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91 Publications

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    Gonen Lab
    03/19/19 | MicroED data collection with SerialEM.
    de la Cruz MJ, Martynowycz MW, Hattne J, Gonen T
    Ultramicroscopy. 2019 Mar 19;201:77-80. doi: 10.1016/j.ultramic.2019.03.009

    The cryoEM method Microcrystal Electron Diffraction (MicroED) involves transmission electron microscope (TEM) and electron detector working in synchrony to collect electron diffraction data by continuous rotation. We previously reported several protein, peptide, and small molecule structures by MicroED using manual control of the microscope and detector to collect data. Here we present a procedure to automate this process using a script developed for the popular open-source software package SerialEM. With this approach, SerialEM coordinates stage rotation, microscope operation, and camera functions for automated continuous-rotation MicroED data collection. Depending on crystal and substrate geometry, more than 300 datasets can be collected overnight in this way, facilitating high-throughput MicroED data collection for large-scale data analyses.

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    Gonen Lab
    01/18/19 | Structural basis for substrate binding and specificity of a sodium-alanine symporter AgcS.
    Ma J, Lei H, Reyes FE, Sanchez-Martinez S, Sarhan MF, Hattne J, Gonen T
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019 Jan 18;116(6):2086-90. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1806206116

    The amino acid, polyamine, and organocation (APC) superfamily is the second largest superfamily of membrane proteins forming secondary transporters that move a range of organic molecules across the cell membrane. Each transporter in the APC superfamily is specific for a unique subset of substrates, even if they possess a similar structural fold. The mechanism of substrate selectivity remains, by and large, elusive. Here, we report two crystal structures of an APC member from , the alanine or glycine:cation symporter (AgcS), with l- or d-alanine bound. Structural analysis combined with site-directed mutagenesis and functional studies inform on substrate binding, specificity, and modulation of the AgcS family and reveal key structural features that allow this transporter to accommodate glycine and alanine while excluding all other amino acids. Mutation of key residues in the substrate binding site expand the selectivity to include valine and leucine. These studies provide initial insights into substrate selectivity in AgcS symporters.

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    Gonen Lab
    12/26/18 | MicroED structures of HIV-1 Gag CTD-SP1 reveal binding interactions with the maturation inhibitor bevirimat.
    Purdy MD, Shi D, Chrustowicz J, Hattne J, Gonen T, Yeager M
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2018 Dec 26;115(52):13258-63. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1806806115

    HIV-1 protease (PR) cleavage of the Gag polyprotein triggers the assembly of mature, infectious particles. Final cleavage of Gag occurs at the junction helix between the capsid protein CA and the SP1 spacer peptide. Here we used MicroED to delineate the binding interactions of the maturation inhibitor bevirimat (BVM) using very thin frozen-hydrated, 3D microcrystals of a CTD-SP1 Gag construct with and without bound BVM. The 2.9-Å MicroED structure revealed that a single BVM molecule stabilizes the six-helix bundle via both electrostatic interactions with the dimethylsuccinyl moiety and hydrophobic interactions with the pentacyclic triterpenoid ring. These results provide insight into the mechanism of action of BVM and related maturation inhibitors that will inform further drug discovery efforts. This study also demonstrates the capabilities of MicroED for structure-based drug design.

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    Gonen Lab
    06/01/18 | Crystal structure of arginine-bound lysosomal transporter SLC38A9 in the cytosol-open state.
    Lei H, Ma J, Sanchez Martinez S, Gonen T
    Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2018 Jun;25(6):522-527. doi: 10.1038/s41594-018-0072-2

    Recent advances in understanding intracellular amino acid transport and mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling shed light on solute carrier 38, family A member 9 (SLC38A9), a lysosomal transporter responsible for the binding and translocation of several essential amino acids. Here we present the first crystal structure of SLC38A9 from Danio rerio in complex with arginine. As captured in the cytosol-open state, the bound arginine was locked in a transitional state stabilized by transmembrane helix 1 (TM1) of drSLC38A9, which was anchored at the groove between TM5 and TM7. These anchoring interactions were mediated by the highly conserved WNTMM motif in TM1, and mutations in this motif abolished arginine transport by drSLC38A9. The underlying mechanism of substrate binding is critical for sensitizing the mTORC1 signaling pathway to amino acids and for maintenance of lysosomal amino acid homeostasis. This study offers a first glimpse into a prototypical model for SLC38 transporters.

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    Gonen Lab
    05/03/18 | MicroED structure of the NaK ion channel reveals a Na partition process into the selectivity filter.
    Liu S, Gonen T
    Communications Biology. 2018;1:38. doi: 10.1038/s42003-018-0040-8

    Sodium (Na) is a ubiquitous and important inorganic salt mediating many critical biological processes such as neuronal excitation, signaling, and facilitation of various transporters. The hydration states of Na are proposed to play critical roles in determining the conductance and the selectivity of Na channels, yet they are rarely captured by conventional structural biology means. Here we use the emerging cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) method micro-electron diffraction (MicroED) to study the structure of a prototypical tetrameric Na-conducting channel, NaK, to 2.5 Å resolution from nano-crystals. Two new conformations at the external site of NaK are identified, allowing us to visualize a partially hydrated Na ion at the entrance of the channel pore. A process of dilation coupled with Na movement is identified leading to valuable insights into the mechanism of ion conduction and gating. This study lays the ground work for future studies using MicroED in membrane protein biophysics.

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    Gonen Lab
    04/18/18 | Analysis of global and site-specific radiation damage in cryo-EM.
    Hattne J, Shi D, Glynn C, Zee C, Gallagher-Jones M, Martynowycz MW, Rodriguez JA, Gonen T
    Structure (London, England : 1993). 2018 Apr 18;26(5):759-66. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2018.03.021

    Micro-crystal electron diffraction (MicroED) combines the efficiency of electron scattering with diffraction to allow structure determination from nano-sized crystalline samples in cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM). It has been used to solve structures of a diverse set of biomolecules and materials, in some cases to sub-atomic resolution. However, little is known about the damaging effects of the electron beam on samples during such measurements. We assess global and site-specific damage from electron radiation on nanocrystals of proteinase K and of a prion hepta-peptide and find that the dynamics of electron-induced damage follow well-established trends observed in X-ray crystallography. Metal ions are perturbed, disulfide bonds are broken, and acidic side chains are decarboxylated while the diffracted intensities decay exponentially with increasing exposure. A better understanding of radiation damage in MicroED improves our assessment and processing of all types of cryo-EM data.

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    03/14/18 | Integrative structure and functional anatomy of a nuclear pore complex.
    Kim SJ, Fernandez-Martinez J, Nudelman I, Shi Y, Zhang W, Raveh B, Herricks T, Slaughter BD, Hogan JA, Upla P, Chemmama IE, Pellarin R, Echeverria I, Shivaraju M, Chaudhury AS, Wang J, Williams R, Unruh JR, Greenberg CH, Jacobs EY, Yu Z, de la Cruz MJ, Mironska R, Stokes DL, Aitchison JD, Jarrold MF, Gerton JL, Ludtke SJ, Akey CW, Chait BT, Sali A, Rout MP
    Nature. 2018 Mar 14;555(7697):475-82. doi: 10.1038/nature26003

    Nuclear pore complexes play central roles as gatekeepers of RNA and protein transport between the cytoplasm and nucleoplasm. However, their large size and dynamic nature have impeded a full structural and functional elucidation. Here we determined the structure of the entire 552-protein nuclear pore complex of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae at sub-nanometre precision by satisfying a wide range of data relating to the molecular arrangement of its constituents. The nuclear pore complex incorporates sturdy diagonal columns and connector cables attached to these columns, imbuing the structure with strength and flexibility. These cables also tie together all other elements of the nuclear pore complex, including membrane-interacting regions, outer rings and RNA-processing platforms. Inwardly directed anchors create a high density of transport factor-docking Phe-Gly repeats in the central channel, organized into distinct functional units. This integrative structure enables us to rationalize the architecture, transport mechanism and evolutionary origins of the nuclear pore complex.

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    Gonen Lab
    03/12/18 | Atomic-level evidence for packing and positional amyloid polymorphism by segment from TDP-43 RRM2.
    Guenther EL, Ge P, Trinh H, Sawaya MR, Cascio D, Boyer DR, Gonen T, Zhou ZH, Eisenberg DS
    Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2018 Mar 12:. doi: 10.1038/s41594-018-0045-5

    Proteins in the fibrous amyloid state are a major hallmark of neurodegenerative disease. Understanding the multiple conformations, or polymorphs, of amyloid proteins at the molecular level is a challenge of amyloid research. Here, we detail the wide range of polymorphs formed by a segment of human TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) as a model for the polymorphic capabilities of pathological amyloid aggregation. Using X-ray diffraction, microelectron diffraction (MicroED) and single-particle cryo-EM, we show that theDLIIKGISVHIsegment from the second RNA-recognition motif (RRM2) forms an array of amyloid polymorphs. These associations include seven distinct interfaces displaying five different symmetry classes of steric zippers. Additionally, we find that this segment can adopt three different backbone conformations that contribute to its polymorphic capabilities. The polymorphic nature of this segment illustrates at the molecular level how amyloid proteins can form diverse fibril structures.

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    Gonen Lab
    03/01/18 | From electron crystallography of 2D crystals to MicroED of 3D crystals.
    Martynowycz MW, Gonen T
    Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science . 2018 Mar;34:9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.cocis.2018.01.010

    Electron crystallography is widespread in material science applications, but for biological samples its use has been restricted to a handful of examples where two-dimensional (2D) crystals or helical samples were studied either by electron diffraction and/or imaging. Electron crystallography in cryoEM, was developed in the mid-1970s and used to solve the structure of several membrane proteins and some soluble proteins. In 2013, a new method for cryoEM was unveiled and named Micro-crystal Electron Diffraction, or MicroED, which is essentially three-dimensional (3D) electron crystallography of microscopic crystals. This method uses truly 3D crystals, that are about a billion times smaller than those typically used for X-ray crystallography, for electron diffraction studies. There are several important differences and some similarities between electron crystallography of 2D crystals and MicroED. In this review, we describe the development of these techniques, their similarities and differences, and offer our opinion of future directions in both fields.

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    Gonen Lab
    02/01/18 | Structure-based inhibitors of tau aggregation.
    Seidler PM, Boyer DR, Rodriguez JA, Sawaya MR, Cascio D, Murray K, Gonen T, Eisenberg DS
    Nature Chemistry. 2018 Feb;10(2):170-176. doi: 10.1038/nchem.2889

    Aggregated tau protein is associated with over 20 neurological disorders, which include Alzheimer's disease. Previous work has shown that tau's sequence segments VQIINK and VQIVYK drive its aggregation, but inhibitors based on the structure of the VQIVYK segment only partially inhibit full-length tau aggregation and are ineffective at inhibiting seeding by full-length fibrils. Here we show that the VQIINK segment is the more powerful driver of tau aggregation. Two structures of this segment determined by the cryo-electron microscopy method micro-electron diffraction explain its dominant influence on tau aggregation. Of practical significance, the structures lead to the design of inhibitors that not only inhibit tau aggregation but also inhibit the ability of exogenous full-length tau fibrils to seed intracellular tau in HEK293 biosensor cells into amyloid. We also raise the possibility that the two VQIINK structures represent amyloid polymorphs of tau that may account for a subset of prion-like strains of tau.

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