Proteins from the GASA/snakin superfamily are common in plant proteomes and have diverse functions, including hormonal crosstalk, development, and defense. One 63-residue member of this family, snakin-1, an antimicrobial protein from potatoes, has previously been chemically synthesized in a fully active form. Herein the 1.5 Å structure of snakin-1, determined by a novel combination of racemic protein crystallization and radiation-damage-induced phasing (RIP), is reported. Racemic crystals of snakin-1 and quasi-racemic crystals incorporating an unnatural 4-iodophenylalanine residue were prepared from chemically synthesized d- and l-proteins. Breakage of the C-I bonds in the quasi-racemic crystals facilitated structure determination by RIP. The crystal structure reveals a unique protein fold with six disulfide crosslinks, presenting a distinct electrostatic surface that may target the protein to microbial cell surfaces.
Keywords: peptides; protein structures; racemic protein crystallography; solid-phase synthesis.
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