Czech National Centre of the European Research Infrastructure Consortium INSTRUCT ERIC
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.
What to do when your grant is rejected
Losing out on a grant hurts, but don’t lose heart — average success rates are around 20% among large funders, so grant rejection is common. Discover how to bounce back, find alternative funding and boost your chances of success next time.
Revolutionary cryo-EM is taking over structural biology
The number of protein structures being determined by cryo-electron microscopy is growing at an explosive rate. A report published by Nature on February 10, 2020 says that a revolutionary technique for determining the 3D shape of biomacromolecules is booming. Last week, a database that collects protein and other molecular structures determined by cryo-electron microscopy, or cryo-EM, acquired its 10,000th entry.
Registration for Advanced methods in macromolecular crystallization IX is now open
Proposed deadline for applications for this course which is focused on theoretical aspects of crystal growth process as well as practical work is March 20th 2020.
Advanced methods in macromolecular crystallization IX
The main aim of this course is consideration of theoretical aspects of crystal growth process as well as practical work: there will be a healthy mix of advanced discussions of the theory and of laboratory experiments and the possibility for participants to crystallize their own proteins.
the best of science obtained using CIISB Core Facilities
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019
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.
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
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).
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The section is being updated regularly.
Principles for Integrative Structural Biology Studies
Guru of integrative structural biology computation Andrej Sali and Michale P. Rout summarize in the recent Cell Primer Principles for Integrative Structural Biology Studies.
Integrative Structural Biology of Protein-RNA Complexes
Ribonucleoprotein complexes (RNPs) are central to all processes in the cell. One of the prerequisites to understand how RNPs work is to determine their high-resolution structures. With the recent revolution in cryo-electron microscopy this task has become easier for large RNP machines, such as ribosomes, spliceosomes, and polymerases. However, the transient and highly dynamic nature of many RNPs makes structure determination a challenging task. Thus, an integrative structural and molecular biology approach is required, tackling three key challenges: (1) identification of cognate RNA sequences; (2) collection of structural data by conducting X-ray crystallography, NMR, electron microscopy, small-angle scattering (SAS), and other experiments; and (3) the creation of structural models that integrates all experimental restraints. Given the breadth of expertise required, Janosch Henning et. al. in Structure present an overview of available methods and successful examples with the goal to provide readers with a selection of promising options for structure determination of RNPs.
Structural biology of cell surface receptor-ligand interactions
Plants have evolved unique membrane receptors that interpret native and foreign cues to coordinate plant life and adaptation. This large family of receptor proteins have evolved very diverse ectodomains, acquiring the capacity to sense ligands of very different chemical nature. A mechanistic understanding on how these signaling systems work will help to comprehend and unveil key cell biology questions. The review by Steven Moussou and Julia Santiago in Current Opinion in Plant Biology aims to focus on the latest receptor-ligands interactions and regulatory mechanism that have been structurally characterized, as well as new receptor folds.
Challenges and perspectives for structural biology of lncRNAs-the example of the Xist lncRNA A-repeats
Following the discovery of numerous long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) transcripts in the human genome, their important roles in biology and human disease are emerging. Recent progress in experimental methods has enabled the identification of structural features of lncRNAs. However, determining high-resolution structures is challenging as lncRNAs are expected to be dynamic and adopt multiple conformations, which may be modulated by interaction with protein binding partners. The X-inactive specific transcript (Xist) is necessary for X inactivation during dosage compensation in female placental mammals and one of the best-studied lncRNAs. Recent progress has provided new insights into the domain organization, molecular features, and RNA binding proteins that interact with distinct regions of Xist. The A-repeats located at the 5' end of the transcript are of particular interest as they are essential for mediating silencing of the inactive X chromosome. In this review, recent progress with elucidating structural features of the Xist lncRNA, focusing on the A-repeats is discussed. The experimental and computational approaches employed that have led to distinct structural models, likely reflecting the intrinsic dynamics of this RNA are overviewed. The presence of multiple dynamic conformations may also play an important role in the formation of the associated RNPs, thus influencing the molecular mechanism underlying the biological function of the Xist A-repeats. Alisha Jones and Michael Sattler in Journal of Molecular Cell Biology propose that integrative approaches that combine biochemical experiments and high-resolution structural biology in vitro with chemical probing and functional studies in vivo are required to unravel the molecular mechanisms of lncRNAs.
PEGylated surfaces for the study of DNA–protein interactions by atomic force microscopy
DNA–protein interactions are vital to cellular function, with key roles in the regulation of gene expression and genome maintenance. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) offers the ability to visualize DNA–protein interactions at nanometer resolution in near-physiological buffers, but it requires that the DNA be adhered to the surface of a solid substrate. This presents a problem when working in biologically relevant protein concentrations, where proteins may be present in large excess in solution; much of the biophysically relevant information can therefore be occluded by non-specific protein binding to the underlying substrate. Here we explore the use of PLLx-b-PEGy block copolymers to achieve selective adsorption of DNA on a mica surface for AFM studies. Through varying both the number of lysine and ethylene glycol residues in the block copolymers, Bart Hoogenboom, Alice Pyne et al. show selective adsorption of DNA on mica that is functionalized with a PLL10-b-PEG113/PLL1000–2000 mixture as viewed by AFM imaging in a solution containing high concentrations of streptavidin. They demonstrate – through the use of biotinylated DNA and streptavidin – that this selective adsorption extends to DNA–protein complexes and that DNA-bound streptavidin can be unambiguously distinguished in spite of an excess of unbound streptavidin in solution. Finally, they apply this to the nuclear enzyme PARP1, resolving the binding of individual PARP1 molecules to DNA by in-liquid AFM.
More than Proton Detection—New Avenues for NMR Spectroscopy of RNA
This minireview written by Harald Schwalbe, Boris Fürtig and coworkers reports on the development of NMR methods that utilize detection on low-g nuclei (heteronuclei like 13C or 15N with lower gyromagnetic ratio than 1H) to obtain unique structural and dynamic information for large RNA molecules in solution. Experiments involve through-bond correlations of nucleobases and the phosphodiester backbone of RNA for chemical shift assignment and make information on hydrogen bonding uniquely accessible. Previously unobservable NMR resonances of amino groups in RNA nucleobases are now detected in experiments involving conformational exchange-resistant double-quantum 1H coherences, detected by 13C NMR spectroscopy. Furthermore, 13C and 15N chemical shifts provide valuable information on conformations. All the covered aspects point to the advantages of low-g nuclei detection experiments in RNA.
Quote of February
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society wisdom.”Isaac Asimov