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Highlights of Coronavirus Structural Studies

6 Apr

Deep learning guided optimization of human antibody against SARS-CoV-2 variants with broad neutralization (PNAS)

The ability of viruses to mutate and evade the human immune system and neutralizing antibodies remains an obstacle to antiviral and vaccine development. Many neutralizing antibodies, including some approved for emergency use authorization (EUA), reduced or lost activity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants. Here, we introduce a geometric deep learning algorithm that efficiently enhances antibody affinity to achieve broader and more potent neutralizing activity against such variants. We demonstrate the utility of our approach on a human antibody P36-5D2, which is effective against SARS-CoV-2 Alpha, Beta, and Gamma but not Delta. We show that our geometric neural network model optimizes this antibody's complementaritydetermining region (CDR) sequences to improve its binding affinity against multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants. Through iterative optimization of the CDR regions and experimental measurements, we enable expanded antibody breadth and improved potency by similar to 10to 600-fold against SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Delta. We have also demonstrated that our approach can identify CDR changes that alleviate the impact of two Omicron mutations on the epitope. These results highlight the power of our deep learning approach in antibody optimization and its potential application to engineering other protein molecules. Our optimized antibodies can potentially be developed into antibody drug candidates for current and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.

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Reader's Corner Archive

4 Aug 2021

Cryo-EM structure and dynamics of the green-light absorbing proteorhodopsin (Nature Communications)

The green-light absorbing proteorhodopsin (GPR) is the archetype of bacterial light-driven proton pumps. Here, we present the 2.9 Å cryo-EM structure of pentameric GPR, resolving important residues of the proton translocation pathway and the oligomerization interface. Superposition with the structure of a close GPR homolog and molecular dynamics simulations reveal conformational variations, which regulate the solvent access to the intra- and extracellular half channels harbouring the primary proton donor E109 and the proposed proton release group E143. We provide a mechanism for the structural rearrangements allowing hydration of the intracellular half channel, which are triggered by changing the protonation state of E109. Functional characterization of selected mutants demonstrates the importance of the molecular organization around E109 and E143 for GPR activity. Furthermore, we present evidence that helices involved in the stabilization of the protomer interfaces serve as scaffolds for facilitating the motion of the other helices. Combined with the more constrained dynamics of the pentamer compared to the monomer, these observations illustrate the previously demonstrated functional significance of GPR oligomerization. Overall, this work provides molecular insights into the structure, dynamics and function of the proteorhodopsin family that will benefit the large scientific community employing GPR as a model protein.

4 Aug 2021

INI1/SMARCB1 Rpt1 domain mimics TAR RNA in binding to integrase to facilitate HIV-1 replication (Nature Communications)

INI1/SMARCB1 binds to HIV-1 integrase (IN) through its Rpt1 domain and exhibits multifaceted role in HIV-1 replication. Determining the NMR structure of INI1-Rpt1 and modeling its interaction with the IN-C-terminal domain (IN-CTD) reveal that INI1-Rpt1/IN-CTD interface residues overlap with those required for IN/RNA interaction. Mutational analyses validate our model and indicate that the same IN residues are involved in both INI1 and RNA binding. INI1-Rpt1 and TAR RNA compete with each other for IN binding with similar IC50 values. INI1-interaction-defective IN mutant viruses are impaired for incorporation of INI1 into virions and for particle morphogenesis. Computational modeling of IN-CTD/TAR complex indicates that the TAR interface phosphates overlap with negatively charged surface residues of INI1-Rpt1 in three-dimensional space, suggesting that INI1-Rpt1 domain structurally mimics TAR. This possible mimicry between INI1-Rpt1 and TAR explains the mechanism by which INI1/SMARCB1 influences HIV-1 late events and suggests additional strategies to inhibit HIV-1 replication. HIV-1 integrase (IN) binds the host factor INI1/SMARCB1, which is required at multiple stages of HIV-1 replication. Here, the authors show that the same IN residues are involved in INI1 and RNA binding and in influencing particle morphogenesis and suggest that the IN-binding INI1 domain is structurally similar to HIV TAR RNA.

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