Synthetic oligonucleotides containing GC-rich triplet sequences were used in a scanning strategy to identify unstable genetic sequences at the myotonic dystrophy (DM) locus. A highly polymorphic GCT repeat was identified and found to be unstable, with an increased number of repeats occurring in DM patients. In the case of severe congenital DM, the paternal triplet allele was inherited unaltered while the maternal, DM-associated allele was unstable. These studies suggest that the mutational mechanism leading to DM is triplet amplification, similar to that occurring in the fragile X syndrome. The triplet repeat sequence is within a gene (to be referred to as myotonin-protein kinase), which has a sequence similar to protein kinases.
Using single particle electron cryomicroscopy that does not impose icosahedral averaging, we determined the structure of the entire infectious Salmonella phage Epsilon15 1 , including both icosahedral and non-icosahedral components. At least three layers of condensed viral DNA were observed to pack in coaxial coils with local 25 Å hexagonal inter-strand spacing. At one of the fivefold vertices, a portal complex with twelve subunits replaces a capsid pentamer. A tail hub with six projecting trimeric tailspikes sits on the external face of the portal. Below the portal is a cylindrical protein core. An extended shaft of density fills the central channel of the protein core and the portal complex and appears to consist of about 90 nucleotides at the terminus of the packaged DNA poised for injection. Using an icosahedral symmetry imposed reconstruction, the fold of the capsid shell protein is seen to resemble the capsid protein fold of other tailed double-stranded DNA phages 2-5 and human herpesvirus 6 . These common structural features suggest a common evolutionary origin among these viruses. Double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) phages are vectors for gene transfer among enteric bacteria, including important human pathogens 7 . For all the well-studied tailed dsDNA phages, a preformed procapsid shell is assembled, and the DNA is pumped into the shell through a portal complex located at a single vertex 8 . The phage tails are also assembled at this vertex. The portal complex together with packaging enzymes have been shown to function as components of a very powerful molecular motor 9 , but it has not been possible to visualize the complex within the intact virion.The inability to visualize the packed DNA and the portal vertex in the virion reflects the difficulties in determining these structural features which lack icosahedral symmetry and are lost in any icosahedral averaging used in X-ray crystallography or electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM). Using a cryoEM single particle reconstruction technique without symmetry imposition, we have been able to determine the structure of these critical features of Salmonella phage Epsilon15, some of which are unexpected.Epsilon15 is a short tailed dsDNA bacteriophage that infects Salmonella anatum. Its genome (NCBI accession number: NC_004775) contains 39,671 base pairs with 49 open reading frames ( Supplementary Fig. 1) among which six, coding for structural proteins, were resolved by SDS-PAGE and identified by tryptic-digest/mass spectrometry ( Supplementary Fig. 2).
Formation of many dsDNA viruses begins with the assembly of a procapsid, containing scaffolding proteins and a multisubunit portal but lacking DNA, which matures into an infectious virion. This process, conserved among dsDNA viruses such as herpes viruses and bacteriophages, is key to forming infectious virions. Bacteriophage P22 has served as a model system for this study in the past several decades. However, how capsid assembly is initiated, where and how scaffolding proteins bind to coat proteins in the procapsid, and the conformational changes upon capsid maturation still remain elusive. Here, we report Cα backbone models for the P22 procapsid and infectious virion derived from electron cryomicroscopy density maps determined at 3.8-and 4.0-Å resolution, respectively, and the first procapsid structure at subnanometer resolution without imposing symmetry. The procapsid structures show the scaffolding protein interacting electrostatically with the N terminus (N arm) of the coat protein through its C-terminal helix-loop-helix motif, as well as unexpected interactions between 10 scaffolding proteins and the 12-fold portal located at a unique vertex. These suggest a critical role for the scaffolding proteins both in initiating the capsid assembly at the portal vertex and propagating its growth on a T ¼ 7 icosahedral lattice. Comparison of the procapsid and the virion backbone models reveals coordinated and complex conformational changes. These structural observations allow us to propose a more detailed molecular mechanism for the scaffolding-mediated capsid assembly initiation including portal incorporation, release of scaffolding proteins upon DNA packaging, and maturation into infectious virions.sDNA viruses infecting both prokaryotes and eukaryotes share a common assembly pathway proceeding from a precursor (procapsid) to an infectious virion (1-4). In addition to the coat proteins, the procapsid requires scaffolding proteins, absent from the virion, for proper assembly, and a portal for DNA packaging and subsequent DNA ejection. However, despite a half-century of research on icosahedral viruses, it remains unclear how initially identical subunits adopt both hexameric and pentameric conformations in the virus and select the correct locations needed to form closed shells of the proper size (5). Packaging of DNA through the portal is accompanied by the exit of scaffolding proteins from the procapsid and conformational changes in the coat proteins as the capsid matures (2, 6).Understanding the molecular mechanisms of dsDNA virus assembly and maturation requires knowledge of the interactions among the coat, scaffolding, and portal proteins, all of which are essential for these processes. X-ray crystallography (7-9) and electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) (10-12) have yielded nearatomic to atomic resolution models of several dsDNA icosahedral viruses and provided a structural framework of interactions among their coat proteins. However, the structural details of procapsid portal incorporation, scaffolding protein bind...
The transparency of the eye lens depends on maintaining the native tertiary structures and solubility of the lens crystallin proteins over a lifetime. Cataract, the leading cause of blindness worldwide, is caused by protein aggregation within the protected lens environment. With age, covalent protein damage accumulates through pathways thought to include UV radiation, oxidation, deamidation, and truncations. Experiments suggest that the resulting protein destabilization leads to partially unfolded, aggregation-prone intermediates and the formation of insoluble, light-scattering protein aggregates. These aggregates either include or overwhelm the protein chaperone content of the lens. Here we review the causes of cataracts and non-surgical methods being investigated to inhibit or delay cataract development, including natural product-based therapies, modulators of oxidation, and protein aggregation inhibitors.
The polymerization of protein subunits into precursor shells empty of DNA is a critical process in the assembly of double-stranded DNA viruses. For the well-characterized icosahedral procapsid of phage P22, coat and scaffolding protein subunits do not assemble separately but, upon mixing, copolymerize into double-shelled procapsids in vitro. The polymerization reaction displays the characteristics of a nucleation limited reaction: a paucity of intermediate assembly states, a critical concentration, and kinetics displaying a lag phase. Partially formed shell intermediates were directly visualized during the growth phase by electron microscopy of the reaction mixture. The morphology of these intermediates suggests that assembly is a highly directed process. The initial rate of this reaction depends on the fifth power of the coat subunit concentration and the second or third power of the scaffolding concentration, suggesting that pentamer of coat protein and dimers or trimers of scaffolding protein, respectively, participate in the rate-limiting step.
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