Each year, the Berkeley Lab Director’s Achievement Award program recognizes outstanding contributions by employees to all facets of Lab activities. Several Biosciences Area personnel are among the 2022 honorees.
PARP1 is an enzyme that senses DNA damage and sends a cellular signal to carry out repair. It has been found to be upregulated in several carcinomas and inhibiting its activity has been shown to repress tumor growth and metastasis. PARP1 has also emerged as a promising therapeutic target for Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases, where attenuating the enzyme’s hyperactivity can help cells survive. To better understand the regions of PARP1 that various inhibitors attack, an international team of researchers captured the first snapshot of the enzyme in the active state it adopts after detecting DNA damage.
A team of scientists, including many in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division, uncovered new details about the reaction that powers photosynthesis. Understanding this reaction could lead to world-changing advances in technology, medicine, or energy––and also gives insight into how the enzyme photosystem II produces the oxygen we breathe. Their latest work was recently published in Nature Communications and two of the authors, Vittal Yachandra and Philipp Simon, spoke with Strategic Communications about that, shooting stuff with lasers, and why they chose this field of research.
X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) came into use in 2010 for protein crystallography, allowing scientists to study fully hydrated specimens at room temperature without radiation damage. Researchers have developed many new experimental and computational techniques to optimize the technology and draw the most accurate picture of proteins from crystals. Now scientists in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division have developed a new program, diffBragg, which can process every pixel collected from an XFEL for a protein structure independently. In a recent IUCrJ paper, the team led by MBIB Senior Scientist Nicholas Sauter proposed a new processing framework for more accurate determination of protein structures.
Members of the UC San Francisco Quantitative Bioscience Institute Coronavirus Research Group (QCRG), in collaboration with Berkeley Lab and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC), have identified key chemical building blocks for an eventual antiviral drug against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The newly identified compounds bind to an enzyme produced by the virus, called the “macro domain,” which is known to be crucial for the virus’s ability to replicate in human cells. The authors are writing up a formal manuscript describing the results for submission to a peer-reviewed academic journal, but also published their data directly online on July 1 to accelerate global efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.