The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced that 564 of its members—among them four scientists at Berkeley Lab—have been elected Fellows as part of the 2021 class. The two newly named Fellows from the Biosciences Area are: Eva Nogales, a senior faculty scientist in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, and Scott Baker an affiliate with the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI).
A team led by Eva Nogales, senior faculty scientist in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, has produced the first detailed 3D structure of human SAGA, a 20-piece molecular machine that’s crucial to life. The structure, reported in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, revealed some unexpected differences between the human and yeast versions of SAGA and could guide the development of drugs to treat diseases that arise when this complex malfunctions.
Eva Nogales, a senior faculty scientist in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, was appointed as a foreign member attached to the Natural Sciences Section of the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical, and Natural Sciences of Spain. The Royal Academy, founded in 1847, is tasked with promoting study and research in the mathematical, physical, chemical, geological, and biological sciences, as well as disseminating the knowledge gained thereby. It is made up of a maximum of 72 permanent members, 144 corresponding members, and supernumerary members and foreign members. Nogales, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator and professor at UC Berkeley, obtained her bachelor’s degree in physics from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain. Her research specialty involves using electron microscopy (EM) and image analysis, as well as biochemical and biophysical assays to gain mechanistic insights into crucial molecular processes in the life of eukaryotic cells.
The multi-protein structure polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) is involved in “silencing” genes so that they are not “read” by the cellular machinery that decodes genetic information, effectively keeping the genetic information in the “off” state. PRC2 silences genes by chemically depositing tri-methylation marks on histone H3 at lysine 27. Failure to regulate the activity of PRC2 not only impairs the process of development, but also contributes to the reversal of cell differentiation and the uncontrolled cell growth that are the hallmarks of cancer.
A team of scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley have uncovered the molecular basis for the recruitment of PRC2 to certain locations of the genome and for the regulation of its activity. In a study published January 22 in Science, the researchers describe the structure of PRC2 while bound to a biologically relevant chromatin target. Using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), they uncovered crucial structural and functional information about this key regulator of cell differentiation and identity.
Eva Nogales, a senior faculty scientist Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB), has been named a 2020 Fellow of the Biophysics Society. The international scientific society was created to promote the development and dissemination of biophysics knowledge through meetings, publications, community outreach, and career placement.
Nogales, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator and professor at UC Berkeley, is recognized for her demonstrated excellence in science and contributions to the success and vitality of the biophysics field. In addition, the society cited her efforts to push cryo-EM barriers and the resulting structural insights into the central dogma machinery and cytoskeleton interactions and dynamics in cell division, and her structural studies of microtubules and associated proteins, and of machineries regulating gene expression.
The awardees will be formally honored at the 2020 Annual Biophysical Society Meeting to be held in San Diego February 15–19.