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  1. Abstract

    As a discipline, structural biology has been transformed by the three-dimensional electron microscopy (3DEM) “Resolution Revolution” made possible by convergence of robust cryo-preservation of vitrified biological materials, sample handling systems, and measurement stages operating a liquid nitrogen temperature, improvements in electron optics that preserve phase information at the atomic level, direct electron detectors (DEDs), high-speed computing with graphics processing units, and rapid advances in data acquisition and processing software. 3DEM structure information (atomic coordinates and related metadata) are archived in the open-access Protein Data Bank (PDB), which currently holds more than 11,000 3DEM structures of proteins and nucleic acids, and their complexes with one another and small-molecule ligands (~ 6% of the archive). Underlying experimental data (3DEM density maps and related metadata) are stored in the Electron Microscopy Data Bank (EMDB), which currently holds more than 21,000 3DEM density maps. After describing the history of the PDB and the Worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB) partnership, which jointly manages both the PDB and EMDB archives, this review examines the origins of the resolution revolution and analyzes its impact on structural biology viewed through the lens of PDB holdings. Six areas of focus exemplifying the impact of 3DEM across the biosciences aremore »discussed in detail (icosahedral viruses, ribosomes, integral membrane proteins, SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins, cryogenic electron tomography, and integrative structure determination combining 3DEM with complementary biophysical measurement techniques), followed by a review of 3DEM structure validation by the wwPDB that underscores the importance of community engagement.

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  2. Abstract

    Ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) use a conserved radical-based mechanism to catalyze the conversion of ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides. Within the RNR family, class Ib RNRs are notable for being largely restricted to bacteria, including many pathogens, and for lacking an evolutionarily mobile ATP-cone domain that allosterically controls overall activity. In this study, we report the emergence of a distinct and unexpected mechanism of activity regulation in the sole RNR of the model organismBacillus subtilis. Using a hypothesis-driven structural approach that combines the strengths of small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), crystallography, and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), we describe the reversible interconversion of six unique structures, including a flexible active tetramer and two inhibited helical filaments. These structures reveal the conformational gymnastics necessary for RNR activity and the molecular basis for its control via an evolutionarily convergent form of allostery.