Viruses have evolved a wide variety of ways to exploit parts of their host cells to avoid detection and to grow. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute and the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology are learning more about how hepatitis C works to deceive its host cells.
A team of researchers led by NCXT Director Carolyn Larabell, in collaboration with scientists at Heidelberg University in Germany, used a technique called soft X-ray tomography (SXT) to quickly scan and analyze human lung cells infected with SARS-CoV-2. SXT not only significantly shortens the time frame, but provides more detail—increasing the chances of distinguishing subtle changes in the cell.
A research team led by Francesca Toma, a staff scientist in the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA) and Chemical Sciences Division (CSD), has developed an artificial photosynthesis device with remarkable stability and longevity as it converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into ethylene and hydrogen—two promising sources of renewable fuels. The team used electron microscopy at the Molecular Foundry and ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (APXPS) at the Advanced Light Source to reveal how the device degrades with use, then demonstrate how to mitigate those processes.
At the cellular level, as a virus invades, its DNA or RNA trigger immune responses in the healthy host cells. How this process is triggered and a better understanding of the specific enzymes involved is still being defined. A collaboration across multiple X-ray facilities, including the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology beamlines at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), compared the enzymes involved in both human and insect immune responses. They used protein crystallography to closely examine the structures, and learned that although overall function is similar, each group of organisms has a slightly different DNA-binding surface and resulting molecular immune response.
Every time our cells divide, the DNA inside must be copied accurately to avoid mistakes that could be harmful to our health. Known as DNA synthesis, the precise sequence of steps has until now only been hypothesized. In a recent study, timestamps have been added to step-by-step snapshots, revealing a switch-up between two of the steps that, if replicated in additional studies, would upend our current assumptions of the process.