The purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, expresses a diverse immune response protein family called Sp185/333. A recombinant Sp185/333 protein, previously called rSp0032, shows multitasking antipathogen binding ability, suggesting that the protein family mediates a flexible and effective immune response to multiple foreign cells. Bioinformatic analysis predicts that rSp0032 is intrinsically disordered, and its multiple binding characteristic suggests structural flexibility to adopt different conformations depending on the characteristics of the target. To address the flexibility and structural shifting hypothesis, circular dichroism analysis of rSp0032 suggests that it transforms from disordered (random coil) to α helical structure. This structural transformation may be the basis for the strong affinity between rSp0032 and several pathogen-associated molecular patterns. The N-terminal Gly-rich fragment of rSp0032 and the C-terminal His-rich fragment show unique transformations by either intensifying the α helical structure or changing from α helical to β strand depending on the solvents and molecules added to the buffer. Based on these results, we propose a name change from rSp0032 to rSpTransformer-E1 to represent its flexible structural conformations and its E1 element pattern. Given that rSpTransformer-E1 shifts its conformation in the presence of solvents and binding targets and that all Sp185/333 proteins are predicted to be disordered, many or all of these proteins may undergo structural transformation to enable multitasking binding activity toward a wide range of targets. Consequently, we also propose an overarching name change for the entire family from Sp185/333 proteins to SpTransformer proteins.
This work was supported by funding from the Wilbur V. Harlan Trust of the Department of Biological Sciences at George Washington University, the Cosmos Club (Washington, DC), and Columbian College of Arts and Sciences summer dissertation fellowships (to C.M.L.), as well as by National Science Foundation Grants IOS-1146124 and IOS-1550474 (to L.C.S.).
The online version of this article contains supplemental material.
- Received October 20, 2016.
- Accepted January 26, 2017.
- Copyright © 2017 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.