All CIISB Core facilities are fully functional. Visits of external foreign users are regulated by the Measures concerning foreigners and border crossing of the Czech Government. Please, check the current status on the web and contact the staff for details.
CIISB offers priority access to groups that need to use CIISB structural biology services for projects directly related to studies of the virus and projects aiming to develop an effective vaccine or treatment. To request priority access, please submit a research proposal with „COVID-19“ in the title of the proposal, through the online application system HERE. Successfully accepted proposals will be free of charge, and no financial contribution will be requested for the measurement/service.
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.
CEITEC Core Facilities
BIOCEV Core Facilities
New timsTOF Pro Mass Spectrometer installed at CEITEC.
New timsTOF Pro Mass Spectrometer (Bruker) has been installed at the Proteomics Core Facility, CEITEC MU. The new instrument brings another separation dimension (according collisional cross sections) in qualitative and quantitative characterization of complex protein samples as it is equipped by trapped ion mobility spectrometry (TIMS) module.
Emerging Topics in Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance – A new on-line lecture series
A new on-line lecture series on Emerging Topics in Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance, organized by Loren Andreas, Stefan Glöggler, Christian Griesinger, Mei Hong, Oscar Millet, Art Palmer, and Markus Zweckstetter, starts on Thursday, June 4, 2020.
Cryo-EM reaches yet another milestone – Comments on two recent cryo-EM atomic resolution studies
Two studies published during last two weeks have reported that single particle cryo-EM data can be now resolved to 1.20Å or 1.25Å, respectively. The groups of Sjors H.W. Scheres (LMB-MRC, Cambridge) and Holger Stark (MPI Göttingen) have for the first time shown that atomic resolution is attainable by single particle cryo-EM.
Highlights of Coronavirus Structural Studies
Crystallographic and electrophilic fragment screening of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease
COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, lacks effective therapeutics. Additionally, no antiviral drugs or vaccines were developed against the closely related coronavirus, SARS-CoV-1 or MERS-CoV, despite previous zoonotic outbreaks. To identify starting points for such therapeutics, Nir London, Frank von Delft, Martin A. Walsh et.al. performed a large-scale screen of electrophile and non-covalent fragments through a combined mass spectrometry and X-ray approach against the SARS-CoV-2 main protease, one of two cysteine viral proteases essential for viral replication. The crystallographic screen identified 71 hits that span the entire active site, as well as 3 hits at the dimer interface. These structures reveal routes to rapidly develop more potent inhibitors through merging of covalent and non-covalent fragment hits; one series of low-reactivity, tractable covalent fragments was progressed to discover improved binders. These combined hits offer unprecedented structural and reactivity information for on-going structure-based drug design against SARS-CoV-2 main protease.
Controlling the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein Conformation
The coronavirus (CoV) viral host cell fusion spike (S) protein is the primary immunogenic target for virus neutralization and the current focus of many vaccine design efforts. The highly flexible S-protein, with its mobile domains, presents a moving target to the immune system. In the bioRcin paper, to better understand S-protein mobility, a structure-based vector analysis of available β-CoV S-protein structures was implemented. Rory Henderson, Priyamvada Acharya et.al. from Duke Human Vaccine Institute, Durham, USA found that despite overall similarity in domain organization, different β-CoV strains display distinct S-protein configurations. Based on this analysis, we developed two soluble ectodomain constructs in which the highly immunogenic and mobile receptor binding domain (RBD) is locked in either the all-RBDs ‘down’ position or is induced to display a previously unobserved in SARS-CoV-2 2-RBDs ‘up’ configuration. These results demonstrate that the conformation of the S-protein can be controlled via rational design and provide a framework for the development of engineered coronavirus spike proteins for vaccine applications.
Postponed: 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. 2020
(−)-Bactobolin A and selected related natural products.
(−)-Bactobolin A (1) is a polyketide–peptide natural product first isolated in the late 1970s as a secondary metabolite of Pseudomonas sp. Early biological evaluations revealed that 1 exhibits broad-spectrum antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens and in vivo antiproliferative effects on certain cancer cell lines. (−)-Bactobolin A (1) was subsequently identified as a strong inhibitor of protein synthesis in intact prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and mammalian cell-free systems.
A stereoselective synthesis of the ribosome-binding antitumor antibiotic (−)-bactobolin A is reported. The presented approach makes effective use of (−)-quinic acid as a chiral pool starting material and substrate stereocontrol to establish the five contiguous stereocenters of (−)-bactobolin A. The key steps of the synthesis include a stereoselective vinylogous aldol reaction to introduce the unusual dichloromethyl substituent, a completely diastereoselective rhodium(II)-catalyzed C–H amination reaction to set the configuration of the axial amine, and an intramolecular alkoxycarbonylation to build the bicyclic lactone framework. The developed synthetic route was used to prepare 90 mg of (−)-bactobolin A trifluoroacetate in 10% overall yield.
Vojáčková, P., Michalska, L., Nečas, M., Shcherbakov, D., Böttger, E. C., Šponer, J., Šponer, J.E., and Švenda, J Stereocontrolled Synthesis of (−)-Bactobolin A, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 7306-7311, doi.org/10.1021/jacs.0c01554
Nucleic Acids Res. 2020
Structure of STAU1 dsRBD4 and dsRBD3/4 in complex with sARF1 SBS dsRNA. (A) Structural ensemble of the STAU1 dsRBD4–sARF1 SBS dsRNA complex. Heavy-atom superposition of the ensemble of the 20 lowest-energy structures. The protein backbone is shown in dark green and the RNA heavy atoms of the bases in orange and those of the ribose-phosphodiester backbone are shown in gold (omitting phosphate and 2’-OH oxygens). (B) Schematic representation of sARF1 SBS dsRNA showing interactions of dsRBD3 as well as dsRBD4 as dotted lines. Interactions with the ribose-phosphodiester backbone are circled in dark green for dsRBD4 and light green for dsRBD3 while base interactions are shown as filled circles.
Staufen1 (STAU1) is a dsRNA binding protein mediating mRNA transport and localization, translational control and STAU1-mediated mRNA decay (SMD). The STAU1 binding site (SBS) within human ADP-ribosylation factor1 (ARF1) 3’ UTR binds STAU1 and this downregulates ARF1 cytoplasmic mRNA levels by SMD. However, how STAU1 recognizes specific mRNA targets is still under debate. The structure of the ARF1 SBS–STAU1 complex, presented in this study, uncovers target recognition by STAU1. STAU1 dsRNA binding domain (dsRBD) 4 interacts with two pyrimidines and one purine from the minor groove side via helix a1, the b1–b 2 loop anchors the dsRBD at the end of the dsRNA and lysines in helix a2 bind to the phosphodiester backbone from the major groove side. STAU1 dsRBD3 displays the same binding mode with specific recognition of one guanine base. Mutants disrupting minor groove recognition of ARF1 SBS affect in vitrobinding and reduce SMD in vivo. Our data thus reveal how STAU1 recognizes minor groove features in dsRNA relevant for target selection.
Yadav, DP, Zigáčková, D., Zlobina, M., Klumpler, Beaumont, TC., Kubíčková, M., Vaňáčová, Š, and Lukavsky, PJ.: Staufen1 reads out structure and sequence features in ARF1 dsRNA for target recognition, Nucleic Acids Res. 2020, 48, 2091-2106, doi:10.1093/nar/gkz1163
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.
Mapping Structural Dynamics of Proteins with Femtosecond Stimulated Raman Spectroscopy
The structure–function relationships of biomolecules have captured the interest and imagination of the scientific community and general public since the field of structural biology emerged to enable the molecular understanding of life processes. Proteins that play numerous functional roles in cellular processes have remained in the forefront of research, inspiring new characterization techniques. In this review in Annual Review of Physical Chemistry, Chong Fang and Longteng Tang present key theoretical concepts and recent experimental strategies using femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (FSRS) to map the structural dynamics of proteins, highlighting the flexible chromophores on ultrafast timescales. In particular, wavelength-tunable FSRS exploits dynamic resonance conditions to track transient-species-dependent vibrational motions, enabling rational design to alter functions. Various ways of capturing excited-state chromophore structural snapshots in the time and/or frequency domains are discussed. Continuous development of experimental methodologies, synergistic correlation with theoretical modeling, and the expansion to other nonequilibrium, photo-switchable, and controllable protein systems will greatly advance the chemical, physical, and biological sciences.
The regulation and functions of DNA and RNA G-quadruplexes
DNA and RNA can adopt various secondary structures. Four-stranded G-quadruplex (G4) structures form through self-recognition of guanines into stacked tetrads, and considerable biophysical and structural evidence exists for G4 formation in vitro. Computational studies and sequencing methods have revealed the prevalence of G4 sequence motifs at gene regulatory regions in various genomes, including in humans. Experiments using chemical, molecular and cell biology methods have demonstrated that G4s exist in chromatin DNA and in RNA, and have linked G4 formation with key biological processes ranging from transcription and translation to genome instability and cancer. In the paper published in Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, Balasubramanian, S. et al. first discuss the identification of G4s and evidence for their formation in cells using chemical biology, imaging and genomic technologies. They then discuss possible functions of DNA G4s and their interacting proteins, particularly in transcription, telomere biology and genome instability. Roles of RNA G4s in RNA biology, especially in translation, are also discussed. Furthermore, they consider the emerging relationships of G4s with chromatin and with RNA modifications. Finally, they discuss the connection between G4 formation and synthetic lethality in cancer cells, and recent progress towards considering G4s as therapeutic targets in human diseases.
The architecture of the Gram-positive bacterial cell wall
The primary structural component of the bacterial cell wall is peptidoglycan, which is essential for viability and the synthesis of which is the target for crucial antibiotics. Peptidoglycan is a single macromolecule made of glycan chains crosslinked by peptide side branches that surrounds the cell, acting as a constraint to internal turgor. In Gram-positive bacteria, peptidoglycan is tens of nanometers thick, generally portrayed as a homogeneous structure that provides mechanical strength. S. J. Foster & J. K. Hobbs et.al. applied atomic force microscopy to interrogate the morphologically distinct Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis species, using live cells and purified peptidoglycan. The paper published in Nature shows that the mature surface of live cells is characterized by a landscape of large (up to 60 nm in diameter), deep (up to 23 nm) pores constituting a disordered gel of peptidoglycan. The inner peptidoglycan surface, consisting of more nascent material, is much denser, with glycan strand spacing typically less than 7 nm. The inner surface architecture is location dependent; the cylinder of B. subtilis has dense circumferential orientation, while in S. aureus and division septa for both species, peptidoglycan is dense but randomly oriented. Revealing the molecular architecture of the cell envelope frames our understanding of its mechanical properties and role as the environmental interface, providing information complementary to traditional structural biology approaches.
Emerging solution NMR methods to illuminate the structural and dynamic properties of proteins
The first recognition of protein breathing was more than 50 years ago. Today, we are able to detect the multitude of interaction modes, structural polymorphisms, and binding-induced changes in protein structure that direct function. Solution-state NMR spectroscopy has proved to be a powerful technique, not only to obtain high-resolution structures of proteins, but also to provide unique insights into the functional dynamics of proteins. Hari Arthanari, Gerhard Wager et. al. in the Current Opinion in Structural Biology review summarize recent technical landmarks in solution NMR that have enabled characterization of key biological macromolecular systems. These methods have been fundamental to atomic resolution structure determination and quantitative analysis of dynamics over a wide range of time scales by NMR. The ability of NMR to detect lowly populated protein conformations and transiently formed complexes plays a critical role in its ability to elucidate functionally important structural features of proteins and their dynamics.
Fragment-based drug discovery using cryo-EM
Recent advances in electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) structure determination have pushed the resolutions obtainable by the method into the range widely considered to be of utility for drug discovery. Harren Jhoti et. al. in Drug Discovery Today review the use of cryo-EM in fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD) based on in-house method development. They demonstrate not only that cryo-EM can reveal details of the molecular interactions between fragments and a protein, but also that the current reproducibility, quality, and throughput are compatible with FBDD. In addition, they exemplify this using the test system β-galactosidase (Bgal) and the oncology target pyruvate kinase 2 (PKM2).
Integrating cryo-EM and NMR data
Single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is increasingly used as a technique to determine the atomic structure of challenging biological systems. Recent advances in microscope engineering, electron detection, and image processing have allowed the structural determination of bigger and more flexible targets than possible with the complementary techniques X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy. However, there exist many biological targets for which atomic resolution cannot be currently achieved with cryo-EM, making unambiguous determination of the protein structure impossible. Although determining the structure of large biological systems using solely NMR is often difficult, highly complementary experimental atomic-level data for each molecule can be derived from the spectra, and used in combination with cryo-EM data. Gunnar F. Schröder et.al. review in Current Opinion in Structural Biology strategies with which both techniques can be synergistically combined, in order to reach detail and understanding unattainable by each technique acting alone; and the types of biological systems for which such an approach would be desirable.
Quote of June
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”Isaac Newton