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(2015). Correction for Kaushal et al., Cryo-EM structure of the small subunit of the mammalian mitochondrial ribosome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015;112(20):E2736.
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Block, K. A., et al., Disassembly of the cystovirus varphi6 envelope by montmorillonite clay. Microbiologyopen 3(1): 42-51. Show/Hide Abstract
The recognition events that mediate adaptive cellular immunity and regulate antibody responses depend on intercellular contacts between T cells and antigen-presenting cells (APCs). T-cell signalling is initiated at these contacts when surface-expressed T-cell receptors (TCRs) recognize peptide fragments (antigens) of pathogens bound to major histocompatibility complex molecules (pMHC) on APCs. This, along with engagement of adhesion receptors, leads to the formation of a specialized junction between T cells and APCs, known as the immunological synapse, which mediates efficient delivery of effector molecules and intercellular signals across the synaptic cleft. T-cell recognition of pMHC and the adhesion ligand intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) on supported planar bilayers recapitulates the domain organization of the immunological synapse, which is characterized by central accumulation of TCRs, adjacent to a secretory domain, both surrounded by an adhesive ring. Although accumulation of TCRs at the immunological synapse centre correlates with T-cell function, this domain is itself largely devoid of TCR signalling activity, and is characterized by an unexplained immobilization of TCR-pMHC complexes relative to the highly dynamic immunological synapse periphery. Here we show that centrally accumulated TCRs are located on the surface of extracellular microvesicles that bud at the immunological synapse centre. Tumour susceptibility gene 101 (TSG101) sorts TCRs for inclusion in microvesicles, whereas vacuolar protein sorting 4 (VPS4) mediates scission of microvesicles from the T-cell plasma membrane. The human immunodeficiency virus polyprotein Gag co-opts this process for budding of virus-like particles. B cells bearing cognate pMHC receive TCRs from T cells and initiate intracellular signals in response to isolated synaptic microvesicles. We conclude that the immunological synapse orchestrates TCR sorting and release in extracellular microvesicles. These microvesicles deliver transcellular signals across antigen-dependent synapses by engaging cognate pMHC on APCs.
Cryo-electron tomography (cryoET) has become a powerful tool for direct visualization of 3D structures of native biological specimens at molecular resolution, but its application is limited to thin specimens (<300 nm). Recently, vitreous sectioning and cryoFIB milling technologies were developed to physically reduce the specimen thickness; however, cryoET analysis of membrane protein complexes within native cell membranes remains a great challenge. Here, we use phage PhiX174 lysis gene E to rapidly produce native, intact, bacterial cell membranes for high resolution cryoET. We characterized E gene-induced cell lysis using FIB/SEM and cryoEM and showed that the bacteria cytoplasm was largely depleted through spot lesion, producing ghosts with the cell membranes intact. We further demonstrated the utility of E-gene-induced lysis for cryoET using the bacterial chemotaxis receptor signaling complex array. The described method should have a broad application for structural and functional studies of native, intact cell membranes and membrane protein complexes.
Cryo-electron microscopy projection image analysis and tomography is used to describe the overall architecture of influenza B/Lee/40. Algebraic reconstruction techniques with utilization of volume elements (blobs) are employed to reconstruct tomograms of this pleomorphic virus and distinguish viral surface spikes. The purpose of this research is to examine the architecture of influenza type B virions by cryo-electron tomography and projection image analysis. The aims are to explore the degree of ribonucleoprotein disorder in irregular shaped virions; and to quantify the number and distribution of glycoprotein surface spikes (hemagglutinin and neuraminidase) on influenza B. Projection image analysis of virion morphology shows that the majority ( approximately 83%) of virions are spherical with an average diameter of 134+/-19 nm. The aspherical virions are larger (average diameter = 155+/-47 nm), exhibit disruption of the ribonucleoproteins, and show a partial loss of surface protein spikes. A count of glycoprotein spikes indicates that a typical 130 nm diameter type B virion contains approximately 460 surface spikes. Configuration of the ribonucleoproteins and surface glycoprotein spikes are visualized in tomogram reconstructions and EM densities visualize extensions of the spikes into the matrix. The importance of the viral matrix in organization of virus structure through interaction with the ribonucleoproteins and the anchoring of the glycoprotein spikes to the matrix is demonstrated.
The mammalian mitochondrial ribosomes (mitoribosomes) are responsible for synthesizing 13 membrane proteins that form essential components of the complexes involved in oxidative phosphorylation or ATP generation for the eukaryotic cell. The mammalian 55S mitoribosome contains significantly smaller rRNAs and a large mass of mitochondrial ribosomal proteins (MRPs), including large mito-specific amino acid extensions and insertions in MRPs that are homologous to bacterial ribosomal proteins and an additional 35 mito-specific MRPs. Here we present the cryo-EM structure analysis of the small (28S) subunit (SSU) of the 55S mitoribosome. We find that the mito-specific extensions in homologous MRPs generally are involved in inter-MRP contacts and in contacts with mito-specific MRPs, suggesting a stepwise evolution of the current architecture of the mitoribosome. Although most of the mito-specific MRPs and extensions of homologous MRPs are situated on the peripheral regions, they also contribute significantly to the formation of linings of the mRNA and tRNA paths, suggesting a tailor-made structural organization of the mito-SSU for the recruitment of mito-specific mRNAs, most of which do not possess a 5' leader sequence. In addition, docking of previously published coordinates of the large (39S) subunit (LSU) into the cryo-EM map of the 55S mitoribosome reveals that mito-specific MRPs of both the SSU and LSU are involved directly in the formation of six of the 15 intersubunit bridges.
How signaling domains form is an important, yet largely unexplored question. Here, we show that ciliary proteins help establish two contiguous, yet distinct cyclic GMP (cGMP) signaling compartments in Caenorhabditis elegans thermosensory AFD neurons. One compartment, a bona fide cilium, is delineated by proteins associated with Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS), Meckel syndrome and nephronophthisis at its base, and requires NPHP-2 (known as inversin in mammals) to anchor a cGMP-gated ion channel within the proximal ciliary region. The other, a subcompartment with profuse microvilli and a different lipid environment, is separated from the dendrite by a cellular junction and requires BBS-8 and DAF-25 (known as Ankmy2 in mammals) for correct localization of guanylyl cyclases needed for thermosensation. Consistent with a requirement for a membrane diffusion barrier at the subcompartment base, we reveal the unexpected presence of ciliary transition zone proteins where no canonical transition zone ultrastructure exists. We propose that differential compartmentalization of signal transduction components by ciliary proteins is important for the functions of ciliated sensory neurons.
Cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2) oxygenate arachidonic acid (AA) to generate prostaglandins. The enzymes associate with one leaflet of the membrane bilayer. We utilized nanodisc technology to investigate the function of human (hu) COX-2 and murine (mu) COX-2 in a lipid bilayer environment. huCOX-2 and muCOX-2 were incorporated into nanodiscs composed of POPC, POPS, DOPC, or DOPS phospholipids. Size-exclusion chromatography and negative stain electron microscopy confirm that a single COX-2 homodimer is incorporated into the nanodisc scaffold. Nanodisc-reconstituted COX-2 exhibited similar kinetic profiles for the oxygenation of AA, eicosapentaenoic acid, and 1-arachidonoyl glycerol compared to those derived using detergent solubilized enzyme. Moreover, changing the phospholipid composition of the nanodisc did not alter the ability of COX-2 to oxygenate AA or to be inhibited by various nonselective NSAIDs or celecoxib. The cyclooxygenase activity of nanodisc-reconstituted COX-2 was reduced by aspirin acetylation and potentiated by the nonsubstrate fatty acid palmitic acid to the same extent as detergent solubilized enzyme, independent of phospholipid composition. The stabilization and maintenance of activity afforded by the incorporation of the enzyme into nanodiscs generates a native-like lipid bilayer environment to pursue studies of COX utilizing solution-based techniques that are otherwise not tractable in the presence of detergents.
Cells release extracellular vesicles (ECVs) that play important roles in intercellular communication and may mediate a broad range of physiological and pathological processes. Many fundamental aspects of ECV biogenesis and signaling have yet to be determined, with ECV detection being a challenge and obstacle due to the small size (100 nm) of the ECVs. We developed an in vivo system to visualize the dynamic release of GFP-labeled ECVs. We show here that specific Caenorhabdidits elegans ciliated sensory neurons shed and release ECVs containing GFP-tagged polycystins LOV-1 and PKD-2. These ECVs are also abundant in the lumen surrounding the cilium. Electron tomography and genetic analysis indicate that ECV biogenesis occurs via budding from the plasma membrane at the ciliary base and not via fusion of multivesicular bodies. Intraflagellar transport and kinesin-3 KLP-6 are required for environmental release of PKD-2::GFP-containing ECVs. ECVs isolated from wild-type animals induce male tail-chasing behavior, while ECVs isolated from klp-6 animals and lacking PKD-2::GFP do not. We conclude that environmentally released ECVs play a role in animal communication and mating-related behaviors.
Initiation of transcription in human mitochondria involves two factors, TFAM and TFB2M, in addition to the mitochondrial RNA polymerase, POLRMT. We have investigated the organization of the human mitochondrial transcription initiation complex on the light-strand promoter (LSP) through solution X-ray scattering, electron microscopy (EM) and biochemical studies. Our EM results demonstrate a compact organization of the initiation complex, suggesting that protein-protein interactions might help mediate initiation. We demonstrate that, in the absence of DNA, only POLRMT and TFAM form a stable interaction, albeit one with low affinity. This is consistent with the expected transient nature of the interactions necessary for initiation and implies that the promoter DNA acts as a scaffold that enables formation of the full initiation complex. Docking of known crystal structures into our EM maps results in a model for transcriptional initiation that strongly correlates with new and existing biochemical observations. Our results reveal the organization of TFAM, POLRMT and TFB2M around the LSP and represent the first structural characterization of the entire mitochondrial transcriptional initiation complex.
Allen, GS and DL Stokes, Modeling, docking, and fitting of atomic structures to 3D maps from cryo-electron microscopy. Methods Mol Biol 955: 229-241. Show/Hide Abstract
Electron microscopy (EM) and image analysis offer an effective approach for determining the three-dimensional structure of macromolecular complexes. The versatility of these methods means that molecular species not normally amenable to other structural methods, e.g., X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy, can be analyzed. However, the resolution of EM structures is often too low to provide an atomic model directly by chain tracing. Instead, a combination of modeling and fitting can be an effective way to analyze the EM structure at an atomic level, thus allowing localization of subunits or evaluation of conformational changes. Here we describe the steps involved in this process: building a homology model, fitting this model to an EM map, and using computational methods for docking of additional domains to the model. As an example, we illustrate the methods using an integral membrane protein, CopA, which functions to pump copper across the membrane in an ATP-dependent manner. In this example, we build a homology model based on the published atomic coordinates for a related calcium pump from sarcoplasmic reticulum (SERCA). After fitting this homology model to a 17 A resolution EM map, computational software is used to dock a metal-binding domain (MBD) that is unique to the copper pump. Although this software identifies a number of plausible interfaces for docking, the constraints of the EM map steer us to select a unique solution. Thus, the synergy of these two methods allows us to describe both the location of the unknown MBD relative to the other cytoplasmic domains and the atomic details of the domain interface.
Asenjo, AB, et al., Structural model for tubulin recognition and deformation by kinesin-13 microtubule depolymerases. Cell Rep 3(3): 759-768. Show/Hide Abstract
To elucidate the structural basis of the mechanism of microtubule depolymerization by kinesin-13s, we analyzed complexes of tubulin and the Drosophila melanogaster kinesin-13 KLP10A by electron microscopy (EM) and fluorescence polarization microscopy. We report a nanometer-resolution (1.1 nm) cryo-EM three-dimensional structure of the KLP10A head domain (KLP10AHD) bound to curved tubulin. We found that binding of KLP10AHD induces a distinct tubulin configuration with displacement (shear) between tubulin subunits in addition to curvature. In this configuration, the kinesin-binding site differs from that in straight tubulin, providing an explanation for the distinct interaction modes of kinesin-13s with the microtubule lattice or its ends. The KLP10AHD-tubulin interface comprises three areas of interaction, suggesting a crossbow-type tubulin-bending mechanism. These areas include the kinesin-13 family conserved KVD residues, and as predicted from the crossbow model, mutating these residues changes the orientation and mobility of KLP10AHDs interacting with the microtubule.
Catanese, MT, et al., Ultrastructural analysis of hepatitis C virus particles. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110(23): 9505-9510. Show/Hide Abstract
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of chronic liver disease, with an estimated 170 million people infected worldwide. Low yields, poor stability, and inefficient binding to conventional EM grids have posed significant challenges to the purification and structural analysis of HCV. In this report, we generated an infectious HCV genome with an affinity tag fused to the E2 envelope glycoprotein. Using affinity grids, previously described to isolate proteins and macromolecular complexes for single-particle EM, we were able to purify enveloped particles directly from cell culture media. This approach allowed for rapid in situ purification of virions and increased particle density that were instrumental for cryo-EM and cryoelectron tomography (cryo-ET). Moreover, it enabled ultrastructural analysis of virions produced by primary human hepatocytes. HCV appears to be the most structurally irregular member of the Flaviviridae family. Particles are spherical, with spike-like projections, and heterogeneous in size ranging from 40 to 100 nm in diameter. Exosomes, although isolated from unfractionated culture media, were absent in highly infectious, purified virus preparations. Cryo-ET studies provided low-resolution 3D structural information of highly infectious virions. In addition to apolipoprotein (apo)E, HCV particles also incorporate apoB and apoA-I. In general, host apolipoproteins were more readily accessible to antibody labeling than HCV glycoproteins, suggesting either lower abundance or masking by host proteins.
Choi, WS, et al., Three-dimensional reconstruction of intact human integrin alphaIIbbeta3: new implications for activation-dependent ligand binding. Blood 122(26): 4165-4171. Show/Hide Abstract
Integrin alphaIIbbeta3 plays a central role in hemostasis and thrombosis. We provide the first 3-dimensional reconstruction of intact purified alphaIIbbeta3 in a nanodisc lipid bilayer. Unlike previous models, it shows that the ligand-binding head domain is on top, pointing away from the membrane. Moreover, unlike the crystal structure of the recombinant ectodomain, the lower legs are not parallel, straight, and adjacent. Rather, the alphaIIb lower leg is bent between the calf-1 and calf-2 domains and the beta3 Integrin-Epidermal Growth Factor (I-EGF) 2 to 4 domains are freely coiled rather than in a cleft between the beta3 headpiece and the alphaIIb lower leg. Our data indicate an important role for the region that links the distal calf-2 and beta-tail domains to their respective transmembrane (TM) domains in transmitting the conformational changes in the TM domains associated with inside-out activation.
Coudray, N, et al., Inward-facing conformation of the zinc transporter YiiP revealed by cryoelectron microscopy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110(6): 2140-2145. Show/Hide Abstract
YiiP is a dimeric Zn(2+)/H(+) antiporter from Escherichia coli belonging to the cation diffusion facilitator family. We used cryoelectron microscopy to determine a 13-A resolution structure of a YiiP homolog from Shewanella oneidensis within a lipid bilayer in the absence of Zn(2+). Starting from the X-ray structure in the presence of Zn(2+), we used molecular dynamics flexible fitting to build a model consistent with our map. Comparison of the structures suggests a conformational change that involves pivoting of a transmembrane, four-helix bundle (M1, M2, M4, and M5) relative to the M3-M6 helix pair. Although accessibility of transport sites in the X-ray model indicates that it represents an outward-facing state, our model is consistent with an inward-facing state, suggesting that the conformational change is relevant to the alternating access mechanism for transport. Molecular dynamics simulation of YiiP in a lipid environment was used to address the feasibility of this conformational change. Association of the C-terminal domains is the same in both states, and we speculate that this association is responsible for stabilizing the dimer that, in turn, may coordinate the rearrangement of the transmembrane helices.
Khan, LA, et al., Intracellular lumen extension requires ERM-1-dependent apical membrane expansion and AQP-8-mediated flux. Nat Cell Biol 15(2): 143-156. Show/Hide Abstract
Many unicellular tubes such as capillaries form lumens intracellularly, a process that is not well understood. Here we show that the cortical membrane organizer ERM-1 is required to expand the intracellular apical/lumenal membrane and its actin undercoat during single-cell Caenorhabditis elegans excretory canal morphogenesis. We characterize AQP-8, identified in an ERM-1-overexpression (ERM-1[++]) suppressor screen, as a canalicular aquaporin that interacts with ERM-1 in lumen extension in a mercury-sensitive manner, implicating water-channel activity. AQP-8 is transiently recruited to the lumen by ERM-1, co-localizing in peri-lumenal cuffs interspaced along expanding canals. An ERM-1[++]-mediated increase in the number of lumen-associated canaliculi is reversed by AQP-8 depletion. We propose that the ERM-1/AQP-8 interaction propels lumen extension by translumenal flux, suggesting a direct morphogenetic effect of water-channel-regulated fluid pressure.
Pieper, U, et al., Coordinating the impact of structural genomics on the human alpha-helical transmembrane proteome. Nat Struct Mol Biol 20(2): 135-138. Show/Hide Abstract
With the recent successes in determining membrane protein structures, we explore the tractability of determining representatives for the entire human membrane proteome. This proteome contains 2,925 unique integral a-helical transmembrane domain sequences that cluster into 1,201 families sharing more than 25% sequence identity. Structures of 100 optimally selected targets would increase the fraction of modelable human a-helical transmembrane domains from 26% to 58%, thus providing structure/function information not otherwise available.
Sampathkumar, P, et al., Structure, dynamics, evolution, and function of a major scaffold component in the nuclear pore complex. Structure 21(4): 560-571. Show/Hide Abstract
The nuclear pore complex, composed of proteins termed nucleoporins (Nups), is responsible for nucleocytoplasmic transport in eukaryotes. Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) form an annular structure composed of the nuclear ring, cytoplasmic ring, a membrane ring, and two inner rings. Nup192 is a major component of the NPC's inner ring. We report the crystal structure of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Nup192 residues 2-960 [ScNup192(2-960)], which adopts an alpha-helical fold with three domains (i.e., D1, D2, and D3). Small angle X-ray scattering and electron microscopy (EM) studies reveal that ScNup192(2-960) could undergo long-range transition between "open" and "closed" conformations. We obtained a structural model of full-length ScNup192 based on EM, the structure of ScNup192(2-960), and homology modeling. Evolutionary analyses using the ScNup192(2-960) structure suggest that NPCs and vesicle-coating complexes are descended from a common membrane-coating ancestral complex. We show that suppression of Nup192 expression leads to compromised nuclear transport and hypothesize a role for Nup192 in modulating the permeability of the NPC central channel.
Stokes, DL, et al., High-throughput methods for electron crystallography. Methods Mol Biol 955: 273-296. Show/Hide Abstract
Membrane proteins play a tremendously important role in cell physiology and serve as a target for an increasing number of drugs. Structural information is key to understanding their function and for developing new strategies for combating disease. However, the complex physical chemistry associated with membrane proteins has made them more difficult to study than their soluble cousins. Electron crystallography has historically been a successful method for solving membrane protein structures and has the advantage of providing a native lipid environment for these proteins. Specifically, when membrane proteins form two-dimensional arrays within a lipid bilayer, electron microscopy can be used to collect images and diffraction and the corresponding data can be combined to produce a three-dimensional reconstruction, which under favorable conditions can extend to atomic resolution. Like X-ray crystallography, the quality of the structures are very much dependent on the order and size of the crystals. However, unlike X-ray crystallography, high-throughput methods for screening crystallization trials for electron crystallography are not in general use. In this chapter, we describe two alternative methods for high-throughput screening of membrane protein crystallization within the lipid bilayer. The first method relies on the conventional use of dialysis for removing detergent and thus reconstituting the bilayer; an array of dialysis wells in the standard 96-well format allows the use of a liquid-handling robot and greatly increases throughput. The second method relies on titration of cyclodextrin as a chelating agent for detergent; a specialized pipetting robot has been designed not only to add cyclodextrin in a systematic way, but to use light scattering to monitor the reconstitution process. In addition, the use of liquid-handling robots for making negatively stained grids and methods for automatically imaging samples in the electron microscope are described.
Yang, S, et al., Molecular mechanism of fascin function in filopodial formation. J Biol Chem 288(1): 274-284. Show/Hide Abstract
Filopodia are cell surface protrusions that are essential for cell migration. This finger-like structure is supported by rigid tightly bundled actin filaments. The protein responsible for actin bundling in filopodia is fascin. However, the mechanism by which fascin functions in filopodial formation is not clear. Here we provide biochemical, cryo-electron tomographic, and x-ray crystal structural data demonstrating the unique structural characteristics of fascin. Systematic mutagenesis studies on 100 mutants of fascin indicate that there are two major actin-binding sites on fascin. Crystal structures of four fascin mutants reveal concerted conformational changes in fascin from inactive to active states in the process of actin bundling. Mutations in any one of the actin-binding sites impair the cellular function of fascin in filopodial formation. Altogether, our data reveal the molecular mechanism of fascin function in filopodial formation.
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Cerrone, M, et al., "Sodium current deficit and arrhythmogenesis in a murine model of plakophilin-2 haploinsufficiency." Cardiovasc Res 95(4): 460-468. Show/Hide Abstract
AIMS: The shRNA-mediated loss of expression of the desmosomal protein plakophilin-2 leads to sodium current (I(Na)) dysfunction. Whether pkp2 gene haploinsufficiency leads to I(Na) deficit in vivo remains undefined. Mutations in pkp2 are detected in arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). Ventricular fibrillation and sudden death often occur in the 'concealed phase' of the disease, prior to overt structural damage. The mechanisms responsible for these arrhythmias remain poorly understood. We sought to characterize the morphology, histology, and ultrastructural features of PKP2-heterozygous-null (PKP2-Hz) murine hearts and explore the relation between PKP2 abundance, I(Na) function, and cardiac electrical synchrony. METHODS AND RESULTS: Hearts of PKP2-Hz mice were characterized by multiple methods. We observed ultrastructural but not histological or gross anatomical differences in PKP2-Hz hearts compared with wild-type (WT) littermates. Yet, in myocytes, decreased amplitude and a shift in gating and kinetics of I(Na) were observed. To further unmask I(Na) deficiency, we exposed myocytes, Langendorff-perfused hearts, and anaesthetized animals to a pharmacological challenge (flecainide). In PKP2-Hz hearts, the extent of flecainide-induced I(Na) block, impaired ventricular conduction, and altered electrocardiographic parameters were larger than controls. Flecainide provoked ventricular arrhythmias and death in PKP2-Hz animals, but not in the WT. CONCLUSIONS: PKP2 haploinsufficiency leads to I(Na) deficit in murine hearts. Our data support the notion of a cross-talk between desmosome and sodium channel complex. They also suggest that I(Na) dysfunction may contribute to generation and/or maintenance of arrhythmias in PKP2-deficient hearts. Whether pharmacological challenges could help unveil arrhythmia risk in patients with mutations or variants in PKP2 remains undefined.
Delmar, M and Liang, FX, Connexin43 and the regulation of intercalated disc function. Heart Rhythm 9(5): 835-838. Show/Hide Abstract
Gap junctions mediate the passage of ions and small molecules between cells. In the adult working cardiac venticles, gap junctions are formed predominantly by the oligomerization of the 43-kDa protein Connexin43 (Cχ43). It is generally accepted that gap junction-mediated intercellular communication is modulated by changes in the intracellular environment. The activity of various kinases, the concentration of protons or calcium, and the association of Cχ43 with other intracellular components all converge to determine the filtering capabilities of intercellular channels. The most studied posttranslational modification of Cχ34 is the phosphorylation of amino acids in its C-terminal domain (see, eg. References 1 and 2). Additional studies have shown that Cχ43 is also a substrate of Nε-lysine acetylation.3 Changes in the ionic intracellular milieu can also, directly or indirectly, regulate the conductive state of Cχ43. These modulatory mechanisms are likely to be activated in various pathophysiological states.2 Given the key role of gap junctions in action potential propagation, Cχ43 regulation is a subject of intense research, and it is seen as an important pharamcological target for the treatment and/or prevention of cardiac arrythmias.3-6
Durand-Heredia, J, et al., Identification of ZapD as a cell division factor that promotes the assembly of FtsZ in Escherichia coli. J Bacteriol 194(12): 3189-3198. Show/Hide Abstract
The tubulin homolog FtsZ forms a polymeric membrane-associated ring structure (Z ring) at midcell that establishes the site of division and provides an essential framework for the localization of a multiprotein molecular machine that promotes division in Escherichia coli. A number of regulatory proteins interact with FtsZ and modulate FtsZ assembly/disassembly processes, ensuring the spatiotemporal integrity of cytokinesis. The Z-associated proteins (ZapA, ZapB, and ZapC) belong to a group of FtsZ-regulatory proteins that exhibit functionally redundant roles in stabilizing FtsZ-ring assembly by binding and bundling polymeric FtsZ at midcell. In this study, we report the identification of ZapD (YacF) as a member of the E. coli midcell division machinery. Genetics and cell biological evidence indicate that ZapD requires FtsZ but not other downstream division proteins for localizing to midcell, where it promotes FtsZ-ring assembly via molecular mechanisms that overlap with ZapA. Biochemical evidence indicates that ZapD directly interacts with FtsZ and promotes bundling of FtsZ protofilaments. Similarly to ZapA, ZapB, and ZapC, ZapD is dispensable for division and therefore belongs to the growing group of FtsZ-associated proteins in E. coli that aid in the overall fitness of the division process.
Fernandez-Martinez, J, et al., Structure-function mapping of a heptameric module in the nuclear pore complex. J Cell Biol 196(4): 419-434. Show/Hide Abstract
The nuclear pore complex (NPC) is a multiprotein assembly that serves as the sole mediator of nucleocytoplasmic exchange in eukaryotic cells. In this paper, we use an integrative approach to determine the structure of an essential component of the yeast NPC, the ~600-kD heptameric Nup84 complex, to a precision of ~1.5 nm. The configuration of the subunit structures was determined by satisfaction of spatial restraints derived from a diverse set of negative-stain electron microscopy and protein domain-mapping data. Phenotypic data were mapped onto the complex, allowing us to identify regions that stabilize the NPC's interaction with the nuclear envelope membrane and connect the complex to the rest of the NPC. Our data allow us to suggest how the Nup84 complex is assembled into the NPC and propose a scenario for the evolution of the Nup84 complex through a series of gene duplication and loss events. This work demonstrates that integrative approaches based on low-resolution data of sufficient quality can generate functionally informative structures at intermediate resolution.
Hom, N, et al., Anisotropic nanocrystal arrays organized on protein lattices formed by recombinant clathrin fragments. J Mater Chem 22(44): 23335-23339. Show/Hide Abstract
Recombinant clathrin protein fragments form assemblies that template gold nanocrystals in an array across the latticed surface. The nanocrystals exhibit unusual anisotropic morphologies with long range ordering, both of which are dependent upon the presence of a hexahistidine tag on the clathrin heavy chain fragments.
Katz, G, et al., Protein P7 of the cystovirus phi6 is located at the three-fold axis of the unexpanded procapsid. PLoS One 7(10): e47489. Show/Hide Abstract
The objective of this study was to determine the location of protein P7, the RNA packaging factor, in the procapsid of the phi6 cystovirus. A comparison of cryo-electron microscopy high-resolution single particle reconstructions of the phi6 complete unexpanded procapsid, the protein P2-minus procapsid (P2 is the RNA directed RNA-polymerase), and the P7-minus procapsid, show that prior to RNA packaging the P7 protein is located near the three-fold axis of symmetry. Difference maps highlight the precise position of P7 and demonstrate that in P7-minus particles the P2 proteins are less localized with reduced densities at the three-fold axes. We propose that P7 performs the mechanical function of stabilizing P2 on the inner protein P1 shell which ensures that entering viral single-stranded RNA is replicated.
Phoon, CK, et al., Tafazzin knockdown in mice leads to a developmental cardiomyopathy with early diastolic dysfunction preceding myocardial noncompaction. J Am Heart Assoc 1(2). Show/Hide Abstract
BACKGROUND: Barth syndrome is a rare, multisystem disorder caused by mutations in tafazzin that lead to cardiolipin deficiency and mitochondrial abnormalities. Patients most commonly develop an early-onset cardiomyopathy in infancy or fetal life. METHODS AND RESULTS: Knockdown of tafazzin (TAZKD) in a mouse model was induced from the start of gestation via a doxycycline-inducible shRNA transgenic approach. All liveborn TAZKD mice died within the neonatal period, and in vivo echocardiography revealed prenatal loss of TAZKD embryos at E12.5-14.5. TAZKD E13.5 embryos and newborn mice demonstrated significant tafazzin knockdown, and mass spectrometry analysis of hearts revealed abnormal cardiolipin profiles typical of Barth syndrome. Electron microscopy of TAZKD hearts demonstrated ultrastructural abnormalities in mitochondria at both E13.5 and newborn stages. Newborn TAZKD mice exhibited a significant reduction in total mitochondrial area, smaller size of individual mitochondria, reduced cristae density, and disruption of the normal parallel orientation between mitochondria and sarcomeres. Echocardiography of E13.5 and newborn TAZKD mice showed good systolic function, but early diastolic dysfunction was evident from an abnormal flow pattern in the dorsal aorta. Strikingly, histology of E13.5 and newborn TAZKD hearts showed myocardial thinning, hypertrabeculation and noncompaction, and defective ventricular septation. Altered cellular proliferation occurring within a narrow developmental window accompanied the myocardial hypertrabeculation-noncompaction. CONCLUSIONS: In this murine model, tafazzin deficiency leads to a unique developmental cardiomyopathy characterized by ventricular myocardial hypertrabeculation-noncompaction and early lethality. A central role of cardiolipin and mitochondrial functioning is strongly implicated in cardiomyocyte differentiation and myocardial patterning required for heart development. (J Am Heart Assoc. 2012;1:jah3-e000455 doi: 10.1161/JAHA.111.000455.).
Schlame, M, et al., The physical state of lipid substrates provides transacylation specificity for tafazzin. Nat Chem Biol 8(10): 862-869. Show/Hide Abstract
Cardiolipin is a mitochondrial phospholipid with a characteristic acyl chain composition that depends on the function of tafazzin, a phospholipid-lysophospholipid transacylase, although the enzyme itself lacks acyl specificity. We incubated isolated tafazzin with various mixtures of phospholipids and lysophospholipids, characterized the lipid phase by (31)P-NMR and measured newly formed molecular species by MS. Substantial transacylation was observed only in nonbilayer lipid aggregates, and the substrate specificity was highly sensitive to the lipid phase. In particular, tetralinoleoyl-cardiolipin, a prototype molecular species, formed only under conditions that favor the inverted hexagonal phase. In isolated mitochondria, <1% of lipids participated in transacylations, suggesting that the action of tafazzin was limited to privileged lipid domains. We propose that tafazzin reacts with non-bilayer-type lipid domains that occur in curved or hemifused membrane zones and that acyl specificity is driven by the packing properties of these domains.
Topalidou, I, et al., Genetically separable functions of the MEC-17 tubulin acetyltransferase affect microtubule organization. Curr Biol 22(12): 1057-1065. Show/Hide Abstract
BACKGROUND: Microtubules (MTs) are formed from the lateral association of 11-16 protofilament chains of tubulin dimers, with most cells containing 13-protofilament (13-p) MTs. How these different MTs are formed is unknown, although the number of protofilaments may depend on the nature of the alpha- and beta-tubulins. RESULTS: Here we show that the enzymatic activity of the Caenorhabiditis elegans alpha-tubulin acetyltransferase (alpha-TAT) MEC-17 allows the production of 15-p MTs in the touch receptor neurons (TRNs) MTs. Without MEC-17, MTs with between 11 and 15 protofilaments are seen. Loss of this enzymatic activity also changes the number and organization of the TRN MTs and affects TRN axonal morphology. In contrast, enzymatically inactive MEC-17 is sufficient for touch sensitivity and proper process outgrowth without correcting the MT defects. Thus, in addition to demonstrating that MEC-17 is required for MT structure and organization, our results suggest that the large number of 15-p MTs, normally found in the TRNs, is not essential for mechanosensation. CONCLUSION: These experiments reveal a specific role for alpha-TAT in the formation of MTs and in the production of higher order MTs arrays. In addition, our results indicate that the alpha-TAT protein has functions that require acetyltransferase activity (such as the determination of protofilament number) and others that do not (presence of internal MT structures).
Topalidou, I, et al., Enzymatic and non-enzymatic activities of the tubulin acetyltransferase MEC-17 are required for microtubule organization and mechanosensation in C. elegans. Current Biology 22(12): 1057-1065. Show/Hide Abstract
BACKGROUND: Microtubules (MTs) are formed from the lateral association of 11–16 protofilament chains of tubulin dimers, with most cells containing 13-protofilament (13-p) MTs. How these different MTs are formed is unknown, although the number of protofilaments may depend on the nature of the a- and ß-tubulins. RESULTS: Here we show that the enzymatic activity of the C. elegans a-tubulin acetyltransferase (a-TAT) MEC-17 allows the production of 15-p MTs in the touch receptor neurons (TRNs) MTs. Without MEC-17, MTs with between 11 and 15 protofilaments are seen. Loss of this enzymatic activity also changes the number and organization of the TRN MTs and affects TRN axonal morphology. In contrast, enzymatically inactive MEC-17 is sufficient for touch sensitivity and proper process outgrowth without correcting the MT defects. Thus, in addition to demonstrating that MEC-17 is required for MT structure and organization, our results suggest that the large number of 15-p MTs, normally found in the TRNs, are not essential for mechanosensation. CONCLUSION: These experiments reveal a specific role for a-TAT in the formation of MTs and in the production of higher order MTs arrays. In addition our results indicate that the a-TAT protein has functions that require acetyltransferase activity (such as the determination of protofilament number) and others that do not (presence of internal MT structures).
Ubarretxena-Belandia, I and Stokes, DL (2012), Membrane protein structure determination by electron crystallography. Curr Opin Struct Biol 22(4): 520-528. Show/Hide Abstract
During the past year, electron crystallography of membrane proteins has provided structural insights into the mechanism of several different transporters and into their interactions with lipid molecules within the bilayer. From a technical perspective there have been important advances in high-throughput screening of crystallization trials and in automated imaging of membrane crystals with the electron microscope. There have also been key developments in software, and in molecular replacement and phase extension methods designed to facilitate the process of structure determination.
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Acehan, D, et al., Cardiolipin affects the supramolecular organization of ATP synthase in mitochondria. Biophys J 100(9): 2184-2192. Show/Hide Abstract
F(1)F(0) ATP synthase forms dimers that tend to assemble into large supramolecular structures. We show that the presence of cardiolipin is critical for the degree of oligomerization and the degree of order in these ATP synthase assemblies. This conclusion was drawn from the statistical analysis of cryoelectron tomograms of cristae vesicles isolated from Drosophila flight-muscle mitochondria, which are very rich in ATP synthase. Our study included a wild-type control, a cardiolipin synthase mutant with nearly complete loss of cardiolipin, and a tafazzin mutant with reduced cardiolipin levels. In the wild-type, the high-curvature edge of crista vesicles was densely populated with ATP synthase molecules that were typically organized in one or two rows of dimers. In both mutants, the density of ATP synthase was reduced at the high-curvature zone despite unchanged expression levels. Compared to the wild-type, dimer rows were less extended in the mutants and there was more scatter in the orientation of dimers. These data suggest that cardiolipin promotes the ribbonlike assembly of ATP synthase dimers and thus affects lateral organization and morphology of the crista membrane.
Allen, GS, et al., The architecture of CopA from Archeaoglobus fulgidus studied by cryo-electron microscopy and computational docking. Structure 19(9): 1219-1232. Show/Hide Abstract
CopA uses ATP to pump Cu(+) across cell membranes. X-ray crystallography has defined atomic structures of several related P-type ATPases. We have determined a structure of CopA at 10 A resolution by cryo-electron microscopy of a new crystal form and used computational molecular docking to study the interactions between the N-terminal metal-binding domain (NMBD) and other elements of the molecule. We found that the shorter-chain lipids used to produce these crystals are associated with movements of the cytoplasmic domains, with a novel dimer interface and with disordering of the NMBD, thus offering evidence for the transience of its interaction with the other cytoplasmic domains. Docking identified a binding site that matched the location of the NMBD in our previous structure by cryo-electron microscopy, allowing a more detailed view of its binding configuration and further support for its role in autoinhibition.
Banerjee, S and Nimigean, CM, Non-vesicular transfer of membrane proteins from nanoparticles to lipid bilayers. J Gen Physiol 137(2): 217-223. Show/Hide Abstract
Discoidal lipoproteins are a novel class of nanoparticles for studying membrane proteins (MPs) in a soluble, native lipid environment, using assays that have not been traditionally applied to transmembrane proteins. Here, we report the successful delivery of an ion channel from these particles, called nanoscale apolipoprotein-bound bilayers (NABBs), to a distinct, continuous lipid bilayer that will allow both ensemble assays, made possible by the soluble NABB platform, and single-molecule assays, to be performed from the same biochemical preparation. We optimized the incorporation and verified the homogeneity of NABBs containing a prototypical potassium channel, KcsA. We also evaluated the transfer of KcsA from the NABBs to lipid bilayers using single-channel electrophysiology and found that the functional properties of the channel remained intact. NABBs containing KcsA were stable, homogeneous, and able to spontaneously deliver the channel to black lipid membranes without measurably affecting the electrical properties of the bilayer. Our results are the first to demonstrate the transfer of a MP from NABBs to a different lipid bilayer without involving vesicle fusion.
De Carlo, S and Harris, JR, Negative staining and cryo-negative staining of macromolecules and viruses for TEM. Micron 42(2): 117-131. Show/Hide Abstract
In this review we cover the technical background to negative staining of biomolecules and viruses, and then expand upon the different possibilities and limitations. Topics range from conventional air-dry negative staining of samples adsorbed to carbon support films, the variant termed the "negative staining-carbon film" technique and negative staining of samples spread across the holes of holey-carbon support films, to a consideration of dynamic/time-dependent negative staining. For each of these approaches examples of attainable data are given. The cryo-negative staining technique for the specimen preparation of frozen-hydrated/vitrified samples is also presented. A detailed protocol to successfully achieve cryo-negative staining with ammonium molybdate is given, as well as examples of data, which support the claim that cryo-negative staining provides a useful approach for the high-resolution study of macromolecular and viral structure.
Durand-Heredia, JM., et al., Identification and characterization of ZapC, a stabilizer of the FtsZ ring in Escherichia coli. J Bacteriol 193(6): 1405-1413. Show/Hide Abstract
In Escherichia coli, spatiotemporal control of cell division occurs at the level of the assembly/disassembly process of the essential cytoskeletal protein FtsZ. A number of regulators interact with FtsZ and modulate the dynamics of the assembled FtsZ ring at the midcell division site. In this article, we report the identification of an FtsZ stabilizer, ZapC (Z-associated protein C), in a protein localization screen conducted with E. coli. ZapC colocalizes with FtsZ at midcell and interacts directly with FtsZ, as determined by a protein-protein interaction assay in yeast. Cells lacking or overexpressing ZapC are slightly elongated and have aberrant FtsZ ring morphologies indicative of a role for ZapC in FtsZ regulation. We also demonstrate the ability of purified ZapC to promote lateral bundling of FtsZ in a sedimentation reaction visualized by transmission electron microscopy. While ZapC lacks sequence similarity with other nonessential FtsZ regulators, ZapA and ZapB, all three Zap proteins appear to play an important role in FtsZ regulation during rapid growth. Taken together, our results suggest a key role for lateral bundling of the midcell FtsZ polymers in maintaining FtsZ ring stability during division.
Leo-Macias, A, et al., Toroidal surface complexes of bacteriophage ?12 are responsible for host-cell attachment. Virology 414(2): 103-109. Show/Hide Abstract
Cryo-electron tomography and subtomogram averaging are utilized to determine that the bacteriophage ?12, a member of the Cystoviridae family, contains surface complexes that are: toroidal in shape; composed of six globular domains with six-fold symmetry; and have a discrete density connecting them to the virus membrane-envelope surface. The lack of a hexameric spike in a reassortant of ?12 demonstrates that the gene for the hexameric spike is located in ?12’s medium length genome segment, likely to the P3 open reading frames which are the proteins involved in viral-host cell attachment. Based on this, and on protein mass estimates derived from the obtained averaged structure, it is suggested that each of the globular domains is most likely composed of a total of four copies of P3a and/or P3c proteins. Our findings may have implications in the study of the evolution of the cystovirus species in regard to their host specificity.
Nans, A, et al., Electron tomography of paranodal septate-like junctions and the associated axonal and glial cytoskeletons in the central nervous system. J Neurosci Res 89(3): 310-319. TShow/Hide Abstract
The polarized domains of myelinated axons are specifically organized to maximize the efficiency of saltatory conduction. The paranodal region is directly adjacent to the node of Ranvier and contains specialized septate-like junctions that provide adhesion between axons and glial cells and that constitute a lateral diffusion barrier for nodal components. To complement and extend earlier studies on the peripheral nervous system, electron tomography was used to image paranodal regions from the central nervous system (CNS). Our three-dimensional reconstructions revealed short filamentous linkers running directly from the septate-like junctions to neurofilaments, microfilaments, and organelles within the axon. The intercellular spacing between axons and glia was measured to be 7.4 +/- 0.6 nm, over twice the value previously reported in the literature (2.5-3.0 nm). Averaging of individual junctions revealed a bifurcated structure in the intercellular space that is consistent with a dimeric complex of cell adhesion molecules composing the septate-like junction. Taken together, these findings provide new insight into the structural organization of CNS paranodes and suggest that, in addition to providing axo-glial adhesion, cytoskeletal linkage to the septate-like junctions may be required to maintain axonal domains and to regulate organelle transport in myelinated axons.
Nans, A, et al., Native ultrastructure of the red cell cytoskeleton by cryo-electron tomography. Biophys J 101(10): 2341-2350. Show/Hide Abstract
Erythrocytes possess a spectrin-based cytoskeleton that provides elasticity and mechanical stability necessary to survive the shear forces within the microvasculature. The architecture of this membrane skeleton and the nature of its intermolecular contacts determine the mechanical properties of the skeleton and confer the characteristic biconcave shape of red cells. We have used cryo-electron tomography to evaluate the three-dimensional topology in intact, unexpanded membrane skeletons from mouse erythrocytes frozen in physiological buffer. The tomograms reveal a complex network of spectrin filaments converging at actin-based nodes and a gradual decrease in both the density and the thickness of the network from the center to the edge of the cell. The average contour length of spectrin filaments connecting junctional complexes is 46 +/- 15 nm, indicating that the spectrin heterotetramer in the native membrane skeleton is a fraction of its fully extended length ( approximately 190 nm). Higher-order oligomers of spectrin were prevalent, with hexamers and octamers seen between virtually every junctional complex in the network. Based on comparisons with expanded skeletons, we propose that the oligomeric state of spectrin is in a dynamic equilibrium that facilitates remodeling of the network as the cell changes shape in response to shear stress.
Renzi, F, et al., Structure of gamma-secretase and its trimeric pre-activation intermediate by single-particle electron microscopy. J Biol Chem 286(24): 21440-21449. Show/Hide Abstract
The gamma-secretase membrane protein complex is responsible for proteolytic maturation of signaling precursors and catalyzes the final step in the production of the amyloid beta-peptides implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease. The incorporation of PEN-2 (presenilin enhancer 2) into a pre-activation intermediate, composed of the catalytic subunit presenilin and the accessory proteins APH-1 (anterior pharynx-defective 1) and nicastrin, triggers the endoproteolysis of presenilin and results in an active tetrameric gamma-secretase. We have determined the three-dimensional reconstruction of a mature and catalytically active gamma-secretase using single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. gamma-Secretase has a cup-like shape with a lateral belt of approximately 40-50 A in height that encloses a water-accessible internal chamber. Active site labeling with a gold-coupled transition state analog inhibitor suggested that the gamma-secretase active site faces this chamber. Comparison with the structure of a trimeric pre-activation intermediate suggested that the incorporation of PEN-2 might contribute to the maturation of the active site architecture.
Tian, Y, et al., Multimeric assembly and biochemical characterization of the Trax-translin endonuclease complex. Nat Struct Mol Biol 18(6): 658-664. Show/Hide Abstract
Trax-translin heteromers, also known as C3PO, have been proposed to activate the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) by facilitating endonucleolytic cleavage of the siRNA passenger strand. We report on the crystal structure of hexameric Drosophila C3PO formed by truncated translin and Trax, along with electron microscopic and mass spectrometric studies on octameric C3PO formed by full-length translin and Trax. Our studies establish that Trax adopts the translin fold, possesses catalytic centers essential for C3PO's endoRNase activity and interacts extensively with translin to form an octameric assembly. The catalytic pockets of Trax subunits are located within the interior chamber of the octameric scaffold. Truncated C3PO, like full-length C3PO, shows endoRNase activity that leaves 3'-hydroxyl-cleaved ends. We have measured the catalytic activity of C3PO and shown it to cleave almost stoichiometric amounts of substrate per second.
Wehman, AM, et al., The P4-ATPase TAT-5 inhibits the budding of extracellular vesicles in C. elegans embryos. Curr Biol 21(23): 1951-1959. Show/Hide Abstract
BACKGROUND: Cells release extracellular vesicles (ECVs) that can influence differentiation, modulate the immune response, promote coagulation, and induce metastasis. Many ECVs form by budding outwards from the plasma membrane, but the molecules that regulate budding are unknown. In ECVs, the outer leaflet of the membrane bilayer contains aminophospholipids that are normally sequestered to the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane, suggesting a role for lipid asymmetry in ECV budding. RESULTS: We show that loss of the conserved P4-ATPase TAT-5 causes the large-scale shedding of ECVs and disrupts cell adhesion and morphogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. TAT-5 localizes to the plasma membrane and its loss results in phosphatidylethanolamine exposure on cell surfaces. We show that RAB-11 and endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) proteins, which regulate the topologically analogous process of viral budding, are enriched at the plasma membrane in tat-5 embryos, and are required for ECV production. CONCLUSIONS: TAT-5 is the first protein identified to regulate ECV budding. TAT-5 provides a potential molecular link between loss of phosphatidylethanolamine asymmetry and the dynamic budding of vesicles from the plasma membrane, supporting the hypothesis that lipid asymmetry regulates budding. Our results also suggest that viral budding and ECV budding may share common molecular mechanisms.
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Diaz, R, et al., Fourier-Bessel reconstruction of helical assemblies. Methods Enzymol 482: 131-165. Show/Hide Abstract
Helical symmetry is commonly used for building macromolecular assemblies. Helical symmetry is naturally present in viruses and cytoskeletal filaments and also occurs during crystallization of isolated proteins, such as Ca-ATPase and the nicotinic acetyl choline receptor. Structure determination of helical assemblies by electron microscopy has a long history dating back to the original work on three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction. A helix offers distinct advantages for structure determination. Not only can one improve resolution by averaging across the constituent subunits, but each helical assembly provides multiple views of these subunits and thus provides a complete 3D data set. This review focuses on Fourier methods of helical reconstruction, covering the theoretical background, a step-by-step guide to the process, and a practical example based on previous work with Ca-ATPase. Given recent results from helical reconstructions at atomic resolution and the development of graphical user interfaces to aid in the process, these methods are likely to continue to make an important contribution to the field of structural biology.
Filimonenko, M, et al., The selective macroautophagic degradation of aggregated proteins requires the PI3P-binding protein Alfy. Mol Cell 38(2): 265-279. Show/Hide Abstract
There is growing evidence that macroautophagic cargo is not limited to bulk cytosol in response to starvation and can occur selectively for substrates, including aggregated proteins. It remains unclear, however, whether starvation-induced and selective macroautophagy share identical adaptor molecules to capture their cargo. Here, we report that Alfy, a phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate-binding protein, is central to the selective elimination of aggregated proteins. We report that the loss of Alfy inhibits the clearance of inclusions, with little to no effect on the starvation response. Alfy is recruited to intracellular inclusions and scaffolds a complex between p62(SQSTM1)-positive proteins and the autophagic effectors Atg5, Atg12, Atg16L, and LC3. Alfy overexpression leads to elimination of aggregates in an Atg5-dependent manner and, likewise, to protection in a neuronal and Drosophila model of polyglutamine toxicity. We propose that Alfy plays a key role in selective macroautophagy by bridging cargo to the molecular machinery that builds autophagosomes.
Hu, M, et al., Automated electron microscopy for evaluating two-dimensional crystallization of membrane proteins. J Struct Biol 171(1): 102-110. Show/Hide Abstract
Membrane proteins fulfill many important roles in the cell and represent the target for a large number of therapeutic drugs. Although structure determination of membrane proteins has become a major priority, it has proven to be technically challenging. Electron microscopy of two-dimensional (2D) crystals has the advantage of visualizing membrane proteins in their natural lipidic environment, but has been underutilized in recent structural genomics efforts. To improve the general applicability of electron crystallography, high-throughput methods are needed for screening large numbers of conditions for 2D crystallization, thereby increasing the chances of obtaining well ordered crystals and thus achieving atomic resolution. Previous reports describe devices for growing 2D crystals on a 96-well format. The current report describes a system for automated imaging of these screens with an electron microscope. Samples are inserted with a two-part robot: a SCARA robot for loading samples into the microscope holder, and a Cartesian robot for placing the holder into the electron microscope. A standard JEOL 1230 electron microscope was used, though a new tip was designed for the holder and a toggle switch controlling the airlock was rewired to allow robot control. A computer program for controlling the robots was integrated with the Leginon program, which provides a module for automated imaging of individual samples. The resulting images are uploaded into the Sesame laboratory information management system database where they are associated with other data relevant to the crystallization screen.
Ji, H, et al., Protein determinants of SNARE-mediated lipid mixing. Biophys J 99(2): 553-560. Show/Hide Abstract
Soluble N-ethylmaleimide sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE)-mediated lipid mixing can be efficiently recapitulated in vitro by the incorporation of purified vesicle membrane (-v) SNARE and target membrane (t-) SNARE proteins into separate liposome populations. Despite the strong correlation between the observed activities in this system and the known SNARE physiology, some recent works have suggested that SNARE-mediated lipid mixing may be limited to circumstances where membrane defects arise from artifactual reconstitution conditions (such as nonphysiological high-protein concentrations or unrealistically small liposome populations). Here, we show that the previously published strategies used to reconstitute SNAREs into liposomes do not significantly affect either the physical parameters of the proteoliposomes or the ability of SNAREs to drive lipid mixing in vitro. The surface density of SNARE proteins turns out to be the most critical parameter, which controls both the rate and the extent of SNARE-mediated liposome fusion. In addition, the specific activity of the t-SNARE complex is significantly influenced by expression and reconstitution protocols, such that we only observe optimal lipid mixing when the t-SNARE proteins are coexpressed before purification.
Kim, C, et al., An automated pipeline to screen membrane protein 2D crystallization. J Struct Funct Genomics 11(2): 155-166. Show/Hide Abstract
Electron crystallography relies on electron cryomicroscopy of two-dimensional (2D) crystals and is particularly well suited for studying the structure of membrane proteins in their native lipid bilayer environment. To obtain 2D crystals from purified membrane proteins, the detergent in a protein-lipid-detergent ternary mixture must be removed, generally by dialysis, under conditions favoring reconstitution into proteoliposomes and formation of well-ordered lattices. To identify these conditions a wide range of parameters such as pH, lipid composition, lipid-to-protein ratio, ionic strength and ligands must be screened in a procedure involving four steps: crystallization, specimen preparation for electron microscopy, image acquisition, and evaluation. Traditionally, these steps have been carried out manually and, as a result, the scope of 2D crystallization trials has been limited. We have therefore developed an automated pipeline to screen the formation of 2D crystals. We employed a 96-well dialysis block for reconstitution of the target protein over a wide range of conditions designed to promote crystallization. A 96-position magnetic platform and a liquid handling robot were used to prepare negatively stained specimens in parallel. Robotic grid insertion into the electron microscope and computerized image acquisition ensures rapid evaluation of the crystallization screen. To date, 38 2D crystallization screens have been conducted for 15 different membrane proteins, totaling over 3000 individual crystallization experiments. Three of these proteins have yielded diffracting 2D crystals. Our automated pipeline outperforms traditional 2D crystallization methods in terms of throughput and reproducibility.
Leal-Pinto, E, et al., Gating of a G protein-sensitive mammalian Kir3.1 prokaryotic Kir channel chimera in planar lipid bilayers. J Biol Chem 285(51): 39790-39800. Show/Hide Abstract
Kir3 channels control heart rate and neuronal excitability through GTP-binding (G) protein and phosphoinositide signaling pathways. These channels were the first characterized effectors of the betagamma subunits of G proteins. Because we currently lack structures of complexes between G proteins and Kir3 channels, their interactions leading to modulation of channel function are not well understood. The recent crystal structure of a chimera between the cytosolic domain of a mammalian Kir3.1 and the transmembrane region of a prokaryotic KirBac1.3 (Kir3.1 chimera) has provided invaluable structural insight. However, it was not known whether this chimera could form functional K(+) channels. Here, we achieved the functional reconstitution of purified Kir3.1 chimera in planar lipid bilayers. The chimera behaved like a bona fide Kir channel displaying an absolute requirement for PIP(2) and Mg(2+)-dependent inward rectification. The channel could also be blocked by external tertiapin Q. The three-dimensional reconstruction of the chimera by single particle electron microscopy revealed a structure consistent with the crystal structure. Channel activity could be stimulated by ethanol and activated G proteins. Remarkably, the presence of both activated Galpha and Gbetagamma subunits was required for gating of the channel. These results confirm the Kir3.1 chimera as a valid structural and functional model of Kir3 channels.
Li, G, et al., Highly compacted chromatin formed in vitro reflects the dynamics of transcription activation in vivo. Mol Cell 38(1): 41-53. Show/Hide Abstract
High-order chromatin was reconstituted in vitro. This species reflects the criteria associated with transcriptional regulation in vivo. Histone H1 was determinant to formation of condensed structures, with deacetylated histones giving rise to highly compacted chromatin that approximated 30 nm fibers as evidenced by electron microscopy. Using the PEPCK promoter, we validated the integrity of these templates that were refractory to transcription by attaining transcription through the progressive action of the pertinent factors. The retinoic acid receptor binds to highly compacted chromatin, but the NF1 transcription factor binds only after histone acetylation by p300 and SWI/SNF-mediated nucleosome mobilization, reflecting the in vivo case. Mapping studies revealed the same pattern of nucleosomal repositioning on the PEPCK promoter in vitro and in vivo, correlating with NF1 binding and transcription. The reconstitution of such highly compacted "30 nm" chromatin that mimics in vivo characteristics should advance studies of its conversion to a transcriptionally active form.
Melcher, M, et al., Identification of a role for the PfEMP1 semi-conserved head structure in protein trafficking to the surface of Plasmodium falciparum infected red blood cells. Cell Microbiol 12(10): 1446-1462. Show/Hide Abstract
Transport of Plasmodium falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 (PfEMP1) variants to the red blood cell (RBC) surface enables malarial parasite evasion of host immunity by modifying the antigenic and adhesive properties of infected RBCs. In this study, we applied the Bxb1 integrase system to integrate transgenes encoding truncated PfEMP1-GFP fusions into cytoadherent A4 parasites and characterize their surface transport requirements. Our studies revealed that the semi-conserved head structure of PfEMP1 proteins, in combination with the predicted transmembrane region and cytoplasmic tail, encodes sufficient information for RBC surface display. In contrast, miniPfEMP1 proteins with truncated head structures were exported to the RBC cytoplasm but were not detected at the RBC surface by flow cytometry or immuno-electron microscopy. We demonstrated the absence of a mechanistic barrier to having native and miniPfEMP1 proteins displayed simultaneously at the RBC surface. However, surface-exposed miniPfEMP1 proteins did not convey cytoadherence properties to their host cells, implicating potential steric considerations in host-receptor interactions or the need for multiple domains to mediate cell binding. This study establishes a new system to investigate PfEMP1 transport and demonstrates that the PfEMP1 semi-conserved head structure is under selection for protein transport, in addition to its known roles in adhesion.
Opalka, N, et al., Complete structural model of Escherichia coli RNA polymerase from a hybrid approach. PLoS Biol 8(9). Show/Hide Abstract
The Escherichia coli transcription system is the best characterized from a biochemical and genetic point of view and has served as a model system. Nevertheless, a molecular understanding of the details of E. coli transcription and its regulation, and therefore its full exploitation as a model system, has been hampered by the absence of high-resolution structural information on E. coli RNA polymerase (RNAP). We use a combination of approaches, including high-resolution X-ray crystallography, ab initio structural prediction, homology modeling, and single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, to generate complete atomic models of E. coli core RNAP and an E. coli RNAP ternary elongation complex. The detailed and comprehensive structural descriptions can be used to help interpret previous biochemical and genetic data in a new light and provide a structural framework for designing experiments to understand the function of the E. coli lineage-specific insertions and their role in the E. coli transcription program.
Owen, GR and Stokes, DL, Exploring the Nature of Desmosomal Cadherin Associations in 3D. Dermatology Research and Practice 2010. Show/Hide Abstract
Stokes, DL, et al., Two-dimensional crystallization of integral membrane proteins for electron crystallography. Methods Mol Biol 654: 187-205. Show/Hide Abstract
Although membrane proteins make up 30% of the proteome and are a common target for therapeutic drugs, determination of their atomic structure remains a technical challenge. Electron crystallography represents an alternative to the conventional methods of X-ray diffraction and NMR and relies on the formation of two-dimensional crystals. These crystals are produced by reconstituting purified, detergent-solubilized membrane proteins back into the native environment of a lipid bilayer. This chapter reviews methods for producing two-dimensional crystals and for screening them by negative stain electron microscopy. In addition, we show examples of the different morphologies that are commonly obtained and describe basic image analysis procedures that can be used to evaluate their promise for structure determination by cryoelectron microscopy.
Tucker, JD, et al., Membrane invagination in Rhodobacter sphaeroides is initiated at curved regions of the cytoplasmic membrane, then forms both budded and fully detached spherical vesicles. Mol Microbiol 76(4): 833-847. Show/Hide Abstract
The purple phototrophic bacteria synthesize an extensive system of intracytoplasmic membranes (ICM) in order to increase the surface area for absorbing and utilizing solar energy. Rhodobacter sphaeroides cells contain curved membrane invaginations. In order to study the biogenesis of ICM in this bacterium mature (ICM) and precursor (upper pigmented band - UPB) membranes were purified and compared at the single membrane level using electron, atomic force and fluorescence microscopy, revealing fundamental differences in their morphology, protein organization and function. Cryo-electron tomography demonstrates the complexity of the ICM of Rba. sphaeroides. Some ICM vesicles have no connection with other structures, others are found nearer to the cytoplasmic membrane (CM), often forming interconnected structures that retain a connection to the CM, and possibly having access to the periplasmic space. Near-spherical single invaginations are also observed, still attached to the CM by a 'neck'. Small indents of the CM are also seen, which are proposed to give rise to the UPB precursor membranes upon cell disruption. 'Free-living' ICM vesicles, which possess all the machinery for converting light energy into ATP, can be regarded as bacterial membrane organelles.
Ubarretxena-Belandia, I and Stokes, DL, Present and future of membrane protein structure determination by electron crystallography. Adv Protein Chem Struct Biol 81: 33-60. Show/Hide Abstract
Membrane proteins are critical to cell physiology, playing roles in signaling, trafficking, transport, adhesion, and recognition. Despite their relative abundance in the proteome and their prevalence as targets of therapeutic drugs, structural information about membrane proteins is in short supply. This chapter describes the use of electron crystallography as a tool for determining membrane protein structures. Electron crystallography offers distinct advantages relative to the alternatives of X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy. Namely, membrane proteins are placed in their native membranous environment, which is likely to favor a native conformation and allow changes in conformation in response to physiological ligands. Nevertheless, there are significant logistical challenges in finding appropriate conditions for inducing membrane proteins to form two-dimensional arrays within the membrane and in using electron cryo-microscopy to collect the data required for structure determination. A number of developments are described for high-throughput screening of crystallization trials and for automated imaging of crystals with the electron microscope. These tools are critical for exploring the necessary range of factors governing the crystallization process. There have also been recent software developments to facilitate the process of structure determination. However, further innovations in the algorithms used for processing images and electron diffraction are necessary to improve throughput and to make electron crystallography truly viable as a method for determining atomic structures of membrane proteins.
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Acehan, D, et al., Distinct effects of tafazzin deletion in differentiated and undifferentiated mitochondria. Mitochondrion 9(2): 86-95. Show/Hide Abstract
Tafazzin is a conserved mitochondrial protein that is required to maintain normal content and composition of cardiolipin. We used electron tomography to investigate the effect of tafazzin deletion on mitochondrial structure and found that cellular differentiation plays a crucial role in the manifestation of abnormalities. This conclusion was reached by comparing differentiated cardiomyocytes with embryonic stem cells from mouse and by comparing different tissues from Drosophila melanogaster. The data suggest that tafazzin deficiency affects cardiolipin in all mitochondria, but significant alterations of the ultrastructure, such as remodeling and aggregation of inner membranes, will only occur after specific differentiation.
Haka, AS, et al., Macrophages create an acidic extracellular hydrolytic compartment to digest aggregated lipoproteins. Mol Biol Cell 20(23): 4932-4940. Show/Hide Abstract
A critical event in atherogenesis is the interaction of macrophages with subendothelial lipoproteins. Although most studies model this interaction by incubating macrophages with monomeric lipoproteins, macrophages in vivo encounter lipoproteins that are aggregated. The physical features of the lipoproteins require distinctive mechanisms for their uptake. We show that macrophages create an extracellular, acidic, hydrolytic compartment to carry out digestion of aggregated low-density lipoproteins. We demonstrate delivery of lysosomal contents to these specialized compartments and their acidification by vacuolar ATPase, enabling aggregate catabolism by lysosomal acid hydrolases. We observe transient sealing of portions of the compartments, allowing formation of an "extracellular" proton gradient. An increase in free cholesterol is observed in aggregates contained in these compartments. Thus, cholesteryl ester hydrolysis can occur extracellularly in a specialized compartment, a lysosomal synapse, during the interaction of macrophages with aggregated low-density lipoprotein. A detailed understanding of these processes is essential for developing strategies to prevent atherosclerosis.
Jeong, H, et al., Acetylation targets mutant huntingtin to autophagosomes for degradation. Cell 137(1): 60-72. Show/Hide Abstract
Huntington's disease (HD) is an incurable neurodegenerative disease caused by neuronal accumulation of the mutant protein huntingtin. Improving clearance of the mutant protein is expected to prevent cellular dysfunction and neurodegeneration in HD. We report here that such clearance can be achieved by posttranslational modification of the mutant Huntingtin (Htt) by acetylation at lysine residue 444 (K444). Increased acetylation at K444 facilitates trafficking of mutant Htt into autophagosomes, significantly improves clearance of the mutant protein by macroautophagy, and reverses the toxic effects of mutant huntingtin in primary striatal and cortical neurons and in a transgenic C. elegans model of HD. In contrast, mutant Htt that is rendered resistant to acetylation dramatically accumulates and leads to neurodegeneration in cultured neurons and in mouse brain. These studies identify acetylation as a mechanism for removing accumulated protein in HD, and more broadly for actively targeting proteins for degradation by autophagy.
Kampmann, M and Blobel, G, Three-dimensional structure and flexibility of a membrane-coating module of the nuclear pore complex. Nat Struct Mol Biol 16(7): 782-788. Show/Hide Abstract
The nuclear pore complex mediates nucleocytoplasmic transport in all eukaryotes and is among the largest cellular assemblies of proteins, collectively known as nucleoporins. Nucleoporins are organized into distinct subcomplexes. We optimized the isolation of a putative membrane-coating subcomplex of the nuclear pore complex, the heptameric Nup84 complex, and analyzed its structure by EM. Our data confirmed the previously reported 'Y' shape. We discerned additional structural details, including specific hinge regions at which the particle shows great flexibility. We determined the three-dimensional structures of two conformers, mapped the localization of two nucleoporins within the subcomplex and docked known crystal structures into the EM maps. The free ends of the Y-shaped particle are formed by beta-propellers; the connecting segments consist of alpha-solenoids. Notably, the same organizational principle is found in the clathrin triskelion, which may share a common evolutionary origin with the heptameric complex.
Mansilla-Soto, J, et al., DNA structure modulates the oligomerization properties of the AAV initiator protein Rep68. PLoS Pathog 5(7): e1000513. Show/Hide Abstract
Rep68 is a multifunctional protein of the adeno-associated virus (AAV), a parvovirus that is mostly known for its promise as a gene therapy vector. In addition to its role as initiator in viral DNA replication, Rep68 is essential for site-specific integration of the AAV genome into human chromosome 19. Rep68 is a member of the superfamily 3 (SF3) helicases, along with the well-studied initiator proteins simian virus 40 large T antigen (SV40-LTag) and bovine papillomavirus (BPV) E1. Structurally, SF3 helicases share two domains, a DNA origin interaction domain (OID) and an AAA(+) motor domain. The AAA(+) motor domain is also a structural feature of cellular initiators and it functions as a platform for initiator oligomerization. Here, we studied Rep68 oligomerization in vitro in the presence of different DNA substrates using a variety of biophysical techniques and cryo-EM. We found that a dsDNA region of the AAV origin promotes the formation of a complex containing five Rep68 subunits. Interestingly, non-specific ssDNA promotes the formation of a double-ring Rep68, a known structure formed by the LTag and E1 initiator proteins. The Rep68 ring symmetry is 8-fold, thus differing from the hexameric rings formed by the other SF3 helicases. However, similiar to LTag and E1, Rep68 rings are oriented head-to-head, suggesting that DNA unwinding by the complex proceeds bidirectionally. This novel Rep68 quaternary structure requires both the DNA binding and AAA(+) domains, indicating cooperativity between these regions during oligomerization in vitro. Our study clearly demonstrates that Rep68 can oligomerize through two distinct oligomerization pathways, which depend on both the DNA structure and cooperativity of Rep68 domains. These findings provide insight into the dynamics and oligomeric adaptability of Rep68 and serve as a step towards understanding the role of this multifunctional protein during AAV DNA replication and site-specific integration.
Nagy, V, et al., Structure of a trimeric nucleoporin complex reveals alternate oligomerization states. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106(42): 17693-17698. Show/Hide Abstract
The heptameric Nup84 complex constitutes an evolutionarily conserved building block of the nuclear pore complex. Here, we present the crystal structure of the heterotrimeric Sec13 x Nup145C x Nup84 complex, the centerpiece of the heptamer, at 3.2-A resolution. Nup84 forms a U-shaped alpha-helical solenoid domain, topologically similar to two other members of the heptamer, Nup145C and Nup85. The interaction between Nup84 and Nup145C is mediated via a hydrophobic interface located in the kink regions of the two solenoids that is reinforced by additional interactions of two long Nup84 loops. The Nup84 binding site partially overlaps with the homo-dimerization interface of Nup145C, suggesting competing binding events. Fitting of the elongated Z-shaped heterotrimer into electron microscopy (EM) envelopes of the heptamer indicates that structural changes occur at the Nup145C x Nup84 interface. Docking the crystal structures of all heptamer components into the EM envelope constitutes a major advance toward the completion of the structural characterization of the Nup84 complex.
Rath, U, et al., The Drosophila kinesin-13, KLP59D, impacts Pacman- and Flux-based chromosome movement. Mol Biol Cell 20(22): 4696-4705. Show/Hide Abstract
Chromosome movements are linked to the active depolymerization of spindle microtubule (MT) ends. Here we identify the kinesin-13 family member, KLP59D, as a novel and uniquely important regulator of spindle MT dynamics and chromosome motility in Drosophila somatic cells. During prometaphase and metaphase, depletion of KLP59D, which targets to centrosomes and outer kinetochores, suppresses the depolymerization of spindle pole-associated MT minus ends, thereby inhibiting poleward tubulin Flux. Subsequently, during anaphase, loss of KLP59D strongly attenuates chromatid-to-pole motion by suppressing the depolymerization of both minus and plus ends of kinetochore-associated MTs. The mechanism of KLP59D's impact on spindle MT plus and minus ends appears to differ. Our data support a model in which KLP59D directly depolymerizes kinetochore-associated plus ends during anaphase, but influences minus ends indirectly by localizing the pole-associated MT depolymerase KLP10A. Finally, electron microscopy indicates that, unlike the other Drosophila kinesin-13s, KLP59D is largely incapable of oligomerizing into MT-associated rings in vitro, suggesting that such structures are not a requisite feature of kinetochore-based MT disassembly and chromosome movements.
Shi, Y, et al., Molecular architecture of the human pre-mRNA 3' processing complex. Mol Cell 33(3): 365-376. Show/Hide Abstract
Pre-mRNA 3' end formation is an essential step in eukaryotic gene expression. Over half of human genes produce alternatively polyadenylated mRNAs, suggesting that regulated polyadenylation is an important mechanism for posttranscriptional gene control. Although a number of mammalian mRNA 3' processing factors have been identified, the full protein composition of the 3' processing machinery has not been determined, and its structure is unknown. Here we report the purification and subsequent proteomic and structural characterization of human mRNA 3' processing complexes. Remarkably, the purified 3' processing complex contains approximately 85 proteins, including known and new core 3' processing factors and over 50 proteins that may mediate crosstalk with other processes. Electron microscopic analyses show that the core 3' processing complex has a distinct "kidney" shape and is approximately 250 A in length. Together, our data has revealed the complexity and molecular architecture of the pre-mRNA 3' processing complex.
Wei, H, et al., Three-dimensional structure of the enveloped bacteriophage phi12: an incomplete T = 13 lattice is superposed on an enclosed T = 1 shell. PLoS One 4(9): e6850. Show/Hide Abstract
BACKGROUND: Bacteriophage phi12 is a member of the Cystoviridae, a unique group of lipid containing membrane enveloped bacteriophages that infect the bacterial plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola. The genomes of the virus species contain three double-stranded (dsRNA) segments, and the virus capsid itself is organized in multiple protein shells. The segmented dsRNA genome, the multi-layered arrangement of the capsid and the overall viral replication scheme make the Cystoviridae similar to the Reoviridae. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We present structural studies of cystovirus phi12 obtained using cryo-electron microscopy and image processing techniques. We have collected images of isolated phi12 virions and generated reconstructions of both the entire particles and the polymerase complex (PC). We find that in the nucleocapsid (NC), the phi12 P8 protein is organized on an incomplete T = 13 icosahedral lattice where the symmetry axes of the T = 13 layer and the enclosed T = 1 layer of the PC superpose. This is the same general protein-component organization found in phi6 NC's but the detailed structure of the entire phi12 P8 layer is distinct from that found in the best classified cystovirus species phi6. In the reconstruction of the NC, the P8 layer includes protein density surrounding the hexamers of P4 that sit at the 5-fold vertices of the icosahedral lattice. We believe these novel features correspond to dimers of protein P7. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: In conclusion, we have determined that the phi12 NC surface is composed of an incomplete T = 13 P8 layer forming a net-like configuration. The significance of this finding in regard to cystovirus assembly is that vacancies in the lattice could have the potential to accommodate additional viral proteins that are required for RNA packaging and synthesis.
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Acehan, D, et al., Plakoglobin is required for effective intermediate filament anchorage to desmosomes. J Invest Dermatol 128(11): 2665-2675. Show/Hide Abstract
Desmosomes are adhesive junctions that provide mechanical coupling between cells. Plakoglobin (PG) is a major component of the intracellular plaque that serves to connect transmembrane elements to the cytoskeleton. We have used electron tomography and immunolabeling to investigate the consequences of PG knockout on the molecular architecture of the intracellular plaque in cultured keratinocytes. Although knockout keratinocytes form substantial numbers of desmosome-like junctions and have a relatively normal intercellular distribution of desmosomal cadherins, their cytoplasmic plaques are sparse and anchoring of intermediate filaments is defective. In the knockout, beta-catenin appears to substitute for PG in the clustering of cadherins, but is unable to recruit normal levels of plakophilin-1 and desmoplakin to the plaque. By comparing tomograms of wild type and knockout desmosomes, we have assigned particular densities to desmoplakin and described their interaction with intermediate filaments. Desmoplakin molecules are more extended in wild type than knockout desmosomes, as if intermediate filament connections produced tension within the plaque. On the basis of our observations, we propose a particular assembly sequence, beginning with cadherin clustering within the plasma membrane, followed by recruitment of plakophilin and desmoplakin to the plaque, and ending with anchoring of intermediate filaments, which represents the key to adhesive strength.
Banerjee, S, et al., Rapid incorporation of functional rhodopsin into nanoscale apolipoprotein bound bilayer (NABB) particles. J Mol Biol 377(4): 1067-1081. Show/Hide Abstract
Human apolipoprotein A-I (apo A-I) and its engineered constructs form discoidal lipid bilayers upon interaction with lipids in vitro. We now report the cloning, expression, and purification of apo A-I derived from zebrafish (Danio rerio), which combines with phospholipids to form similar discoidal bilayers and may prove to be superior to human apo A-I constructs for rapid reconstitution of seven-transmembrane helix receptors into nanoscale apolipoprotein bound bilayers (NABBs). We characterized NABBs by gel-filtration chromatography, native polyacrylamide gradient gel electrophoresis, UV-visible photobleaching difference spectroscopy, and fluorescence spectroscopy. We used electron microscopy to determine the stoichiometry and orientation of rhodopsin (rho)-containing NABBs prepared under various conditions and correlated stability and signaling efficiency of rho in NABBs with either one or two receptors. We discovered that the specific activity of G protein coupling for single rhos sequestered in individual NABBs was nearly identical with that of two rhos per NABB under conditions where stoichiometry and orientation could be inferred by electron microscopy imaging. Thermal stability of rho in NABBs was superior to that of rho in various commonly used detergents. We conclude that the NABB system using engineered zebrafish apo A-I is a native-like membrane mimetic system for G-protein-coupled receptors and discuss strategies for rapid incorporation of expressed membrane proteins into NABBs.
Eryilmaz, E, et al., Structure and dynamics of the P7 protein from the bacteriophage phi 12. J Mol Biol 382(2): 402-422. Show/Hide Abstract
Cystoviruses are a class of enveloped double-stranded RNA viruses that use a multiprotein polymerase complex (PX) to replicate and transcribe the viral genome. Although the structures of the polymerase and ATPase components of the cystoviral PX are known and their functional behavior is understood to a large extent, no atomic-resolution structural information is available for the major capsid protein P1 that defines the overall structure and symmetry of the viral capsid and the essential protein P7. Toward obtaining a complete structural and functional understanding of the cystoviral PX, we have obtained the structure of P7 from the cystovirus phi 12 at a resolution of 1.8 A. The N-terminal core region (1-129) of P7 forms a novel homodimeric alpha/beta-fold having structural similarities with BRCT domains implicated in multiple protein-protein interactions in DNA repair proteins. Our results, combined with the known role of P7 in stabilizing the nucleation complex during capsid assembly, hint toward its participation in key protein-protein interactions within the cystoviral PX. Additionally, we have found through solution NMR studies that the C-terminal tail of P7 (130-169) that is essential for virus viability, although highly disordered, contains a nascent helix. We demonstrate for the first time, through NMR titrations, that P7 is capable of interacting with RNA. We find that both the N-terminal core and the dynamic C-terminal tail of P7 play a role in RNA recognition. This interaction leads to a significant reduction of the degree of disorder in the C-terminal tail. Given the requirement of P7 in maintaining genome packaging efficiency and transcriptional fidelity, our data suggest a central biological role for P7-RNA interactions.
Georgescu, RE, et al., Structure of a small-molecule inhibitor of a DNA polymerase sliding clamp. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 105(32): 11116-11121. Show/Hide Abstract
DNA polymerases attach to the DNA sliding clamp through a common overlapping binding site. We identify a small-molecule compound that binds the protein-binding site in the Escherichia coli beta-clamp and differentially affects the activity of DNA polymerases II, III, and IV. To understand the molecular basis of this discrimination, the cocrystal structure of the chemical inhibitor is solved in complex with beta and is compared with the structures of Pol II, Pol III, and Pol IV peptides bound to beta. The analysis reveals that the small molecule localizes in a region of the clamp to which the DNA polymerases attach in different ways. The results suggest that the small molecule may be useful in the future to probe polymerase function with beta, and that the beta-clamp may represent an antibiotic target.
Hu, GB, et al., Three-dimensional structure of the KdpFABC complex of Escherichia coli by electron tomography of two-dimensional crystals. J Struct Biol 161(3): 411-418. Show/Hide Abstract
The KdpFABC complex (Kdp) functions as a K+ pump in Escherichia coli and is a member of the family of P-type ATPases. Unlike other family members, Kdp has a unique oligomeric composition and is notable for segregating K+ transport and ATP hydrolysis onto separate subunits (KdpA and KdpB, respectively). We have produced two-dimensional crystals of the KdpFABC complex within reconstituted lipid bilayers and determined its three-dimensional structure from negatively stained samples using a combination of electron tomography and real-space averaging. The resulting map is at a resolution of 2.4 nm and reveals a dimer of Kdp molecules as the asymmetric unit; however, only the cytoplasmic domains are visible due to the lack of stain penetration within the lipid bilayer. The sizes of these cytoplasmic domains are consistent with Kdp and, using a pseudo-atomic model, we have described the subunit interactions that stabilize the Kdp dimer within the larger crystallographic array. These results illustrate the utility of electron tomography in structure determination of ordered assemblies, especially when disorder is severe enough to hamper conventional crystallographic analysis.
Hu, GB, et al., Electron cryo-tomographic structure of cystovirus phi 12. Virology 372(1): 1-9. Show/Hide Abstract
Bacteriophage phi 12 is a member of the Cystoviridae virus family and contains a genome consisting of three segments of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). This virus family contains eight identified members, of which four have been classified in regard to their complete genomic sequence and encoded viral proteins. A phospholipid envelope that contains the integral proteins P6, P9, P10, and P13 surrounds the viral particles. In species phi 6, host infection requires binding of a multimeric P3 complex to type IV pili. In species varphi8, phi 12, and phi 13, the attachment apparatus is a heteromeric protein assembly that utilizes the rough lipopolysaccharide (rlps) as a receptor. In phi 8 the protein components are designated P3a and P3b while in species phi 12 proteins P3a and P3c have been identified in the complex. The phospholipid envelope of the cystoviruses surrounds a nucleocapsid (NC) composed of two shells. The outer shell is composed of protein P8 with a T=13 icosahedral lattice while the primary component of the inner shell is a dodecahedral frame composed of dimeric protein P1. For the current study, the 3D architecture of the intact phi 12 virus was obtained by electron cryo-tomography. The nucleocapsid appears to be centered within the membrane envelope and possibly attached to it by bridging structures. Two types of densities were observed protruding from the membrane envelope. The densities of the first type were elongated, running parallel, and closely associated to the envelope outer surface. In contrast, the second density was positioned about 12 nm above the envelope connected to it by a flexible low-density stem. This second structure formed a torroidal structure termed "the donut" and appears to inhibit BHT-induced viral envelope fusion.
Milstein, O, et al., Nanoscale increases in CD2-CD48-mediated intermembrane spacing decrease adhesion and reorganize the immunological synapse. J Biol Chem 283(49): 34414-34422. Show/Hide Abstract
The relationship between intermembrane spacing, adhesion efficiency, and lateral organization of adhesion receptors has not been established for any adhesion system. We have utilized the CD2 ligand CD48 with two (wild type CD48 (CD48-WT)), four (CD48-CD2), or five (CD48-CD22) Ig-like domains. CD48-WT was 10-fold more efficient in mediating adhesion than CD48-CD2 or CD48-CD22. Electron tomography of contact areas with planar bilayers demonstrated average intermembrane spacing of 12.8 nm with CD48-WT, 14.7 nm with CD48-CD2, and 15.6 nm with CD48-CD22. Both CD48-CD2 and CD48-CD22 chimeras segregated completely from CD48-WT in mixed contact areas. In contrast, CD48-CD2 and CD48-CD22 co-localized when mixed contacts were formed. Confocal imaging of immunological synapses formed between primary T lymphocytes and Chinese hamster ovary cells presenting major histocompatibility complex-peptide complexes, and different forms of CD48 demonstrated that CD48-CD2 and CD48-CD22 induce an eccentric CD2/T cell antigen receptor cluster. We propose that this reorganization of the immunological synapse sequesters the T cell antigen receptor in a location where it cannot interact with its ligand and dramatically reduces T cell sensitivity.
Owen, GR, et al., Cryoelectron tomography of isolated desmosomes. Biochem Soc Trans 36(Pt 2): 173-179. Show/Hide Abstract
Desmosomes are a complex assembly of protein molecules that form at the cell surface and mediate cell-cell adhesion. Much is known about the composition of desmosomes and there is an established consensus for the location of and interactions between constituent proteins within the assembly. Furthermore, X-ray crystallography has determined atomic structures of isolated domains from several constituent proteins. Nevertheless, there is a lack of understanding about the architecture of the intact assembly and the physical principles behind the adhesive strength of desmosomes therefore remain vague. We have used electron tomography to address this problem. In previous work, we investigated the in situ structure of desmosomes from newborn mouse skin preserved by freeze-substitution and imaged in resin-embedded thin sections. In our present work, we have isolated desmosomes from cow snout and imaged them in the frozen unstained state. Although not definitive, the resulting images provide support for the irregular groupings of cadherin molecules seen previously in mouse skin.
Tan, D, et al., Structure of the kinesin13-microtubule ring complex. Structure 16(11): 1732-1739. Show/Hide Abstract
To investigate the mechanism of kinesin13-induced microtubule depolymerization, we have calculated a three-dimensional (3D) map of the kinesin13-microtubule ring complex, using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and image analysis. An atomic model of the complex was produced by docking the crystal structures of tubulin and a kinesin13 motor domain (MD) into the 3D map. The model reveals a snapshot of the depolymerization mechanism by providing a 3D view of the complex formed between the kinesin13 MD and a curved tubulin protofilament (pf). It suggests that contacts mediated by kinesin13 class-specific residues in the putative microtubule-binding site stabilize intra-dimer tubulin curvature. In addition, a tubulin-binding site on the kinesin13 MD was identified. Mutations at this class-conserved site selectively disrupt the formation of microtubule-associated ring complexes.
Tareste, D, et al., SNAREpin/Munc18 promotes adhesion and fusion of large vesicles to giant membranes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 105(7): 2380-2385. Show/Hide Abstract
Exocytic vesicle fusion requires both the SNARE family of fusion proteins and a closely associated regulatory subunit of the Sec1/Munc18 (SM) family. In principle, SM proteins could act at an early SNARE assembly step to promote vesicle-plasma membrane adhesion or at a late step to overcome the energetic barrier for fusion. Here, we use the neuronal cognates of each of these protein families to recapitulate, and distinguish, membrane adhesion and fusion on a novel lipidic platform suitable for imaging by fluorescence microscopy. Vesicle SNARE (v-SNARE) proteins reconstituted into giant vesicles ( approximately 10 mum) are fully mobile and functional. Through confocal microscopy, we observe that large vesicles ( approximately 100 nm) carrying target membrane SNAREs (t-SNAREs) both adhere to and freely move on the surface of the v-SNARE giant vesicle. Under conditions where the intrinsic ability of SNAREs to drive fusion is minimized, Munc18 stimulates both SNARE-dependent stable adhesion and fusion. Furthermore, mutation of a critical Munc18-binding residue on the N terminus of the t-SNARE syntaxin uncouples Munc18-stimulated vesicle adhesion from membrane fusion. We expect that the study of SNARE-mediated fusion with giant membranes will find wide applicability in distinguishing adhesion- and fusion-directed SNARE regulatory factors.
Wu, CC, et al., Structure of a copper pump suggests a regulatory role for its metal-binding domain. Structure 16(6): 976-985. Show/Hide Abstract
P-type ATPases play an important role in Cu homeostasis, which provides sufficient Cu for metalloenzyme biosynthesis but prevents oxidative damage of free Cu to the cell. The P(IB) group of P-type ATPases includes ATP-dependent pumps of Cu and other transition metal ions, and it is distinguished from other family members by the presence of N-terminal metal-binding domains (MBD). We have determined structures of two constructs of a Cu pump from Archaeoglobus fulgidus (CopA) by cryoelectron microscopy of tubular crystals, which reveal the overall architecture and domain organization of the molecule. By comparing these structures, we localized its N-terminal MBD within the cytoplasmic domains that use ATP hydrolysis to drive the transport cycle. We have built a pseudoatomic model by fitting existing crystallographic structures into the cryoelectron microscopy maps for CopA, which suggest a Cu-dependent regulatory role for the MBD.
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Acehan, D, et al., Comparison of lymphoblast mitochondria from normal subjects and patients with Barth syndrome using electron microscopic tomography. Lab Invest 87(1): 40-48. Show/Hide Abstract
Barth syndrome (BTHS) is a mitochondrial disorder that is caused by mutations in the tafazzin gene, which affects phospholipid composition. To determine whether this defect leads to alterations in the internal three-dimensional organization of mitochondrial membranes, we applied electron microscopic tomography to lymphoblast mitochondria from BTHS patients and controls. Tomograms were formed from 50 and 150 nm sections of chemically fixed lymphoblasts and the data were used to manually segment volumes of relevant structural details. Normal lymphoblast mitochondria contained well-aligned, lamellar cristae with slot-like junctions to the inner boundary membrane. In BTHS, mitochondrial size was more variable and the total mitochondrial volume per cell increased mainly due to clusters of fragmented mitochondria inside nuclear invaginations. However, mitochondria showed reduced cristae density, less cristae alignment, and inhomogeneous cristae distribution. Three-dimensional reconstruction of BTHS mitochondria revealed zones of adhesion of the opposing inner membranes, causing obliteration of the intracrista space. We found small isolated patches of adhesion as well as extended adhesion zones, resulting in sheets of collapsed cristae packaged in multiple concentric layers. We also found large tubular structures (diameter 30-150 nm) that appeared to be derivatives of the adhesion zones. The data suggest that mitochondrial abnormalities of BTHS involve adhesions of inner mitochondrial membranes with subsequent collapse of the intracristae space.
Chuang, CF, et al., An innexin-dependent cell network establishes left-right neuronal asymmetry in C. elegans. Cell 129(4): 787-799. Show/Hide Abstract
Gap junctions are widespread in immature neuronal circuits, but their functional significance is poorly understood. We show here that a transient network formed by the innexin gap-junction protein NSY-5 coordinates left-right asymmetry in the developing nervous system of Caenorhabditis elegans. nsy-5 is required for the left and right AWC olfactory neurons to establish stochastic, asymmetric patterns of gene expression during embryogenesis. nsy-5-dependent gap junctions in the embryo transiently connect the AWC cell bodies with those of numerous other neurons. Both AWCs and several other classes of nsy-5-expressing neurons participate in signaling that coordinates left-right AWC asymmetry. The right AWC can respond to nsy-5 directly, but the left AWC requires nsy-5 function in multiple cells of the network. NSY-5 forms hemichannels and intercellular gap-junction channels in Xenopus oocytes, consistent with a combination of cell-intrinsic and network functions. These results provide insight into gap-junction activity in developing circuits.
Del Rio, A, et al., Solution Structure and Dynamics of the N-terminal Cytosolic Domain of Rhomboid Intramembrane Protease from Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Insights into a Functional Role in Intramembrane Proteolysis. Journal of Molecular Biology 365(1): 109-122. Show/Hide Abstract
Rhomboids are ubiquitous integral membrane proteases that release cellular signals from membrane-bound substrates through a general signal transduction mechanism known as regulated intramembrane proteolysis (RIP). We present the NMR structure of the cytosolic N-terminal domain (NRho) of P. aeruginosa Rhomboid. NRho consists of a novel a/ß fold and represents the first detailed structural insight into this class of intramembrane proteases. We find evidence that NRho is capable of strong and specific association with detergent micelles that mimic the membrane/water interface. Relaxation measurements on NRho reveal structural fluctuations on the microseconds–milliseconds timescale in regions including and contiguous to those implicated in membrane interaction. This structural plasticity may facilitate the ability of NRho to recognize and associate with membranes. We suggest that NRho plays a role in scissile peptide bond selectivity by optimally positioning the Rhomboid active site relative to the membrane plane.
Pomfret, AJ, et al., Application of the iterative helical real-space reconstruction method to large membranous tubular crystals of P-type ATPases. J Struct Biol 157(1): 106-116. Show/Hide Abstract
Since the development of three-dimensional helical reconstruction methods in the 1960's, advances in Fourier-Bessel methods have facilitated structure determination to near-atomic resolution. A recently developed iterative helical real-space reconstruction (IHRSR) method provides an alternative that uses single-particle analysis in conjunction with the imposition of helical symmetry. In this work, we have adapted the IHRSR algorithm to work with frozen-hydrated tubular crystals of P-type ATPases. In particular, we have implemented layer-line filtering to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, Wiener-filtering to compensate for the contrast transfer function, solvent flattening to improve reference reconstructions, out-of-plane tilt compensation to deal with flexibility in three dimensions, systematic calculation of Fourier shell correlations to track the progress of the refinement, and tools to control parameters as the refinement progresses. We have tested this procedure on datasets from Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase, rabbit skeletal Ca(2+)-ATPase and scallop Ca(2+)-ATPase in order to evaluate the potential for sub-nanometer resolution as well as the robustness in the presence of disorder. We found that Fourier-Bessel methods perform better for well-ordered samples of skeletal Ca(2+)-ATPase and Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase, although improvements to IHRSR are discussed that should reduce this disparity. On the other hand, IHRSR was very effective for scallop Ca(2+)-ATPase, which was too disordered to analyze by Fourier-Bessel methods.
Shen, J, et al., Selective activation of cognate SNAREpins by Sec1/Munc18 proteins. Cell 128(1): 183-195. Show/Hide Abstract
Sec1/Munc18 (SM) proteins are required for every step of intracellular membrane fusion, but their molecular mechanism of action has been unclear. In this work, we demonstrate a fundamental role of the SM protein: to act as a stimulatory subunit of its cognate SNARE fusion machinery. In a reconstituted system, mammalian SNARE pairs assemble between bilayers to drive a basal fusion reaction. Munc18-1/nSec1, a synaptic SM protein required for neurotransmitter release, strongly accelerates this reaction through direct contact with both t- and v-SNAREs. Munc18-1 accelerates fusion only for the cognate SNAREs for exocytosis, therefore enhancing fusion specificity.
Stokes, DL, Desmosomes from a structural perspective. Curr Opin Cell Biol 19(5): 565-571. Show/Hide Abstract
Desmosomes are cell-cell junctions responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of tissues by resisting shear forces. Defects result in diseases of mechanically challenged tissues such as skin and heart. The architectural design represents the key to understanding the strength and durability inherent to desmosomes. A number of different proteins contribute to this architecture, and X-ray crystallography has made considerable progress in defining the atomic structure of various isolated domains. Electron tomography has been used to determine the three-dimensional structure of intact desmosomes in situ. By combining information from X-ray crystallography, cell and molecular biology and electron tomography, it should ultimately be possible to deduce the specific protein interactions that define the mechanical properties of this important adhesive junction.
Vanamee, ES, et al., An EM view of the FokI synaptic complex by single particle analysis. J Mol Biol 370(2): 207-212. Show/Hide Abstract
FokI is a type IIS restriction endonuclease that recognizes the 5'-GGATG-3' sequence and cleaves non-specifically at 9 and 13 base-pairs away on the top and bottom strands, respectively, to produce a 5' overhang. FokI is a bipartite endonuclease with separate recognition and cleavage domains. Because of its bipartite nature, FokI has received considerable interest in generating chimeric nucleases for use in biotechnology, and recently as possible therapeutic agents in gene therapy by initiating homologous gene recombination and repair. Here we show, using single-particle electron microscopic studies, that the FokI active complex prefers a single conformation in which the subunits are arranged in a doughnut shape complex with protein-protein and possibly protein-DNA interactions stabilizing the cleavage complex. Our electron microscopy (EM) model provides new insights into the activation mechanism of FokI and how non-specific cleavage is avoided.
Vink, M, et al., A high-throughput strategy to screen 2D crystallization trials of membrane proteins. J Struct Biol 160(3): 295-304. Show/Hide Abstract
Electron microscopy of two-dimensional (2D) crystals has demonstrated potential for structure determination of membrane proteins. Technical limitations in large-scale crystallization screens have, however, prevented a major breakthrough in the routine application of this technology. Dialysis is generally used for detergent removal and reconstitution of the protein into a lipid bilayer, and devices for testing numerous conditions in parallel are not readily available. Furthermore, the small size of resulting 2D crystals requires electron microscopy to evaluate the results and automation of the necessary steps is essential to achieve a reasonable throughput. We have designed a crystallization block, using standard microplate dimensions, by which 96 unique samples can be dialyzed simultaneously against 96 different buffers and have demonstrated that the rate of detergent dialysis is comparable to those obtained with conventional dialysis devices. A liquid-handling robot was employed to set up 2D crystallization trials with the membrane proteins CopA from Archaeoglobus fulgidus and light-harvesting complex II (LH2) from Rhodobacter sphaeroides. For CopA, 1 week of dialysis yielded tubular crystals and, for LH2, large and well-ordered vesicular 2D crystals were obtained after 24 h, illustrating the feasibility of this approach. Combined with a high-throughput procedure for preparation of EM-grids and automation of the subsequent negative staining step, the crystallization block offers a novel pipeline that promises to speed up large-scale screening of 2D crystallization and to increase the likelihood of producing well-ordered crystals for analysis by electron crystallography.
Yakubovskaya, E, et al., The EM structure of human DNA polymerase gamma reveals a localized contact between the catalytic and accessory subunits. Embo j 26(19): 4283-4291. Show/Hide Abstract
We used electron microscopy to examine the structure of human DNA pol gamma, the heterotrimeric mtDNA replicase implicated in certain mitochondrial diseases and aging models. Separate analysis of negatively stained preparations of the catalytic subunit, pol gammaA, and of the holoenzyme including a dimeric accessory factor, pol gammaB(2), permitted unambiguous identification of the position of the accessory factor within the holoenzyme. The model explains protection of a partial chymotryptic cleavage site after residue L(549) of pol gammaA upon binding of the accessory subunit. This interaction region is near residue 467 of pol gammaA, where a disease-related mutation has been reported to impair binding of the B subunit. One pol gammaB subunit dominates contacts with the catalytic subunit, while the second B subunit is largely exposed to solvent. A model for pol gamma is discussed that considers the effects of known mutations in the accessory subunit and the interaction of the enzyme with DNA.
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Barré, P and Eliezer, D, Folding of the Repeat Domain of Tau Upon Binding to Lipid Surfaces. Journal of Molecular Biology 362(2): 312-326. Show/Hide Abstract
The microtubule-associated protein tau is impacted in neurodegeneration and dementia through its deposition in the form of paired helical filaments in Alzheimer's disease neurofibrillary tangles and through mutations linking it to the autosomal dominant disorder frontotemporal dementia with Parkinsonism. When isolated in solution tau is intrinsically unstructured and does not fold, while the conformation of the protein in the microtubule-bound state remains uncharacterized. Here we show that the repeat region of tau, which has been reported both to mediate tau microtubule interactions and to constitute the proteolysis-resistant core of disease-associated tau aggregates, associates with lipid micelles and vesicles and folds into an ordered structure upon doing so. In addition to providing the first structural insights into a folded state of tau, our results support a role for lipid membranes in mediating tau function and tau pathology.
Chen, Z, et al., Cross-linking of C-terminal residues of phospholamban to the Ca2+ pump of cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum to probe spatial and functional interactions within the transmembrane domain. J Biol Chem 281(20): 14163-14172. Show/Hide Abstract
Interactions between the transmembrane domains of phospholamban (PLB) and the cardiac Ca2+ pump (SERCA2a) have been investigated by chemical cross-linking. Specifically, C-terminal, transmembrane residues 45-52 of PLB were individually mutated to Cys, then cross-linked to V89C in the M2 helix of SERCA2a with the thiol-specific cross-linking reagents Cu2+-phenanthroline, dibromobimane, and bismaleimidohexane. V49C-, M50C-, and L52C-PLB all cross-linked strongly to V89C-SERCA2a, coupling to 70-100% of SERCA2a molecules. Residues 45-48 and 51 of PLB also cross-linked to V89C of SERCA2a, but more weakly. Evidence for the mechanism of PLB regulation of SERCA2a was provided by the conformational dependence of cross-linking. In particular, the required absence of Ca2+ for cross-linking implicated the E2 conformation of SERCA2a, and its enhancement by ATP confirmed E2 x ATP as the conformation with the highest affinity for PLB. In contrast, E2 phosphorylated with inorganic phosphate (E2P) and E2 inhibited by thapsigargin (E2 x TG) both failed to cross-link to PLB. These results with transmembrane PLB residues are completely consistent with cytoplasmic PLB residues studied previously, suggesting that the dissociation of PLB from the Ca2+ pump is complete, not partial, when the pump binds Ca2+ (E1 x Ca2) or adopts the E2P or E2 x TG conformations. V49C of PLB cross-linked to 100% of SERCA2a molecules, suggesting that this residue might have functional importance for regulation. Indeed, we found that mutation of Val49 to smaller side-chained residues V49A or V49G augmented PLB inhibition, whereas mutation to the larger hydrophobic residue, V49L, prevented PLB inhibition. A model for the interaction of PLB with SERCA2a is presented, showing that Val49 fits into a constriction at the lumenal end of the M2 helix of SERCA, possibly controlling access of PLB to its binding site on SERCA.
Ferguson, N, et al., General structural motifs of amyloid protofilaments. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103(44): 16248-16253. Show/Hide Abstract
Human CA150, a transcriptional activator, binds to and is co-deposited with huntingtin during Huntington's disease. The second WW domain of CA150 is a three-stranded beta-sheet that folds in vitro in microseconds and forms amyloid fibers under physiological conditions. We found from exhaustive alanine scanning studies that fibrillation of this WW domain begins from its denatured conformations, and we identified a subset of residues critical for fibril formation. We used high-resolution magic-angle-spinning NMR studies on site-specific isotopically labeled fibrils to identify abundant long-range interactions between side chains. The distribution of critical residues identified by the alanine scanning and NMR spectroscopy, along with the electron microscopy data, revealed the protofilament repeat unit: a 26-residue non-native beta-hairpin. The structure we report has similarities to the hairpin formed by the A(beta)((1-40)) protofilament, yet also contains closely packed side-chains in a "steric zipper" arrangement found in the cross-beta spine formed from small peptides from the Sup35 prion protein. Fibrillation of unrelated amyloidogenic sequences shows the common feature of zippered repeat units that act as templates for fiber elongation.
Greig, SL, et al., Structural determinants of rotavirus subgroup specificity mapped by cryo-electron microscopy. J Mol Biol 356(1): 209-221. Show/Hide Abstract
The rotavirus double-layered particle (DLP) is a molecular machine that transcribes 11 genomic segments of double-stranded RNA into full-length mRNA segments during viral replication. DLPs from the human Wa strain of virus, belonging to subgroup II (SG II), possess a significantly reduced level of transcriptase activity compared to bovine UK DLPs that belong to subgroup I (SG I). Cryo-electron microscopy and icosahedral image analysis was used to define the structural basis for this difference in transcriptase activity and to derive three-dimensional density maps of bovine UK and human Wa DLPs at 26 angstroms and 28 angstroms resolution, respectively. The two rotavirus strains had the same diameter, T = 13 l icosahedral lattice symmetry and size of the VP6 trimers on the surface of the DLPs. However, the Wa particles displayed a remarkable absence of VP6 trimers surrounding each 5-fold vertex position. To further explore these structural differences, three-dimensional reconstructions were generated of DLPs decorated with Fab fragments derived from subgroup-specific monoclonal antibodies. The X-ray structures of VP6 and a generic Fab fragment were then docked into the cryo-electron microscopy density maps, which allowed us to propose at "pseudo-atomic" resolution the locations of the amino acid residues defining the subgroup-specific epitopes. Our results demonstrate a correlation between the structure of the VP6 layer and the transcriptase activity of the particles, and suggest that the stability of VP6 trimers, specifically those at the icosahedral 5-fold axes, may be critical for mRNA synthesis. Thus, subgroup specificity of rotavirus may reflect differences in the architecture of the double-layered particle, with resultant consequences for viral mRNA synthesis.
Rice, WJ, et al., Role of metal-binding domains of the copper pump from Archaeoglobus fulgidus. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 348(1): 124-131. Show/Hide Abstract
CopA from the extreme thermophile Archaeoglobus fulgidus is a P-type ATPase that transports Cu(+) and Ag(+) and has individual metal-binding domains (MBDs) at both N- and C-termini. We expressed and purified full-length CopA as well as constructs with MBDs deleted either individually or collectively. Cu(+) and Ag(+)-dependent ATPase assays showed that full-length CopA had submicromolar affinity for both ions, but was inhibited by concentrations above 1muM. Deletion of both MBDs had no effect on affinity but resulted in loss of this inhibition. Individual deletions implicated the N-terminal MBD in causing the inhibition at concentrations >1muM. Rates of phosphoenzyme decay indicated that neither the dephosphorylation step, nor the E1P-E2P equilibrium accounted for this inhibition, suggesting the involvement of a different catalytic step. Alternative hypotheses are discussed by which the N-terminal MBD could influence the catalytic activity of CopA.
Stokes, DL, et al., Interactions between Ca2+-ATPase and the pentameric form of phospholamban in two-dimensional co-crystals. Biophys J 90(11): 4213-4223. Show/Hide Abstract
Phospholamban (PLB) physically interacts with Ca(2+)-ATPase and regulates contractility of the heart. We have studied this interaction using electron microscopy of large two-dimensional co-crystals of Ca(2+)-ATPase and the I40A mutant of PLB. Crystallization conditions were derived from those previously used for thin, helical crystals, but the addition of a 10-fold higher concentration of magnesium had a dramatic effect on the crystal morphology and packing. Two types of crystals were observed, and were characterized both by standard crystallographic methods and by electron tomography. The two crystal types had the same underlying lattice, which comprised antiparallel dimer ribbons of Ca(2+)-ATPase molecules previously seen in thin, helical crystals, but packed into a novel lattice with p22(1)2(1) symmetry. One crystal type was single-layered, whereas the other was a flattened tube and therefore double-layered. Additional features were observed between the dimer ribbons, which were substantially farther apart than in previous helical crystals. We attributed these additional densities to PLB, and built a three-dimensional model to show potential interactions with Ca(2+)-ATPase. These densities are most consistent with the pentameric form of PLB, despite the use of the presumed monomeric I40A mutant. Furthermore, our results indicate that this pentameric form of PLB is capable of a direct interaction with Ca(2+)-ATPase.
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Alimova, A, et al., Virus particles and receptor interaction monitored by fluorescence spectroscopy. Photochem Photobiol 81(4): 879-883. Show/Hide Abstract
Native fluorescence spectroscopy (NFS), primarily from tryptophan (trp), was used for in situ investigation of the virus-receptor attachment process in phi6, a lipid-containing bacteriophage from the Cystoviridae family. NFS allowed us to monitor the viral attachment directly to its receptor, which was isolated from the pseudomonad host. Immediately upon mixing, an increase in tryptophan emission intensity was observed followed by a subsequent decrease in emission intensity. The initial increase in emission intensity reflects changes in trp quantum efficiency as the phi6 surface proteins change their conformation as a result of virus attachment to the pilus. The cystovirus spike protein P3 is responsible for receptor recognition and the fluorescence changes observed are likely to be the consequence of its conformational transition at this initial infection stage, providing a kinetic view of this process. The subsequent decrease in trp emission intensity could be due to changes in viral proteins as a result of disassembly of the pili. The technique may have important applications for the dynamic monitoring of additional stages of the virus replication cycle such as assembly, interaction with nucleic acids and maturation. This work expands on a previous demonstration that fluorescence offered a novel tool to detect virus particle interaction with its host cell.
Eliezer, D, et al., Residual structure in the repeat domain of tau: echoes of microtubule binding and paired helical filament formation. Biochemistry 44(3): 1026-1036. Show/Hide Abstract
The microtubule-associated protein tau is found aggregated into paired helical filaments in the intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangle deposits of victims of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other related dementias. Tau contains a repeat domain consisting of three or four 31-32-residue imperfect repeats that forms the core of tau filaments and is capable of self-assembling into filaments in vitro. We have used high-resolution NMR spectroscopy to characterize the structural properties of the three-repeat domain of tau at the level of individual residues. We find that three distinct regions of the polypeptide corresponding to previously mapped microtubule interaction sites exhibit a preference for helical conformations, suggesting that these sites adopt a helical structure when bound to microtubules. In addition, we directly observe a marked preference for extended or beta-strand-like conformations in a stretch of residues between two of the helical regions, which corresponds closely to a region previously implicated as an early site of beta-strand structure formation and intermolecular interactions leading to paired helical filament (PHF) formation. This observation supports the idea that this region of the protein plays a crucial role in the formation of tau aggregates. We further show that disulfide-bond-mediated dimer formation does not affect and is not responsible for the observed structural preferences of the protein. Our results provide the first high-resolution view of the structural properties of the protein tau, are consistent with an important role for beta structure in PHF formation, and may also help explain recent reports that tau filaments contain helical structure.
Stokes, DL, et al., Structural studies of a stabilized phosphoenzyme intermediate of Ca2+-ATPase. J Biol Chem 280(18): 18063-18072. Show/Hide Abstract
Ca(2+)-ATPase belongs to the family of P-type ATPases and maintains low concentrations of intracellular Ca(2+). Its reaction cycle consists of four main intermediates that alternate ion binding in the transmembrane domain with phosphorylation of an aspartate residue in a cytoplasmic domain. Previous work characterized an ultrastable phosphoenzyme produced first by labeling with fluorescein isothiocyanate, then by allowing this labeled enzyme to establish a maximal Ca(2+) gradient, and finally by removing Ca(2+) from the solution. This phosphoenzyme is characterized by very low fluorescence and has specific enzymatic properties suggesting the existence of a high energy phosphoryl bond. To study the structural properties of this phosphoenzyme, we used cryoelectron microscopy of two-dimensional crystals formed in the presence of decavanadate and determined the structure at 8-A resolution. To our surprise we found that at this resolution the low fluorescence phosphoenzyme had a structure similar to that of the native enzyme crystallized under equivalent conditions. We went on to use glutaraldehyde cross-linking and proteolysis for independent structural assessment and concluded that, like the unphosphorylated native enzyme, Ca(2+) and vanadate exert a strong influence over the global structure of this low fluorescence phosphoenzyme. Based on a structural model with fluorescein isothiocyanate bound at the ATP site, we suggest that the stability as well as the low fluorescence of this phosphoenzyme is due to a fluorescein-mediated cross-link between two cytoplasmic domains that prevents hydrolysis of the aspartyl phosphate. Finally, we consider the alternative possibility that phosphate transfer to fluorescein itself could explain the properties of this low fluorescence species.
Wood, MA, et al., Utilizing atomic number contrast for FESEM imaging of colloidal nanotopography underlying biological cells. Nanotechnology 16(9): 1433. Show/Hide Abstract
Developments within the electronics industry have led to the fabrication of surfaces with in-plane nanofeatures for use in biological investigations. An inexpensive, high throughput and accessible method has evolved, where a natural lithography technique utilizes off-the-shelf colloidal particles within the nanometric range to produce a variety of patterned substrates. Imaging of cell interactions with respect to underlying nanotopography (sub-100 nm) requires high resolution microscopy techniques. When utilizing field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), operation is restricted to low voltage conditions in an attempt to image fine surface detail while limiting radiation damage, charging and carbon deposition with respect to biological material. The maximum number of backscattered electrons (BSEs) produced from biological specimens is achieved using low accelerating voltages while the number of BSEs emitted from high atomic number materials increases over the accelerating voltage range of 2–16 keV. By increasing the emission current, the number of electrons present in the primary beam is elevated, increasing BSE production at the low voltages utilized. Through the careful selection of high atomic number materials composing the colloids or similar topographical features, secondary electron (SE) and BSE detection can be utilized as complementary imaging techniques. This allows for the surface morphology of cell membranes to be imaged by SE detection in relation to the underlying high contrast nanotopography where BSEs are collected. Furthermore, cytoskeletal features of varying density can also be identified in relation to cells and colloidal nanofeatures when detecting BSEs.
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He, W, et al., Untangling desmosomal knots with electron tomography. Science 302(5642): 109-113. Show/Hide Abstract
Cell adhesion by adherens junctions and desmosomes relies on interactions between cadherin molecules. However, the molecular interfaces that define molecular specificity and that mediate adhesion remain controversial. We used electron tomography of plastic sections from neonatal mouse skin to visualize the organization of desmosomes in situ. The resulting three-dimensional maps reveal individual cadherin molecules forming discrete groups and interacting through their tips. Fitting of an x-ray crystal structure for C-cadherin to these maps is consistent with a flexible intermolecular interface mediated by an exchange of amino-terminal tryptophans. This flexibility suggests a novel mechanism for generating both cis and trans interactions and for propagating these adhesive interactions along the junction.
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