Substrate-engaged 26S proteasome structures reveal mechanisms for ATP-hydrolysis-driven translocation

The 26S proteasome is the primary eukaryotic degradation machine and thus is critically involved in numerous cellular processes. The heterohexameric adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) motor of the proteasome unfolds and translocates targeted protein substrates into the open gate of a proteolytic core while a proteasomal deubiquitinase concomitantly removes substrate-attached ubiquitin chains. However, the mechanisms by which ATP hydrolysis drives the conformational changes responsible for these processes have remained elusive. Here we present the cryo–electron microscopy structures of four distinct conformational states of the actively ATP-hydrolyzing, substrate-engaged 26S proteasome. These structures reveal how mechanical substrate translocation accelerates deubiquitination and how ATP-binding, -hydrolysis, … Continue reading Substrate-engaged 26S proteasome structures reveal mechanisms for ATP-hydrolysis-driven translocation

Retinal isomerization in bacteriorhodopsin captured by a femtosecond x-ray laser

Ultrafast isomerization of retinal is the primary step in photoresponsive biological functions including vision in humans and ion transport across bacterial membranes. We used an x-ray laser to study the subpicosecond structural dynamics of retinal isomerization in the light-driven proton pump bacteriorhodopsin. A series of structural snapshots with near-atomic spatial resolution and temporal resolution in the femtosecond regime show how the excited all-trans retinal samples conformational states within the protein binding pocket before passing through a twisted geometry and emerging in the 13-cis conformation. Our findings suggest ultrafast collective motions of aspartic acid residues and functional water molecules in the … Continue reading Retinal isomerization in bacteriorhodopsin captured by a femtosecond x-ray laser

Structure of the nucleotide exchange factor eIF2B reveals mechanism of memory-enhancing molecule

Regulation by the integrated stress response (ISR) converges on the phosphorylation of translation initiation factor eIF2 in response to a variety of stresses. Phosphorylation converts eIF2 from a substrate to a competitive inhibitor of its dedicated guanine nucleotide exchange factor, eIF2B, thereby inhibiting translation. ISRIB, a drug-like eIF2B activator, reverses the effects of eIF2 phosphorylation, and in rodents it enhances cognition and corrects cognitive deficits after brain injury. To determine its mechanism of action, we solved an atomic-resolution structure of ISRIB bound in a deep cleft within decameric human eIF2B by cryo–electron microscopy. Formation of fully active, decameric eIF2B holoenzyme … Continue reading Structure of the nucleotide exchange factor eIF2B reveals mechanism of memory-enhancing molecule

ChromEMT: Visualizing 3D chromatin structure and compaction in interphase and mitotic cells

The chromatin structure of DNA determines genome compaction and activity in the nucleus. On the basis of in vitro structures and electron microscopy (EM) studies, the hierarchical model is that 11-nanometer DNA-nucleosome polymers fold into 30- and subsequently into 120- and 300- to 700-nanometer fibers and mitotic chromosomes. To visualize chromatin in situ, we identified a fluorescent dye that stains DNA with an osmiophilic polymer and selectively enhances its contrast in EM. Using ChromEMT (ChromEM tomography), we reveal the ultrastructure and three-dimensional (3D) organization of individual chromatin polymers, megabase domains, and mitotic chromosomes. We show that chromatin is a disordered … Continue reading ChromEMT: Visualizing 3D chromatin structure and compaction in interphase and mitotic cells