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  1. Abstract

    Protein synthesis by the ribosome requires large-scale rearrangements of the ‘small’ subunit (SSU; ∼1 MDa), including inter- and intra-subunit rotational motions. However, with nearly 2000 structures of ribosomes and ribosomal subunits now publicly available, it is exceedingly difficult to design experiments based on analysis of all known rotation states. To overcome this, we developed an approach where the orientation of each SSU head and body is described in terms of three angular coordinates (rotation, tilt and tilt direction) and a single translation. By considering the entire RCSB PDB database, we describe 1208 fully-assembled ribosome complexes and 334 isolated small subunits, which span >50 species. This reveals aspects of subunit rearrangements that are universal, and others that are organism/domain-specific. For example, we show that tilt-like rearrangements of the SSU body (i.e. ‘rolling’) are pervasive in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic (cytosolic and mitochondrial) ribosomes. As another example, domain orientations associated with frameshifting in bacteria are similar to those found in eukaryotic ribosomes. Together, this study establishes a common foundation with which structural, simulation, single-molecule and biochemical efforts can more precisely interrogate the dynamics of this prototypical molecular machine.

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  2. Abstract

    The increasing interest in modeling the dynamics of ever larger proteins has revealed a fundamental problem with models that describe the molecular system as being in a global configuration state. This notion limits our ability to gather sufficient statistics of state probabilities or state-to-state transitions because for large molecular systems the number of metastable states grows exponentially with size. In this manuscript, we approach this challenge by introducing a method that combines our recent progress on independent Markov decomposition (IMD) with VAMPnets, a deep learning approach to Markov modeling. We establish a training objective that quantifies how well a given decomposition of the molecular system into independent subdomains with Markovian dynamics approximates the overall dynamics. By constructing an end-to-end learning framework, the decomposition into such subdomains and their individual Markov state models are simultaneously learned, providing a data-efficient and easily interpretable summary of the complex system dynamics. While learning the dynamical coupling between Markovian subdomains is still an open issue, the present results are a significant step towards learning Ising models of large molecular complexes from simulation data.

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  3. 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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  4. Abstract

    Elastic filaments driven out of equilibrium display complex phenomena that involve periodic changes in their shape. Here, the periodic deformation dynamics of semiflexible colloidal chains in an eccentric magnetic field are presented. This field changes both its magnitude and direction with time, leading to novel nonequilibrium chain structures. Deformation into S-, Z-, and 4-mode shapes arises via the propagation and growth of bending waves. Transitions between these morphologies are governed by an interplay among magnetic, viscous, and elastic forces. Furthermore, the periodic behavior leading to these structures is described by four distinct stages of motion that include rotation, arrest, bending, and stretching of the chain. These stages correspond to specific intervals of the eccentric field’s period. A scaling analysis that considers the relative ratio of viscous to magnetic torques via a critical frequency illustrates how to maximize the bending energy. These results provide new insights into controlling colloidal assemblies by applying complex magnetic fields.

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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. Abstract

    Base editors (BEs) hold great potential for medical applications of gene therapy. However, high precision base editing requires BEs that can discriminate between the target base and multiple bystander bases within a narrow active window (4 – 10 nucleotides). Here, to assist in the design of these optimized editors, we propose a discrete-state stochastic approach to build an analytical model that explicitly evaluates the probabilities of editing the target base and bystanders. Combined with all-atom molecular dynamic simulations, our model reproduces the experimental data of A3A-BE3 and its variants for targeting the “TC” motif and bystander editing. Analyzing this approach, we propose several general principles that can guide the design of BEs with a reduced bystander effect. These principles are then applied to design a series of point mutations at T218 position of A3G-BEs to further reduce its bystander editing. We verify experimentally that the new mutations provide different levels of stringency on reducing the bystander editing at different genomic loci, which is consistent with our theoretical model. Thus, our study provides a computational-aided platform to assist in the scientifically-based design of BEs with reduced bystander effects.

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  7. Abstract

    Multiple RNA polymerases (RNAPs) transcribing a gene have been known to exhibit collective group behavior, causing the transcription elongation rate to increase with the rate of transcription initiation. Such behavior has long been believed to be driven by a physical interaction or ‘push’ between closely spaced RNAPs. However, recent studies have posited that RNAPs separated by longer distances may cooperate by modifying the DNA segment under transcription. Here, we present a theoretical model incorporating the mechanical coupling between RNAP translocation and the DNA torsional response. Using stochastic simulations, we demonstrate DNA supercoiling-mediated long-range cooperation between co-transcribing RNAPs. We find that inhibiting transcription initiation can slow down the already recruited RNAPs, in agreement with recent experimental observations, and predict that the average transcription elongation rate varies non-monotonically with the rate of transcription initiation. We further show that while RNAPs transcribing neighboring genes oriented in tandem can cooperate, those transcribing genes in divergent or convergent orientations can act antagonistically, and that such behavior holds over a large range of intergenic separations. Our model makes testable predictions, revealing how the mechanical interplay between RNAPs and the DNA they transcribe can govern transcriptional dynamics.

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  8. Abstract

    Current efforts in the proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTAC) field mostly focus on choosing an appropriate E3 ligase for the target protein, improving the binding affinities towards the target protein and the E3 ligase, and optimizing the PROTAC linker. However, due to the large molecular weights of PROTACs, their cellular uptake remains an issue. Through comparing how different warhead chemistry, reversible noncovalent (RNC), reversible covalent (RC), and irreversible covalent (IRC) binders, affects the degradation of Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase (BTK), we serendipitously discover that cyano-acrylamide-based reversible covalent chemistry can significantly enhance the intracellular accumulation and target engagement of PROTACs and develop RC-1 as a reversible covalent BTK PROTAC with a high target occupancy as its corresponding kinase inhibitor and effectiveness as a dual functional inhibitor and degrader, a different mechanism-of-action for PROTACs. Importantly, this reversible covalent strategy is generalizable to improve other PROTACs, opening a path to enhance PROTAC efficacy.

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  9. Abstract Background Gastrointestinal (GIT) helminthiasis is a global problem that affects livestock health, especially in small ruminants. One of the major helminth parasites of sheep and goats, Teladorsagia circumcincta , infects the abomasum and causes production losses, reductions in weight gain, diarrhoea and, in some cases, death in young animals. Control strategies have relied heavily on the use of anthelmintic medication but, unfortunately, T. circumcincta has developed resistance, as have many helminths. Vaccination offers a sustainable and practical solution, but there is no commercially available vaccine to prevent Teladorsagiosis. The discovery of new strategies for controlling T. circumcincta , such as novel vaccine targets and drug candidates, would be greatly accelerated by the availability of better quality, chromosome-length, genome assembly because it would allow the identification of key genetic determinants of the pathophysiology of infection and host-parasite interaction. The available draft genome assembly of T. circumcincta (GCA_002352805.1) is highly fragmented and thus impedes large-scale investigations of population and functional genomics. Results We have constructed a high-quality reference genome, with chromosome-length scaffolds, by purging alternative haplotypes from the existing draft genome assembly and scaffolding the result using chromosome conformation, capture-based, in situ Hi-C technique. The improved (Hi-C) assembly resulted in six chromosome-length scaffolds with length ranging from 66.6 Mbp to 49.6 Mbp, 35% fewer sequences and reduction in size. Substantial improvements were also achieved in both the values for N50 (57.1 Mbp) and L50 (5 Mbp). A higher and comparable level of genome and proteome completeness was achieved for Hi-C assembly on BUSCO parameters. The Hi-C assembly had a greater synteny and number of orthologs with a closely related nematode, Haemonchus contortus. Conclusion This improved genomic resource is suitable as a foundation for the identification of potential targets for vaccine and drug development. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  10. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 4, 2024