Multiscale Electron Microscopy for the Study of Viral Replication Organelles.
ABSTRACT: During infection with positive-strand RNA viruses, viral RNA synthesis associates with modified intracellular membranes that form unique and captivating structures in the cytoplasm of the infected cell. These viral replication organelles (ROs) play a key role in the replicative cycle of important human pathogens like coronaviruses, enteroviruses, or flaviviruses. From their discovery to date, progress in our understanding of viral ROs has closely followed new developments in electron microscopy (EM). This review gives a chronological account of this progress and an introduction to the different EM techniques that enabled it. With an ample repertoire of imaging modalities, EM is nowadays a versatile technique that provides structural and functional information at a wide range of scales. Together with well-established approaches like electron tomography or labeling methods, we examine more recent developments, such as volume scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and in situ cryotomography, which are only beginning to be applied to the study of viral ROs. We also highlight the first cryotomography analyses of viral ROs, which have led to the discovery of macromolecular complexes that may serve as RO channels that control the export of newly-made viral RNA. These studies are key first steps towards elucidating the macromolecular complexity of viral ROs.
Project description:The objective of molecular electron microscopy (EM) is to use electron microscopes to visualize the structure of biological molecules. This Review provides a brief overview of the methods used in molecular EM, their respective strengths and successes, and current developments that promise an even more exciting future for molecular EM in the structural investigation of proteins and macromolecular complexes, studied in isolation or in the context of cells and tissues.
Project description:Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a powerful tool for macromolecular to near-atomic resolution structure determination in the biological sciences. The specimen is maintained in a near-native environment within a thin film of vitreous ice and imaged in a transmission electron microscope. The images can then be processed by a number of computational methods to produce three-dimensional information. Recent advances in sample preparation, imaging, and data processing have led to tremendous growth in the field of cryo-EM by providing higher resolution structures and the ability to investigate macromolecules within the context of the cell. Here, we review developments in sample preparation methods and substrates, detectors, phase plates, and cryo-correlative light and electron microscopy that have contributed to this expansion. We also have included specific biological applications.
Project description:Recent advances in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) have made it possible to solve structures of biological macromolecules at near atomic resolution. Development of more stable microscopes, improved direct electron detectors and faster software for image processing has enabled structural solution of not only large macromolecular (megadalton range) complexes but also small (~60 kDa) proteins. As a result of the widespread use of the technique, we have also witnessed new developments of techniques for cryo-EM grid preparation of membrane protein samples. This includes new types of solubilization strategies that better stabilize these protein complexes and the development of new grid supports with proven efficacy in reducing the motion of the molecules during electron beam exposure. Here, we discuss the practicalities and recent challenges of membrane protein sample preparation and vitrification, as well as grid support and foil treatment in the context of the structure determination of protein complexes by single particle cryo-EM.
Project description:Chlamydiae comprise important pathogenic and symbiotic bacteria that alternate between morphologically and physiologically different life stages during their developmental cycle. Using electron cryotomography, we characterize the ultrastructure of the developmental stages of three environmental chlamydiae: Parachlamydia acanthamoebae, Protochlamydia amoebophila and Simkania negevensis. We show that chemical fixation and dehydration alter the cell shape of Parachlamydia and that the crescent body is not a developmental stage, but an artefact of conventional electron microscopy. We further reveal type III secretion systems of environmental chlamydiae at macromolecular resolution and find support for a chlamydial needle-tip protein. Imaging bacteria inside their host cells by cryotomography for the first time, we observe marked differences in inclusion morphology and development as well as host organelle recruitment between the three chlamydial organisms, with Simkania inclusions being tightly enveloped by the host endoplasmic reticulum. The study demonstrates the power of electron cryotomography to reveal structural details of bacteria-host interactions that are not accessible using traditional methods.
Project description:Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is increasingly becoming a mainstream technology for studying the architecture of cells, viruses and protein assemblies at molecular resolution. Recent developments in microscope design and imaging hardware, paired with enhanced image processing and automation capabilities, are poised to further advance the effectiveness of cryo-EM methods. These developments promise to increase the speed and extent of automation, and to improve the resolutions that may be achieved, making this technology useful to determine a wide variety of biological structures. Additionally, established modalities for structure determination, such as X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, are being routinely integrated with cryo-EM density maps to achieve atomic-resolution models of complex, dynamic molecular assemblies. In this review, which is directed towards readers who are not experts in cryo-EM methodology, we provide an overview of emerging themes in the application of this technology to investigate diverse questions in biology and medicine. We discuss the ways in which these methods are being used to study structures of macromolecular assemblies that range in size from whole cells to small proteins. Finally, we include a description of how the structural information obtained by cryo-EM is deposited and archived in a publicly accessible database.
Project description:Cell entry by non-enveloped viruses requires translocation into the cytosol of a macromolecular complex--for double-strand RNA viruses, a complete subviral particle. We have used live-cell fluorescence imaging to follow rotavirus entry and penetration into the cytosol of its ? 700 Å inner capsid particle ("double-layered particle", DLP). We label with distinct fluorescent tags the DLP and each of the two outer-layer proteins and track the fates of each species as the particles bind and enter BSC-1 cells. Virions attach to their glycolipid receptors in the host cell membrane and rapidly become inaccessible to externally added agents; most particles that release their DLP into the cytosol have done so by ? 10 minutes, as detected by rapid diffusional motion of the DLP away from residual outer-layer proteins. Electron microscopy shows images of particles at various stages of engulfment into tightly fitting membrane invaginations, consistent with the interpretation that rotavirus particles drive their own uptake. Electron cryotomography of membrane-bound virions also shows closely wrapped membrane. Combined with high resolution structural information about the viral components, these observations suggest a molecular model for membrane disruption and DLP penetration.
Project description:Cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a powerful technique for determining structures of multiple conformational or compositional states of macromolecular assemblies involved in cellular processes. Recent technological developments have led to a leap in the resolution of many cryo-EM data sets, making atomic model building more common for data interpretation. We present a method for calculating differences between two cryo-EM maps or a map and a fitted atomic model. The proposed approach works by scaling the maps using amplitude matching in resolution shells. To account for variability in local resolution of cryo-EM data, we include a procedure for local amplitude scaling that enables appropriate scaling of local map contrast. The approach is implemented as a user-friendly tool in the CCP-EM software package. To obtain clean and interpretable differences, we propose a protocol involving steps to process the input maps and output differences. We demonstrate the utility of the method for identifying conformational and compositional differences including ligands. We also highlight the use of difference maps for evaluating atomic model fit in cryo-EM maps.
Project description:Electron cryotomography (ECT) can reveal the native structure and arrangement of macromolecular complexes inside intact cells. This technique has greatly advanced our understanding of the ultrastructure of bacterial cells. We now view bacteria as structurally complex assemblies of macromolecular machines rather than as undifferentiated bags of enzymes. To date, our group has applied ECT to nearly 90 different bacterial species, collecting more than 15,000 cryotomograms. In addition to known structures, we have observed, to our knowledge, several uncharacterized features in these tomograms. Some are completely novel structures; others expand the features or species range of known structure types. Here, we present a survey of these uncharacterized bacterial structures in the hopes of accelerating their identification and study, and furthering our understanding of the structural complexity of bacterial cells.<b>IMPORTANCE</b> Bacteria are more structurally complex than is commonly appreciated. Here we present a survey of previously uncharacterized structures that we observed in bacterial cells by electron cryotomography, structures that will initiate new lines of research investigating their identities and roles.
Project description:Over the past few years, the advances in technology and methods that have revolutionized cryo-EM are allowing for key insights in a variety of areas in biology, and microbiology is no exception. A wide range of important macromolecular assemblies in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, as well as intact viruses, have now become accessible to investigation by new methods in 3D electron microscopy. We focus here on selected examples that illustrate this breadth, and review the application of methods in single particle cryo-EM and cryo-electron tomography to progress in the structural biology of CRISPR systems, visualization of small molecule drugs in membrane proteins, in situ visualization of bacterial nanomachines, and the analysis of antigen-antibody interactions to drive vaccine design.
Project description:Electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) is a technique in structural biology that is widely used to solve the three-dimensional structures of macromolecular assemblies, close to their biological and solution conditions. Recent improvements in cryo-EM and single-particle reconstruction methodologies have led to the determination of several virus structures at near-atomic resolution (3.3 - 4.6 Å). These cryo-EM structures not only resolve the C? backbones and side-chain densities of viral capsid proteins, but also suggest functional roles that the protein domains and some key amino acid residues play. This paper reviews the recent advances in near-atomic-resolution cryo-EM for probing the mechanisms of virus assembly and morphogenesis.