We would like to inform you about the ongoing call for nominations for the Bertini Award.
We would like to inform you about the ongoing call for nominations for the Bertini Award.
We would like to inform you of the 14th Instruct Training Call, open now until 30th December 2021.
The series Emerging topics in Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance will continue on November 11th at 16:00 CEST with the following lecturers and topics:
Deuterium solid-state NMR methods and applications to slow time scale dynamics of amyloid-beta fibrils
The series Emerging topics in Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance will continue on October 28th at 16:00 CEST with the following lecturers and topics:
We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to investigate the molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s pathology to join the team of Loschmidt Laboratories. The tender is open until the end of November 2021.
The series Emerging topics in Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance will continue on October 14th at 16:00 CEST with the following lecturers and topics:
The spike protein (S) of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is required for cell entry and is the primary focus for vaccine development. In this study, G. Hummer, J.K. Locker, M. Beck et.al. combined cryo–electron tomography, subtomogram averaging, and molecular dynamics simulations to structurally analyze S in situ. Compared with the recombinant S, the viral S was more heavily glycosylated and occurred mostly in the closed prefusion conformation. They show that the stalk domain of S contains three hinges, giving the head unexpected orientational freedom. They propose that the hinges allow S to scan the host cell surface, shielded from antibodies by an extensive glycan coat. The structure of native S contributes to our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection and potentially to the development of safe vaccines.
Analysis of the specificity and kinetics of neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection is crucial for understanding immune protection and identifying targets for vaccine design. In a cohort of 647 SARS-CoV-2-infected subjects, D. Corti, D. Veesler et. al. found that both the magnitude of Ab responses to SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) and nucleoprotein and nAb titers correlate with clinical scores. The receptor-binding domain (RBD) is immunodominant and the target of 90% of the neutralizing activity present in SARS-CoV-2 immune sera. Whereas overall RBD-specific serum IgG titers waned with a half-life of 49 days, nAb titers and avidity increased over time for some individuals, consistent with affinity maturation. They structurally defined an RBD antigenic map and serologically quantified serum Abs specific for distinct RBD epitopes leading to the identification of two major receptor-binding motif antigenic sites. Their results explain the immunodominance of the receptor-binding motif and will guide the design of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
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.
Global emergencies caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS- CoV), Middle-East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and SARS-CoV-2 significantly endanger human health. The spike (S) glycoprotein is the key antigen and its conserved S2 subunit contributes to viral entry by mediating host-viral membrane fusion. However, structural information of the post-fusion S2 from these highly pathogenic human- infecting coronaviruses is still lacking. D. Cao, X. Zhang et. al. used single-particle cryo-electron microscopy to show that the post-fusion SARS-CoV S2 forms a further rotated HR1-HR2 six-helix bundle and a tightly bound linker region upstream of the HR2 motif. The structures of pre- and post- fusion SARS-CoV S glycoprotein dramatically differ, resembling that of the Mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) and other class I viral fusion proteins. This structure suggests potential targets for the development of vaccines and therapies against a wide range of SARS-like coronaviruses.
Rapid cryopreservation of biological specimens is the gold standard for visualizing cellular structures in their true structural context. However, current commercial cryo-fluorescence microscopes are limited to low resolutions. To fill this gap, I. M. Dobbie et. al. have developed cryoSIM, a microscope for 3D super-resolution fluorescence cryo-imaging for correlation with cryo-electron microscopy or cryo-soft X-ray tomography. They provide the full instructions for replicating the instrument mostly from off-the-shelf components and accessible, user-friendly, open-source Python control software. Therefore, cryoSIM democratizes the ability to detect molecules using super-resolution fluorescence imaging of cryopreserved specimens for correlation with their cellular ultrastructure.
Ribonucleic acids are driving a multitude of biological processes where they act alone or in complex with proteins (ribonucleoproteins, RNP). To understand these processes both structural and mechanistic information about RNA is necessary. Due to their conformational plasticity RNA pose a challenge for mainstream structural biology methods. Solid- state NMR (ss-NMR) spectroscopy is an emerging technique that can be applied to biomolecular complexes of any size in close-to-native conditions. This review outlines recent methodological developments in ss-NMR for structural characterization of RNA and protein–RNA complexes and provides relevant examples.
Mass spectrometry (MS) has long been used to study proteins mainly via sequence identification and quantitation of expression abundance. In recent years, MS has emerged as a tool for structural biology. Intact protein structural analysis has been enabled by the development of methods such as native MS, top-down proteomics, and ion mobility MS. Other MS-based structural methods include affinity purification MS, chemical cross-linking, and protein footprinting. These methods have enabled the study of protein–protein and protein–ligand interactions and regions of conformational change. The coupling of MS with liquid chromatography has permitted the analysis of complex samples. This bottom-up proteomics workflow enables the study of protein structure in the native cellular environment and provides structural information across the proteome. It has been demonstrated that the crowded environment of the cell affects protein binding interactions and affinities. Performing studies in this complex environment is essential for understanding the functional roles of proteins. MS-based structural methods permit analysis of samples such as cell lysates, intact cells, and tissue to provide a more physiological view of protein structure. This mini-review discusses the various MS-based methods that can be used for proteome-wide structural studies and highlights some of their application.
The Protein Data Bank (PDB) has grown from a small data resource for crystallographers to a worldwide resource serving structural biology. The history of the growth of the PDB and the role that the community has played in developing standards and policies are described. This article also illustrates how other biophysics communities are collaborating with the worldwide PDB to create a network of interoperating data resources. This network will expand the capabilities of structural biology and enable the determination and archiving of increasingly complex structures.
Metabotropic gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors (GABA(B)) are involved in the modulation of synaptic responses in the central nervous system and have been implicated in neuropsychological conditions that range from addiction to psychosis. GABA(B)belongs to class C of the G-protein-coupled receptors, and its functional entity comprises an obligate heterodimer that is composed of the GB1 and GB2 subunits. Each subunit possesses an extracellular Venus flytrap domain, which is connected to a canonical seven-transmembrane domain. In the Nature paper Gati and Cherezov et.al. present four cryo-electron microscopy structures of the human full-length GB1-GB2 heterodimer: one structure of its inactive apo state, two intermediate agonist-bound forms and an active form in which the heterodimer is bound to an agonist and a positive allosteric modulator. The structures reveal substantial differences, which shed light on the complex motions that underlie the unique activation mechanism of GABA(B). Their results show that agonist binding leads to the closure of the Venus flytrap domain of GB1, triggering a series of transitions, first rearranging and bringing the two transmembrane domains into close contact along transmembrane helix 6 and ultimately inducing conformational rearrangements in the GB2 transmembrane domain via a lever-like mechanism to initiate downstream signalling. This active state is stabilized by a positive allosteric modulator binding at the transmembrane dimerization interface.
The arabinosyltransferases EmbA, EmbB, and EmbC are involved in Mycobacterium tuberculosis cell wall synthesis and are recognized as targets for the anti-tuberculosis drug ethambutol. In this study, published in Science, Wang, Li, Besra and Rao et.al. determined cryo–electron microscopy and x-ray crystal structures of mycobacterial EmbA-EmbB and EmbC-EmbC complexes in the presence of their glycosyl donor and acceptor substrates and with ethambutol. These structures show how the donor and acceptor substrates bind in the active site and how ethambutol inhibits arabinosyltransferases by binding to the same site as both substrates in EmbB and EmbC. Most drug-resistant mutations are located near the ethambutol binding site. Collectively, their work provides a structural basis for understanding the biochemical function and inhibition of arabinosyltransferases and the development of new anti-tuberculosis agents.
Bacteria use adaptive immune systems encoded by CRISPR and Cas genes to maintain genomic integrity when challenged by pathogens and mobile genetic elements. Type I CRISPR–Cas systems typically target foreign DNA for degradation via joint action of the ribonucleoprotein complex Cascade and the helicase–nuclease Cas, but nuclease-deficient type I systems lacking Cas3 have been repurposed for RNA-guided transposition by bacterial Tn7-like transposons. How CRISPR- and transposon-associated machineries collaborate during DNA targeting and insertion remains unknown. In the recent Nature publication Sternberg and Fernandez et al. describe structures of a TniQ–Cascade complex encoded by the Vibrio cholerae Tn6677 transposon using cryo-electron microscopy, revealing the mechanistic basis of this functional coupling. The cryo-electron microscopy maps enabled de novo modelling and refinement of the transposition protein TniQ, which binds to the Cascade complex as a dimer in a head-to-tail configuration, at the interface formed by Cas6 and Cas7 near the 3′ end of the CRISPR RNA (crRNA). The natural Cas8–Cas5 fusion protein binds the 5′ crRNA handle and contacts the TniQ dimer via a flexible insertion domain. A target DNA-bound structure reveals critical interactions necessary for protospacer-adjacent motif recognition and R-loop formation. This work lays the foundation for a structural understanding of how DNA targeting by TniQ–Cascade leads to downstream recruitment of additional transposase proteins, and will guide protein engineering efforts to leverage this system for programmable DNA insertions in genome-engineering applications.