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Grigorieff Lab / Publications
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52 Publications

Showing 1-10 of 52 results
04/30/18 | Atomic resolution cryo-EM structure of β-galactosidase.
Bartesaghi A, Aguerrebere C, Falconieri V, Banerjee S, Earl LA, Zhu X, Grigorieff N, Milne JL, Sapiro G, Wu X, Subramaniam S
Structure (London, England : 1993). 2018 Apr 30;26(6):848. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2018.04.004

The advent of direct electron detectors has enabled the routine use of single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (EM) approaches to determine structures of a variety of protein complexes at near-atomic resolution. Here, we report the development of methods to account for local variations in defocus and beam-induced drift, and the implementation of a data-driven dose compensation scheme that significantly improves the extraction of high-resolution information recorded during exposure of the specimen to the electron beam. These advances enable determination of a cryo-EM density map for β-galactosidase bound to the inhibitor phenylethyl β-D-thiogalactopyranoside where the ordered regions are resolved at a level of detail seen in X-ray maps at ∼ 1.5 Å resolution. Using this density map in conjunction with constrained molecular dynamics simulations provides a measure of the local flexibility of the non-covalently bound inhibitor and offers further opportunities for structure-guided inhibitor design.

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04/10/18 | Structural mechanism of functional modulation by gene splicing in NMDA receptors.
Regan MC, Grant T, McDaniel MJ, Karakas E, Zhang J, Traynelis SF, Grigorieff N, Furukawa H
Neuron. 2018 Apr 10;98(3):521-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.03.034

Alternative gene splicing gives rise to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor ion channels with defined functional properties and unique contributions to calcium signaling in a given chemical environment in the mammalian brain. Splice variants possessing the exon-5-encoded motif at the amino-terminal domain (ATD) of the GluN1 subunit are known to display robustly altered deactivation rates and pH sensitivity, but the underlying mechanism for this functional modification is largely unknown. Here, we show through cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) that the presence of the exon 5 motif in GluN1 alters the local architecture of heterotetrameric GluN1-GluN2 NMDA receptors and creates contacts with the ligand-binding domains (LBDs) of the GluN1 and GluN2 subunits, which are absent in NMDA receptors lacking the exon 5 motif. The unique interactions established by the exon 5 motif are essential to the stability of the ATD/LBD and LBD/LBD interfaces that are critically involved in controlling proton sensitivity and deactivation.

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03/07/18 | cisTEM, User-friendly software for single-particle image processing.
Grant T, Rohou A, Grigorieff N
eLife. 2018 Mar 07;7:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.35383

We have developed new open-source software calledTEM (computational imaging system for transmission electron microscopy) for the processing of data for high-resolution electron cryo-microscopy and single-particle averaging.TEM features a graphical user interface that is used to submit jobs, monitor their progress, and display results. It implements a full processing pipeline including movie processing, image defocus determination, automatic particle picking, 2D classification, ab-initio 3D map generation from random parameters, 3D classification, and high-resolution refinement and reconstruction. Some of these steps implement newly-developed algorithms; others were adapted from previously published algorithms. The software is optimized to enable processing of typical datasets (2000 micrographs, 200k - 300k particles) on a high-end, CPU-based workstation in half a day or less, comparable to GPU-accelerated processing. Jobs can also be scheduled on large computer clusters using flexible run profiles that can be adapted for most computing environments.TEM is available for download from

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02/16/18 | Physical basis of amyloid fibril polymorphism.
Close W, Neumann M, Schmidt A, Hora M, Annamalai K, Schmidt M, Reif B, Schmidt V, Grigorieff N, Fändrich M
Nature Communications. 2018 Feb 16;9(1):699. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03164-5

Polymorphism is a key feature of amyloid fibril structures but it remains challenging to explain these variations for a particular sample. Here, we report electron cryomicroscopy-based reconstructions from different fibril morphologies formed by a peptide fragment from an amyloidogenic immunoglobulin light chain. The observed fibril morphologies vary in the number and cross-sectional arrangement of a structurally conserved building block. A comparison with the theoretically possible constellations reveals the experimentally observed spectrum of fibril morphologies to be governed by opposing sets of forces that primarily arise from the β-sheet twist, as well as peptide-peptide interactions within the fibril cross-section. Our results provide a framework for rationalizing and predicting the structure and polymorphism of cross-β fibrils, and suggest that a small number of physical parameters control the observed fibril architectures.

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10/13/17 | Structure of RNA polymerase bound to ribosomal 30S subunit.
Demo G, Rasouly A, Vasilyev N, Svetlov V, Loveland AB, Diaz-Avalos R, Grigorieff N, Nudler E, Korostelev AA
eLife. 2017 Oct 13;6:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.28560

In bacteria, mRNA transcription and translation are coupled to coordinate optimal gene expression and maintain genome stability. Coupling is thought to involve direct interactions between RNA polymerase (RNAP) and the translational machinery. We present cryo-EM structures of E. coli RNAP core bound to the small ribosomal 30S subunit. The complex is stable under cell-like ionic conditions, consistent with functional interaction between RNAP and the 30S subunit. The RNA exit tunnel of RNAP aligns with the Shine-Dalgarno-binding site of the 30S subunit. Ribosomal protein S1 forms a wall of the tunnel between RNAP and the 30S subunit, consistent with its role in directing mRNAs onto the ribosome. The nucleic-acid-binding cleft of RNAP samples distinct conformations, suggesting different functional states during transcription-translation coupling. The architecture of the 30S•RNAP complex provides a structural basis for co-localization of the transcriptional and translational machineries, and inform future mechanistic studies of coupled transcription and translation.

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07/10/17 | Expression, purification, and contaminant detection for structural studies of Ralstonia metallidurance ClC protein rm1.
Abeyrathne PD, Grigorieff N
PloS One. 2017;12(7):e0180163. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0180163

Single-particle electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) has become a popular method for high-resolution study of the structural and functional properties of proteins. However, sufficient expression and purification of membrane proteins holds many challenges. We describe methods to overcome these obstacles using ClC-rm1, a prokaryotic chloride channel (ClC) family protein from Ralstonia metallidurans, overexpressed in Escherichia coli (E. coli) BL21(DE3) strain. Mass spectrometry and electron microscopy analyses of purified samples revealed multiple contaminants that can obfuscate results of subsequent high-resolution structural analysis. Here we describe the systematic optimization of sample preparation procedures, including expression systems, solubilization techniques, purification protocols, and contamination detection. We found that expressing ClC-rm1 in E. coli BL21(DE3) and using n-dodecyl-β-D-maltopyranoside as a detergent for solubilization and purification steps resulted in the highest quality samples of those we tested. However, although protein yield, sample stability, and the resolution of structural detail were improved following these changes, we still detected contaminants including Acriflavine resistant protein AcrB. AcrB was particularly difficult to remove as it co-purified with ClC-rm1 due to four intrinsic histidine residues at its C-terminus that bind to affinity resins. We were able to obtain properly folded pure ClC-rm1 by adding eGFP to the C-terminus and overexpressing the protein in the ΔacrB variant of the JW0451-2 E. coli strain.

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05/12/17 | CryoEM structure of an influenza virus receptor-binding site antibody-antigen interface.
Liu Y, Pan J, Jenni S, Raymond DD, Caradonna T, Do KT, Schmidt AG, Harrison SC, Grigorieff N
Journal of Molecular Biology. 2017 May 12;429(12):1829-39. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2017.05.011

Structure-based vaccine design depends on extensive structural analyses of antigen-antibody complexes. Single-particle electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM) can circumvent some of the problems of x-ray crystallography as a pipeline for obtaining the required structures. We have examined the potential of single-particle cryoEM for determining the structure of influenza-virus hemagglutinin (HA):single-chain Fv (scFv) complexes, by studying a complex we failed to crystallize in pursuing an extended project of the human immune response to influenza vaccines. The result shows that a combination of cryoEM and molecular modeling can yield details of the antigen:antibody interface, although small variation in the twist of the rod-like HA trimer limited the overall resolution to about 4.5Å. Comparison of principal 3D classes suggests ways to modify the HA trimer to overcome this limitation. A closely related antibody from the same donor did yield crystals when bound with the same HA, giving us an independent validation of the cryoEM results The two structures also augment our understanding of receptor-binding site recognition by antibodies that neutralize a wide range of influenza-virus variants.

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05/03/17 | Single-protein detection in crowded molecular environments in cryo-EM images.
Rickgauer JP, Grigorieff N, Denk W
eLife. 2017 May 03;6:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.25648

We present an approach to study macromolecular assemblies by detecting component proteins' characteristic high-resolution projection patterns, calculated from their known 3D structures, in single electron cryo-micrographs. Our method detects single apoferritin molecules in vitreous ice with high specificity and determines their orientation and location precisely. Simulations show that high spatial-frequency information and-in the presence of protein background-a whitening filter are essential for optimal detection, in particular for images taken far from focus. Experimentally, we could detect small viral RNA polymerase molecules, distributed randomly among binding locations, inside rotavirus particles. Based on the currently attainable image quality, we estimate a threshold for detection that is 150 kDa in ice and 300 kDa in 100 nm thick samples of dense biological material.

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03/16/17 | Mechanism of ribosome rescue by ArfA and RF2.
Demo G, Svidritskiy E, Madireddy R, Diaz-Avalos R, Grant T, Grigorieff N, Sousa D, Korostelev AA
eLife. 2017 Mar 16;6:e23687. doi: 10.7554/eLife.23687

ArfA rescues ribosomes stalled on truncated mRNAs by recruiting release factor RF2, which normally binds stop codons to catalyze peptide release. We report two 3.2-Å resolution cryo-EM structures - determined from a single sample - of the 70S ribosome with ArfA•RF2 in the A site. In both states, the ArfA C-terminus occupies the mRNA tunnel downstream of the A site. One state contains a compact inactive RF2 conformation. Ordering of the ArfA N-terminus in the second state rearranges RF2 into an extended conformation that docks the catalytic GGQ motif into the peptidyl-transferase center. Our work thus reveals the structural dynamics of ribosome rescue. The structures demonstrate how ArfA "senses" the vacant mRNA tunnel and activates RF2 to mediate peptide release without a stop codon, allowing stalled ribosomes to be recycled.

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03/01/17 | Conformational states of a soluble, uncleaved HIV-1 envelope trimer.
Liu Y, Pan J, Cai Y, Grigorieff N, Harrison SC, Chen B
Journal of Virology. 2017 Mar 01;91(10):e00175-17. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00175-17

HIV-1 envelope spike [Env; trimeric (gp160)3, cleaved to (gp120/gp41)3] induces membrane fusion, leading to viral entry. It is also the viral component targeted by neutralizing antibodies. Vaccine development requires production, in quantities suitable for clinical studies, of a recombinant form that resembles functional Env. HIV-1 gp140 trimers - the uncleaved ectodomains of (gp160)3 - from a few selected viral isolates adopt a compact conformation with many antigenic properties of native Env spikes. One is currently being evaluated in a clinical trial. We report here low-resolution (20Å) cryoEM (electron cryomicroscopy) structures of this gp140 trimer, which adopts two principal conformations, one closed and the other slightly open. The former is indistinguishable at this resolution from those adopted by a stabilized, cleaved trimer (SOSIP) or by a membrane-bound Env trimer with truncated cytoplasmic tail (EnvΔCT). The latter conformation is closer to a partially open Env trimer than to the fully open conformation induced by CD4. These results show that a stable, uncleaved HIV-1 gp140 trimer has a compact structure close to that of native Env.IMPORTANCE Development of any HIV vaccine with a protein component (either prime or boost) requires production of a recombinant form to mimic the trimeric, functional HIV-1 envelope spike, in quantities suitable for clinical studies. Our understanding of the envelope structure has depended in part on a cleaved, soluble trimer, known as SOSIP.664, stabilized by several modifications including an engineered disulfide. This construct, difficult to produce in large quantities, has yet to induce better antibody responses than other envelope-based immunogens, even in animal models. The uncleaved ectodomain of the envelope protein, called gp140, has also been made as a soluble form to mimic the native Env present on the virion surface. Most HIV-1 gp140 preparations are not stable, however, and of inhomogeneous conformation. The results presented here show that gp140 preparations from suitable isolates can adopt a compact, native-like structure, supporting its use as a vaccine candidate.

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