Science - issue
Conformational changes within biological macromolecules control a vast array of chemical reactions in living cells. Time-resolved crystallography can reveal time-dependent structural changes that occur within protein crystals, yielding chemical insights in unparalleled detail. Serial crystallography approaches developed at x-ray free-electron lasers are now routinely used for time-resolved diffraction studies of macromolecules. These techniques are increasingly being applied at synchrotron radiation sources and to a growing diversity of macromolecules. Here, we review recent progress in the field, including visualizing ultrafast structural changes that guide the initial trajectories of light-driven reactions as well as capturing biologically important conformational changes on slower time scales, for which bacteriorhodopsin and photosystem II are presented as illustrative case studies.
Protein kinase activity must be precisely regulated, but how a cell governs hyperactive kinases remains unclear. In this study, we generated a constitutively active mitogen-activated protein kinase DYF-5 (DYF-5CA) in Caenorhabditis elegans that disrupted sensory cilia. Genetic suppressor screens identified that mutations of ADR-2, an RNA adenosine deaminase, rescued ciliary phenotypes of dyf-5CA. We found that dyf-5CA animals abnormally transcribed antisense RNAs that pair with dyf-5CA messenger RNA (mRNA) to form double-stranded RNA, recruiting ADR-2 to edit the region ectopically. RNA editing impaired dyf-5CA mRNA splicing, and the resultant intron retentions blocked DYF-5CA protein translation and activated nonsense-mediated dyf-5CA mRNA decay. The kinase RNA editing requires kinase hyperactivity. The similar RNA editing–dependent feedback regulation restricted the other ciliary kinases NEKL-4/NEK10 and DYF-18/CCRK, which suggests a widespread mechanism that underlies kinase regulation.
The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2003 and SARS-CoV-2 in 2019 highlights the need to develop universal vaccination strategies against the broader Sarbecovirus subgenus. Using chimeric spike designs, we demonstrate protection against challenge from SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351, bat CoV (Bt-CoV) RsSHC014, and a heterologous Bt-CoV WIV-1 in vulnerable aged mice. Chimeric spike messenger RNAs (mRNAs) induced high levels of broadly protective neutralizing antibodies against high-risk Sarbecoviruses. By contrast, SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination not only showed a marked reduction in neutralizing titers against heterologous Sarbecoviruses, but SARS-CoV and WIV-1 challenge in mice resulted in breakthrough infections. Chimeric spike mRNA vaccines efficiently neutralized D614G, mink cluster five, and the UK B.1.1.7 and South African B.1.351 variants of concern. Thus, multiplexed-chimeric spikes can prevent SARS-like zoonotic coronavirus infections with pandemic potential.
In eukaryotic cells, half of all proteins function as subunits within multiprotein complexes. Imbalanced synthesis of subunits leads to unassembled intermediates that must be degraded to minimize cellular toxicity. Here, we found that excess PSMC5, a subunit of the proteasome base, was targeted for degradation by the HERC1 ubiquitin ligase in mammalian cells. HERC1 identified unassembled PSMC5 by its cognate assembly chaperone PAAF1. Because PAAF1 only dissociates after assembly, HERC1 could also engage later assembly intermediates such as the PSMC4-PSMC5-PAAF1 complex. A missense mutant of HERC1 that causes neurodegeneration in mice was impaired in the recognition and ubiquitination of the PSMC5-PAAF1 complex. Thus, proteasome assembly factors can serve as adaptors for ubiquitin ligases to facilitate elimination of unassembled intermediates and maintain protein homeostasis.
Saturated heterocycles are found in numerous therapeutics and bioactive natural products and are abundant in many medicinal and agrochemical compound libraries. To access new chemical space and function, many methods for functionalization on the periphery of these structures have been developed. Comparatively fewer methods are known for restructuring their core framework. Herein, we describe a visible light–mediated ring contraction of α-acylated saturated heterocycles. This unconventional transformation is orthogonal to traditional ring contractions, challenging the paradigm for diversification of heterocycles including piperidine, morpholine, thiane, tetrahydropyran, and tetrahydroisoquinoline derivatives. The success of this Norrish type II variant rests on reactivity differences between photoreactive ketone groups in specific chemical environments. This strategy was applied to late-stage remodeling of pharmaceutical derivatives, peptides, and sugars.