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14 Janelia Publications

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    08/01/19 | Comparing 3D ultrastructure of presynaptic and postsynaptic mitochondria.
    Delgado T, Petralia RS, Freeman DW, Sedlacek M, Wang Y, Brenowitz SD, Sheu S, Gu JW, Kapogiannis D, Mattson MP, Yao PJ
    Biology Open. 2019 Aug 01;8(8):. doi: 10.1242/bio.044834

    Serial-section electron microscopy such as FIB-SEM (focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy) has become an important tool for neuroscientists to trace the trajectories and global architecture of neural circuits in the brain, as well as to visualize the 3D ultrastructure of cellular organelles in neurons. In this study, we examined 3D features of mitochondria in electron microscope images generated from serial sections of four regions of mouse brains: nucleus accumbens (NA), hippocampal CA1, somatosensory cortex and dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN). We compared mitochondria in the presynaptic terminals to those in the postsynaptic/dendritic compartments, and we focused on the shape and size of mitochondria. A common feature of mitochondria among the four brain regions is that presynaptic mitochondria generally are small and short, and most of them do not extend beyond presynaptic terminals. In contrast, the majority of postsynaptic/dendritic mitochondria are large and many of them spread through significant portions of the dendrites. Comparing among the brain areas, the cerebral cortex and DCN have even larger postsynaptic/dendritic mitochondria than the NA and CA1. Our analysis reveals that mitochondria in neurons are differentially sized and arranged according to their subcellular locations, suggesting a spatial organizing principle of mitochondria at the synapse.

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    Looger Lab
    08/01/19 | Inaccurate secondary structure predictions often indicate protein fold switching.
    Mishra S, Looger LL, Porter LL
    Protein Science. 2019 Aug;28(9):1487-93. doi: 10.1002/pro.3664

    Although most proteins conform to the classical one-structure/one-function paradigm, an increasing number of proteins with dual structures and functions have been discovered. In response to cellular stimuli, such proteins undergo structural changes sufficiently dramatic to remodel even their secondary structures and domain organization. This "fold-switching" capability fosters protein multi-functionality, enabling cells to establish tight control over various biochemical processes. Accurate predictions of fold-switching proteins could both suggest underlying mechanisms for uncharacterized biological processes and reveal potential drug targets. Recently, we developed a prediction method for fold-switching proteins using structure-based thermodynamic calculations and discrepancies between predicted and experimentally determined protein secondary structure. Here we seek to leverage the negative information found in these secondary structure prediction discrepancies. To do this, we quantified secondary structure prediction accuracies of 192 known fold-switching regions (FSRs) within solved protein structures found in the Protein Data Bank (PDB). We find that the secondary structure prediction accuracies for these FSRs vary widely. Inaccurate secondary structure predictions are strongly associated with fold-switching proteins compared to equally long segments of non-fold-switching proteins selected at random. These inaccurate predictions are enriched in helix-to-strand and strand-to-coil discrepancies. Finally, we find that most proteins with inaccurate secondary structure predictions are underrepresented in the PDB compared with their alternatively folded cognates, suggesting that unequal representation of fold-switching conformers within the PDB could be an important cause of inaccurate secondary structure predictions. These results demonstrate that inconsistent secondary structure predictions can serve as a useful preliminary marker of fold switching. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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    Looger Lab
    08/01/19 | Quantitative in vivo imaging of neuronal glucose concentrations with a genetically encoded fluorescence lifetime sensor.
    Díaz-García CM, Lahmann C, Martínez-François JR, Li B, Koveal D, Nathwani N, Rahman M, Keller JP, Marvin JS, Looger LL, Yellen G
    Journal of Neuroscience Research. 2019 Aug 01;97(8):946-60. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24433

    Glucose is an essential source of energy for the brain. Recently, the development of genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors has allowed real time visualization of glucose dynamics from individual neurons and astrocytes. A major difficulty for this approach, even for ratiometric sensors, is the lack of a practical method to convert such measurements into actual concentrations in ex vivo brain tissue or in vivo. Fluorescence lifetime imaging provides a strategy to overcome this. In a previous study, we reported the lifetime glucose sensor iGlucoSnFR-TS (then called SweetieTS) for monitoring changes in neuronal glucose levels in response to stimulation. This genetically encoded sensor was generated by combining the Thermus thermophilus glucose-binding protein with a circularly permuted variant of the monomeric fluorescent protein T-Sapphire. Here, we provide more details on iGlucoSnFR-TS design and characterization, as well as pH and temperature sensitivities. For accurate estimation of glucose concentrations, the sensor must be calibrated at the same temperature as the experiments. We find that when the extracellular glucose concentration is in the range 2-10 mM, the intracellular glucose concentration in hippocampal neurons from acute brain slices is ~20% of the nominal external glucose concentration (~0.4-2 mM). We also measured the cytosolic neuronal glucose concentration in vivo, finding a range of ~0.7-2.5 mM in cortical neurons from awake mice.

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    08/01/19 | T3S injectisome needle complex structures in four distinct states reveal the basis of membrane coupling and assembly.
    Hu J, Worrall LJ, Vuckovic M, Hong C, Deng W, Atkinson CE, Brett Finlay B, Yu Z, Strynadka NC
    Nature Microbiology. 2019 Aug;4(11):2010-19. doi: 10.1038/s41564-019-0545-z

    The bacterial injectisome is a syringe-shaped macromolecular nanomachine utilized by many pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria, including the causative agents of plague, typhoid fever, whooping cough, sexually transmitted infections and major nosocomial infections. Bacterial proteins destined for self-assembly and host-cell targeting are translocated by the injectisome in a process known as type III secretion (T3S). The core structure is the ~4 MDa needle complex (NC), built on a foundation of three highly oligomerized ring-forming proteins that create a hollow scaffold spanning the bacterial inner membrane (IM) (24-mer ring-forming proteins PrgH and PrgK in the Salmonella entericaserovar Typhimurium Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI-1) type III secretion system (T3SS)) and outer membrane (OM) (15-mer InvG, a member of the broadly conserved secretin pore family). An internalized helical needle projects from the NC and bacterium, ultimately forming a continuous passage to the host, for delivery of virulence effectors. Here, we have captured snapshots of the entire prototypical SPI-1 NC in four distinct needle assembly states, including near-atomic resolution, and local reconstructions in the absence and presence of the needle. These structures reveal the precise localization and molecular interactions of the internalized SpaPQR ‘export apparatus’ complex, which is intimately encapsulated and stabilized within the IM rings in the manner of a nanodisc, and to which the PrgJ rod directly binds and functions as an initiator and anchor of needle polymerization. We also describe the molecular details of the extensive and continuous coupling interface between the OM secretin and IM rings, which is remarkably facilitated by a localized 16-mer stoichiometry in the periplasmic-most coupling domain of the otherwise 15-mer InvG oligomer.

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