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  1. Two-dimensional (2D) atomic layer materials have attracted a great deal of attention due to their superior chemical, physical, and electronic properties, and have demonstrated excellent performance in various applications such as energy storage devices, catalysts, sensors, and transistors. Nevertheless, the cost-effective and large-scale production of high-quality 2D materials is critical for practical applications and progressive development in the industry. Electrochemical exfoliation is a recently introduced technique for the facile, environmentally friendly, fast, large-scale production of 2D materials. In this review, we summarize recent advances in different types of electrochemical exfoliation methods for efficiently preparing 2D materials, along with the characteristics of each method, and then introduce their applications as electrode materials for energy storage devices. Finally, the remaining challenges and prospects for developing the electrochemical exfoliation process of 2D materials for energy storage devices are discussed. 
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  2. The human estrogen receptor α (hER α ) is involved in the regulation of growth, development, and tissue homeostasis. Agonists that bind to the receptor’s ligand-binding domain (LBD) lead to recruitment of coactivators and the enhancement of gene expression. In contrast, antagonists bind to the LBD and block the binding of coactivators thus decreasing gene expressions. In this work, we carry out simulations using the AWSEM (Associative memory, Water mediated, Structure and Energy Model)-Suite force field along with the 3SPN.2C force field for DNA to predict the structure of hER α and study its dynamics when binding to DNA and coactivators. Using simulations of antagonist-bound hER α and agonist-bound hER α by themselves and also along with bound DNA and coactivators, principal component analyses and free energy landscape analyses capture the pathway of domain–domain communication for agonist-bound hER α . This communication is mediated through the hinge domains that are ordinarily intrinsically disordered. These disordered segments manipulate the hinge domains much like the strings of a marionette as they twist in different ways when antagonists or agonists are bound to the ligand-binding domain. 
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  3. Bacteriophage T7 gp4 helicase has served as a model system for understanding mechanisms of hexameric replicative helicase translocation. The mechanistic basis of how nucleoside 5′-triphosphate hydrolysis and translocation of gp4 helicase are coupled is not fully resolved. Here, we used a thermodynamically benchmarked coarse-grained protein force field, Associative memory, Water mediated, Structure and Energy Model (AWSEM), with the single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) force field 3SPN.2C to investigate gp4 translocation. We found that the adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) at the subunit interface stabilizes the subunit–subunit interaction and inhibits subunit translocation. Hydrolysis of ATP to adenosine 5′-diphosphate enables the translocation of one subunit, and new ATP binding at the new subunit interface finalizes the subunit translocation. The LoopD2 and the N-terminal primase domain provide transient protein–protein and protein–DNA interactions that facilitate the large-scale subunit movement. The simulations of gp4 helicase both validate our coarse-grained protein–ssDNA force field and elucidate the molecular basis of replicative helicase translocation. 
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  4. Abstract

    Despite the great promise of genetic code expansion technology to modulate structures and functions of proteins, external addition of ncAAs is required in most cases and it often limits the utility of genetic code expansion technology, especially to noncanonical amino acids (ncAAs) with poor membrane internalization. Here, we report the creation of autonomous cells, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic, with the ability to biosynthesize and genetically encode sulfotyrosine (sTyr), an important protein post-translational modification with low membrane permeability. These engineered cells can produce site-specifically sulfated proteins at a higher yield than cells fed exogenously with the highest level of sTyr reported in the literature. We use these autonomous cells to prepare highly potent thrombin inhibitors with site-specific sulfation. By enhancing ncAA incorporation efficiency, this added ability of cells to biosynthesize ncAAs and genetically incorporate them into proteins greatly extends the utility of genetic code expansion methods.

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  5. Abstract

    Heme is an active center in many proteins. Here we explore computationally the role of heme in protein folding and protein structure. We model heme proteins using a hybrid model employing the AWSEM Hamiltonian, a coarse-grained forcefield for the protein chain along with AMBER, an all-atom forcefield for the heme. We carefully designed transferable force fields that model the interactions between the protein and the heme. The types of protein–ligand interactions in the hybrid model include thioester covalent bonds, coordinated covalent bonds, hydrogen bonds, and electrostatics. We explore the influence of different types of hemes (heme b and heme c) on folding and structure prediction. Including both types of heme improves the quality of protein structure predictions. The free energy landscape shows that both types of heme can act as nucleation sites for protein folding and stabilize the protein folded state. In binding the heme, coordinated covalent bonds and thioester covalent bonds for heme c drive the heme toward the native pocket. The electrostatics also facilitates the search for the binding site.

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  6. null (Ed.)
  7. Schneidman-Duhovny, Dina (Ed.)
    We present OpenAWSEM and Open3SPN2, new cross-compatible implementations of coarse-grained models for protein (AWSEM) and DNA (3SPN2) molecular dynamics simulations within the OpenMM framework. These new implementations retain the chemical accuracy and intrinsic efficiency of the original models while adding GPU acceleration and the ease of forcefield modification provided by OpenMM’s Custom Forces software framework. By utilizing GPUs, we achieve around a 30-fold speedup in protein and protein-DNA simulations over the existing LAMMPS-based implementations running on a single CPU core. We showcase the benefits of OpenMM’s Custom Forces framework by devising and implementing two new potentials that allow us to address important aspects of protein folding and structure prediction and by testing the ability of the combined OpenAWSEM and Open3SPN2 to model protein-DNA binding. The first potential is used to describe the changes in effective interactions that occur as a protein becomes partially buried in a membrane. We also introduced an interaction to describe proteins with multiple disulfide bonds. Using simple pairwise disulfide bonding terms results in unphysical clustering of cysteine residues, posing a problem when simulating the folding of proteins with many cysteines. We now can computationally reproduce Anfinsen’s early Nobel prize winning experiments by using OpenMM’s Custom Forces framework to introduce a multi-body disulfide bonding term that prevents unphysical clustering. Our protein-DNA simulations show that the binding landscape is funneled towards structures that are quite similar to those found using experiments. In summary, this paper provides a simulation tool for the molecular biophysics community that is both easy to use and sufficiently efficient to simulate large proteins and large protein-DNA systems that are central to many cellular processes. These codes should facilitate the interplay between molecular simulations and cellular studies, which have been hampered by the large mismatch between the time and length scales accessible to molecular simulations and those relevant to cell biology. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    The phase problem in X-ray crystallography arises from the fact that only the intensities, and not the phases, of the diffracting electromagnetic waves are measured directly. Molecular replacement can often estimate the relative phases of reflections starting with those derived from a template structure, which is usually a previously solved structure of a similar protein. The key factor in the success of molecular replacement is finding a good template structure. When no good solved template exists, predicted structures based partially on templates can sometimes be used to generate models for molecular replacement, thereby extending the lower bound of structural and sequence similarity required for successful structure determination. Here, the effectiveness is examined of structures predicted by a state-of-the-art prediction algorithm, the Associative memory, Water-mediated, Structure and Energy Model Suite ( AWSEM-Suite ), which has been shown to perform well in predicting protein structures in CASP13 when there is no significant sequence similarity to a solved protein or only very low sequence similarity to known templates. The performance of AWSEM-Suite structures in molecular replacement is discussed and the results show that AWSEM-Suite performs well in providing useful phase information, often performing better than I-TASSER-MR and the previous algorithm AWSEM-Template . 
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