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62 Publications

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    07/16/15 | Structure of the L protein of vesicular stomatitis virus from electron cryomicroscopy.
    Liang B, Li Z, Jenni S, Rahmeh AA, Morin BM, Grant T, Grigorieff N, Harrison SC, Whelan SP
    Cell. 2015 Jul 16;162(2):314-27. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.06.018

    The large (L) proteins of non-segmented, negative-strand RNA viruses, a group that includes Ebola and rabies viruses, catalyze RNA-dependent RNA polymerization with viral ribonucleoprotein as template, a non-canonical sequence of capping and methylation reactions, and polyadenylation of viral messages. We have determined by electron cryomicroscopy the structure of the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) L protein. The density map, at a resolution of 3.8 Å, has led to an atomic model for nearly all of the 2109-residue polypeptide chain, which comprises three enzymatic domains (RNA-dependent RNA polymerase [RdRp], polyribonucleotidyl transferase [PRNTase], and methyltransferase) and two structural domains. The RdRp resembles the corresponding enzymatic regions of dsRNA virus polymerases and influenza virus polymerase. A loop from the PRNTase (capping) domain projects into the catalytic site of the RdRp, where it appears to have the role of a priming loop and to couple product elongation to large-scale conformational changes in L.

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    05/29/15 | Measuring the optimal exposure for single particle cryo-EM using a 2.6 Å reconstruction of rotavirus VP6.
    Grant T, Grigorieff N
    eLife. 2015 May 29;4:10.7554. doi: 10.7554/eLife.06980

    Biological specimens suffer radiation damage when imaged in an electron microscope, ultimately limiting the attainable resolution. At a given resolution, an optimal exposure can be defined that maximizes the signal-to-noise ratio in the image. Using a 2.6 Å resolution single particle cryo-EM reconstruction of rotavirus VP6, determined from movies recorded with a total exposure of 100 electrons/Å(2), we obtained accurate measurements of optimal exposure values over a wide range of resolutions. At low and intermediate resolutions our measured values are considerably higher than obtained previously for crystalline specimens, indicating that both images and movies should be collected with higher exposures than are generally used. We demonstrate a method of using our optimal exposure values to filter movie frames, yielding images with improved contrast that lead to higher resolution reconstructions. This 'high-exposure' technique should benefit cryo-EM work on all types of samples, especially those of relatively low molecular mass.

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    04/23/15 | A primer to single-particle cryo-electron microscopy
    Cheng Y, Grigorieff N, Penczek PA, Walz T
    Cell . 2015 Apr 23;161(3):438-49. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.03.050

    Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) of single-particle specimens is used to determine the structure of proteins and macromolecular complexes without the need for crystals. Recent advances in detector technology and software algorithms now allow images of unprecedented quality to be recorded and structures to be determined at near-atomic resolution. However, compared with X-ray crystallography, cryo-EM is a young technique with distinct challenges. This primer explains the different steps and considerations involved in structure determination by single-particle cryo-EM to provide an overview for scientists wishing to understand more about this technique and the interpretation of data obtained with it, as well as a starting guide for new practitioners.

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    06/24/14 | Taura syndrome virus IRES initiates translation by binding its tRNA-mRNA-like structural element in the ribosomal decoding center.
    Koh CS, Brilot AF, Grigorieff N, Korostelev AA
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jun 24;111(25):9139-44. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1406335111

    In cap-dependent translation initiation, the open reading frame (ORF) of mRNA is established by the placement of the AUG start codon and initiator tRNA in the ribosomal peptidyl (P) site. Internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) promote translation of mRNAs in a cap-independent manner. We report two structures of the ribosome-bound Taura syndrome virus (TSV) IRES belonging to the family of Dicistroviridae intergenic IRESs. Intersubunit rotational states differ in these structures, suggesting that ribosome dynamics play a role in IRES translocation. Pseudoknot I of the IRES occupies the ribosomal decoding center at the aminoacyl (A) site in a manner resembling that of the tRNA anticodon-mRNA codon. The structures reveal that the TSV IRES initiates translation by a previously unseen mechanism, which is conceptually distinct from initiator tRNA-dependent mechanisms. Specifically, the ORF of the IRES-driven mRNA is established by the placement of the preceding tRNA-mRNA-like structure in the A site, whereas the 40S P site remains unoccupied during this initial step.

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    06/05/14 | Molecular basis for age-dependent microtubule acetylation by tubulin acetyltransferase.
    Szyk A, Deaconescu AM, Spector J, Goodman B, Valenstein ML, Ziolkowska NE, Kormendi V, Grigorieff N, Roll-Mecak A
    Cell. 2014 Jun 5;157(6):1405-15. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.03.061

    Acetylation of α-tubulin Lys40 by tubulin acetyltransferase (TAT) is the only known posttranslational modification in the microtubule lumen. It marks stable microtubules and is required for polarity establishment and directional migration. Here, we elucidate the mechanistic underpinnings for TAT activity and its preference for microtubules with slow turnover. 1.35 Å TAT cocrystal structures with bisubstrate analogs constrain TAT action to the microtubule lumen and reveal Lys40 engaged in a suboptimal active site. Assays with diverse tubulin polymers show that TAT is stimulated by microtubule interprotofilament contacts. Unexpectedly, despite the confined intraluminal location of Lys40, TAT efficiently scans the microtubule bidirectionally and acetylates stochastically without preference for ends. First-principles modeling and single-molecule measurements demonstrate that TAT catalytic activity, not constrained luminal diffusion, is rate limiting for acetylation. Thus, because of its preference for microtubules over free tubulin and its modest catalytic rate, TAT can function as a slow clock for microtubule lifetimes.

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    03/20/14 | Frealix: Model-based refinement of helical filament structures from electron micrographs.
    Rohou A, Grigorieff N
    Journal of Structural Biology. 2014 Mar 20;186(2):234-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2014.03.012

    The structures of many helical protein filaments can be derived from electron micrographs of their suspensions in thin films of vitrified aqueous solutions. The most successful and generally-applicable approach treats short segments of these filaments as independent "single particles", yielding near-atomic resolution for rigid and well-ordered filaments. The single-particle approach can also accommodate filament deformations, yielding sub-nanometer resolution for more flexible filaments. However, in the case of thin and flexible filaments, such as some amyloid-β (Aβ) fibrils, the single-particle approach may fail because helical segments can be curved or otherwise distorted and their alignment can be inaccurate due to low contrast in the micrographs. We developed new software called Frealix that allows the use of arbitrarily short filament segments during alignment to approximate even high curvatures. All segments in a filament are aligned simultaneously with constraints that ensure that they connect to each other in space to form a continuous helical structure. In this paper, we describe the algorithm and benchmark it against datasets of Aβ(1-40) fibrils and tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), both analyzed in earlier work. In the case of TMV, our algorithm achieves similar results to single-particle analysis. In the case of Aβ(1-40) fibrils, we match the previously-obtained resolution but we are also able to obtain reliable alignments and \~{}8-Å reconstructions from curved filaments. Our algorithm also offers a detailed characterization of filament deformations in three dimensions and enables a critical evaluation of the worm-like chain model for biological filaments.

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    12/01/13 | Quantitative characterization of electron detectors for transmission electron microscopy.
    Ruskin RS, Yu Z, Grigorieff N
    Journal of Structural Biology. 2013 Dec;184(3):385-93. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2013.10.016

    A new generation of direct electron detectors for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) promises significant improvement over previous detectors in terms of their modulation transfer function (MTF) and detective quantum efficiency (DQE). However, the performance of these new detectors needs to be carefully monitored in order to optimize imaging conditions and check for degradation over time. We have developed an easy-to-use software tool, FindDQE, to measure MTF and DQE of electron detectors using images of a microscope’s built-in beam stop. Using this software, we have determined the DQE curves of four direct electron detectors currently available: the Gatan K2 Summit, the FEI Falcon I and II, and the Direct Electron DE-12, under a variety of total dose and dose rate conditions. We have additionally measured the curves for the Gatan US4000 and TVIPS TemCam-F416 scintillator-based cameras. We compare the results from our new method with published curves.

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    09/01/13 | Likelihood-based classification of cryo-EM images using FREALIGN.
    Lyumkis D, Brilot AF, Theobald DL, Grigorieff N
    Journal of Structural Biology. 2013 Sep;183(3):377-88. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2013.07.005

    We describe an implementation of maximum likelihood classification for single particle electron cryo-microscopy that is based on the FREALIGN software. Particle alignment parameters are determined by maximizing a joint likelihood that can include hierarchical priors, while classification is performed by expectation maximization of a marginal likelihood. We test the FREALIGN implementation using a simulated dataset containing computer-generated projection images of three different 70S ribosome structures, as well as a publicly available dataset of 70S ribosomes. The results show that the mixed strategy of the new FREALIGN algorithm yields performance on par with other maximum likelihood implementations, while remaining computationally efficient.

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    02/19/13 | Direct detection pays off for electron cryo-microscopy.
    Grigorieff N
    eLife. 2013 Feb 19;2:e00573. doi: 10.7554/eLife.00573

    Improved electron detectors and image-processing techniques will allow the structures of macromolecules to be determined from tens of thousands of single-particle cryo-EM images, rather than the hundreds of thousands needed previously.

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    01/09/13 | Location of the dsRNA-dependent polymerase, VP1, in rotavirus particles.
    Estrozi LF, Settembre EC, Goret G, McClain B, Zhang X, Chen JZ, Grigorieff N, Harrison SC
    Journal of Molecular Biology. 2013 Jan 9;425(1):124-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2012.10.011

    Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses transcribe and replicate RNA within an assembled, inner capsid particle; only plus-sense mRNA emerges into the intracellular milieu. During infectious entry of a rotavirus particle, the outer layer of its three-layer structure dissociates, delivering the inner double-layered particle (DLP) into the cytosol. DLP structures determined by X-ray crystallography and electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM) show that the RNA coils uniformly into the particle interior, avoiding a "fivefold hub" of more structured density projecting inward from the VP2 shell of the DLP along each of the twelve 5-fold axes. Analysis of the X-ray crystallographic electron density map suggested that principal contributors to the hub are the N-terminal arms of VP2, but reexamination of the cryoEM map has shown that many features come from a molecule of VP1, randomly occupying five equivalent and partly overlapping positions. We confirm here that the electron density in the X-ray map leads to the same conclusion, and we describe the functional implications of the orientation and position of the polymerase. The exit channel for the nascent transcript directs the nascent transcript toward an opening along the 5-fold axis. The template strand enters from within the particle, and the dsRNA product of the initial replication step exits in a direction tangential to the inner surface of the VP2 shell, allowing it to coil optimally within the DLP. The polymerases of reoviruses appear to have similar positions and functional orientations.

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