July 7, 2019  |  

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 ribosome anticodon-codon interactions for slippage. Close to the landing site, the ribosome then scans mRNA in search of optimal base-pairing interactions. Our results provide a mechanistic and conformational framework for bypassing, highlighting a non-canonical ribosomal state to allow for mRNA structure refolding to drive large-scale ribosome movements. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

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 ADP and ATP?S. These results suggest that not only ATP binding to RuvB but also ATP hydrolysis by RuvB facilitates a stable RuvA-RuvB-Holliday junction DNA complex formation.


July 7, 2019  |  

Dynamic pathways of -1 translational frameshifting.

Spontaneous changes in the reading frame of translation are rare (frequency of 10(-3) to 10(-4) per codon), but can be induced by specific features in the messenger RNA (mRNA). In the presence of mRNA secondary structures, a heptanucleotide ‘slippery sequence’ usually defined by the motif X XXY YYZ, and (in some prokaryotic cases) mRNA sequences that base pair with the 3′ end of the 16S ribosomal rRNA (internal Shine-Dalgarno sequences), there is an increased probability that a specific programmed change of frame occurs, wherein the ribosome shifts one nucleotide backwards into an overlapping reading frame (-1 frame) and continues by translating a new sequence of amino acids. Despite extensive biochemical and genetic studies, there is no clear mechanistic description for frameshifting. Here we apply single-molecule fluorescence to track the compositional and conformational dynamics of individual ribosomes at each codon during translation of a frameshift-inducing mRNA from the dnaX gene in Escherichia coli. Ribosomes that frameshift into the -1 frame are characterized by a tenfold longer pause in elongation compared to non-frameshifted ribosomes, which translate through unperturbed. During the pause, interactions of the ribosome with the mRNA stimulatory elements uncouple EF-G catalysed translocation from normal ribosomal subunit reverse-rotation, leaving the ribosome in a non-canonical intersubunit rotated state with an exposed codon in the aminoacyl-tRNA site (A site). tRNA(Lys) sampling and accommodation to the empty A site and EF-G action either leads to the slippage of the tRNAs into the -1 frame or maintains the ribosome into the 0 frame. Our results provide a general mechanistic and conformational framework for -1 frameshifting, highlighting multiple kinetic branchpoints during elongation.


July 7, 2019  |  

The dynamics of SecM-induced translational stalling.

SecM is an E. coli secretion monitor capable of stalling translation on the prokaryotic ribosome without cofactors. Biochemical and structural studies have demonstrated that the SecM nascent chain interacts with the 50S subunit exit tunnel to inhibit peptide bond formation. However, the timescales and pathways of stalling on an mRNA remain undefined. To provide a dynamic mechanism for stalling, we directly tracked the dynamics of elongation on ribosomes translating the SecM stall sequence (FSTPVWISQAQGIRAGP) using single-molecule fluorescence techniques. Within 1 min, three peptide-ribosome interactions work cooperatively over the last five codons of the SecM sequence, leading to severely impaired elongation rates beginning from the terminal proline and lasting four codons. Our results suggest that stalling is tightly linked to the dynamics of elongation and underscore the roles that the exit tunnel and nascent chain play in controlling fundamental steps in translation. opyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

High-throughput platform for real-time monitoring of biological processes by multicolor single-molecule fluorescence.

Zero-mode waveguides provide a powerful technology for studying single-molecule real-time dynamics of biological systems at physiological ligand concentrations. We customized a commercial zero-mode waveguide-based DNA sequencer for use as a versatile instrument for single-molecule fluorescence detection and showed that the system provides long fluorophore lifetimes with good signal to noise and low spectral cross-talk. We then used a ribosomal translation assay to show real-time fluidic delivery during data acquisition, showing it is possible to follow the conformation and composition of thousands of single biomolecules simultaneously through four spectral channels. This instrument allows high-throughput multiplexed dynamics of single-molecule biological processes over long timescales. The instrumentation presented here has broad applications to single-molecule studies of biological systems and is easily accessible to the biophysical community.


July 7, 2019  |  

Sequence-dependent elongation dynamics on macrolide-bound ribosomes.

The traditional view of macrolide antibiotics as plugs inside the ribosomal nascent peptide exit tunnel (NPET) has lately been challenged in favor of a more complex, heterogeneous mechanism, where drug-peptide interactions determine the fate of a translating ribosome. To investigate these highly dynamic processes, we applied single-molecule tracking of elongating ribosomes during inhibition of elongation by erythromycin of several nascent chains, including ErmCL and H-NS, which were shown to be, respectively, sensitive and resistant to erythromycin. Peptide sequence-specific changes were observed in translation elongation dynamics in the presence of a macrolide-obstructed NPET. Elongation rates were not severely inhibited in general by the presence of the drug; instead, stalls or pauses were observed as abrupt events. The dynamic pathways of nascent-chain-dependent elongation pausing in the presence of macrolides determine the fate of the translating ribosome stalling or readthrough. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Quantum yield and excitation rate of single molecules close to metallic nanostructures.

The interaction of dyes and metallic nanostructures strongly affects the fluorescence and can lead to significant fluorescence enhancement at plasmonic hot spots, but also to quenching. Here we present a method to distinguish the individual contributions to the changes of the excitation, radiative and non-radiative rate and use this information to determine the quantum yields for single molecules. The method is validated by precisely placing single fluorescent dyes with respect to gold nanoparticles as well as with respect to the excitation polarization using DNA origami nanostructures. Following validation, measurements in zeromode waveguides reveal that suppression of the radiative rate and enhancement of the non-radiative rate lead to a reduced quantum yield. Because the method exploits the intrinsic blinking of dyes, it can generally be applied to fluorescence measurements in arbitrary nanophotonic environments.


July 7, 2019  |  

Enhancing single-molecule fluorescence with nanophotonics.

Single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy has become an important research tool in the life sciences but a number of limitations hinder the widespread use as a standard technique. The limited dynamic concentration range is one of the major hurdles. Recent developments in the nanophotonic field promise to alleviate these restrictions to an extent that even low affinity biomolecular interactions can be studied. After motivating the need for nanophotonics we introduce the basic concepts of nanophotonic devices such as zero mode waveguides and nanoantennas. We highlight current applications and the future potential of nanophotonic approaches when combined with biological systems and single-molecule spectroscopy. Copyright © 2014 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Reversible positioning of single molecules inside zero-mode waveguides.

We have developed a hybrid nanopore/zero-mode waveguide device for single-molecule fluorescence and DNA sequencing applications. The device is a freestanding solid-state membrane with sub-5 nm nanopores that reversibly delivers individual biomolecules to the base of 70 nm diameter waveguides for interrogation. Rapid and reversible molecular loading is achieved by controlling the voltage across the device. Using this device we demonstrate protein and DNA loading with efficiency that is orders of magnitude higher than diffusion-based molecular loading.


July 7, 2019  |  

Waveguide structures for efficient evanescent field coupling to zero mode waveguides

The use of waveguide structures is examined to improve the efficiency of evanescent field coupling into zero-mode waveguides. Model calculations show that waveguide excitation using diffractive structures, increases the magnitude of the evanescent electric field by an order of magnitude compared to far field excitation of the evanescent field. A more efficient excitation of fluorescent markers used in e.g. sequencing instrumentation ultimately enables real-time single molecule detection using laser systems with moderate output power.


July 7, 2019  |  

The impact of aminoglycosides on the dynamics of translation elongation.

Inferring antibiotic mechanisms on translation through static structures has been challenging, as biological systems are highly dynamic. Dynamic single-molecule methods are also limited to few simultaneously measurable parameters. We have circumvented these limitations with a multifaceted approach to investigate three structurally distinct aminoglycosides that bind to the aminoacyl-transfer RNA site (A site) in the prokaryotic 30S ribosomal subunit: apramycin, paromomycin, and gentamicin. Using several single-molecule fluorescence measurements combined with structural and biochemical techniques, we observed distinct changes to translational dynamics for each aminoglycoside. While all three drugs effectively inhibit translation elongation, their actions are structurally and mechanistically distinct. Apramycin does not displace A1492 and A1493 at the decoding center, as demonstrated by a solution nuclear magnetic resonance structure, causing only limited miscoding; instead, it primarily blocks translocation. Paromomycin and gentamicin, which displace A1492 and A1493, cause significant miscoding, block intersubunit rotation, and inhibit translocation. Our results show the power of combined dynamics, structural, and biochemical approaches to elucidate the complex mechanisms underlying translation and its inhibition. Copyright © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Single-molecule fluorescence imaging of processive myosin with enhanced background suppression using linear zero-mode waveguides (ZMWs) and convex lens induced confinement (CLIC).

Resolving single fluorescent molecules in the presence of high fluorophore concentrations remains a challenge in single-molecule biophysics that limits our understanding of weak molecular interactions. Total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) imaging, the workhorse of single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, enables experiments at concentrations up to about 100 nM, but many biological interactions have considerably weaker affinities, and thus require at least one species to be at micromolar or higher concentration. Current alternatives to TIRF often require three-dimensional confinement, and thus can be problematic for extended substrates, such as cytoskeletal filaments. To address this challenge, we have demonstrated and applied two new single-molecule fluorescence microscopy techniques, linear zero-mode waveguides (ZMWs) and convex lens induced confinement (CLIC), for imaging the processive motion of molecular motors myosin V and VI along actin filaments. Both technologies will allow imaging in the presence of higher fluorophore concentrations than TIRF microscopy. They will enable new biophysical measurements of a wide range of processive molecular motors that move along filamentous tracks, such as other myosins, dynein, and kinesin. A particularly salient application of these technologies will be to examine chemomechanical coupling by directly imaging fluorescent nucleotide molecules interacting with processive motors as they traverse their actin or microtubule tracks.


July 7, 2019  |  

Coordinated conformational and compositional dynamics drive ribosome translocation.

During translation elongation, the ribosome compositional factors elongation factor G (EF-G; encoded by fusA) and tRNA alternately bind to the ribosome to direct protein synthesis and regulate the conformation of the ribosome. Here, we use single-molecule fluorescence with zero-mode waveguides to directly correlate ribosome conformation and composition during multiple rounds of elongation at high factor concentrations in Escherichia coli. Our results show that EF-G bound to GTP (EF-G-GTP) continuously samples both rotational states of the ribosome, binding with higher affinity to the rotated state. Upon successful accommodation into the rotated ribosome, the EF-G-ribosome complex evolves through several rate-limiting conformational changes and the hydrolysis of GTP, which results in a transition back to the nonrotated state and in turn drives translocation and facilitates release of both EF-G-GDP and E-site tRNA. These experiments highlight the power of tracking single-molecule conformation and composition simultaneously in real time.


July 7, 2019  |  

Heterogeneous pathways and timing of factor departure during translation initiation.

The initiation of translation establishes the reading frame for protein synthesis and is a key point of regulation. Initiation involves factor-driven assembly at a start codon of a messenger RNA of an elongation-competent 70S ribosomal particle (in bacteria) from separated 30S and 50S subunits and initiator transfer RNA. Here we establish in Escherichia coli, using direct single-molecule tracking, the timing of initiator tRNA, initiation factor 2 (IF2; encoded by infB) and 50S subunit joining during initiation. Our results show multiple pathways to initiation, with orders of arrival of tRNA and IF2 dependent on factor concentration and composition. IF2 accelerates 50S subunit joining and stabilizes the assembled 70S complex. Transition to elongation is gated by the departure of IF2 after GTP hydrolysis, allowing efficient arrival of elongator tRNAs to the second codon presented in the aminoacyl-tRNA binding site (A site). These experiments highlight the power of single-molecule approaches to delineate mechanisms in complex multicomponent systems.


July 7, 2019  |  

Real-time tRNA transit on single translating ribosomes at codon resolution.

Translation by the ribosome occurs by a complex mechanism involving the coordinated interaction of multiple nucleic acid and protein ligands. Here we use zero-mode waveguides (ZMWs) and sophisticated detection instrumentation to allow real-time observation of translation at physiologically relevant micromolar ligand concentrations. Translation at each codon is monitored by stable binding of transfer RNAs (tRNAs)-labelled with distinct fluorophores-to translating ribosomes, which allows direct detection of the identity of tRNA molecules bound to the ribosome and therefore the underlying messenger RNA (mRNA) sequence. We observe the transit of tRNAs on single translating ribosomes and determine the number of tRNA molecules simultaneously bound to the ribosome, at each codon of an mRNA molecule. Our results show that ribosomes are only briefly occupied by two tRNA molecules and that release of deacylated tRNA from the exit (E) site is uncoupled from binding of aminoacyl-tRNA site (A-site) tRNA and occurs rapidly after translocation. The methods outlined here have broad application to the study of mRNA sequences, and the mechanism and regulation of translation.


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