Selected Publications

Articles, Reviews and Chapters

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Zeytuni N,  Dickey SW, Hu J, Chou HT, Worrall, Alexander JAN, Carlson ML, Nosella M, Doung F,

Yu Z, Otto M, Strynadka NCJ.

Science Advances. 2020 Sep;6(40)

Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen that has acquired alarming broad-spectrum antibiotic resistance. One group of secreted toxins with key roles during infection is the phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs). PSMs are amphipathic, membrane-destructive cytolytic peptides that are exported to the host-cell environment by a designated adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP)-binding cassette (ABC) transporter, the PSM transporter (PmtABCD). Here, we demonstrate that the minimal Pmt unit necessary for PSM export is PmtCD and provide its first atomic characterization by single-particle cryo-EM and x-ray crystallography. We have captured the transporter in the ATP-bound state at near atomic resolution, revealing a type II ABC exporter fold, with an additional cytosolic domain. Comparison to a lower-resolution nucleotide-free map displaying an "open" conformation and putative hydrophobic inner chamber of a size able to accommodate the binding of two PSM peptides provides mechanistic insight and sets the foundation for therapeutic design.

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Zeytuni N, Strynadka NCJ.

Microbiol Spectr. 2019 Jan;7(1)

Bacteria employ a number of dedicated secretion systems to export proteins to the extracellular environment. Several of these comprise large complexes that assemble in and around the bacterial membrane(s) to form specialized channels through which only selected proteins are actively delivered. Although typically associated with bacterial pathogenicity, a specialized variant of these secretion systems has been proposed to play a central part in bacterial sporulation, a primitive protective process that allows starving cells to form spores that survive in extreme environments. Following asymmetric division, the mother cell engulfs the forespore, leaving it surrounded by two bilayer membranes. During the engulfment process an essential channel apparatus is thought to cross both membranes to create a direct conduit between the mother cell and forespore. At least nine proteins are essential for channel formation, including SpoIIQ under forespore control and the eight SpoIIIA proteins (SpoIIIAA to -AH) under mother cell control. Presumed to form a core channel complex, several of these proteins share similarity with components of Gram-negative bacterial secretion systems, including the type II, III, and IV secretion systems and the flagellum. Based on these similarities it has been suggested that the sporulation channel represents a hybrid, secretion-like transport machinery. Recently, in-depth biochemical and structural characterization of the individual channel components accompanied by in vivo studies has further reinforced this model. Here we review and discuss these recent studies and suggest an updated model for the unique sporulation channel apparatus architecture.

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Zeytuni NFlanagan KAWorrall LJMassoni SCCamp AHStrynadka NCJ.

J Struct Biol. 2018 Oct;204(1):1-8

Environmental stress factors initiate the developmental process of sporulation in some Gram-positive bacteria including Bacillus subtilis. Upon sporulation initiation the bacterial cell undergoes a series of morphological transformations that result in the creation of a single dormant spore. Early in sporulation, an asymmetric cell division produces a larger mother cell and smaller forespore. Next, the mother cell septal membrane engulfs the forespore, and an essential channel, the so-called feeding-tube apparatus, is formed. This assembled channel is thought to form a transenvelope secretion complex that crosses both mother cell and forespore membranes. At least nine proteins are essential for channel formation including SpoIIQ under forespore control and the eight SpoIIIA proteins (SpoIIIAA-AH) under mother cell control. Several of these proteins share similarity with components of Gram-negative bacterial secretion systems and the flagellum. Here we report the X-ray crystallographic structure of the soluble domain of SpoIIIAF to 2.7 Å resolution. Like the channel components SpoIIIAG and SpoIIIAH, SpoIIIAF adopts a conserved ring-building motif (RBM) fold found in proteins from numerous dual membrane secretion systems of distinct function. The SpoIIIAF RBM fold contains two unique features: an extended N-terminal helix, associated with multimerization, and an insertion at a loop region that can adopt two distinct conformations. The ability of the same primary sequence to adopt different secondary structure conformations is associated with protein regulation, suggesting a dual structural and regulatory role for the SpoIIIAF RBM. We further analyzed potential interaction interfaces by structure-guided mutagenesis in vivo. Collectively, our data provide new insight into the possible roles of SpoIIIAF within the secretion-like apparatus during sporulation.

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Zeytuni N, Flanagan KA, Worrall LJ, Massoni SC, Camp AH, Strynadka NCJ.​

J Struct Biol. 2018 May;202(2):105-112

Endospore formation in the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis initiates in response to nutrient depletion and involves a series of morphological changes that result in the creation of a dormant spore. Early in this developmental process, the cell undergoes an asymmetric cell division that produces the larger mother cell and smaller forespore, the latter destined to become the mature spore. The mother cell septal membrane then engulfs the forespore, at which time an essential channel, the so-called feeding-tube apparatus, is thought to cross both membranes to create a direct conduit between the cells. At least nine proteins are required to form this channel including SpoIIQ under forespore control and SpoIIIAA-AH under the mother cell control. Several of these proteins share similarity to components of Type-II, -III and -IV secretion systems as well as the flagellum from Gram-negative bacteria. Here we report the X-ray crystallographic structure of the cytosolic domain of SpoIIIAB to 2.3 Å resolution. This domain adopts a conserved, secretion-system related fold of a six membered anti-parallel helical bundle with a positively charged membrane-interaction face at one end and a small groove at the other end that may serve as a binding site for partner proteins in the assembled apparatus. We analyzed and identified potential interaction interfaces by structure-guided mutagenesis in vivo. Furthermore, we were able to identify a remarkable structural homology to the C-subunit of a bacterial V-ATPase. Collectively, our data provides new insight into the possible roles of SpoIIIAB protein within the secretion-like apparatus essential to bacterial sporulation.

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Zeytuni N, Hong C, Flanagan KA, Worrall LJ, Theiltges KA, Vuckovic M, Huang RK, Massoni SC, Camp AH, Yu Z, Strynadka NCJ.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Aug 22;114(34):E7073-E7081.

Bacterial sporulation allows starving cells to differentiate into metabolically dormant spores that can survive extreme conditions. Following asymmetric division, the mother cell engulfs the forespore, surrounding it with two bilayer membranes. During the engulfment process, an essential channel, the so-called feeding tube apparatus, is thought to cross both membranes to create a direct conduit between the mother cell and the forespore. At least nine proteins are required to create this channel, including SpoIIQ and SpoIIIAA-AH. Here, we present the near-atomic resolution structure of one of these proteins, SpoIIIAG, determined by single-particle cryo-EM. A 3D reconstruction revealed that SpoIIIAG assembles into a large and stable 30-fold symmetric complex with a unique mushroom-like architecture. The complex is collectively composed of three distinctive circular structures: a 60-stranded vertical β-barrel that forms a large inner channel encircled by two concentric rings, one β-mediated and the other formed by repeats of a ring-building motif (RBM) common to the architecture of various dual membrane secretion systems of distinct function. Our near-atomic resolution structure clearly shows that SpoIIIAG exhibits a unique and dramatic adaptation of the RBM fold with a unique β-triangle insertion that assembles into the prominent channel, the dimensions of which suggest the potential passage of large macromolecules between the mother cell and forespore during the feeding process. Indeed, mutation of residues located at key interfaces between monomers of this RBM resulted in severe defects both in vivo and in vitro, providing additional support for this unprecedented structure.

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Zeytuni N, Cronin S, Lefèvre CT, Arnoux P, Baran D, Shtein Z, Davidov G, Zarivach R.

PLoS One. 2015 Jun 26;10(6):e0130394.

MamA is a highly conserved protein found in magnetotactic bacteria (MTB), a diverse group of prokaryotes capable of navigating according to magnetic fields - an ability known as magnetotaxis. Questions surround the acquisition of this magnetic navigation ability; namely, whether it arose through horizontal or vertical gene transfer. Though its exact function is unknown, MamA surrounds the magnetosome, the magnetic organelle embedding a biomineralised nanoparticle and responsible for magnetotaxis. Several structures for MamA from a variety of species have been determined and show a high degree of structural similarity. By determining the structure of MamA from Desulfovibrio magneticus RS-1 using X-ray crystallography, we have opened up the structure-sequence landscape. As such, this allows us to perform structural- and phylogenetic-based analyses using a variety of previously determined MamA from a diverse range of MTB species across various phylogenetic groups. We found that MamA has remained remarkably constant throughout evolution with minimal change between different taxa despite sequence variations. These findings, coupled with the generation of phylogenetic trees using both amino acid sequences and 16S rRNA, indicate that magnetotaxis likely did not spread via horizontal gene transfer and instead has a significantly earlier, primordial origin.

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Zeytuni N, Uebe R, Maes M, Davidov G, Baram M, Raschdorf O, Friedler A, Miller Y, Schüler D, Zarivach R.

PLoS One. 2014 May 12;9(5):e97154

Cation diffusion facilitators (CDF) are part of a highly conserved protein family that maintains cellular divalent cation homeostasis in all organisms. CDFs were found to be involved in numerous human health conditions, such as Type-II diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. In this work, we established the magnetite biomineralizing alphaproteobacterium Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense as an effective model system to study CDF-related Type-II diabetes. Here, we introduced two ZnT-8 Type-II diabetes-related mutations into the M. gryphiswaldense MamM protein, a magnetosome-associated CDF transporter essential for magnetite biomineralization within magnetosome vesicles. The mutations' effects on magnetite biomineralization and iron transport within magnetosome vesicles were tested in vivo. Additionally, by combining several in vitro and in silico methodologies we provide new mechanistic insights for ZnT-8 polymorphism at position 325, located at a crucial dimerization site important for CDF regulation and activation. Overall, by following differentiated, easily measurable, magnetism-related phenotypes we can utilize magnetotactic bacteria for future research of CDF-related human diseases.

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Cation diffusion facilitators transport initiation and regulation is mediated by cation induced conformational changes of the cytoplasmic domain.

Zeytuni N, Uebe R, Maes M, Davidov G, Baram M, Raschdorf O, Nadav-Tsubery M, Kolusheva S, Bitton R, Goobes G, Friedler A, Miller Y, Schüler D, Zarivach R.

PLoS One. 2014 Mar 21;9(3):e92141.

Cation diffusion facilitators (CDF) are part of a highly conserved protein family that maintains cellular divalent cation homeostasis in all domains of life. CDF's were shown to be involved in several human diseases, such as Type-II diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. In this work, we employed a multi-disciplinary approach to study the activation mechanism of the CDF protein family. For this we used MamM, one of the main ion transporters of magnetosomes – bacterial organelles that enable magnetotactic bacteria to orientate along geomagnetic fields. Our results reveal that the cytosolic domain of MamM forms a stable dimer that undergoes distinct conformational changes upon divalent cation binding. MamM conformational change is associated with three metal binding sites that were identified and characterized. Altogether, our results provide a novel auto-regulation mode of action model in which the cytosolic domain's conformational changes upon ligand binding allows the priming of the CDF into its transport mode.

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Inter-phylum structural conservation of the magnetosome-associated TPR-containing protein, MamA.

Zeytuni N, Baran D, Davidov G, Zarivach R.

J Struct Biol. 2012 Dec;180(3):479-87

Magnetotactic bacteria enclose the magnetosome, a unique prokaryotic sub-cellular organelle that allows the biomineralization of magnetic nano-crystals. Membrane-coated magnetosomes are arranged into a linear chain that permits magnetotactic bacteria to navigate geomagnetic fields. Magnetosome assembly and biomineralization are controlled by conserved magnetosome-associated proteins, including MamA, a tetra-trico-peptide repeat (TPR)-containing protein that was shown to coat the magnetosome membrane. In this study, two MamA structures from Candidatus Magnetobacterium bavaricum (Mbav) were determined via X-ray crystallography. These structures confirm that Mbav MamA folds as a sequential TPR protein and shares a high degree of structural similarity with homologous MamA proteins from Magnetospirillum species. Furthermore, the two TPR-containing domains of MamA are separated by an interphylum-conserved region containing a flexible hinge that is involved in ligand binding and recognition. Finally, substantial differences were found in the local stabilization of the MamA N-terminal domain as a result of the loss of an evolutionary conserved salt bridge.

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Crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of the C-terminal domain of MamM, a magnetosome-associated protein from Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MSR-1.

Zeytuni N, Offer T, Davidov G, Zarivach R.

Acta Crystallogr Sect F Struct Biol Cryst Commun. 2012 Aug 1;68(Pt 8):927-30

MamM is a unique magnetosome-associated protein that shares substantial homology with cation diffusion facilitator (CDF) proteins, a group of heavy-metal-ion efflux transporters that participate in metal-ion homeostasis in all domains of life. Magnetotactic bacteria utilize CDF proteins in iron-oxide biomineralization and in magnetosome formation. Here, the crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of recombinant Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MamM is reported. The C-terminal domain of MamM was crystallized in the orthorhombic space group C222(1), with unit-cell parameters a = 37.1, b = 94.0, c = 53.3 Å. X-ray diffraction data were collected to a resolution of 2.0 Å.

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Structural and functional discussion of the tetra-trico-peptide repeat, a protein interaction module.

Zeytuni N, Zarivach R.

Structure. 2012 Mar 7;20(3):397-405.

Tetra-trico-peptide repeat (TPR) domains are found in numerous proteins, where they serve as interaction modules and multiprotein complex mediators. TPRs can be found in all kingdoms of life and regulate diverse biological processes, such as organelle targeting and protein import, vesicle fusion, and biomineralization. This review considers the structural features of TPR domains that permit the great ligand-binding diversity of this motif, given that TPR-interacting partners display variations in both sequence and secondary structure. In addition, tools for predicting TPR-interacting partners are discussed, as are the abilities of TPR domains to serve as protein-protein interaction scaffolds in biotechnology and therapeutics.

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Self-recognition mechanism of MamA, a magnetosome-associated TPR-containing protein, promotes complex assembly.

Zeytuni N, Ozyamak E, Ben-Harush K, Davidov G, Levin M, Gat Y, Moyal T, Brik A, Komeili A, Zarivach R.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 16;108(33):E480-7

The magnetosome, a biomineralizing organelle within magnetotactic bacteria, allows their navigation along geomagnetic fields. Magnetosomes are membrane-bound compartments containing magnetic nanoparticles and organized into a chain within the cell, the assembly and biomineralization of magnetosomes are controlled by magnetosome-associated proteins. Here, we describe the crystal structures of the magnetosome-associated protein, MamA, from Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 and Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MSR-1. MamA folds as a sequential tetra-trico-peptide repeat (TPR) protein with a unique hook-like shape. Analysis of the MamA structures indicates two distinct domains that can undergo conformational changes. Furthermore, structural analysis of seven crystal forms verified that the core of MamA is not affected by crystallization conditions and identified three protein-protein interaction sites, namely a concave site, a convex site, and a putative TPR repeat. Additionally, relying on transmission electron microscopy and size exclusion chromatography, we show that highly stable complexes form upon MamA homooligomerization. Disruption of the MamA putative TPR motif or N-terminal domain led to protein mislocalization in vivo and prevented MamA oligomerization in vitro. We, therefore, propose that MamA self-assembles through its putative TPR motif and its concave site to create a large homooligomeric scaffold which can interact with other magnetosome-associated proteins via the MamA convex site. We discuss the structural basis for TPR homooligomerization that allows the proper function of a prokaryotic organelle.

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Crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of the Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 and M. gryphiswaldense MSR-1 magnetosome-associated proteins MamA.

Zeytuni N, Zarivach R.

Acta Crystallogr Sect F Struct Biol Cryst Commun. 2010 Jul 1;66(Pt 7):824-7

MamA is a unique magnetosome-associated protein that is predicted to contain six sequential tetratricopeptide-repeat (TPR) motifs. The TPR structural motif serves as a template for protein-protein interactions and mediates the assembly of multi-protein complexes. Here, the crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of recombinant and purified Magnetospirillum magneticum and M. gryphiswaldense MamA are reported for the first time. M. gryphiswaldense MamADelta41 crystallized in the tetragonal space group P4(1)2(1)2 or P4(3)2(1)2, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 58.88, c = 144.09 A. M. magneticum MamADelta41 crystallized in the orthorhombic space group P2(1)2(1)2(1), with unit-cell parameters a = 44.75, b = 76.19, c = 105.05 A. X-ray diffraction data were collected to resolutions of 2.0 and 1.95 A, respectively.