Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University have completed a model of unprecedented near-atomic resolution of the chemical structure of the P22 virus. The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For nearly 30 years the laboratory of Dr. Wah Chiu, Distinguished Service Professor and Alvin Romansky Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Baylor and senior author of the paper, has been applying electron cryomicroscopy and computer reconstruction techniques to determine the 3-D structures of biological nanomachines, such as the P22 virus.
This virus is a bacteriophage -- a type that infects bacteria, in this case Salmonella -and has been extensively studied through genetics, biochemistry and biophysics. Nevertheless, its precise chemical structure has remained unresolved.
"In 2011, we published a structure of the P22 virus that allowed us to trace out a majority of the protein backbone with certainty, but we could not visualize the fine details, such as individual, small side chains," said co-first author Corey Hryc, graduate student in the Chiu lab.
"Since then, the technology in the microscopes has improved; we have new detectors that allow us to record better- and higher-contrast images to improve the resolution of our data. In addition, we have new processing algorithms that allow us to increase our ability to resolve the structure."
A new era of precision cryo-electron microscopy
"The novelty of this work is that we took more than 20,000 two-dimensional individual images of the P22 virus with the electron cryomicroscope and combined them using computational protocols to produce a 3-D map with unprecedented detail," Chiu said.
"By comparison, the two-dimensional images we take of the virus would be like taking thousands of photos of your head randomly, in different places, and then fit the photos where they would belong in a 3-D space using a computer," Hryc said. "In this way, we could probably create a 3-D model of your head, and, if the photos were X-ray images, we could see the insides, too."
The analysis of the high-resolution map of the P22 virus allowed the researchers to see in great detail all the building blocks of the proteins in the virus, the amino acids, including their side chains and how they interact with neighbor amino acids.
"The minute details we obtain now of biological structures with this approach give us more information about their biochemistry than before," Hryc said. "I think that's exciting."
"Thanks to this exquisite structural detail, we have determined the protein chemistry of the P22 virus," Chiu said. "I think it is important that we provide detailed annotations with the structure so other researchers can use it for their future experiments."
"Without the annotations you would think that everything in the map is essentially equivalent from a modeling standpoint, but this is not the case," Hryc said. "Some of these amino acids are much more clearly visible than others, particularly in the interactions between the different components of the virus."
"Hryc has set the standard for precision cryo-electron microscopy," Chiu said.
Other contributors to this work include co-first author Dong-Hua Chen currently at Stanford University, Pavel V. Afonine, Joanita Jakana, Zhao Wang, Cameron Haase-Pettingell, Wen Jiang, Paul D. Adams, Jonathan A. King and Michael F. Schmid.
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (P41GM103832, R01GM079429, P01GM063210 and PN2EY016525), the Robert Welch Foundation (Q1242) and The National Library of Medicine Training Program in Biomedical Informatics (Grant T15LM007093) awarded to the Keck Center of the Gulf Coast Consortia.
Graciela Gutierrez | EurekAlert!
New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond
21.11.2017 | Emory Health Sciences
The main switch
21.11.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Life Sciences