To better understand how coronavirus antibodies work, a team of researchers at the University of Washington studied spike protein structures in complex with neutralizing antibody fragments isolated from SARS and MERS survivors. To visualize how the spike structures interact with the antibody fragments, they used a cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) for the spikes, which are resistant to crystallization, and protein crystallography for the fragments. The high-resolution x-ray crystallography was performed at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) Beamline 5.0.1, part of the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology (BCSB).More »
A newly-discovered arsenic-containing compound produced by a soil bacterium shows promise as a broad-spectrum antibiotic. In a paper published in the Nature journal Communications Biology, an international team of researchers demonstrated that arsinothricin (AST) is effective against many types of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. The effort was led by Barry Rosen of the Florida International University College of Medicine and Masafumi Yoshinaga of the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) in Japan. Banumathi Sankaran, a research scientist in the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology (BSCB) at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), was an author on the paper.More »
Berkeley Lab thirdhand smoke researchers have been awarded a new three-year grant totaling $904,744. The funding from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) will support translational studies aimed at mitigating health impacts of exposure to thirdhand smoke (THS)—the toxic residues from tobacco smoke that linger on indoor surfaces and in dust long after a cigarette has been extinguished. From the Biosciences Area, Biological Systems and Engineering (BSE) Division staff scientist Bo Hang will serve as principal investigator on the studies, with senior scientist Jian-Hua Mao and staff scientist Antoine Snijders, also of BSE, as co-investigators. Collaborators on the project include staff scientist Hugo Destaillats and retiree affiliate Lara Gundel in the Energy Technologies Area (ETA) at Berkeley Lab, as well as researchers at California Consortium on Thirdhand Smoke partner institutions UC San Francisco and UC Riverside.More »
Claire Tomlin, a biological faculty engineer in the Biological Systems and Engineering (BSE) Division, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The prestigious 239-year old honorary society recognizes accomplished scholars, scientists, and artists in academia, the humanities, arts, business, and government. Tomlin’s research, which is currently conducted primarily at UC Berkeley, where she is a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, explores complex systems that have discrete event dynamics as well as continuous time dynamics. Her group studies many topics and problems that can be modeled by hybrid systems as well as more general robotics, such as air traffic control automation, algorithms for decentralized optimization, modeling and analysis of biological cell networks, and unmanned aerial vehicle design and control. The 2019 class of 200-plus new lifetime members announced this week will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The mutant form of the Huntington gene, mHTT, which encodes a product that causes the disease, is expressed throughout the brain in affected individuals. Yet neurons in individual regions of the brain are differentially susceptible to its neurotoxic effects. The basis for this puzzling region-specific vulnerability in Huntington disease—which is likewise a feature of Alzheimer and Parkinson neurodegenerative diseases—was hitherto unknown.
A new study led by Cynthia McMurray, a senior scientist in Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB), provides evidence that regional differences in neuronal susceptibility to Huntington disease can be attributed to substrate-driven metabolic reprogramming strategies adopted by astrocytes in response to low glucose. The team recently reported their findings in the journal Cell Metabolism.More »