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Highlights of Coronavirus Structural Studies

Coronavirus Archive

Research Highlights

the best of science obtained using CIISB Core Facilities

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.

Peter J. Lukavsky Research Group


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


J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020

Nature Index Journal

Crystal structures of (A) PBD anthramycin covalently bound to DNA strands and (B) lincomycin targeting the peptidyl transferase center in the 50S ribosomal subunit of Staphylococcus aureus.

Jiří Janata Research Group


Antitumor pyrrolobenzodiazepines (PBDs), lincosamide antibiotics, quorumsensing molecule hormaomycin, and antimicrobial griselimycin are structurally and functionally diverse groups of actinobacterial metabolites. The common feature of these compounds is the incorporation of L -tyrosine- or L -leucine-derived 4-alkyl-L -proline derivatives (APDs) in their structures. In this study, the authors report that the last reaction in the biosynthetic pathway of APDs, catalyzed by F420 H2 -dependent Apd6 reductases, contributes to the structural diversity of APD precursors. Specifically, the heterologous overproduction of six Apd6 enzymes demonstrated that Apd6 from the biosynthesis of PBDs and hormaomycin can reduce only an endocyclic imine double bond, whereas Apd6 LmbY and partially GriH from the biosynthesis of lincomycin and griselimycin, respectively, also reduce the more inert exocyclic double bond of the same 4- substituted Δ 1-pyrroline-2-carboxylic acid substrate, making LmbY and GriH unusual, if not unique, among reductases. Furthermore, the differences in the reaction specificity of the Apd6 reductases determine the formation of the fully saturated APD moiety of lincomycin versus the unsaturated APD moiety of PBDs, providing molecules with optimal shapes to bind their distinct biological targets. Moreover, the Apd6 reductases establish the first F420 H2-dependent enzymes from the luciferase-like hydride transferase protein superfamily in the biosynthesis of bioactive molecules. Finally, bioinformatics analysis demonstrates that Apd6 and their homologues, widely distributed within several bacterial phyla, play a role in the formation of novel yet unknown natural products with incorporated L-proline-like precursors and likely in the microbial central metabolism.

Steiningerova, L. Kamenik, Z.*,  Gazak, R.,  Kadlcik, S.,  Bashiri, G.,  Man, P., Kuzma, M., Pavlikova, M., and Janata, J.: Different Reaction Specificities of F420H2Dependent Reductases Facilitate Pyrrolobenzodiazepines and Lincomycin To Fit Their Biological Targets, J. Am. Chem. Soc.  2020, 142, 3440-3448,





More publications Research Highlights archive

Reader’s Corner

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 The section is being updated regularly.


7 Dec 2023

Celebrating 30 years of Structure

Journal Structure was launched in 1993 as the first journal exclusively dedicated to structural biology by our founding academic chief editors, Wayne A. Hendrickson and Carl-Ivar Br€ande´ n, who were later joined by Alan Fersht. Christopher Lima and Andrej Sali became academic chief editors of Structure in 2003, and they were at the helm of the journal for 18 years until stepping down in the autumn 2021.

Structure is now celebrating its 30th birthday with this special anniversary issue. Editors commissioned reviews to highlight recent developments in different areas of structural biology. Sabine Botha and Petra Fromme provide an overview of the current state of serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) research, the impact COVID-19 had on the SFX community, and how scientists adapted to these challenges. Koji Yonekura and his co-workers describe their contributions toward the development of electron 3D crystallography/microcrystal electron diffraction (MicroED) and highlight applications and current limitations of this method. Vaibhav KumarShukla, Gabriella Heller, and Flemming Hansen discuss the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on biomolecular nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Tuo Wang and his colleagues report how solid-state NMR is used to study the structures of fungaland plant cell walls. Syma Khalid and her co-workers define the term ‘‘computational microbiology’’ and describe state-of-the-art molecular dynamics imulations of bacterial systems.

21 Nov 2023

Intrinsic structural dynamics dictate enzymatic activity and inhibition (PNAS)

Enzymes are known to sample various conformations, many of which are critical for their biological function. However, structural characterizations of enzymes predominantly focus on the most populated conformation. As a result, single-point mutations often produce structures that are similar or essentially identical to those of the wild-type enzyme despite large changes in enzymatic activity. Here, we show for mutants of a histone deacetylase enzyme (HDAC8) that reduced enzymatic activities, reduced inhibitor affinities, and reduced residence times are all captured by the rate constants between intrinsically sampled conformations that, in turn, can be obtained independently by solution NMR spectroscopy. Thus, for the HDAC8 enzyme, the dynamic sampling of conformations dictates both enzymatic activity and inhibitor potency. Our analysis also dissects the functional role of the conformations sampled, where specific conformations distinct from those in available structures are responsible for substrate and inhibitor binding, catalysis, and product dissociation. Precise structures alone often do not adequately explain the effect of missense mutations on enzymatic activity and drug potency. Our findings not only assign functional roles to several conformational states of HDAC8 but they also underscore the paramount role of dynamics, which will have general implications for characterizing missense mutations and designing inhibitors.

Reader’s Corner Archive

Quote of May

“I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and the most from my students.”


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