Czech National Centre of the European Research Infrastructure Consortium INSTRUCT ERIC

Czech Infrastructure for Integrative Structural Biology – CIISB

Structure without function is a corpse, function without structure is a ghost.

Steven Vogel and Stephen A. Wainwright, 1969


A gateway to realm of structural data for biochemists, biophysicists, molecular biologist, and all scientists whose research benefits from accurate structure determination of biological macromolecules, assemblies, and complex molecular machineries at atomic resolution.

Open access to 10 high-end core facilities and assisted expertise in NMR, X-ray crystallography and crystallization, cryo-electron microscopy and tomography, biophysical characterization of biomolecular interaction, nanobiotechnology, proteomics and structural mass spectrometry.

A distributed infrastructure constituted by Core Facilities of CEITEC (Central European Institute of Technology), located in Brno, and BIOCEV (Biotechnology and Biomedicine Centre), located in Vestec near Prague, Central Bohemia.

Research Highlights

the best of science obtained using CIISB Core Facilities

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019

Nature Index Journal

The unstructured C-terminal domain of delta subunit of bacterial RNA Polymerase is 90 aa long and highly charged. The charge distribution of this domain is distinct, with a conserved stretch of 9 residues (96−104) containing 7 positive charges followed by the rest of the domain with 51 acidic residues (K-D/E motif). A previous study demonstrated that the two parts of the motif transiently interact, and this affects the spatiotemporal properties of this domain. From the biological point of view, δ increases cell fitness and virulence of pathogens and was previously proposed to function as a nucleic acid mimic and affect RNAP− nucleic acid interactions.

Lukáš Žídek Research Group


Electrostatic interactions play important roles in the functional mechanisms exploited by intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). The atomic resolution description of long-range and local structural propensities that can both be crucial for the function of highly charged IDPs presents significant experimental challenges. Here, we investigate the conformational behavior of the δ subunit of RNA polymerase from Bacillus subtilis whose unfolded domain is highly charged, with 7 positively charged amino acids followed by 51 acidic amino acids. Using a specifically designed analytical strategy, we identify transient contacts between the two regions using a combination of NMR paramagnetic relaxation enhancements, residual dipolar couplings (RDCs), chemical shifts, and small-angle scattering. This strategy allows the resolution of long-range and local ensemble averaged structural contributions to the experimental RDCs, and reveals that the negatively charged segment folds back onto the positively charged strand, compacting the conformational sampling of the protein while remaining highly flexible in solution. Mutation of the positively charged region abrogates the long-range contact, leaving the disordered domain in an extended conformation, possibly due to local repulsion of like-charges along the chain. Remarkably, in-vitro studies show that this mutation also has a significant effect on transcription activity, and results in diminished cell fitness of the mutated bacteria in vivo. This study highlights the importance of accurately describing electrostatic interactions for understanding the functional mechanisms of IDPs.

Kuban, V.,  Srb, P.,  Stegnerova, H., Padrta, P., Zachrdla, M., Jasenakova, Z., Sanderova, H., Vitovska, D., Krasny, L..,Koval, T., Dohnalek, J., Ziemska-Legiecka, J., Grynberg, M., Jarnot, P., Gruca, A., Jensen, M.R., Blackledge, M., and Zidek, L.: Quantitative Conformational Analysis of Functionally Important Electrostatic Interactions in the Intrinsically Disordered Region of Delta Subunit of Bacterial RNA Polymerase,  J. Am. Chem. Soc.  2019, 141, 16817-16828, DOI:10.1021/jacs.9b07837

Science Advances 2019

Nature Index Journal

Virion and genome organization of phage P68. (A and B) Structures of P68 virion, (C) genome release intermediate, and (D) empty particle. The whole P68 virion is shown in (A), whereas particles without the front half are shown in (B) to (D). The structures are colored to distinguish individual types of structural proteins and DNA. (E) Schematic diagram of P68 genome organization, with structural proteins color-coded in accordance with the structure diagrams shown in (A) to (D).

Pavel Plevka Research Group


Phages infecting Staphylococcus aureus can be used as therapeutics against antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. However, there is limited information about the mechanism of genome delivery of phages that infect Gram-positive bacteria. Here, we present the structures of native S. aureus phage P68, genome ejection intermediate, and empty particle. The P68 head contains 72 subunits of inner core protein, 15 of which bind to and alter the structure of adjacent major capsid proteins and thus specify attachment sites for head fibers. Unlike in the previously studied phages, the head fibers of P68 enable its virion to position itself at the cell surface for genome delivery. The unique interaction of one end of P68 DNA with one of the 12 portal protein subunits is disrupted before the genome ejection. The inner core proteins are released together with the DNA and enable the translocation of phage genome across the bacterial membrane into the cytoplasm.

Hrebík, D., Štveráková, D., Škubník, K., Füzik, T., Pantůček, R., and Plevka, P.: Structure and genome ejection mechanism of Staphylococcus aureus phage P68, Sci. Adv. 2019, 5(10), eaaw7414, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw7414



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Reader’s Corner

literature to read, science to follow

In this section, a distinct selection of six highly stimulating research publications and reviews published during past 6 months is presented. It is our hope that links to exciting science, which deserves attention of the structural biology community, will help you to locate gems in the steadily expanding jungle of scientific literature. You are welcome to point out to any paper you found interesting by sending a link or citation to The section is being updated regularly.


Reader’s Corner Archive

Quote of December

“Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.”

Wernher von Braun