The crystallographic study of STING (stimulator of interferon genes), a transmembrane protein that plays a key role in innate immunity, in complex with TBK1 (serine/threonine-protein kinase), an enzyme that regulates the inflammatory response to foreign DNA, is extremely challenging due to weakly diffracting crystals. But thanks to the expertise of Berkeley Center for Structural Biology (BCSB) scientists, researchers from Texas A&M University (TAMU) were able to pinpoint the conserved motif of STING that mediates the recruitment and activation of TBK1. They published their results in Nature.
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.
A team led by Mary Estes of the Baylor College of Medicine used rotavirus as a model to study some of the proteins involved in making the cytoplasmic compartments in which many DNA and RNA virus pathogens replicate. Banumathi Sankaran, a research scientist in the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology (BSCB) at the Advanced Light Source, collected the X-ray data at the BCSB Beamline 5.0.1 that were used to solve the three-dimensional structures of nonstructural protein NSP2. Understanding the functions of proteins that make these compartments could offer an avenue for disrupting virus production. The team published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Bioscientists at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Berkeley Lab lent their expertise to a project led by scientists at the University of Washington to design proteins in the lab that zip together like DNA. The technique could enable the design of protein nanomachines to help diagnose and treat disease, allow for more precise engineering of cells, and perform a variety of other tasks.
X-ray crystallography has been the most successful technique used to solve macromolecular structures, contributing several thousand new entries to the Protein Data Bank (PDB) every year. The protein crystal is the critical starting point for X-ray data collection, and consequently, its properties are correlated with the quality of the data and the level of detail that can be extracted for a macromolecular structure. However, proteins require solutions of specific composition to form crystals for structure determination studies. These specifications are usually determined from exposing the protein to several different solutions in a crystallization screen.
A team of researchers in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division led by Paul Adams and Jose Henrique Pereira have developed a new crystal screen, the Berkeley Screen, with 96 conditions proven to be highly effective at producing crystals for structural determination. The Berkeley Screen is now available to the wider crystallography community commercially.