July 7, 2019  |  

Selective aluminum passivation for targeted immobilization of single DNA polymerase molecules in zero-mode waveguide nanostructures.

Optical nanostructures have enabled the creation of subdiffraction detection volumes for single-molecule fluorescence microscopy. Their applicability is extended by the ability to place molecules in the confined observation volume without interfering with their biological function. Here, we demonstrate that processive DNA synthesis thousands of bases in length was carried out by individual DNA polymerase molecules immobilized in the observation volumes of zero-mode waveguides (ZMWs) in high-density arrays. Selective immobilization of polymerase to the fused silica floor of the ZMW was achieved by passivation of the metal cladding surface using polyphosphonate chemistry, producing enzyme density contrasts of glass over aluminum in excess of 400:1. Yields of single-molecule occupancies of approximately 30% were obtained for a range of ZMW diameters (70-100 nm). Results presented here support the application of immobilized single DNA polymerases in ZMW arrays for long-read-length DNA sequencing.


July 7, 2019  |  

Long, processive enzymatic DNA synthesis using 100% dye-labeled terminal phosphate-linked nucleotides.

We demonstrate the efficient synthesis of DNA with complete replacement of the four deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) substrates with nucleotides carrying fluorescent labels. A different, spectrally separable fluorescent dye suitable for single molecule fluorescence detection was conjugated to each of the four dNTPs via linkage to the terminal phosphate. Using these modified nucleotides, DNA synthesis by phi 29 DNA polymerase was observed to be processive for products thousands of bases in length, with labeled nucleotide affinities and DNA polymerization rates approaching unmodified dNTP levels. Results presented here show the compatibility of these nucleotides for single-molecule, real-time DNA sequencing applications.


July 7, 2019  |  

Improved fabrication of zero-mode waveguides for single-molecule detection

Metallic subwavelength apertures can be used in epi-illumination fluorescence to achieve focal volume confinement. Because of the near field components inherent to small metallic structures, observation volumes are formed that are much smaller than the conventional diffraction limited volume attainable by high numerical aperture far field optics (circa a femtoliter). Observation volumes in the range of 10-4fl have been reported previously. Such apertures can be used for single-molecule detection at relatively high concentrations (up to 20µM) of fluorophores. Here, we present a novel fabrication of metallic subwavelength apertures in the visible range. Using a new electron beamlithography process, uniform arrays of such apertures can be manufactured efficiently in large numbers with diameters in the range of 60–100nm. The apertures were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, optical microscopy, focused ion beam cross sections/transmission electron microscopy, and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy measurements, which confirmed their geometry and optical confinement. Process throughput can be further increased using deep ultraviolet photolithography to replace electron beamlithography. This enables the production of aperture arrays in a high volume manufacturing environment.


July 7, 2019  |  

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 GTP-dependent subunit disassembly. After the 50S subunit departs, IF3 releases the deacylated tRNA from the 30S subunit, thus preventing reassembly of the 70S ribosome. Our findings reveal the post-termination rotated state as the crucial intermediate in the transition from termination to recycling. Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Length-independent DNA packing into nanopore zero-mode waveguides for low-input DNA sequencing.

Compared with conventional methods, single-molecule real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing exhibits longer read lengths than conventional methods, less GC bias, and the ability to read DNA base modifications. However, reading DNA sequence from sub-nanogram quantities is impractical owing to inefficient delivery of DNA molecules into the confines of zero-mode waveguides-zeptolitre optical cavities in which DNA sequencing proceeds. Here, we show that the efficiency of voltage-induced DNA loading into waveguides equipped with nanopores at their floors is five orders of magnitude greater than existing methods. In addition, we find that DNA loading is nearly length-independent, unlike diffusive loading, which is biased towards shorter fragments. We demonstrate here loading and proof-of-principle four-colour sequence readout of a polymerase-bound 20,000-base-pair-long DNA template within seconds from a sub-nanogram input quantity, a step towards low-input DNA sequencing and mammalian epigenomic mapping of native DNA samples.


July 7, 2019  |  

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 to be challenging for bulk methods. Conventional single-molecule fluorescence experiments on the other hand require low concentrations of fluorescent ligands to reduce background noise. The significantly reduced bimolecular association rates under those conditions limit the number of steps that can be observed within the time window available to a fluorophore. The advent of zero-mode waveguide (ZMW) technology has allowed the study of translation at near-physiological concentrations of labeled ligands, moving single-molecule fluorescence microscopy beyond focused model systems into studying the global dynamics of translation in realistic setups. This chapter reviews the recent works using the ZMW technology to dissect the mechanism of translation initiation and elongation in prokaryotes, including complex processes such as translational stalling and frameshifting. Given the success of the technology, similarly complex biological processes could be studied in near-physiological conditions with the controllability of conventional in vitro experiments. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

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 and were exposed to polar solvent during fusion. Additionally, tryptophan substitutions at specific positions in these transmembrane domains decreased glutamate flux. Together, these findings indicate that the fusion pore is a hybrid structure composed of both lipids and proteins.


July 7, 2019  |  

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 7mer labelled with the positively charged CY3 dye, k on and k off are ~3 larger and ~2 times smaller, respectively, compared with the oligonucleotide labelled with negatively charged DY-547 dye. The effect of neighbouring molecules lacking the 7nt binding sequence on single-molecule rate constants is small. The association rate constants is reduced by only 20–35%. Hybrid dissociation is not affected, since as a consequence of the experimental design, rebinding cannot take place. Results of single-molecule experiments were compared with data obtained from surface plasmon resonance (SPR) performed under comparable conditions. A good correlation for the association rate constants within a factor of 1.5 was found. Dissociation rate constants are smaller by a factor of 2–3 which we interpreted as a result of rebinding to neighbouring probes. Results of SPR measurements tend to systematically underestimate dissociation rate constants. The amount of this deviation depends on the association rate constant and the surface probe density. As a consequence, it is recommended to work at low probe densities to keep this effect small.


July 7, 2019  |  

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 tRNA, because delay in tRNA accommodation depends on the position and context of m(6)A within codons and on the accuracy level of translation. Overall, our results demonstrate that chemical modification of mRNA can change translational dynamics.


July 7, 2019  |  

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 an unstable intermediate that is captured by binding of the elongator tRNA. Whereas initiation can occur in the 0 and +1 frames, the arrival of the first tRNA defines the reading frame and strongly favors 0 frame initiation. Overall, even in the simplest system, an intricate reaction network regulates translation initiation. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

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 has evidently evolved to minimize interaction with the exit tunnel and maximize the sequence diversity of the proteome, although allowing some interactions for regulatory purposes. Bioinformatic analysis of the human proteome revealed no underrepresented triplet sequences, possibly reflecting an absence of regulation by interaction with the exit tunnel.


July 7, 2019  |  

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 pore within each subunit, and that the trimer formation contributes to the stability of the protein. The symmetrically related TM2 and TM5 helices are kinked at the conserved glycine clusters, and these kinks are important for the channel activity. Furthermore, the kinks of the TM2 and TM5 helices generate lateral fenestrations at each subunit interface. Unexpectedly, these lateral fenestrations are occupied with lipid molecules. This study provides the structural and functional framework for the molecular mechanism of this ion channel superfamily.


July 7, 2019  |  

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 a ligand-induced isomerization of the CNBD. X-ray structure of the apo CNBD and atomistic simulations reveal that the isomerization involves both local and global transitions. Our approach reveals fundamental mechanisms underpinning ligand regulation of pacemaker channels, and is generally applicable to weak-binding interactions governing a broad spectrum of signaling processes.


July 7, 2019  |  

A comparison of single-molecule emission in aluminum and gold zero-mode waveguides.

The effect of gold and aluminum zero-mode waveguides (ZMWs) on the brightness of immobilized single emitters was characterized by probing fluorophores that absorb in the green and red regions of the visible spectrum. Aluminum ZMWs enhance the emission of Atto565 fluorophores upon green excitation, but they do not enhance the emission of Atto647N fluorophores upon red excitation. Gold ZMWs increase emission of both fluorophores with Atto647N showing enhancement that is threefold higher than that observed for Atto565. This work indicates that 200 nm gold ZMWs are better suited for single-molecule fluorescence studies in the red region of the visible spectrum, while aluminum appears more suited for the green region of the visible spectrum.


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