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4 Janelia Publications

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    11/17/17 | Structural basis of bacterial transcription activation.
    Liu B, Hong C, Huang RK, Yu Z, Steitz TA
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2017 Nov 17;358(6365):947-951. doi: 10.1126/science.aao1923

    In bacteria, the activation of gene transcription at many promoters is simple and only involves a single activator. The cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate receptor protein (CAP), a classic activator, is able to activate transcription independently through two different mechanisms. Understanding the class I mechanism requires an intact transcription activation complex (TAC) structure at a high resolution. Here we report a high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy structure of an intact Escherichia coli class I TAC containing a CAP dimer, a σ(70)-RNA polymerase (RNAP) holoenzyme, a complete class I CAP-dependent promoter DNA, and a de novo synthesized RNA oligonucleotide. The structure shows how CAP wraps the upstream DNA and how the interactions recruit RNAP. Our study provides a structural basis for understanding how activators activate transcription through the class I recruitment mechanism.

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    08/07/17 | Near-atomic resolution cryoelectron microscopy structure of the 30-fold homooligomeric SpoIIIAG channel essential to spore formation in Bacillus subtilis.
    Zeytuni N, Hong C, Flanagan KA, Worrall LJ, Theiltges KA, Vuckovic M, Huang RK, Massoni SC, Camp AH, Yu Z, Strynadka NC
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017 Aug 07:. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1704310114

    Bacterial sporulation allows starving cells to differentiate into metabolically dormant spores that can survive extreme conditions. Following asymmetric division, the mother cell engulfs the forespore, surrounding it with two bilayer membranes. During the engulfment process, an essential channel, the so-called feeding tube apparatus, is thought to cross both membranes to create a direct conduit between the mother cell and the forespore. At least nine proteins are required to create this channel, including SpoIIQ and SpoIIIAA-AH. Here, we present the near-atomic resolution structure of one of these proteins, SpoIIIAG, determined by single-particle cryo-EM. A 3D reconstruction revealed that SpoIIIAG assembles into a large and stable 30-fold symmetric complex with a unique mushroom-like architecture. The complex is collectively composed of three distinctive circular structures: a 60-stranded vertical β-barrel that forms a large inner channel encircled by two concentric rings, one β-mediated and the other formed by repeats of a ring-building motif (RBM) common to the architecture of various dual membrane secretion systems of distinct function. Our near-atomic resolution structure clearly shows that SpoIIIAG exhibits a unique and dramatic adaptation of the RBM fold with a unique β-triangle insertion that assembles into the prominent channel, the dimensions of which suggest the potential passage of large macromolecules between the mother cell and forespore during the feeding process. Indeed, mutation of residues located at key interfaces between monomers of this RBM resulted in severe defects both in vivo and in vitro, providing additional support for this unprecedented structure.

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    08/04/17 | Best practices for managing large CryoEM facilities.
    Alewijnse B, Ashton AW, Chambers MG, Chen S, Cheng A, Ebrahim M, Eng ET, Hagen WJ, Koster AJ, Lopez CS, Lukoyanova N, Ortega J, Renault L, Reyntjens S, Rice WJ, Scapin G, Schrijver R, Siebert A, Stagg SM, et al
    Journal of Structural Biology. 2017-08-04;199(3):225-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2017.07.011

    This paper provides an overview of the discussion and presentations from the Workshop on the Management of Large CryoEM Facilities held at the New York Structural Biology Center, New York, NY on February 6–7, 2017. A major objective of the workshop was to discuss best practices for managing cryoEM facilities. The discussions were largely focused on supporting single-particle methods for cryoEM and topics included: user access, assessing projects, workflow, sample handling, microscopy, data management and processing, and user training.

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    04/06/17 | Diverse protocols for correlative super-resolution fluorescence imaging and electron microscopy of chemically fixed samples.
    Kopek BG, Paez-Segala MG, Shtengel G, Sochacki KA, Sun MG, Wang Y, Xu CS, Van Engelenburg SB, Taraska JW, Looger LL, Hess HF
    Nature Protocols. 2017 May;12(5):916-946. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2017.017

    Our groups have recently developed related approaches for sample preparation for super-resolution imaging within endogenous cellular environments using correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM). Four distinct techniques for preparing and acquiring super-resolution CLEM data sets for aldehyde-fixed specimens are provided, including Tokuyasu cryosectioning, whole-cell mount, cell unroofing and platinum replication, and resin embedding and sectioning. The choice of the best protocol for a given application depends on a number of criteria that are discussed in detail. Tokuyasu cryosectioning is relatively rapid but is limited to small, delicate specimens. Whole-cell mount has the simplest sample preparation but is restricted to surface structures. Cell unroofing and platinum replication creates high-contrast, 3D images of the cytoplasmic surface of the plasma membrane but is more challenging than whole-cell mount. Resin embedding permits serial sectioning of large samples but is limited to osmium-resistant probes, and is technically difficult. Expected results from these protocols include super-resolution localization (∼10-50 nm) of fluorescent targets within the context of electron microscopy ultrastructure, which can help address cell biological questions. These protocols can be completed in 2-7 d, are compatible with a number of super-resolution imaging protocols, and are broadly applicable across biology.

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