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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Helical crystallization on nickel-lipid nanotubes: perfringolysin O as a model protein.

To facilitate purification and subsequent structural studies of recombinant proteins the most widely used genetically encoded tag is the histidine tag (His-tag) which specifically binds to N-nitrilotriacetic-acid-chelated nickel ions. Lipids derivatized with a nickel-chelating head group can be mixed with galactosylceramide glycolipids to prepare lipid nanotubes that bind His-tagged proteins. In this study, we use His-tagged perfringolysin O ( PFO), a soluble toxin secreted by the bacterial pathogen Clostridium perfringens, as a model protein to test the utility of nickel-lipid nanotubes as a tool for structural studies of His-tagged proteins. PFO is a member of the cholesterol dependent cytolysin family (CDC) of oligomerizing, pore-forming toxins found in a variety of Gram-positive bacterial pathogens. CDC pores have been difficult to study by X-ray crystallography because they are membrane associated and vary in size. We demonstrate that both a wild-type and a mutant form of PFO form helical arrays on nickel-lipid containing nanotubes. Cryo-electron microscopy and image analysis of the helical arrays were used to reconstruct a 3D density map of wild-type PFO. This study suggests that the use of nickel-lipid nanotubes may offer a general approach for structural studies of recombinant proteins and may provide insights into the molecular interactions of proteins that have a natural affinity for a membrane surface.[1]


  1. Helical crystallization on nickel-lipid nanotubes: perfringolysin O as a model protein. Dang, T.X., Milligan, R.A., Tweten, R.K., Wilson-Kubalek, E.M. J. Struct. Biol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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