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May 1, 2018

Real-time observation of flexible domain movements in CRISPR-Cas9.

The CRISPR-associated protein Cas9 is widely used for genome editing because it cleaves target DNA through the assistance of a single-guide RNA (sgRNA). Structural studies have revealed the multi-domain architecture of Cas9 and suggested sequential domain movements of Cas9 upon binding to the sgRNA and the target DNA These studies also hinted at the flexibility between domains; however, it remains unclear whether these flexible movements occur in solution. Here, we directly observed dynamic fluctuations of multiple Cas9 domains, using single-molecule FRET We found that the flexible domain movements allow Cas9 to adopt transient conformations beyond those captured in the crystal…

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April 1, 2018

Dimer arrangement and monomer flattening determine actin filament formation

Actin filament dynamics underlie key cellular processes, such as cell motility. Although actin filament elongation has been extensively studied under the past decades, the mechanism of filament nucleation remains unclear. Here, we immobilized gelsolin, a pointed-end nucleator, at the bottom of zero-mode waveguides to directly monitor the early steps of filament assembly. Our data revealed extensive dynamics and that only one, of two populations, elongates. Annalysis of the kinetics revealed a more stable trimer but a less stable tetramer in the elongating population compared to the non-elongating one. Furthermore, blocking flattening, the conformational change associated with filament formation, prevented the…

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March 1, 2018

2′-O-methylation in mRNA disrupts tRNA decoding during translation elongation.

Chemical modifications of mRNA may regulate many aspects of mRNA processing and protein synthesis. Recently, 2'-O-methylation of nucleotides was identified as a frequent modification in translated regions of human mRNA, showing enrichment in codons for certain amino acids. Here, using single-molecule, bulk kinetics and structural methods, we show that 2'-O-methylation within coding regions of mRNA disrupts key steps in codon reading during cognate tRNA selection. Our results suggest that 2'-O-methylation sterically perturbs interactions of ribosomal-monitoring bases (G530, A1492 and A1493) with cognate codon-anticodon helices, thereby inhibiting downstream GTP hydrolysis by elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu) and A-site tRNA accommodation, leading to…

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January 1, 2018

Fluorescently-tagged human eIF3 for single-molecule spectroscopy.

Human translation initiation relies on the combined activities of numerous ribosome-associated eukaryotic initiation factors (eIFs). The largest factor, eIF3, is an ~800 kDa multiprotein complex that orchestrates a network of interactions with the small 40S ribosomal subunit, other eIFs, and mRNA, while participating in nearly every step of initiation. How these interactions take place during the time course of translation initiation remains unclear. Here, we describe a method for the expression and affinity purification of a fluorescently-tagged eIF3 from human cells. The tagged eIF3 dodecamer is structurally intact, functions in cell-based assays, and interacts with the HCV IRES mRNA and…

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August 14, 2017

Post-termination ribosome intermediate acts as the gateway to ribosome recycling.

During termination of translation, the nascent peptide is first released from the ribosome, which must be subsequently disassembled into subunits in a process known as ribosome recycling. In bacteria, termination and recycling are mediated by the translation factors RF, RRF, EF-G, and IF3, but their precise roles have remained unclear. Here, we use single-molecule fluorescence to track the conformation and composition of the ribosome in real time during termination and recycling. Our results show that peptide release by RF induces a rotated ribosomal conformation. RRF binds to this rotated intermediate to form the substrate for EF-G that, in turn, catalyzes…

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December 2, 2016

Crystal structures of the TRIC trimeric intracellular cation channel orthologues.

Ca(2+) release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is crucial for muscle contraction, cell growth, apoptosis, learning and memory. The trimeric intracellular cation (TRIC) channels were recently identified as cation channels balancing the SR and ER membrane potentials, and are implicated in Ca(2+) signaling and homeostasis. Here we present the crystal structures of prokaryotic TRIC channels in the closed state and structure-based functional analyses of prokaryotic and eukaryotic TRIC channels. Each trimer subunit consists of seven transmembrane (TM) helices with two inverted repeated regions. The electrophysiological, biochemical and biophysical analyses revealed that TRIC channels possess an ion-conducting…

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November 18, 2016

Structure and dynamics underlying elementary ligand binding events in human pacemaking channels.

Although molecular recognition is crucial for cellular signaling, mechanistic studies have relied primarily on ensemble measures that average over and thereby obscure underlying steps. Single-molecule observations that resolve these steps are lacking due to diffraction-limited resolution of single fluorophores at relevant concentrations. Here, we combined zero-mode waveguides with fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) to directly observe binding at individual cyclic nucleotide-binding domains (CNBDs) from human pacemaker ion channels critical for heart and brain function. Our observations resolve the dynamics of multiple distinct steps underlying cyclic nucleotide regulation: a slow initial binding step that must select a 'receptive' conformation followed by…

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June 28, 2016

Amino acid sequence repertoire of the bacterial proteome and the occurrence of untranslatable sequences.

Bioinformatic analysis of Escherichia coli proteomes revealed that all possible amino acid triplet sequences occur at their expected frequencies, with four exceptions. Two of the four underrepresented sequences (URSs) were shown to interfere with translation in vivo and in vitro. Enlarging the URS by a single amino acid resulted in increased translational inhibition. Single-molecule methods revealed stalling of translation at the entrance of the peptide exit tunnel of the ribosome, adjacent to ribosomal nucleotides A2062 and U2585. Interaction with these same ribosomal residues is involved in regulation of translation by longer, naturally occurring protein sequences. The E. coli exit tunnel…

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April 7, 2016

Multiple parallel pathways of translation initiation on the CrPV IRES.

The complexity of eukaryotic translation allows fine-tuned regulation of protein synthesis. Viruses use internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) to minimize or, like the CrPV IRES, eliminate the need for initiation factors. Here, by exploiting the CrPV IRES, we observed the entire process of initiation and transition to elongation in real time. We directly tracked the CrPV IRES, 40S and 60S ribosomal subunits, and tRNA using single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy and identified multiple parallel initiation pathways within the system. Our results distinguished two pathways of 80S:CrPV IRES complex assembly that produce elongation-competent complexes. Following 80S assembly, the requisite eEF2-mediated translocation results in…

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March 13, 2016

Probing the translation dynamics of ribosomes using Zero-Mode Waveguides

In order to coordinate the complex biochemical and structural feat of converting triple-nucleotide codons into their corresponding amino acids, the ribosome must physically manipulate numerous macromolecules including the mRNA, tRNAs, and numerous translation factors. The ribosome choreographs binding, dissociation, physical movements, and structural rearrangements so that they synergistically harness the energy from biochemical processes, including numerous GTP hydrolysis steps and peptide bond formation. Due to the dynamic and complex nature of translation, the large cast of ligands involved, and the large number of possible configurations, tracking the global time evolution or dynamics of the ribosome complex in translation has proven…

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February 1, 2016

N(6)-methyladenosine in mRNA disrupts tRNA selection and translation-elongation dynamics.

N(6)-methylation of adenosine (forming m(6)A) is the most abundant post-transcriptional modification within the coding region of mRNA, but its role during translation remains unknown. Here, we used bulk kinetic and single-molecule methods to probe the effect of m(6)A in mRNA decoding. Although m(6)A base-pairs with uridine during decoding, as shown by X-ray crystallographic analyses of Thermus thermophilus ribosomal complexes, our measurements in an Escherichia coli translation system revealed that m(6)A modification of mRNA acts as a barrier to tRNA accommodation and translation elongation. The interaction between an m(6)A-modified codon and cognate tRNA echoes the interaction between a near-cognate codon and…

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January 29, 2016

Single-molecule DNA hybridisation studied by using a modified DNA sequencer: a comparison with surface plasmon resonance data

Current methods for the determination of molecular interactions are widely used in the analytical sciences. To identify new methods, we investigated as a model system the hybridisation of a short 7 nt oligonucleotide labelled with, structurally, very similar cyanine dyes CY3 and DY-547, respectively, to a 34 nt oligonucleotide probe immobilised in a zero-mode waveguide (ZMW) nanostructure. Using a modified commercial off-the-shelf DNA sequencer, we established the principles to measure biomolecular interactions at the single-molecule level. Kinetic data were obtained from trains of fluorescence pulses, allowing the calculation of association and dissociation rate constants (k on, k off). For the…

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January 6, 2016

Exocytotic fusion pores are composed of both lipids and proteins.

During exocytosis, fusion pores form the first aqueous connection that allows escape of neurotransmitters and hormones from secretory vesicles. Although it is well established that SNARE proteins catalyze fusion, the structure and composition of fusion pores remain unknown. Here, we exploited the rigid framework and defined size of nanodiscs to interrogate the properties of reconstituted fusion pores, using the neurotransmitter glutamate as a content-mixing marker. Efficient Ca(2+)-stimulated bilayer fusion, and glutamate release, occurred with approximately two molecules of mouse synaptobrevin 2 reconstituted into ~6-nm nanodiscs. The transmembrane domains of SNARE proteins assumed distinct roles in lipid mixing versus content release…

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December 14, 2015

Synergistic effect of ATP for RuvA-RuvB-Holliday junction DNA complex formation.

The Escherichia coli RuvB hexameric ring motor proteins, together with RuvAs, promote branch migration of Holliday junction DNA. Zero mode waveguides (ZMWs) constitute of nanosized holes and enable the visualization of a single fluorescent molecule under micromolar order of the molecules, which is applicable to characterize the formation of RuvA-RuvB-Holliday junction DNA complex. In this study, we used ZMWs and counted the number of RuvBs binding to RuvA-Holliday junction DNA complex. Our data demonstrated that different nucleotide analogs increased the amount of Cy5-RuvBs binding to RuvA-Holliday junction DNA complex in the following order: no nucleotide, ADP, ATP?S, and mixture of…

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November 19, 2015

Coupling of mRNA structure rearrangement to ribosome movement during bypassing of non-coding regions.

Nearly half of the ribosomes translating a particular bacteriophage T4 mRNA bypass a region of 50 nt, resuming translation 3' of this gap. How this large-scale, specific hop occurs and what determines whether a ribosome bypasses remain unclear. We apply single-molecule fluorescence with zero-mode waveguides to track individual Escherichia coli ribosomes during translation of T4's gene 60 mRNA. Ribosomes that bypass are characterized by a 10- to 20-fold longer pause in a non-canonical rotated state at the take-off codon. During the pause, mRNA secondary structure rearrangements are coupled to ribosome forward movement, facilitated by nascent peptide interactions that disengage the…

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