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Designing Conformational Control of Human Tissue Transglutaminase


Berry, Alexandria Helen T. (2014) Designing Conformational Control of Human Tissue Transglutaminase. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/WW1E-VT19.


Understanding the mechanisms of enzymes is crucial for our understanding of their role in biology and for designing methods to perturb or harness their activities for medical treatments, industrial processes, or biological engineering. One aspect of enzymes that makes them difficult to fully understand is that they are in constant motion, and these motions and the conformations adopted throughout these transitions often play a role in their function.

Traditionally, it has been difficult to isolate a protein in a particular conformation to determine what role each form plays in the reaction or biology of that enzyme. A new technology, computational protein design, makes the isolation of various conformations possible, and therefore is an extremely powerful tool in enabling a fuller understanding of the role a protein conformation plays in various biological processes.

One such protein that undergoes large structural shifts during different activities is human type II transglutaminase (TG2). TG2 is an enzyme that exists in two dramatically different conformational states: (1) an open, extended form, which is adopted upon the binding of calcium, and (2) a closed, compact form, which is adopted upon the binding of GTP or GDP. TG2 possess two separate active sites, each with a radically different activity. This open, calcium-bound form of TG2 is believed to act as a transglutaminse, where it catalyzes the formation of an isopeptide bond between the sidechain of a peptide-bound glutamine and a primary amine. The closed, GTP-bound conformation is believed to act as a GTPase. TG2 is also implicated in a variety of biological and pathological processes.

To better understand the effects of TG2’s conformations on its activities and pathological processes, we set out to design variants of TG2 isolated in either the closed or open conformations. We were able to design open-locked and closed-biased TG2 variants, and use these designs to unseat the current understanding of the activities and their concurrent conformations of TG2 and explore each conformation’s role in celiac disease models. This work also enabled us to help explain older confusing results in regards to this enzyme and its activities. The new model for TG2 activity has immense implications for our understanding of its functional capabilities in various environments, and for our ability to understand which conformations need to be inhibited in the design of new drugs for diseases in which TG2’s activities are believed to elicit pathological effects.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:transglutaminase, TG2, computational protein design
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Mayo, Stephen L.
Thesis Committee:
  • Bjorkman, Pamela J. (chair)
  • Tirrell, David A.
  • Rees, Douglas C.
  • Mayo, Stephen L.
Defense Date:20 February 2014
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:02282014-131036761
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8101
Deposited By: Alexandria Berry
Deposited On:24 Mar 2014 17:06
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:03

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