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3 Janelia Publications

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    12/14/16 | Near-atomic-resolution cryo-EM analysis of the Salmonella T3S injectisome basal body.
    Worrall LJ, Hong C, Vuckovic M, Deng W, Bergeron JR, Majewski DD, Huang RK, Spreter T, Finlay BB, Yu Z, Strynadka NC
    Nature. 2016 Dec 14:. doi: 10.1038/nature20576

    The type III secretion (T3S) injectisome is a specialized protein nanomachine that is critical for the pathogenicity of many Gram-negative bacteria, including purveyors of plague, typhoid fever, whooping cough, sexually transmitted infections and major nosocomial infections. This syringe-shaped 3.5-MDa macromolecular assembly spans both bacterial membranes and that of the infected host cell. The internal channel formed by the injectisome allows for the direct delivery of partially unfolded virulence effectors into the host cytoplasm. The structural foundation of the injectisome is the basal body, a molecular lock-nut structure composed predominantly of three proteins that form highly oligomerized concentric rings spanning the inner and outer membranes. Here we present the structure of the prototypical Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium pathogenicity island 1 basal body, determined using single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, with the inner-membrane-ring and outer-membrane-ring oligomers defined at 4.3 Å and 3.6 Å resolution, respectively. This work presents the first, to our knowledge, high-resolution structural characterization of the major components of the basal body in the assembled state, including that of the widespread class of outer-membrane portals known as secretins.

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    11/16/16 | A near-atomic structure of the dark apoptosome provides insight into assembly and activation.
    Cheng TC, Akey IV, Yuan S, Yu Z, Ludtke SJ, Akey CW
    Structure (London, England : 1993). 2016 Nov 16;25(1):40-52. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2016.11.002

    In Drosophila, the Apaf-1-related killer (Dark) forms an apoptosome that activates procaspases. To investigate function, we have determined a near-atomic structure of Dark double rings using cryo-electron microscopy. We then built a nearly complete model of the apoptosome that includes 7- and 8-blade β-propellers. We find that the preference for dATP during Dark assembly may be governed by Ser325, which is in close proximity to the 2' carbon of the deoxyribose ring. Interestingly, β-propellers in V-shaped domains of the Dark apoptosome are more widely separated, relative to these features in the Apaf-1 apoptosome. This wider spacing may be responsible for the lack of cytochrome c binding to β-propellers in the Dark apoptosome. Our structure also highlights the roles of two loss-of-function mutations that may block Dark assembly. Finally, the improved model provides a framework to understand apical procaspase activation in the intrinsic cell death pathway.

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    10/04/16 | A near atomic structure of the active human apoptosome.
    Cheng TC, Hong C, Akey IV, Yuan S, Akey CW
    eLife. 2016 Oct 04;5:e17755. doi: 10.7554/eLife.17755

    In response to cell death signals, an active apoptosome is assembled from Apaf-1 and procaspase-9 (pc-9). Here we report a near atomic structure of the active human apoptosome determined by cryo-electron microscopy. The resulting model gives insights into cytochrome c binding, nucleotide exchange and conformational changes that drive assembly. During activation an acentric disk is formed on the central hub of the apoptosome. This disk contains four Apaf-1/pc-9 CARD pairs arranged in a shallow spiral with the fourth pc-9 CARD at lower occupancy. On average, Apaf-1 CARDs recruit 3 to 5 pc-9 molecules to the apoptosome and one catalytic domain may be parked on the hub, when an odd number of zymogens are bound. This suggests a stoichiometry of one or at most, two pc-9 dimers per active apoptosome. Thus, our structure provides a molecular framework to understand the role of the apoptosome in programmed cell death and disease.

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