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Perfect Hemihedral Twinning in Crystals of the γ-Subunit of Translation Initiation Factor 2 from Sulfolobus solfataricus: Cause and Effect

O. V. Kravchenko*, O. S. Nikonov, N. A. Nevskaya, E. A. Stolboushkina, V. I. Arkhipova, M. B. Garber, and S. V. Nikonov

Institute of Protein Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, 142290 Pushchino, Moscow Region, Russia; E-mail: kravchenko.olesya@gmail.com, nikonov@vega.protres.ru, nevskaya@protres.ru

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received July 8, 2016; Revision received August 2, 2016
The crystal structure of the γ-subunit of translation initiation factor 2 from the archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus (SsoIF2γ) has been solved based on perfectly hemihedral twinned data. The protein was cocrystallized with the 10-fold molar excess of GTP analog (GDPCP) over protein. However, no nucleotide was found in the structure, and the model demonstrated the apo form of the protein. Two slightly different molecules in the asymmetric unit of the crystal are related by the non-crystallographic 2-fold axis and form a tightly associated dimer. This dimer is stabilized by an intermolecular hydrophobic core and hydrogen bonds. Lack of GDPCP in the nucleotide-binding pocket of the γ-subunit and significant excess of dimers over monomers in the crystallization solution suggest that these dimers are the building blocks of the crystal. Contrary to SsoIF2γ monomers, these dimers are able to crystallize in two oppositely oriented slightly different crystal domains, thus forming a twinned crystal. Comparison of crystallization conditions for the twinned and untwinned crystals of apo SsoIF2γ showed that stabilization of the dimers in the solution may be caused by higher sodium salt concentration. Since amino acid residues involved in intermolecular contacts in the dimer are responsible for binding of the γ- and α-subunits within SsoIF2, increase in sodium salt concentration may prevent functioning of SsoIF2 in the cell.
KEY WORDS: translation initiation factor 2, Sulfolobus solfataricus, crystal structure, hemihedral twinning

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297916100187