Biochemistry and Molecular Biology - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 1316
FRET-based dynamic structural biology: Challenges, perspectives and an appeal for open-science practices
(ELIFE SCIENCES PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2021-03-29)
Single-molecule FRET (smFRET) has become a mainstream technique for studying biomolecular structural dynamics. The rapid and wide adoption of smFRET experiments by an ever-increasing number of groups has generated significant progress in sample preparation, measurement procedures, data analysis, algorithms and documentation. Several labs that employ smFRET approaches have joined forces to inform the smFRET community about streamlining how to perform experiments and analyze results for obtaining quantitative information on biomolecular structure and dynamics. The recent efforts include blind tests to assess the accuracy and the precision of smFRET experiments among different labs using various procedures. These multi-lab studies have led to the development of smFRET procedures and documentation, which are important when submitting entries into the archiving system for integrative structure models, PDB-Dev. This position paper describes the current 'state of the art' from different perspectives, points to unresolved methodological issues for quantitative structural studies, provides a set of 'soft recommendations' about which an emerging consensus exists, and lists openly available resources for newcomers and seasoned practitioners. To make further progress, we strongly encourage 'open science' practices.
Sorting nexin 5 mediates virus-induced autophagy and immunity
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2020-12-16)
Autophagy, a process of degradation that occurs via the lysosomal pathway, has an essential role in multiple aspects of immunity, including immune system development, regulation of innate and adaptive immune and inflammatory responses, selective degradation of intracellular microorganisms, and host protection against infectious diseases1,2. Autophagy is known to be induced by stimuli such as nutrient deprivation and suppression of mTOR, but little is known about how autophagosomal biogenesis is initiated in mammalian cells in response to viral infection. Here, using genome-wide short interfering RNA screens, we find that the endosomal protein sorting nexin 5 (SNX5)3,4 is essential for virus-induced, but not for basal, stress- or endosome-induced, autophagy. We show that SNX5 deletion increases cellular susceptibility to viral infection in vitro, and that Snx5 knockout in mice enhances lethality after infection with several human viruses. Mechanistically, SNX5 interacts with beclin 1 and ATG14-containing class III phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3KC3) complex 1 (PI3KC3-C1), increases the lipid kinase activity of purified PI3KC3-C1, and is required for endosomal generation of phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PtdIns(3)P) and recruitment of the PtdIns(3)P-binding protein WIPI2 to virion-containing endosomes. These findings identify a context- and organelle-specific mechanism-SNX5-dependent PI3KC3-C1 activation at endosomes-for initiation of autophagy during viral infection.
Distinguishing between PTEN clinical phenotypes through mutation analysis.
(Elsevier BV, 2021)
Phosphate and tensin homolog on chromosome ten (PTEN) germline mutations are associated with an overarching condition known as PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome. Clinical phenotypes associated with this syndrome range from macrocephaly and autism spectrum disorder to Cowden syndrome, which manifests as multiple noncancerous tumor-like growths (hamartomas), and an increased predisposition to certain cancers. It is unclear, however, the basis by which mutations might lead to these very diverse phenotypic outcomes. Here we show that, by considering the molecular consequences of mutations in PTEN on protein structure and function, we can accurately distinguish PTEN mutations exhibiting different phenotypes. Changes in phosphatase activity, protein stability, and intramolecular interactions appeared to be major drivers of clinical phenotype, with cancer-associated variants leading to the most drastic changes, while ASD and non-pathogenic variants associated with more mild and neutral changes, respectively. Importantly, we show via saturation mutagenesis that more than half of variants of unknown significance could be associated with disease phenotypes, while over half of Cowden syndrome mutations likely lead to cancer. These insights can assist in exploring potentially important clinical outcomes delineated by PTEN variation.
Zinc drives vasorelaxation by acting in sensory nerves, endothelium and smooth muscle
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2021-06-01)
Zinc, an abundant transition metal, serves as a signalling molecule in several biological systems. Zinc transporters are genetically associated with cardiovascular diseases but the function of zinc in vascular tone regulation is unknown. We found that elevating cytoplasmic zinc using ionophores relaxed rat and human isolated blood vessels and caused hyperpolarization of smooth muscle membrane. Furthermore, zinc ionophores lowered blood pressure in anaesthetized rats and increased blood flow without affecting heart rate. Conversely, intracellular zinc chelation induced contraction of selected vessels from rats and humans and depolarized vascular smooth muscle membrane potential. We demonstrate three mechanisms for zinc-induced vasorelaxation: (1) activation of transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 to increase calcitonin gene-related peptide signalling from perivascular sensory nerves; (2) enhancement of cyclooxygenase-sensitive vasodilatory prostanoid signalling in the endothelium; and (3) inhibition of voltage-gated calcium channels in the smooth muscle. These data introduce zinc as a new target for vascular therapeutics.
NLRP1 variant M1184V decreases inflammasome activation in the context of DPP9 inhibition and asthma severity
BACKGROUND: NLRP1 is an innate immune sensor that can form cytoplasmic inflammasome complexes. Polymorphisms in NLRP1 are linked to asthma; however, there is currently no functional or mechanistic explanation for this. OBJECTIVE: We sought to clarify the role of NLRP1 in asthma pathogenesis. METHODS: Results from the GALA II cohort study were used to identify a link between NLRP1 and asthma in Mexican Americans. In vitro and in vivo models for NLRP1 activation were applied to investigate the role of this inflammasome in asthma at the molecular level. RESULTS: We document the association of an NLRP1 haplotype with asthma for which the single nucleotide polymorphism rs11651270 (M1184V) individually is the most significant. Surprisingly, M1184V increases NLRP1 activation in the context of N-terminal destabilization, but decreases NLRP1 activation on dipeptidyl peptidase 9 inhibition. In vitro studies demonstrate that M1184V increases binding to dipeptidyl peptidase 9, which can account for its inhibitory role in this context. In addition, in vivo data from a mouse model of airway inflammation reveal a protective role for NLRP1 inflammasome activation reducing eosinophilia in this setting. CONCLUSIONS: Linking our in vitro and in vivo results, we found that the NLRP1 variant M1184V reduces inflammasome activation in the context of dipeptidyl peptidase 9 inhibition and could thereby increase asthma severity. Our studies may have implications for the treatment of asthma in patients carrying this variant of NLRP1.
Symptoms of Addictive Eating: What Do Different Health Professions Think?
The symptoms of addictive eating are often debated, with some overlap in symptoms with substance addictions or other disorders such as binge eating disorder. This study explored the levels of agreement with symptoms of addictive eating among different health professions, the conditions they provide advice for, and the population group/s they work with. An online cross-sectional survey was conducted in February-April 2020 including 142 health professionals (87% female, 65% residing in Australia, 28% each working in private practice/hospital settings). Of these, 47% were dietitians, 20% psychologists/psychotherapists/counsellors, 16% other health practitioners (e.g., social workers), 13% health researchers, and 5% medical professionals. Agreement with 11 statements relating to addictive eating symptoms was assessed on a scale of 1/strongly disagree to 5/strongly agree (e.g., certain foods produce physiological effects in the brain rewards system). Differences in agreement by health profession were assessed by one-way analysis of variance. There were significant differences in agreement with individual statements between health professions. Psychologists, psychotherapists, and counsellors reported lower agreement to statements relating to physiological effects in the reward system, withdrawal symptoms, and over-eating to alleviate stress/anxiety, than other professions (p < 0.05). Those providing advice for disordered eating only reported lower agreement across statements compared with those providing advice for overweight/obesity or both (p < 0.001). There were minimal differences based on the population group/s that health professionals work with. There is some agreement among health professionals regarding addictive eating symptoms, however, this differs by profession and the conditions they treat. This study provides a novel perspective on health professionals' views on addictive eating symptoms, and there is a need for more research to explore the concepts further.
A global resource for genomic predictions of antimicrobial resistance and surveillance of Salmonella Typhi at pathogenwatch.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-05-17)
As whole-genome sequencing capacity becomes increasingly decentralized, there is a growing opportunity for collaboration and the sharing of surveillance data within and between countries to inform typhoid control policies. This vision requires free, community-driven tools that facilitate access to genomic data for public health on a global scale. Here we present the Pathogenwatch scheme for Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi), a web application enabling the rapid identification of genomic markers of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and contextualization with public genomic data. We show that the clustering of S. Typhi genomes in Pathogenwatch is comparable to established bioinformatics methods, and that genomic predictions of AMR are highly concordant with phenotypic susceptibility data. We demonstrate the public health utility of Pathogenwatch with examples selected from >4,300 public genomes available in the application. Pathogenwatch provides an intuitive entry point to monitor of the emergence and spread of S. Typhi high risk clones.
Nanobody cocktails potently neutralize SARS-CoV-2 D614G N501Y variant and protect mice
(NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2021-05-11)
Neutralizing antibodies are important for immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and as therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Here, we identified high-affinity nanobodies from alpacas immunized with coronavirus spike and receptor-binding domains (RBD) that disrupted RBD engagement with the human receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and potently neutralized SARS-CoV-2. Epitope mapping, X-ray crystallography, and cryo-electron microscopy revealed two distinct antigenic sites and showed two neutralizing nanobodies from different epitope classes bound simultaneously to the spike trimer. Nanobody-Fc fusions of the four most potent nanobodies blocked ACE2 engagement with RBD variants present in human populations and potently neutralized both wild-type SARS-CoV-2 and the N501Y D614G variant at concentrations as low as 0.1 nM. Prophylactic administration of either single nanobody-Fc or as mixtures reduced viral loads by up to 104-fold in mice infected with the N501Y D614G SARS-CoV-2 virus. These results suggest a role for nanobody-Fc fusions as prophylactic agents against SARS-CoV-2.
Global population structure and genotyping framework for genomic surveillance of the major dysentery pathogen, Shigella sonnei
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2021-05-11)
Shigella sonnei is the most common agent of shigellosis in high-income countries, and causes a significant disease burden in low- and middle-income countries. Antimicrobial resistance is increasingly common in all settings. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) is increasingly utilised for S. sonnei outbreak investigation and surveillance, but comparison of data between studies and labs is challenging. Here, we present a genomic framework and genotyping scheme for S. sonnei to efficiently identify genotype and resistance determinants from WGS data. The scheme is implemented in the software package Mykrobe and tested on thousands of genomes. Applying this approach to analyse >4,000 S. sonnei isolates sequenced in public health labs in three countries identified several common genotypes associated with increased rates of ciprofloxacin resistance and azithromycin resistance, confirming intercontinental spread of highly-resistant S. sonnei clones and demonstrating the genomic framework can facilitate monitoring the spread of resistant clones, including those that have recently emerged, at local and global scales.
The TIM22 complex mediates the import of sideroflexins and is required for efficient mitochondrial one-carbon metabolism
(AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY, 2021-03-15)
Acylglycerol kinase (AGK) is a mitochondrial lipid kinase that contributes to protein biogenesis as a subunit of the TIM22 complex at the inner mitochondrial membrane. Mutations in AGK cause Sengers syndrome, an autosomal recessive condition characterized by congenital cataracts, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, skeletal myopathy, and lactic acidosis. We mapped the proteomic changes in Sengers patient fibroblasts and AGKKO cell lines to understand the effects of AGK dysfunction on mitochondria. This uncovered down-regulation of a number of proteins at the inner mitochondrial membrane, including many SLC25 carrier family proteins, which are predicted substrates of the complex. We also observed down-regulation of SFXN proteins, which contain five transmembrane domains, and show that they represent a novel class of TIM22 complex substrate. Perturbed biogenesis of SFXN proteins in cells lacking AGK reduces the proliferative capabilities of these cells in the absence of exogenous serine, suggesting that dysregulation of one-carbon metabolism is a molecular feature in the biology of Sengers syndrome.
Functional Characterization of the m6A-Dependent Translational Modulator PfYTH.2 in the Human Malaria Parasite.
(American Society for Microbiology, 2021-04-27)
Posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression is central to the development and replication of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, within its human host. The timely coordination of RNA maturation, homeostasis, and protein synthesis relies on the recruitment of specific RNA-binding proteins to their cognate target mRNAs. One possible mediator of such mRNA-protein interactions is the N6-methylation of adenosines (m6A), a prevalent mRNA modification of parasite mRNA transcripts. Here, we used RNA protein pulldowns, RNA modification mass spectrometry, and quantitative proteomics to identify two P. falciparum YTH domain proteins (PfYTH.1 and PfYTH.2) as m6A-binding proteins during parasite blood-stage development. Interaction proteomics revealed that PfYTH.2 associates with the translation machinery, including multiple subunits of the eukaryotic initiation factor 3 (eIF3) and poly(A)-binding proteins. Furthermore, knock sideways of PfYTH.2 coupled with ribosome profiling showed that this m6A reader is essential for parasite survival and is a repressor of mRNA translation. Together, these data reveal an important missing link in the m6A-mediated mechanism controlling mRNA translation in a unicellular eukaryotic pathogen.IMPORTANCE Infection with the unicellular eukaryotic pathogen Plasmodium falciparum causes malaria, a mosquito-borne disease affecting more than 200 million and killing 400,000 people each year. Underlying the asexual replication within human red blood cells is a tight regulatory network of gene expression and protein synthesis. A widespread mechanism of posttranscriptional gene regulation is the chemical modification of adenosines (m6A), through which the fate of individual mRNA transcripts can be changed. Here, we report on the protein machinery that "reads" this modification and "translates" it into a functional outcome. We provide mechanistic insight into one m6A reader protein and show that it interacts with the translational machinery and acts as a repressor of mRNA translation. This m6A-mediated phenotype has not been described in other eukaryotes as yet, and the functional characterization of the m6A interactome will ultimately open new avenues to combat the disease.
Identification of Metabolically Quiescent Leishmania mexicana Parasites in Peripheral and Cured Dermal Granulomas Using Stable Isotope Tracing Imaging Mass Spectrometry
(AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2021-03-01)
Leishmania are sandfly-transmitted protists that induce granulomatous lesions in their mammalian host. Although infected host cells in these tissues can exist in different activation states, the extent to which intracellular parasites stages also exist in different growth or physiological states remains poorly defined. Here, we have mapped the spatial distribution of metabolically quiescent and active subpopulations of Leishmania mexicana in dermal granulomas in susceptible BALB/c mice, using in vivo heavy water labeling and ultra high-resolution imaging mass spectrometry. Quantitation of the rate of turnover of parasite and host-specific lipids at high spatial resolution, suggested that the granuloma core comprised mixed populations of metabolically active and quiescent parasites. Unexpectedly, a significant population of metabolically quiescent parasites was also identified in the surrounding collagen-rich, dermal mesothelium. Mesothelium-like tissues harboring quiescent parasites progressively replaced macrophage-rich granuloma tissues following treatment with the first-line drug, miltefosine. In contrast to the granulomatous tissue, neither the mesothelium nor newly deposited tissue sequestered miltefosine. These studies suggest that the presence of quiescent parasites in acute granulomatous tissues, together with the lack of miltefosine accumulation in cured lesion tissue, may contribute to drug failure and nonsterile cure.IMPORTANCE Many microbial pathogens switch between different growth and physiological states in vivo in order to adapt to local nutrient levels and host microbicidal responses. Heterogeneity in microbial growth and metabolism may also contribute to nongenetic mechanisms of drug resistance and drug failure. In this study, we have developed a new approach for measuring spatial heterogeneity in microbial metabolism in vivo using a combination of heavy water (2H2O) labeling and imaging mass spectrometry. Using this approach, we show that lesions contain a patchwork of metabolically distinct parasite populations, while the underlying dermal tissues contain a large population of metabolically quiescent parasites. Quiescent parasites also dominate drug-depleted tissues in healed animals, providing an explanation for failure of some first line drugs to completely eradicate parasites. This approach is broadly applicable to study the metabolic and growth dynamics in other host-pathogen interactions.