Heavy-atom labeling of RNA by PLOR for de novo crystallographic phasing.
ABSTRACT: Due to the paucity of known RNA structures, experimental phasing is crucial for obtaining three-dimensional structures of RNAs by X-ray crystallography. Covalent attachment of heavy atoms to RNAs is one of the most useful strategies to facilitate phase determination. However, this approach is limited by the inefficiency or inability to synthesize large RNAs (>60 nucleotides) site-specifically labeled with heavy atoms using traditional methods. Here, we applied our recently reported method, PLOR (position-selective labeling of RNA) to incorporate 5-iodouridine at specific positions in the adenine riboswitch RNA aptamer domain, which was then used for crystallization and subsequent de novo SAD phasing. PLOR is a powerful tool to improve the efficiency of obtaining RNA structures de novo by X-ray crystallography.
Project description:Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) with X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) holds great potential for structure determination of challenging proteins that are not amenable to producing large well diffracting crystals. Efficient de novo phasing methods are highly demanding and as such most SFX structures have been determined by molecular replacement methods. Here we employed single isomorphous replacement with anomalous scattering (SIRAS) for phasing and demonstrate successful application to SFX de novo phasing. Only about 20,000 patterns in total were needed for SIRAS phasing while single wavelength anomalous dispersion (SAD) phasing was unsuccessful with more than 80,000 patterns of derivative crystals. We employed high energy X-rays from SACLA (12.6?keV) to take advantage of the large anomalous enhancement near the LIII absorption edge of Hg, which is one of the most widely used heavy atoms for phasing in conventional protein crystallography. Hard XFEL is of benefit for de novo phasing in the use of routinely used heavy atoms and high resolution data collection.
Project description:The crystal structures of two proteins, a putative pyrazinamidase/nicotinamidase from the dental pathogen Streptococcus mutans (SmPncA) and the human caspase-6 (Casp6), were solved by de novo arsenic single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (As-SAD) phasing method. Arsenic (As), an uncommonly used element in SAD phasing, was covalently introduced into proteins by cacodylic acid, the buffering agent in the crystallization reservoirs. In SmPncA, the only cysteine was bound to dimethylarsinoyl, which is a pentavalent arsenic group (As (V)). This arsenic atom and a protein-bound zinc atom both generated anomalous signals. The predominant contribution, however, was from the As anomalous signals, which were sufficient to phase the SmPncA structure alone. In Casp6, four cysteines were found to bind cacodyl, a trivalent arsenic group (As (III)), in the presence of the reducing agent, dithiothreitol (DTT), and arsenic atoms were the only anomalous scatterers for SAD phasing. Analyses and discussion of these two As-SAD phasing examples and comparison of As with other traditional heavy atoms that generate anomalous signals, together with a few arsenic-based de novo phasing cases reported previously strongly suggest that As is an ideal anomalous scatterer for SAD phasing in protein crystallography.
Project description:X-ray crystallography of biologically important RNA molecules has been hampered by technical challenges, including finding heavy-atom derivatives to obtain high-quality experimental phase information. Existing techniques have drawbacks, limiting the rate at which important new structures are solved. To address this, we have developed a reliable means to localize heavy atoms specifically to virtually any RNA. By solving the crystal structures of thirteen variants of the G*U wobble pair cation binding motif, we have identified a version that when inserted into an RNA helix introduces a high-occupancy cation binding site suitable for phasing. This "directed soaking" strategy can be integrated fully into existing RNA crystallography methods, potentially increasing the rate at which important structures are solved and facilitating routine solving of structures using Cu-Kalpha radiation. This method already has been used to solve several crystal structures.
Project description:De novo membrane protein structure determination is often limited by the availability of large crystals and the difficulties in obtaining accurate diffraction data for experimental phasing. Here we present a method that combines in situ serial crystallography with de novo phasing for fast, efficient membrane protein structure determination. The method enables systematic diffraction screening and rapid data collection from hundreds of microcrystals in in meso crystallization wells without the need for direct crystal harvesting. The requisite data quality for experimental phasing is achieved by accumulating diffraction signals from isomorphous crystals identified post-data collection. The method works in all experimental phasing scenarios and is particularly attractive with fragile, weakly diffracting microcrystals. The automated serial data collection approach can be readily adopted at most microfocus macromolecular crystallography beamlines.
Project description:Modifications of short RNAs at specific sites can be achieved commercially by solid-phase chemical synthesis method. However, labelling long RNAs is still challenging for the routine methods. Position-selective Labelling of RNA (PLOR) is a hybrid phase transcription method that allows to label RNAs at desired sites with great flexibility and decent efficiency. In principle, PLOR is a promising method for synthesis of long modified RNAs that are unable to be generated by solid-phase chemical synthesis and other methods. However, as a recently developed method, PLOR has been only applied to label a 71nt and a 104nt RNA, and the limited sequence applications of PLOR may hinder its potential usages. To extend PLOR to more RNAs, we tested the PLOR performances for various RNA sequences. Considering that the controlled transcriptional pauses at the initiation stage in PLOR may lead to different preferences on RNA sequences from <i>in vitro</i> transcription method, we here focused on identifying the effects of the 5'-end and initiated lengths of RNA on PLOR. In addition, our work demonstrated that PLOR efficiencies also varied with linker sizes of DNA templates. This work can facilitate PLOR to be the choice of synthesizing long modified RNAs for more users in the near future.
Project description:Site-specific incorporation of labeled nucleotides is an extremely useful synthetic tool for many structural studies (e.g., NMR, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR), fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), and X-ray crystallography) of RNA. However, specific-position-labeled RNAs >60 nt are not commercially available on a milligram scale. Position-selective labeling of RNA (PLOR) has been applied to prepare large RNAs labeled at desired positions, and all the required reagents are commercially available. Here, we present a step-by-step protocol for the solid-liquid hybrid phase method PLOR to synthesize 71-nt RNA samples with three different modification applications, containing (i) a <sup>13</sup>C<sup>15</sup>N-labeled segment; (ii) discrete residues modified with Cy3, Cy5, or biotin; or (iii) two iodo-U residues. The flexible procedure enables a wide range of downstream biophysical analyses using precisely localized functionalized nucleotides. All three RNAs were obtained in <2 d, excluding time for preparing reagents and optimizing experimental conditions. With optimization, the protocol can be applied to other RNAs with various labeling schemes, such as ligation of segmentally labeled fragments.
Project description:In this report we highlight the latest trends in phasing methods used to solve alpha helical membrane protein structures and analyze the use of heavy atom metals for the purpose of experimental phasing. Our results reveal that molecular replacement is emerging as the most successful method for phasing alpha helical membrane proteins, with the notable exception of the transporter family, where experimentally derived phase information still remains the most effective method. To facilitate selection of heavy atoms salts for experimental phasing an analysis of these was undertaken and indicates that organic mercury salts are still the most successful heavy atoms reagents. Interestingly the use of seleno-L-methionine incorporated protein has increased since earlier studies into membrane protein phasing, so too the use of SAD and MAD as techniques for phase determination. Taken together this study provides a brief snapshot of phasing methods for alpha helical membrane proteins and suggests possible routes for heavy atom selection and phasing methods based on currently available data.
Project description:Experimental phasing is an essential technique for the solution of macromolecular structures. Since many heavy-atom ion soaks suffer from nonspecific binding, a novel class of compounds has been developed that combines heavy atoms with functional groups for binding to proteins. The phasing tool 5-amino-2,4,6-tribromoisophthalic acid (B3C) contains three functional groups (two carboxylate groups and one amino group) that interact with proteins via hydrogen bonds. Three Br atoms suitable for anomalous dispersion phasing are arranged in an equilateral triangle and are thus readily identified in the heavy-atom substructure. B3C was incorporated into proteinase K and a multiwavelength anomalous dispersion (MAD) experiment at the Br K edge was successfully carried out. Radiation damage to the bromine-carbon bond was investigated. A comparison with the phasing tool I3C that contains three I atoms for single-wavelength anomalous dispersion (SAD) phasing was also carried out.
Project description:The 3D structure determination of biological macromolecules by X-ray crystallography suffers from a phase problem: to perform Fourier transformation to calculate real space density maps, both intensities and phases of structure factors are necessary; however, measured diffraction patterns give only intensities. Although serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) using X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) has been steadily developed since 2009, experimental phasing still remains challenging. Here, using 7.0-keV (1.771 Å) X-ray pulses from the SPring-8 Angstrom Compact Free Electron Laser (SACLA), iodine single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (SAD), single isomorphous replacement (SIR), and single isomorphous replacement with anomalous scattering (SIRAS) phasing were performed in an SFX regime for a model membrane protein bacteriorhodopsin (bR). The crystals grown in bicelles were derivatized with an iodine-labeled detergent heavy-atom additive 13a (HAD13a), which contains the magic triangle, I3C head group with three iodine atoms. The alkyl tail was essential for binding of the detergent to the surface of bR. Strong anomalous and isomorphous difference signals from HAD13a enabled successful phasing using reflections up to 2.1-Å resolution from only 3,000 and 4,000 indexed images from native and derivative crystals, respectively. When more images were merged, structure solution was possible with data truncated at 3.3-Å resolution, which is the lowest resolution among the reported cases of SFX phasing. Moreover, preliminary SFX experiment showed that HAD13a successfully derivatized the G protein-coupled A2a adenosine receptor crystallized in lipidic cubic phases. These results pave the way for de novo structure determination of membrane proteins, which often diffract poorly, even with the brightest XFEL beams.
Project description:Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) using X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) holds enormous potential for the structure determination of proteins for which it is difficult to produce large and high-quality crystals. SFX has been applied to various systems, but rarely to proteins that have previously unknown structures. Consequently, the majority of previously obtained SFX structures have been solved by the molecular replacement method. To facilitate protein structure determination by SFX, it is essential to establish phasing methods that work efficiently for SFX. Here, selenomethionine derivatization and mercury soaking have been investigated for SFX experiments using the high-energy XFEL at the SPring-8 Angstrom Compact Free-Electron Laser (SACLA), Hyogo, Japan. Three successful cases are reported of single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (SAD) phasing using X-rays of less than 1?Å wavelength with reasonable numbers of diffraction patterns (13?000, 60?000 and 11?000). It is demonstrated that the combination of high-energy X-rays from an XFEL and commonly used heavy-atom incorporation techniques will enable routine de novo structural determination of biomacromolecules.