Contractile injection systems (CISs) are cell-puncturing nanodevices that share ancestry with contractile tail bacteriophages. Photorhabdus virulence cassette (PVC) represents one group of extracellular CISs that are present in both bacteria and archaea. Here, we report the cryo-EM structure of an intact PVC from P. asymbiotica. This over 10-MDa device resembles a simplified T4 phage tail, containing a hexagonal baseplate complex with six fibers and a capped 117-nanometer sheath-tube trunk. One distinct feature of the PVC is the presence of three variants for both tube and sheath proteins, indicating a functional specialization of them during evolution. The terminal hexameric cap docks onto the topmost layer of the inner tube and locks the outer sheath in pre-contraction state with six stretching arms. Our results on the PVC provide a framework for understanding the general mechanism of widespread CISs and pay the way for using them as delivery tools in biological or therapeutic applications.
Pre-mRNA splicing is executed by the spliceosome. Structural characterization of the catalytically activated complex (B*) is pivotal for understanding the branching reaction. In this study, we assembled the B*complexes on two different pre-mRNAs from Saccharomyces cerevisiae and determined the cryo-EM structures of four distinct B* complexes at overall resolutions of 2.9-3.8 angstrom. The duplex between U2 small nuclear RNA (snRNA) and the branch point sequence (BPS) is discretely away from the 5'-splice site (5'SS) in the three B* complexes that are devoid of the step I splicing factors Yju2 and Cwc25. Recruitment of Yju2 into the active site brings the U2/BPS duplex into the vicinity of 5'SS, with the BPS nucleophile positioned 4 angstrom away from the catalytic metal M2. This analysis reveals the functional mechanism of Yju2 and Cwc25 in branching. These structures on different pre-mRNAs reveal substrate-specific conformations of the spliceosome in a major functional state.
Crossing over is a nearly universal feature of sexual reproduction. Here, analysis of crossover numbers on a per-chromosome and per-nucleus basis reveals a fundamental, evolutionarily conserved feature of meiosis: within individual nuclei, crossover frequencies covary across different chromosomes. This effect results from per-nucleus covariation of chromosome axis lengths. Crossovers can promote evolutionary adaptation. However, the benefit of creating favorable new allelic combinations must outweigh the cost of disrupting existing favorable combinations. Covariation concomitantly increases the frequencies of gametes with especially high, or especially low, numbers of crossovers, and thus might concomitantly enhance the benefits of crossing over while reducing its costs. A four-locus population genetic model suggests that such an effect can pertain in situations where the environment fluctuates: hyper-crossover gametes are advantageous when the environment changes while hypo-crossover gametes are advantageous in periods of environmental stasis. These findings reveal a new feature of the basic meiotic program and suggest a possible adaptive advantage.
Mammals cannot see light over 700 nm in wavelength. This limitation is due to the physical thermodynamic properties of the photon-detecting opsins. However, the detection of naturally invisible nearinfrared (NIR) light is a desirable ability. To break this limitation, we developed ocular injectable photoreceptor-binding upconversion nanoparticles (pbUCNPs). These nanoparticles anchored on retinal photoreceptors as miniature NIR light transducers to create NIR light image vision with negligible side effects. Based on single-photoreceptor recordings, electroretinograms, cortical recordings, and visual behavioral tests, we demonstrated that mice with these nanoantennae could not only perceive NIR light, but also see NIR light patterns. Excitingly, the injected mice were also able to differentiate sophisticated NIR shape patterns. Moreover, the NIR light pattern vision was ambient-daylight compatible and existed in parallel with native daylight vision. This new method will provide unmatched opportunities for a wide variety of emerging bio-integrated nanodevice designs and applications.
Here, we present Perturb-ATAC, a method that combines multiplexed CRISPR interference or knockout with genome-wide chromatin accessibility profiling in single cells based on the simultaneous detection of CRISPR guide RNAs and open chromatin sites by assay of transposase-accessible chromatin with sequencing (ATAC-seq). We applied Perturb-ATAC to transcription factors (TFs), chromatin-modifying factors, and noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) in 4,300 single cells, encompassing more than 63 genotype phenotype relationships. Perturb-ATAC in human B lymphocytes uncovered regulators of chromatin accessibility, TF occupancy, and nucleosome positioning and identified a hierarchy of TFs that govern B cell state, variation, and disease-associated cis-regulatory elements. Perturb-ATAC in primary human epidermal cells revealed three sequential modules of cis-elements that specify keratinocyte fate. Combinatorial deletion of all pairs of these TFs uncovered their epistatic relationships and highlighted genomic co-localization as a basis for synergistic interactions. Thus, Perturb-ATAC is a powerful strategy to dissect gene regulatory networks in development and disease.
Csm, a type III-A CRISPR-Cas interference complex, is a CRISPR RNA (crRNA)-guided RNase that also possesses target RNA-dependent DNase and cyclic oligoadenylate (cOA) synthetase activities. However, the structural features allowing target RNA binding-dependent activation of DNA cleavage and cOA generation remain unknown. Here, we report the structure of Csm in complex with crRNA together with structures of cognate or non-cognate target RNA bound Csm complexes. We show that depending on complementarity with the 5' tag of crRNA, the 3' anti-tag region of target RNA binds at two distinct sites of the Csm complex. Importantly, the interaction between the non-complementary anti-tag region of cognate target RNA and Csm1 induces a conformational change at the Csm1 subunit that allosterically activates DNA cleavage and cOA generation. Together, our structural studies provide crucial insights into the mechanistic processes required for crRNA-meditated sequence specific RNA cleavage, RNA target-dependent non-specific DNA cleavage, and cOA generation.
Abasic sites are one of the most common DNA lesions. All known abasic site repair mechanisms operate only when the damage is in double-stranded DNA. Here, we report the discovery of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) binding, ESC-specific (HMCES) as a sensor of abasic sites in single-stranded DNA. HMCES acts at replication forks, binds PCNA and single-stranded DNA, and generates a DNA-protein crosslink to shield abasic sites from error-prone processing. This unusual HMCES DNA-protein crosslink intermediate is resolved by proteasome-mediated degradation. Acting as a suicide enzyme, HMCES prevents translesion DNA synthesis and the action of endonucleases that would otherwise generate mutations and double-strand breaks. HMCES is evolutionarily conserved in all domains of life, and its biochemical properties are shared with its E. coli ortholog. Thus, HMCES is an ancient DNA lesion recognition protein that preserves genome integrity by promoting error-free repair of abasic sites in single-stranded DNA.
Despite intensive efforts to discover highly effective treatments to eradicate tuberculosis (TB), it remains as a major threat to global human health. For this reason, new TB drugs directed toward new targets are highly coveted. MmpLs (Mycobacterial membrane proteins Large), which play crucial roles in transporting lipids, polymers and immunomodulators and which also extrude therapeutic drugs, are among the most important therapeutic drug targets to emerge in recent times. Here, crystal structures of mycobacterial MmpL3 alone and in complex with four TB drug candidates, including SQ109 (in Phase 2b-3 clinical trials), are reported. MmpL3 consists of a periplasmic pore domain and a twelve-helix transmembrane domain. Two Asp-Tyr pairs centrally located in this domain appear to be key facilitators of proton-translocation. SQ109, AU1235, ICA38, and rimonabant bind inside the transmembrane region and disrupt these Asp-Tyr pairs. This structural data will greatly advance the development of MmpL3 inhibitors as new TB drugs.
Programmed -1 ribosomal frameshifting (-1PRF) is a widely used translation recoding mechanism. HIV-1 expresses Gag-Pol protein from the Gag-coding mRNA through -1PRF, and the ratio of Gag to Gag-Pol is strictly maintained for efficient viral replication. Here, we report that the interferon-stimulated gene product C19orf66 (herein named Shiftless) is a host factor that inhibits the -1PRF of HIV-1. Shiftless (SFL) also inhibited the -1PRF of a variety of mRNAs from both viruses and cellular genes. SFL interacted with the -1PRF signal of target mRNA and translating ribosomes and caused premature translation termination at the frameshifting site. Downregulation of translation release factor eRF3 or eRF1 reduced SFL-mediated premature translation termination. We propose that SFL binding to target mRNA and the translating ribosome interferes with the frameshifting process. These findings identify SFL as a broad-spectrum inhibitor of -1PRF and help to further elucidate the mechanisms of -1PRF.
The cannabinoid receptor CB2 is predominately expressed in the immune system, and selective modulation of CB2 without the psychoactivity of CB1 has therapeutic potential in inflammatory, fibrotic, and neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we report the crystal structure of human CB2 in complex with a rationally designed antagonist, AM10257, at 2.8 angstrom resolution. The CB2-AM10257 structure reveals a distinctly different binding pose compared with CB1. However, the extracellular portion of the antagonist-bound CB2 shares a high degree of conformational similarity with the agonist-bound CB1, which led to the discovery of AM10257's unexpected opposing functional profile of CB2 antagonism versus CB1 agonism. Further structural analysis using mutagenesis studies and molecular docking revealed the molecular basis of their function and selectivity for CB2 and CB1. Additional analyses of our designed antagonist and agonist pairs provide important insight into the activation mechanism of CB2. The present findings should facilitate rational drug design toward precise modulation of the endocannabinoid system.
Immune checkpoint therapy (ICT) shows encouraging results in a subset of patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) but still elicits a sub-optimal response among those with bone metastases. Analysis of patients' bone marrow samples revealed increased T(h)17 instead of T(h)1 subsets after ICT. To further evaluate the different tumor microenvironments, we injected mice with prostate tumor cells either subcutaneously or intraosseously. ICT in the subcutaneous CRPC model significantly increases intra-tumoral T(h)1 subsets and improves survival. However, ICT fails to elicit an anti-tumor response in the bone CRPC model despite an increase in the intra-tumoral CD4 T cells, which are polarized to T(h)17 rather than T(h)1 lineage. Mechanistically, tumors in the bone promote osteoclast-mediated bone resorption that releases TGF-8, which restrains T(h)1 lineage development. Blocking TGF-beta along with ICT increases T(h)1 subsets and promotes clonal expansion of CD8 T cells and subsequent regression of bone CRPC and improves survival.
Pediatric-onset colitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have significant effects on the growth of infants and children, but the etiopathogenesis underlying disease subtypes remains incompletely understood. Here, we report single-cell clustering, immune phenotyping, and risk gene analysis for children with undifferentiated colitis, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis. We demonstrate disease-specific characteristics, as well as common pathogenesis marked by impaired cyclic AMP(cAMP)-response signaling. Specifically, infiltration of PDE4B- and TNF- expressing macrophages, decreased abundance of CD39-expressing intraepithelial T cells, and platelet aggregation and release of 5-hydroxytryptamine at the colonic mucosae were common in colitis and IBD patients. Targeting these pathways by using the phosphodiesterase inhibitor dipyridamole restored immune homeostasis and improved colitis symptoms in a pilot study. In summary, comprehensive analysis of the colonic mucosae has uncovered common pathogenesis and therapeutic targets for children with colitis and IBD.
The transition to a terrestrial environment, termed terrestrialization, is generally regarded as a pivotal event in the evolution and diversification of the land plant flora that changed the surface of our planet. Through phylogenomic studies, a group of streptophyte algae, the Zygnematophyceae, have recently been recognized as the likely sister group to land plants (embryophytes). Here, we report genome sequences and analyses of two early diverging Zygnematophyceae (Spirogloea muscicola gen. nov. and Mesotaenium endlicherianum) that share the same subaerial/terrestrial habitat with the earliest-diverging embryophytes, the bryophytes. We provide evidence that genes (i.e., GRAS and PYR/PYURCAR) that increase resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses in land plants, in particular desiccation, originated or expanded in the common ancestor of Zygnematophyceae and embryophytes, and were gained by horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from soil bacteria. These two Zygnematophyceae genomes represent a cornerstone for future studies to understand the underlying molecular mechanism and process of plant terrestrialization.
Activating mutations in NRAS account for 20%-30% of melanoma, but despite decades of research and in contrast to BRAF, no effective anti-NRAS therapies have been forthcoming. Here, we identify a previously uncharacterized serine/threonine kinase STK19 as a novel NRAS activator. STK19 phosphorylates NRAS to enhance its binding to its downstream effectors and promotes oncogenic NRAS-mediated melanocyte malignant transformation. A recurrent D89N substitution in STK19 whose alterations were identified in 25% of human melanomas represents a gain-of-function mutation that interacts better with NRAS to enhance melanocyte transformation. STK19(D89N) knockin leads to skin hyperpigmentation and promotes NRAS(Q61R)-driven melanomagenesis in vivo. Finally, we developed ZT-12-037-01 (1a) as a specific STK19-targeted inhibitor and showed that it effectively blocks oncogenic NRAS-driven melanocyte malignant transformation and melanoma growth in vitro and in vivo. Together, our findings provide a new and viable therapeutic strategy for melanomas harboring NRAS mutations.