on polypyrrole nanofiber scaffolds]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_8464 Here we present the synthesis and characterization of two new conducting materials having a high electro-chemo-mechanical activity for possible applications as artificial muscles or soft smart actuators in biomimetic structures. Glucose-gelatin nanofiber scaffolds (CFS) were coated with polypyrrole (PPy) first by chemical polymerization followed by electrochemical polymerization doped with dodecylbenzensulfonate (DBS-) forming CFS-PPy/DBS films, or with trifluoromethanesulfonate (CF3SO3-, TF) giving CFS-PPy/TF films. The composition, electronic and ionic conductivity of the materials were determined using different techniques. The electro-chemo-mechanical characterization of the films was carried out by cyclic voltammetry and square wave potential steps in bis(trifluoromethane)sulfonimide lithium solutions of propylene carbonate (LiTFSI-PC). Linear actuation of the CFS-PPy/DBS material exhibited 20% of strain variation with a stress of 0.14 MPa, rather similar to skeletal muscles. After 1000 cycles, the creeping effect was as low as 0,2% having a good long-term stability showing a strain variation per cycle of -1.8% (after 1000 cycles). Those material properties are excellent for future technological applications as artificial muscles, batteries, smart membranes, and so on.

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<![CDATA[Chemomechanical origin of directed locomotion driven by internal chemical signals]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7721 Asymmetry in the interaction between an individual and its environment is generally considered essential for the directional properties of active matter, but can directional locomotions and their transitions be generated only from intrinsic chemical dynamics and its modulation? Here, we examine this question by simulating the locomotion of a bioinspired active gel in a homogeneous environment. We find that autonomous directional locomotion emerges in the absence of asymmetric interaction with the environment and that a transition between modes of gel locomotion can be induced by adjusting the spatially uniform intensity of illumination or certain kinetic and mechanical system parameters. The internal wave dynamics and its structural modulation act as the impetus for signal-driven active locomotion in a manner similar to the way in which an animal’s locomotion is generated via driving by nerve pulses. Our results may have implications for the development of soft robots and biomimetic materials.

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<![CDATA[Cobalt ion interaction with TMEM16A calcium-activated chloride channel: Inhibition and potentiation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nba3bff3f-41a4-460d-bc9b-3a7adada8996

TMEM16A, a Ca2+-sensitive Cl- channel, plays key roles in many physiological functions related to Cl- transport across lipid membranes. Activation of this channel is mediated via binding intracellular Ca2+ to the channel with a relatively high apparent affinity, roughly in the sub-μM to low μM concentration range. Recently available high-resolution structures of TMEM16 molecules reveal that the high-affinity Ca2+ activation sites are formed by several acidic amino acids, using their negatively charged sidechain carboxylates to coordinate the bound Ca2+. In this study, we examine the interaction of TMEM16A with a divalent cation, Co2+, which by itself cannot activate current in TMEM16A. This divalent cation, however, has two effects when applied intracellularly. It inhibits the Ca2+-induced TMEM16A current by competing with Ca2+ for the aforementioned high-affinity activation sites. In addition, Co2+ also potentiates the Ca2+-induced current with a low affinity. This potentiation effect requires high concentration (mM) of Co2+, similar to our previous findings that high concentrations (mM) of intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) can induce more TMEM16A current after the Ca2+-activation sites are saturated by tens of μM [Ca2+]i. The degrees of potentiation by Co2+ and Ca2+ also roughly correlate with each other. Interestingly, mutating a pore residue of TMEM16A, Y589, alters the degree of potentiation in that the smaller the sidechain of the replaced residue, the larger the potentiation induced by divalent cations. We suggest that the Co2+ potentiation and the Ca2+ potentiation share a similar mechanism by increasing Cl- flux through the channel pore, perhaps due to an increase of positive pore potential after the binding of divalent cations to phospholipids in the pore. A smaller sidechain of a pore residue may allow the pore to accommodate more phospholipids, thus enhancing the current potentiation caused by high concentrations of divalent cations.

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<![CDATA[A novel physical mechanism of liquid flow slippage on a solid surface]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N9132b23f-a7eb-4b1e-bc92-1a449457a2a3

We show how shear flow enhances the density fluctuation of a liquid near the wall and leads to flow slippage.

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<![CDATA[Weak-field induced nonmagnetic state in a Co-based honeycomb]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N0c29f2ad-27fb-4f4a-a051-52ccc24189f5

The order associated with non-Kitaev interactions in a 3d layered honeycomb magnet is suppressed by a low magnetic field.

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<![CDATA[On the design of precision nanomedicines]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N4108555e-2f38-4dba-812f-05f72c39f2ca

We propose nanomedicines able to target cells phenotypically that bind when a precise combination of receptors is expressed.

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<![CDATA[Real-time observation of water radiolysis and hydrated electron formation induced by extreme-ultraviolet pulses]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N7a249a53-fc1a-4508-b071-cc4e269c3bdc

The earliest stages of hydrated electron formation are revealed by femtosecond extreme ultraviolet photoelectron imaging.

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<![CDATA[Inverting singlet and triplet excited states using strong light-matter coupling]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Ne9ae9391-0501-4778-888e-e3b57f93022b

Molecules sandwiched in an optical cavity can form hybrid light-matter states at energies below the dark spin triplet state.

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<![CDATA[The tumor suppressor p53 can promote collective cellular migration]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df35cd5eed0c4845811ac

Loss of function of the tumor suppressor p53 is known to increase the rate of migration of cells transiting the narrow pores of the traditional Boyden chamber assay. Here by contrast we investigate how p53 impacts the rate of cellular migration within a 2D confluent cell layer and a 3D collagen-embedded multicellular spheroid. We use two human carcinoma cell lines, the bladder carcinoma EJ and the colorectal carcinoma HCT116. In the confluent 2-D cell layer, for both EJ and HCT cells the migratory speeds and effective diffusion coefficients for the p53 null cells were significantly smaller than in p53-expressing cells. Compared to p53 expressers, p53-null cells exhibited more organized cortical actin rings together with reduced front-rear cell polarity. Furthermore, loss of p53 caused cells to exert smaller traction forces upon their substrates, and reduced formation of cryptic lamellipodia. In the 3D multicellular spheroid, loss of p53 consistently reduced collective cellular migration into surrounding collagen matrix. As regards the role of p53 in cellular migration, extrapolation from the Boyden chamber assay to other cellular microenvironments is seen to be fraught even in terms of the sign of the effect. Together, these paradoxical results show that the effects of p53 on cellular migration are context-dependent.

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<![CDATA[Optimal diameter reduction ratio of acinar airways in human lungs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca2ead5eed0c48441ed50

In the airway network of a human lung, the airway diameter gradually decreases through multiple branching. The diameter reduction ratio of the conducting airways that transport gases without gas exchange is 0.79, but this reduction ratio changes to 0.94 in acinar airways beyond transitional bronchioles. While the reduction in the conducting airways was previously rationalized on the basis of Murray’s law, our understanding of the design principle behind the acinar airways has been far from clear. Here we elucidate that the change in gas transfer mode is responsible for the transition in the diameter reduction ratio. The oxygen transfer rate per unit surface area is maximized at the observed geometry of acinar airways, which suggests the minimum cost for the construction and maintenance of the acinar airways. The results revitalize and extend the framework of Murray’s law over an entire human lung.

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<![CDATA[The molecular structure of β-alanine is resistant to sterilising doses of gamma radiation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c478c76d5eed0c484bd2752

β-alanine is the rate-limiting point for the endogenous synthesis of carnosine in skeletal muscle. Carnosine has a wide range of implications for health, normal function and exercise performance. Whilst the physiological relevance of carnosine to different tissues remains enigmatic, β-alanine administration is a useful strategy to investigate the physiological roles of carnosine in humans. Intravenous administration of β-alanine is an interesting approach to study carnosine metabolism. However, sterilisation is mandatory due to the nature of the administration route. We evaluated whether sterilising doses of gamma radiation damages the molecular structure and leads to the loss of functional characteristics of β-alanine. Pure β-alanine was sterilised by gamma radiation in sealed glass vials using a 60Co multipurpose irradiator at a dose rate of 8.5 kGy.hour-1 totalising 10, 20, 25 30 and 40 kGy. The molecular integrity was assessed by X-ray Diffraction and changes in content were determined by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (UV-HPLC) and Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer (HPLC/MS-MS). Sterility assurance was evaluated by inoculation assay. To examine whether functional properties were preserved, β-alanine was infused in one participant, who rated the level of paraesthesia on the skin using a 0–3 scale. Urinary β-alanine was quantified before and 24-h following β-alanine infusion using HPLC-ESI+-MS/MS. Irradiation resulted in no change in the crystal structure of β-alanine, no degradation, and no new peaks were identified in the dose range assayed. The inoculation assay showed the absence of viable microorganisms in all β-alanine samples, including those that did not undergo irradiation. Intravenous infusion of β-alanine resulted in paraesthesia and it detected in the urine as per normal. We conclude that gamma radiation is a suitable technique for the sterilisation of β-alanine. It does not lead to degradation, damage to the β-alanine structure, content or loss of function within the evaluated irradiation conditions.

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<![CDATA[Base composition is the primary factor responsible for the variation of amino acid usage in zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c117b88d5eed0c4846998fc

In the present study, we carried out an examination of the amino acid usage in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) proteome. We found that tRNA abundance, base composition, hydrophobicity and aromaticity, protein second structure, cysteine residue (Cys) content and protein molecular weight had significant impact on the amino acid usage of the zebra finch. The above factors explained the total variability of 22.85%, 25.37%, 10.91%, 5.06%, 4.21%, and 3.14%, respectively. Altogether, approximately 70% of the total variability in zebra finch could be explained by such factors. Comparison of the amino acid usage between zebra finch, chicken (Gallus gallus) and human (Homo sapiens) suggested that the average frequency of various amino acid usage is generally consistent among them. Correspondence analysis indicated that base composition was the primary factor affecting the amino acid usage in zebra finch. This trend was different from chicken, but similar to human. Other factors affecting the amino acid usage in zebra finch, such as isochore structure, protein second structure, Cys frequency and protein molecular weight also showed the similar trends with human. We do not know whether the similar amino acid usage trend between human and zebra finch is related to the distinctive neural and behavioral traits, but it is worth studying in depth.

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<![CDATA[Uterine contractility changes in a perfused swine uterus model induced by local anesthetics procaine, lidocaine, and ropivacaine]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c12cf97d5eed0c4849149f9

Background

Local anesthetics (LAs) are increasingly used as therapeutics due to their multiple molecular effects. They may be potential agents also in gynecology and reproductive medicine. The objective of this study was to investigate the contractility response of the perfused swine uterus to different concentrations of the LAs procaine, lidocaine, and ropivacaine.

Methods and findings

In an extracorporeal perfusion model with fresh swine uteri, effects of administered boli of these three LAs in concentrations of 0.1 mg/mL, 0.5 mg/mL and 1.0 mg/mL on uterine contractility and peristalsis were assessed using an intrauterine double-chip micro-catheter. A dose-dependent increase in intrauterine pressure (IUP) in the isthmus and corpus uteri was observed after the administration of the ester-LA procaine 0.1, 0.5, and 1.0%, which was not seen with lower concentrations, or buffer solution. An increase-decrease curve was found after increasing concentrations of the amide-LA lidocaine and ropivacaine, with an IUP plateau with 0.1 and 0.5%, and a decrease with 1% (p<0.01). All reactions were seen in both the isthmus and corpus uteri. The difference of the contractility pattern between ester- and amide-LA at 1% concentration was significant.

Conclusion

LAs dose-dependently modulate contractility in non-pregnant swine uteri. The amid-LAs lidocaine and ropivacaine reduce contractility in higher concentrations and may be used as therapeutics in disorders with increased uterine contractility, as dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis, and infertility. The multiple molecular effects of LAs may explain these effects. This in-vitro pilot study in vitro provides initial data for designing further studies to transfer the results onto humans.

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<![CDATA[Structural insight into substrate and product binding in an archaeal mevalonate kinase]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c12cf8ed5eed0c484914932

Mevalonate kinase (MK) is a key enzyme of the mevalonate pathway, which produces the biosynthetic precursors for steroids, including cholesterol, and isoprenoids, the largest class of natural products. Currently available crystal structures of MK from different organisms depict the enzyme in its unbound, substrate-bound, and inhibitor-bound forms; however, until now no structure has yet been determined of MK bound to its product, 5-phosphomevalonate. Here, we present crystal structures of mevalonate-bound and 5-phosphomevalonate-bound MK from Methanosarcina mazei (MmMK), a methanogenic archaeon. In contrast to the prior structure of a eukaryotic MK bound with mevalonate, we find a striking lack of direct interactions between this archaeal MK and its substrate. Further, these two MmMK structures join the prior structure of the apoenzyme to complete the first suite of structural snapshots that depict unbound, substrate-bound, and product-bound forms of the same MK. With this collection of structures, we now provide additional insight into the catalytic mechanism of this biologically essential enzyme.

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<![CDATA[Binding of the general anesthetic sevoflurane to ion channels]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c059df1d5eed0c4849c981e

The direct-site hypothesis assumes general anesthetics bind ion channels to impact protein equilibrium and function, inducing anesthesia. Despite advancements in the field, a first principle all-atom demonstration of this structure-function premise is still missing. We focus on the clinically used sevoflurane interaction to anesthetic-sensitive Kv1.2 mammalian channel to resolve if sevoflurane binds protein’s well-characterized open and closed structures in a conformation-dependent manner to shift channel equilibrium. We employ an innovative approach relying on extensive docking calculations and free-energy perturbation of all potential binding sites revealed by the latter, and find sevoflurane binds open and closed structures at multiple sites under complex saturation and concentration effects. Results point to a non-trivial interplay of site and conformation-dependent modes of action involving distinct binding sites that increase channel open-probability at diluted ligand concentrations. Given the challenge in exploring more complex processes potentially impacting channel-anesthetic interaction, the result is revealing as it demonstrates the process of multiple anesthetic binding events alone may account for open-probability shifts recorded in measurements.

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<![CDATA[Paxillin phosphorylation at serine 273 and its effects on Rac, Rho and adhesion dynamics]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b4a1919463d7e428027f887

Focal adhesions are protein complexes that anchor cells to the extracellular matrix. During migration, the growth and disassembly of these structures are spatiotemporally regulated, with new adhesions forming at the leading edge of the cell and mature adhesions disassembling at the rear. Signalling proteins and structural cytoskeletal components tightly regulate adhesion dynamics. Paxillin, an adaptor protein within adhesions, is one of these proteins. Its phosphorylation at serine 273 (S273) is crucial for maintaining fast adhesion assembly and disassembly. Paxillin is known to bind to a GIT1-βPIX-PAK1 complex, which increases the local activation of the small GTPase Rac. To understand quantitatively the behaviour of this system and how it relates to adhesion assembly/disassembly, we developed a mathematical model describing the dynamics of the small GTPases Rac and Rho as determined by paxillin S273 phosphorylation. Our model revealed that the system possesses bistability, where switching between uninduced (active Rho) and induced (active Rac) states can occur through a change in rate of paxillin phosphorylation or PAK1 activation. The bistable switch is characterized by the presence of memory, minimal change in the levels of active Rac and Rho within the induced and uninduced states, respectively, and the limited regime of monostability associated with the uninduced state. These results were validated experimentally by showing the presence of bimodality in adhesion assembly and disassembly rates, and demonstrating that Rac activity increases after treating Chinese Hamster Ovary cells with okadaic acid (a paxillin phosphatase inhibitor), followed by a modest recovery after 20 min washout. Spatial gradients of phosphorylated paxillin in a reaction-diffusion model gave rise to distinct regions of Rac and Rho activities, resembling polarization of a cell into front and rear. Perturbing several parameters of the model also revealed important insights into how signalling components upstream and downstream of paxillin phosphorylation affect dynamics.

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<![CDATA[Covalent Bonding of Pyrrolobenzodiazepines (PBDs) to Terminal Guanine Residues within Duplex and Hairpin DNA Fragments]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da88ab0ee8fa60b9cdcd

Pyrrolobenzodiazepines (PBDs) are covalent-binding DNA-interactive agents with growing importance as payloads in Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs). Until now, PBDs were thought to covalently bond to C2-NH2 groups of guanines in the DNA-minor groove across a three-base-pair recognition sequence. Using HPLC/MS methodology with designed hairpin and duplex oligonucleotides, we have now demonstrated that the PBD Dimer SJG-136 and the C8-conjugated PBD Monomer GWL-78 can covalently bond to a terminal guanine of DNA, with the PBD skeleton spanning only two base pairs. Control experiments with the non-C8-conjugated anthramycin along with molecular dynamics simulations suggest that the C8-substituent of a PBD Monomer, or one-half of a PBD Dimer, may provide stability for the adduct. This observation highlights the importance of PBD C8-substituents, and also suggests that PBDs may bind to terminal guanines within stretches of DNA in cells, thus representing a potentially novel mechanism of action at the end of DNA strand breaks.

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<![CDATA[Characterisation of the Porphyromonas gingivalis Manganese Transport Regulator Orthologue]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f3ab0ee8fa60b6f13e

PgMntR is a predicted member of the DtxR family of transcriptional repressors responsive to manganese in the anaerobic periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis. Our bioinformatic analyses predicted that PgMntR had divalent metal binding site(s) with elements of both manganous and ferrous ion specificity and that PgMntR has unusual twin C-terminal FeoA domains. We produced recombinant PgMntR and four variants to probe the specificity of metal binding and its impact on protein structure and DNA binding. PgMntR dimerised in the absence of a divalent transition metal cation. PgMntR bound three Mn(II) per monomer with an overall dissociation constant Kd 2.0 x 10−11 M at pH 7.5. PgMntR also bound two Fe(II) with distinct binding affinities, Kd1 2.5 x 10−10 M and Kd2 ≤ 6.0 x 10−8 M at pH 6.8. Two of the metal binding sites may form a binuclear centre with two bound Mn2+ being bridged by Cys108 but this centre provided only one site for Fe2+. Binding of Fe2+ or Mn2+ did not have a marked effect on the PgMntR secondary structure. Apo-PgMntR had a distinct affinity for the promoter region of the gene encoding the only known P. gingivalis manganese transporter, FB2. Mn2+ increased the DNA binding affinity of PgMntR whilst Fe2+ destabilised the protein-DNA complex in vitro. PgMntR did not bind the promoter DNA of the gene encoding the characterised iron transporter FB1. The C-terminal FeoA domain was shown to be essential for PgMntR structure/function, as its removal caused the introduction of an intramolecular disulfide bond and abolished the binding of Mn2+ and DNA. These data indicate that PgMntR is a novel member of the DtxR family that may function as a transcriptional repressor switch to specifically regulate manganese transport and homeostasis in an iron-dependent manner.

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<![CDATA[Molecular Basis of Ligand-Dependent Regulation of NadR, the Transcriptional Repressor of Meningococcal Virulence Factor NadA]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da6eab0ee8fa60b940bb

Neisseria adhesin A (NadA) is present on the meningococcal surface and contributes to adhesion to and invasion of human cells. NadA is also one of three recombinant antigens in the recently-approved Bexsero vaccine, which protects against serogroup B meningococcus. The amount of NadA on the bacterial surface is of direct relevance in the constant battle of host-pathogen interactions: it influences the ability of the pathogen to engage human cell surface-exposed receptors and, conversely, the bacterial susceptibility to the antibody-mediated immune response. It is therefore important to understand the mechanisms which regulate nadA expression levels, which are predominantly controlled by the transcriptional regulator NadR (Neisseria adhesin A Regulator) both in vitro and in vivo. NadR binds the nadA promoter and represses gene transcription. In the presence of 4-hydroxyphenylacetate (4-HPA), a catabolite present in human saliva both under physiological conditions and during bacterial infection, the binding of NadR to the nadA promoter is attenuated and nadA expression is induced. NadR also mediates ligand-dependent regulation of many other meningococcal genes, for example the highly-conserved multiple adhesin family (maf) genes, which encode proteins emerging with important roles in host-pathogen interactions, immune evasion and niche adaptation. To gain insights into the regulation of NadR mediated by 4-HPA, we combined structural, biochemical, and mutagenesis studies. In particular, two new crystal structures of ligand-free and ligand-bound NadR revealed (i) the molecular basis of ‘conformational selection’ by which a single molecule of 4-HPA binds and stabilizes dimeric NadR in a conformation unsuitable for DNA-binding, (ii) molecular explanations for the binding specificities of different hydroxyphenylacetate ligands, including 3Cl,4-HPA which is produced during inflammation, (iii) the presence of a leucine residue essential for dimerization and conserved in many MarR family proteins, and (iv) four residues (His7, Ser9, Asn11 and Phe25), which are involved in binding 4-HPA, and were confirmed in vitro to have key roles in the regulatory mechanism in bacteria. Overall, this study deepens our molecular understanding of the sophisticated regulatory mechanisms of the expression of nadA and other genes governed by NadR, dependent on interactions with niche-specific signal molecules that may play important roles during meningococcal pathogenesis.

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<![CDATA[Crystal structure and structure-based mutagenesis of actin-specific ADP-ribosylating toxin CPILE-a as novel enterotoxin]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc74d

Unusual outbreaks of food poisoning in Japan were reported in which Clostridium perfringens was strongly suspected to be the cause based on epidemiological information and fingerprinting of isolates. The isolated strains lack the typical C. perfringens enterotoxin (CPE) but secrete a new enterotoxin consisting of two components: C. perfringens iota-like enterotoxin-a (CPILE-a), which acts as an enzymatic ADP-ribosyltransferase, and CPILE-b, a membrane binding component. Here we present the crystal structures of apo-CPILE-a, NAD+-CPILE-a and NADH-CPILE-a. Though CPILE-a structure has high similarity with known iota toxin-a (Ia) with NAD+, it possesses two extra-long protruding loops from G262-S269 and E402-K408 that are distinct from Ia. Based on the Ia–actin complex structure, we focused on actin-binding interface regions (I-V) including two protruding loops (PT) and examined how mutations in these regions affect the ADP-ribosylation activity of CPILE-a. Though some site-directed mutagenesis studies have already been conducted on the actin binding site of Ia, in the present study, mutagenesis studies were conducted against both α- and β/γ-actin in CPILE-a and Ia. Interestingly, CPILE-a ADP-ribosylates both α- and β/γ-actin, but its sensitivity towards β/γ-actin is 36% compared with α-actin. Our results contrast to that only C2-I ADP-ribosylates β/γ-actin. We also showed that PT-I and two convex-concave interactions in CPILE-a are important for actin binding. The current study is the first detailed analysis of site-directed mutagenesis in the actin binding region of Ia and CPILE-a against both α- and β/γ-actin.

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