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  1. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Virus-like particles are an emerging class of nano-biotechnology with the Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) having found a wide range of applications in imaging, drug delivery, and vaccine development. TMV is typically produced in planta , and, as an RNA virus, is highly susceptible to natural mutation that may impact its properties. Over the course of 2 years, from 2018 until 2020, our laboratory followed a spontaneous point mutation in the TMV coat protein—first observed as a 30 Da difference in electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI–MS). The mutation would have been difficult to notice by electrophoretic mobility in agarose or SDS-PAGE and does not alter viral morphology as assessed by transmission electron microscopy. The mutation responsible for the 30 Da difference between the wild-type (wTMV) and mutant (mTMV) coat proteins was identified by a bottom-up proteomic approach as a change from glycine to serine at position 155 based on collision-induced dissociation data. Since residue 155 is located on the outer surface of the TMV rod, it is feasible that the mutation alters TMV surface chemistry. However, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays found no difference in binding between mTMV and wTMV. Functionalization of a nearby residue, tyrosine 139, with diazonium salt, also appears unaffected. Overall, this study highlights the necessity of standard workflows to quality-control viral stocks. We suggest that ESI–MS is a straightforward and low-cost way to identify emerging mutants in coat proteins. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Artificial native-like lipid bilayer systems constructed from phospholipids assembling into unilamellar liposomes allow the reconstitution of detergent-solubilized transmembrane proteins into supramolecular lipid-protein assemblies called proteoliposomes, which mimic cellular membranes. Stabilization of these complexes remains challenging because of their chemical composition, the hydrophobicity and structural instability of membrane proteins, and the lability of interactions between protein, detergent, and lipids within micelles and lipid bilayers. In this work we demonstrate that metastable lipid, protein-detergent, and protein-lipid supramolecular complexes can be successfully generated and immobilized within zeolitic-imidazole framework (ZIF) to enhance their stability against chemical and physical stressors. Upon immobilization in ZIF bio-composites, blank liposomes, and model transmembrane metal transporters in detergent micelles or embedded in proteoliposomes resist elevated temperatures, exposure to chemical denaturants, aging, and mechanical stresses. Extensive morphological and functional characterization of the assemblies upon exfoliation reveal that all these complexes encapsulated within the framework maintain their native morphology, structure, and activity, which is otherwise lost rapidly without immobilization. 
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  5. Many contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging are based on gadolinium, however side effects limit their use in some patients. Organic radical contrast agents (ORCAs) are potential alternatives, but are reduced rapidly in physiological conditions and have low relaxivities as single molecule contrast agents. Herein, we use a supramolecular strategy where cucurbit[8]uril binds with nanomolar affinities to ORCAs and protects them against biological reductants to create a stable radical in vivo . We further overcame the weak contrast by conjugating this complex on the surface of a self-assembled biomacromolecule derived from the tobacco mosaic virus. 
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