Using diffraction data obtained at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) and at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), researchers in Biosciences’ Molecular Biophysics & Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) division and at UC Berkeley have discovered how CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins are able to recognize their target locations with such great specificity. X-ray crystallography was used to solve the structures of Cas1 and Cas2—responsible for DNA-snippet capture and integration—as they were bound to synthesized DNA strands designed to mimic different stages of the process. The resulting structures show how the system works in its native context as part of a bacterial immune system, and also inform the development of the CRISPR-Cas system as a general-purpose molecular recording device. Jun-Jie Liu, a joint postdoc in the labs of Jennifer Doudna and Eva Nogales, and Addison Wright, a graduate student in Doudna’s lab, were co-first authors on the paper, published in the journal Science. Read more in this ALS Science Highlight.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $6.5 million to Berkeley Lab to integrate existing synchrotron structural biology resources to better serve researchers. The grant will establish a center based at the Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) called ALS-ENABLE that will guide users through the most appropriate routes for answering their specific biological questions.More »
As part of an international team, researchers with Berkeley Lab’s Center for Advanced Mathematics for Energy Research Applications (CAMERA) employed their multi-tiered iterative phasing (M-TIP) algorithm to process X-ray free laser (XFEL) data taken from single virus particles and resolve their nanometer-scale structures in 3D. The new approach circumvents several challenges of imaging biomolecules that do not crystallize well, such as the random orientations of particles in solution and the asymmetrical structures of many viruses and proteins. Jeff Donatelli of the Computational Research Division’s Mathematics Group and Peter Zwart and Kanupriya Pande of the Biosciences Area’s Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) division contributed to the work, the results of which were published in Physical Review Letters. Read more from the Berkeley Lab News Center.
Several Berkeley Lab researchers contributed to the foundational work leading to the development of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), for which Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Among those cited in the Scientific Background are Biosciences’ Bob Glaeser, Ken Downing, and Eva Nogales.More »
A study led by Cheryl Kerfeld, with colleagues from Biosciences’ Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, as well as her MSU-DOE Plant Research group at Michigan State University, made the cover of the August 2017 issue of Nature Plants. Matthew Melnicki, Markus Sutter, and Fei Cai of MBIB contributed to the study, which characterized a recently identified member of the orange carotenoid family of proteins (OCPs). These proteins change conformation in response to ambient light conditions to protect the host cyanobacteria from harmful exposure. Compared to the canonical exemplar, OCP1, the new OCP, called OCP2, requires relatively higher light intensity for activation, but it reacts faster than OCP1. The goal of Kerfeld’s OCP research is to understand how the various members of the family work, and use that knowledge to engineer the protein for applications in renewable energy and medicine. Read more from the MSU-DOE Plant Research Lab.