Webinar series: What can iNEXT-Discovery do for us? Armin Wagner, DIAMOND, Long-wavelength crystallography – Experiments on the edge
The webinar series What can iNEXT-Discovery do for us? will continue on November 30 at 16:00 CEST with the topic Long-wavelength crystallography – Experiments on the edge presented by Armin Wagner, DIAMOND.
[Crystals, IF 2.404] Paper Invitation for Special Issue “Advances in Protein Crystallization and Crystallography “
You are cordially invited to contribute a research article, review, short communication or perspective to a Special Issue of Crystals journal called “Advances in Protein Crystallization and Crystallography “.
Open Research Europe - The European Commission open access publishing platform
European commission is preparing the launch of Open Research Europe, the European Commission scientific publishing service, which will provide Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe beneficiaries with a venue to publish their results in full compliance with open access policies.
13th Call for proposals for Instruct Centre Training Courses
The Call for Instruct Course for 2021 is now open. This call is for events co-organized with either Instruct-ERIC Centres or Instruct-ERIC research sites, with representatives of the Instruct-ERIC Centre being part of the scientific organizing committee of the course.
New timsToF in CMS
New mass spectrometer timsToF Pro was installed in November 2020 in the Structural mass spectrometry core facility in BioCev and is now fully in operation. The mass spectrometer will be used mostly for shotgun proteomics, hydrogen-deuterium exchange and covalent labelling experiments, and native mass spectrometry with ion mobility separation.
Instruct-ERIC services available via remote access, without the need for researchers to travel
Many Instruct-ERIC services are available via remote access, where samples can be sent for analysis without the need for researchers to travel. You can view the Technology Availability List to see whether the service you need is available remotely or in person.
Highlights of Coronavirus Structural Studies
Structure-Based Design with Tag-Based Purification and In-Process Biotinylation Enable Streamlined Development of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Molecular Probes (Cell Reports)
Biotin-labeled molecular probes, comprising specific regions of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike, would be helpful in the isolation and characterization of antibodies targeting this recently emerged pathogen. Here, Shapiro, L., Kwong, P.D. et. al. designed constructs incorporating an N-terminal purification tag, a site-specific protease-cleavage site, the probe region of interest, and a C-terminal sequence targeted by biotin ligase. Probe regions include full-length spike ectodomain as well as various subregions, and we also design mutants that eliminate recognition of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. Yields of biotin-labeled probes from transient transfection range from similar to 0.5 mg/L for the complete ectodomain to >5 mg/L for several subregions. Probes are characterized for antigenicity and ACE2 recognition, and the structure of the spike ectodomain probe is determined by cryoelectron microscopy. They also characterize antibody-binding specificities and cell-sorting capabilities of the biotinylated probes. Altogether, structure-based design coupled to efficient purification and biotinylation processes can thus enable streamlined development of SARS-CoV-2 spike ectodomain probes.
De novo design of picomolar SARS-CoV-2 miniprotein inhibitors (Science)
Targeting the interaction between the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein and the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor is a promising therapeutic strategy. D. Baker et.al. designed inhibitors using two de novo design approaches. Computer-generated scaffolds were either built around an ACE2 helix that interacts with the spike receptor binding domain (RBD) or docked against the RBD to identify new binding modes, and their amino acid sequences were designed to optimize target binding, folding, and stability. Ten designs bound the RBD, with affinities ranging from 100 picomolar to 10 nanomolar, and blocked SARS-CoV-2 infection of Vero E6 cells with median inhibitory concentration (IC50) values between 24 picomolar and 35 nanomolar. The most potent, with new binding modes, are 56- and 64-residue proteins (IC50 similar to 0.16 nanograms per milliliter). Cryo-electron microscopy structures of these minibinders in complex with the SARS-CoV-2 spike ectodomain trimer with all three RBDs bound are nearly identical to the computational models. These hyperstable minibinders provide starting points for SARS-CoV-2 therapeutics.
Structure-guided covalent stabilization of coronavirus spike glycoprotein trimers in the closed conformation (Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol.)
SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 10 million infections and more than 500,000 fatalities by June 2020. To initiate infection, the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein promotes attachment to the host cell surface and fusion of the viral and host membranes. Prefusion SARS-CoV-2 S is the main target of neutralizing antibodies and the focus of vaccine design. However, its limited stability and conformational dynamics are limiting factors for developing countermeasures against this virus. Veesler, D. et. al. report here the design of a construct corresponding to the prefusion SARS-CoV-2 S ectodomain trimer, covalently stabilized by a disulfide bond in the closed conformation. Structural and antigenicity analyses show that they successfully shut S in the closed state without otherwise altering its architecture. They demonstrate that this strategy is applicable to other beta-coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, and might become an important tool for structural biology, serology, vaccine design and immunology studies.
Reader's Corner Archive
Structure of inhibitor-bound mammalian complex I (Nat. Commun.)
Respiratory complex I (NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase) captures the free energy from oxidising NADH and reducing ubiquinone to drive protons across the mitochondrial inner membrane and power oxidative phosphorylation. Recent cryo-EM analyses have produced near-complete models of the mammalian complex but leave the molecular principles of its long-range energy coupling mechanism open to debate. Here, V.R.I. Kaila, J. Hirst et. al. describe the 3.0-Ao resolution cryo-EM structure of complex I from mouse heart mitochondria with a substrate-like inhibitor, piericidin A, bound in the ubiquinone-binding active site. They combine the structural analyses with both functional and computational studies to demonstrate competitive inhibitor binding poses and provide evidence that two inhibitor molecules bind end-to-end in the long substrate binding channel. Their findings reveal information about the mechanisms of inhibition and substrate reduction that are central for understanding the principles of energy transduction in mammalian complex I. The respiratory complex I (NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase) is a large redox-driven proton pump that initiates respiration in mitochondria. Here, the authors present the 3.0 angstrom cryo-EM structure of complex I from mouse heart mitochondria with the ubiquinone-analogue inhibitor piericidin A bound in the active site and with kinetic measurements and MD simulations they further show that this inhibitor acts competitively against the native ubiquinone-10 substrate.
Analysis of protein-DNA interactions in chromatin by UV induced cross-linking and mass spectrometry (Nat. Commun.)
Protein-DNA interactions are key to the functionality and stability of the genome. Identification and mapping of protein-DNA interaction interfaces and sites is crucial for understanding DNA-dependent processes. Here, H. Urlaub et. al. present a workflow that allows mass spectrometric (MS) identification of proteins in direct contact with DNA in reconstituted and native chromatin after cross-linking by ultraviolet (UV) light. Their approach enables the determination of contact interfaces at amino-acid level. With the example of chromatin-associated protein SCML2 they show that the technique allows differentiation of nucleosome-binding interfaces in distinct states. By UV cross-linking of isolated nuclei, they determined the cross-linking sites of several factors including chromatin-modifying enzymes, demonstrating that their workflow is not restricted to reconstituted materials. As the approach can distinguish between protein-RNA and DNA interactions in one single experiment, they project that it will be possible to obtain insights into chromatin and its regulation in the future. Cross-linking mass spectrometry (XLMS) allows mapping of protein-protein and protein-RNA interactions, but the analysis of protein-DNA complexes remains challenging. Here, the authors develop a UV light-based XLMS workflow to determine protein-DNA interfaces in reconstituted chromatin and isolated nuclei.
Sensitivity enhancement of homonuclear multidimensional NMR correlations for labile sites in proteins, polysaccharides, and nucleic acids (Nat. Commun.)
Multidimensional TOCSY and NOESY are central experiments in chemical and biophysical NMR. Limited efficiencies are an intrinsic downside of these methods, particularly when targeting labile sites. This study reported by L. Frydman et. al. demonstrates that the decoherence imparted on these protons through solvent exchanges can, when suitably manipulated, lead to dramatic sensitivity gains per unit time in the acquisition of these experiments. To achieve this, a priori selected frequencies are encoded according to Hadamard recipes, while concurrently subject to looped selective inversion or selective saturation procedures. Suitable processing then leads to protein, oligosaccharide and nucleic acid cross-peak enhancements of ≈200–1000% per scan, in measurements that are ≈10-fold faster than conventional counterparts. The extent of these gains will depend on the solvent exchange and relaxation rates of the targeted sites; these gains also benefit considerably from the spectral resolution provided by ultrahigh fields, as corroborated by NMR experiments at 600 MHz and 1 GHz. The mechanisms underlying these experiments’ enhanced efficiencies are analyzed on the basis of three-way polarization transfer interplays between the water, labile and non-labile protons, and the experimental results are rationalized using both analytical and numerical derivations. Limitations as well as further extensions of the proposed methods, are also discussed.
Cryo-EM analysis of a membrane protein embedded in the liposome (PNAS)
Membrane proteins (MPs) used to be the most difficult targets for structural biology when X-ray crystallography was the mainstream approach. With the resolution revolution of single-particle electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM), rapid progress has been made for structural elucidation of isolated MPs. The next challenge is to preserve the electrochemical gradients and membrane curvature for a comprehensive structural elucidation of MPs that rely on these chemical and physical properties for their biological functions. Toward this goal, here Fan, X., Yan, N. et.al. present a convenient workflow for cryo-EM structural analysis of MPs embedded in liposomes, using the well-characterized AcrB as a prototype. Combining optimized proteoliposome isolation, cryo-sample preparation on graphene grids, and an efficient particle selection strategy, the three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of AcrB embedded in liposomes was obtained at 3.9 angstrom resolution. The conformation of the homotrimeric AcrB remains the same when the surrounding membranes display different curvatures. Their approach, which can be widely applied to cryo-EM analysis of MPs with distinctive soluble domains, lays out the foundation for cryo-EM analysis of integral or peripheral MPs whose functions are affected by transmembrane electrochemical gradients or/and membrane curvatures.
Retrieving functional pathways of biomolecules from single-particle snapshots (Nat. Commun.)
A primary reason for the intense interest in structural biology is the fact that knowledge of structure can elucidate macromolecular functions in living organisms. Sustained effort has resulted in an impressive arsenal of tools for determining the static structures. But under physiological conditions, macromolecules undergo continuous conformational changes, a subset of which are functionally important. Techniques for capturing the continuous conformational changes underlying function are essential for further progress. Here, des Georges, Singharoy, Frank, and Ourmazd et. al. present chemically-detailed conformational movies of biological function, extracted data-analytically from experimental single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) snapshots of ryanodine receptor type 1 (RyR1), a calcium-activated calcium channel engaged in the binding of ligands. The functional motions differ substantially from those inferred from static structures in the nature of conformationally active structural domains, the sequence and extent of conformational motions, and the way allosteric signals are transduced within and between domains. Their approach highlights the importance of combining experiment, advanced data analysis, and molecular simulations. There is a great interest in retrieving functional pathways from cryo-EM single-particle data. Here, the authors present an approach that combines cryo-EM with advanced data-analytical methods and molecular dynamics simulations to reveal the functional pathways traversed on experimentally derived energy landscapes using the ryanodine receptor type 1 as an example.
Evidence that the TRPV1 S1-S4 membrane domain contributes to thermosensing (Nat. Commun.)
Sensing and responding to temperature is crucial in biology. The TRPV1 ion channel is a well- studied heat-sensing receptor that is also activated by vanilloid compounds, including cap- saicin. Despite significant interest, the molecular underpinnings of thermosensing have remained elusive. The TRPV1 S1-S4 membrane domain couples chemical ligand binding to the pore domain during channel gating. Here W.D.Van Horn e.al. show that the S1-S4 domain also significantly contributes to thermosensing and couples to heat-activated gating. Evaluation of the isolated human TRPV1 S1-S4 domain by solution NMR, far-UV CD, and intrinsic fluorescence shows that this domain undergoes a non-denaturing temperature-dependent transition with a high thermosensitivity. Further NMR characterization of the temperature-dependent conformational changes suggests the contribution of the S1-S4 domain to thermosensing shares features with known coupling mechanisms between this domain with ligand and pH activation. Taken together, this study shows that the TRPV1 S1-S4 domain contributes to TRPV1 temperature-dependent activation.
Synthetic group A streptogramin antibiotics that overcome Vat resistance (Nature)
Natural products serve as chemical blueprints for most antibiotics in clinical use. The evolutionary process by which these molecules arise is inherently accompanied by the co-evolution of resistance mechanisms that shorten the clinical lifetime of any given class of antibiotics. Virginiamycin acetyltransferase (Vat) enzymes are resistance proteins that provide protection against streptogramins, potent antibiotics against Gram-positive bacteria that inhibit the bacterial ribosome. Owing to the challenge of selectively modifying the chemically complex, 23-membered macrocyclic scaffold of group A streptogramins, analogues that overcome the resistance conferred by Vat enzymes have not been previously developed. Here we report the design, synthesis, and antibacterial evaluation of group A streptogramin antibiotics with extensive structural variability. Using cryo-electron microscopy and forcefield-based refinement, I.B.Seiple et al. characterize the binding of eight analogues to the bacterial ribosome at high resolution, revealing binding interactions that extend into the peptidyl tRNA-binding site and towards synergistic binders that occupy the nascent peptide exit tunnel. One of these analogues has excellent activity against several streptogramin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, exhibits decreased rates of acetylation in vitro, and is effective at lowering bacterial load in a mouse model of infection. Their results demonstrate that the combination of rational design and modular chemical synthesis can revitalize classes of antibiotics that are limited by naturally arising resistance mechanisms.
Mechanism of ribosome shutdown by RsfS in Staphylococcus aureus revealed by integrative structural biology approach (Nat. Commun.)
For the sake of energy preservation, bacteria, upon transition to stationary phase, tone down their protein synthesis. This process is favored by the reversible binding of small stress- induced proteins to the ribosome to prevent unnecessary translation. One example is the conserved bacterial ribosome silencing factor (RsfS) that binds to uL14 protein onto the large ribosomal subunit and prevents its association with the small subunit. Here G. Yusupova, M, Yusupov et.al. describe the binding mode of Staphylococcus aureus RsfS to the large ribosomal subunit and present a 3.2 Å resolution cryo-EM reconstruction of the 50S-RsfS complex together with the crystal structure of uL14-RsfS complex solved at 2.3 Å resolution. The understanding of the detailed landscape of RsfS-uL14 interactions within the ribosome shed light on the mechanism of ribosome shutdown in the human pathogen S. aureus and might deliver a novel target for pharmacological drug development and treatment of bacterial infections.