Matching Items (21)

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Protein Crystallization in Unit Gravity and Microgravity Environments: Challenges and Opportunities

Description

Protein crystallization is a technique for the formation of three-dimensional protein crystals, which is widely utilized by scientists, engineers, and researchers. Protein crystallography allows for protein structures and functions to be studied. As proteins play a central role in biological

Protein crystallization is a technique for the formation of three-dimensional protein crystals, which is widely utilized by scientists, engineers, and researchers. Protein crystallography allows for protein structures and functions to be studied. As proteins play a central role in biological systems and life itself, a deeper understanding of their structure-function properties is crucial to elucidating fundamental behaviors, such as protein folding in addition to the role that they play in emerging fields, such as, tissue engineering with application to the emerging field of regenerative medicine. However, a significant limitation toward achieving further advancements in this field is that in order to determine detailed structure of proteins from protein crystals, high-quality and larger size protein crystals are needed. Because it is difficult to produce adequate size, high-quality crystals, it remains difficult to determine the structure of many proteins. However, a new method using a microgravity environment to crystallize proteins has proven effective through various studies conducted on the International Space Station (ISS). In the presence of microgravity, free convection is essentially absent in the bulk solution where crystallization occurs, thus allowing for purely random Brownian motion to exist which favors the nucleation and growth of high-quality protein crystals. Many studies from the ISS to date have demonstrated that growing protein crystals in a microgravity environment produces larger and higher-quality crystals. This method provides new opportunities for better structure identification and analysis of proteins. Although there remains many more limitations and challenges in the field, microgravity protein crystallization holds many opportunities for the future of biotechnology and scientific development. The objective of this thesis was to study the crystallization of hen egg white lysozyme (HEWL) and determine the effects of both unit and microgravity on growth/size and quality of HEWL. Through preliminary trials using a universal ground-based reduced-gravity system, the crystallization of HEWL in a simulated microgravity environment was successfully conducted and the results reported are promising. The utility of continuous, scalable ground-based, microgravity platforms for studies on a wide range of material systems and behavior, such as, protein crystallization, has significant implications regarding its impact on many industries, including drug development as well as regenerative medicine.

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2020-12

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Structural Discovery for Medically Relevant Proteins:Purification and Characterization of the CapBCA Membrane Protein Complex from Francisella tularensis and New Structural Insights into the Function of Catalytically Active Taspase1: A Novel Anti-Cancer

Description

Developments in structural biology has led to advancements in drug design and vaccine development. By better understanding the macromolecular structure, rational choices can be made to improve factors in such as binding affinity, while reducing promiscuity and off-target interactions, improving

Developments in structural biology has led to advancements in drug design and vaccine development. By better understanding the macromolecular structure, rational choices can be made to improve factors in such as binding affinity, while reducing promiscuity and off-target interactions, improving the medicines of tomorrow. The majority of diseases have a macromolecular basis where rational drug development can make a large impact. Two challenging protein targets of different medical relevance have been investigated at different stages of determining their structures with the ultimate goal of advancing in drug development. The first protein target is the CapBCA membrane protein complex, a virulence factor from the bacterium Francisella tularensis and the causative agent of tularemia and classified as a potential bioterrorism weapon by the United States. Purification of the individual protein targets from the CapBCA complex is a key and challenging step that has been, so far, a limiting factor towards the structure determination of the whole complex. Here, the purification protocols for the CapB and CapC subunits have been establish, which will allow us to progress towards biophysical and structural studies. The second protein target investigated in this thesis is the catalytically active Taspase1. Taspase1 functions as a non-oncogene addiction protease that coordinates cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis and has been found to be overexpressed in many primary human cancers. Here the structure is presented to 3.04A with the goal of rational drug design of Taspase1 inhibitors. Development of Taspase1 inhibitors has no completion in the drug discovery arena and would function as a new anti-cancer therapeutic. Solving the structures of medically relevant proteins such as these is critical towards rapidly developing treatments and prevention of old and new diseases.

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2020-05

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Methods and instrumentation of sample injection for XFEL experiments

Description

ABSTRACT

X-Ray crystallography and NMR are two major ways of achieving atomic

resolution of structure determination for macro biomolecules such as proteins. Recently, new developments of hard X-ray pulsed free electron laser XFEL opened up new possibilities to break the dilemma of

ABSTRACT

X-Ray crystallography and NMR are two major ways of achieving atomic

resolution of structure determination for macro biomolecules such as proteins. Recently, new developments of hard X-ray pulsed free electron laser XFEL opened up new possibilities to break the dilemma of radiation dose and spatial resolution in diffraction imaging by outrunning radiation damage with ultra high brightness femtosecond X-ray pulses, which is so short in time that the pulse terminates before atomic motion starts. A variety of experimental techniques for structure determination of macro biomolecules is now available including imaging of protein nanocrystals, single particles such as viruses, pump-probe experiments for time-resolved nanocrystallography, and snapshot wide- angle x-ray scattering (WAXS) from molecules in solution. However, due to the nature of the "diffract-then-destroy" process, each protein crystal would be destroyed once

probed. Hence a new sample delivery system is required to replenish the target crystal at a high rate. In this dissertation, the sample delivery systems for the application of XFELs to biomolecular imaging will be discussed and the severe challenges related to the delivering of macroscopic protein crystal in a stable controllable way with minimum waste of sample and maximum hit rate will be tackled with several different development of injector designs and approaches. New developments of the sample delivery system such as liquid mixing jet also opens up new experimental methods which gives opportunities to study of the chemical dynamics in biomolecules in a molecular structural level. The design and characterization of the system will be discussed along with future possible developments and applications. Finally, LCP injector will be discussed which is critical for the success in various applications.

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2014

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Structural studies of the transmembrane and membrane proximal domains of HIV-1 gp41 by x-ray crystallography

Description

The transmembrane subunit (gp41) of the envelope glycoprotein of HIV-1 associates noncovalently with the surface subunit (gp120) and together they play essential roles in viral mucosal transmission and infection of target cells. The membrane proximal region (MPR, residues 649-683) of

The transmembrane subunit (gp41) of the envelope glycoprotein of HIV-1 associates noncovalently with the surface subunit (gp120) and together they play essential roles in viral mucosal transmission and infection of target cells. The membrane proximal region (MPR, residues 649-683) of gp41 is highly conserved and contains epitopes of broadly neutralizing antibodies. The transmembrane (TM) domain (residues 684-705) of gp41 not only anchors the envelope glycoprotein complex in the viral membrane but also dynamically affects the interactions of the MPR with the membrane. While high-resolution X-ray structures of some segments of the MPR were solved in the past, they represent the pre-fusion and post-fusion conformations, most of which could not react with the broadly neutralizing antibodies 2F5 and 4E10. Structural information on the TM domain of gp41 is scant and at low resolution.

This thesis describes the structural studies of MPR-TM (residues 649-705) of HIV-1 gp41 by X-ray crystallography. MPR-TM was fused with different fusion proteins to improve the membrane protein overexpression. The expression level of MPR-TM was improved by fusion to the C-terminus of the Mistic protein, yielding ∼1 mg of pure MPR-TM protein per liter cell culture. The fusion partner Mistic was removed for final crystallization. The isolated MPR-TM protein was biophysically characterized and is a monodisperse candidate for crystallization. However, no crystal with diffraction quality was obtained even after extensive crystallization screens. A novel construct was designed to overexpress MPR-TM as a maltose binding protein (MBP) fusion. About 60 mg of MBP/MPR-TM recombinant protein was obtained from 1 liter of cell culture. Crystals of MBP/MPR-TM recombinant protein could not be obtained when MBP and MPR-TM were separated by a 42 amino acid (aa)-long linker but were obtained after changing the linker to three alanine residues. The crystals diffracted to 2.5 Å after crystallization optimization. Further analysis of the diffraction data indicated that the crystals are twinned. The final structure demonstrated that MBP crystallized as a dimer of trimers, but the electron density did not extend beyond the linker region. We determined by SDS-PAGE and MALDI-TOF MS that the crystals contained MBP only. The MPR-TM of gp41 might be cleaved during or after the process of crystallization. Comparison of the MBP trimer reported here with published trimeric MBP fusion structures indicated that MBP might form such a trimeric conformation under the effect of MPR-TM.

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Date Created
2014

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Femtosecond x-ray nanocrystallography of membrane proteins

Description

Membrane proteins are very important for all living cells, being involved in respiration, photosynthesis, cellular uptake and signal transduction, amongst other vital functions. However, less than 300 unique membrane protein structures have been determined to date, often due to difficulties

Membrane proteins are very important for all living cells, being involved in respiration, photosynthesis, cellular uptake and signal transduction, amongst other vital functions. However, less than 300 unique membrane protein structures have been determined to date, often due to difficulties associated with the growth of sufficiently large and well-ordered crystals. This work has been focused on showing the first proof of concept for using membrane protein nanocrystals and microcrystals for high-resolution structure determination. Upon determining that crystals of the membrane protein Photosystem I, which is the largest and most complex membrane protein crystallized to date, exist with only a hundred unit cells with sizes of less than 200 nm on an edge, work was done to develop a technique that could exploit the growth of the Photosystem I nanocrystals and microcrystals. Femtosecond X-ray protein nanocrystallography was developed for use at the first high-energy X-ray free electron laser, the LCLS at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, in which a liquid jet would bring fully hydrated Photosystem I nanocrystals into the interaction region of the pulsed X-ray source. Diffraction patterns were recorded from millions of individual PSI nanocrystals and data from thousands of different, randomly oriented crystallites were integrated using Monte Carlo integration of the peak intensities. The short pulses ( 70 fs) provided by the LCLS allowed the possibility to collect the diffraction data before the onset of radiation damage, exploiting the diffract-before-destroy principle. At the initial experiments at the AMO beamline using 6.9- Å wavelength, Bragg peaks were recorded to 8.5- Å resolution, and an electron-density map was determined that did not show any effects of X-ray-induced radiation damage. Recently, femtosecond X-ray protein nanocrystallography experiments were done at the CXI beamline of the LCLS using 1.3- Å wavelength, and Bragg reflections were recorded to 3- Å resolution; the data are currently being processed. Many additional techniques still need to be developed to explore the femtosecond nanocrystallography technique for experimental phasing and time-resolved X-ray crystallography experiments. The first proof-of-principle results for the femtosecond nanocrystallography technique indicate the incredible potential of the technique to offer a new route to the structure determination of membrane proteins.

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Date Created
2011

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Synthesis, structures and properties of thermoelectric materials in the Zn-Sb-In system

Description

The challenging search for clean, reliable and environmentally friendly energy sources has fueled increased research in thermoelectric materials, which are capable of recovering waste heat. Among the state-of-the-art thermoelectric materials β-Zn4Sb3 is outstanding because of its ultra-low glass-like thermal conductivity.

The challenging search for clean, reliable and environmentally friendly energy sources has fueled increased research in thermoelectric materials, which are capable of recovering waste heat. Among the state-of-the-art thermoelectric materials β-Zn4Sb3 is outstanding because of its ultra-low glass-like thermal conductivity. Attempts to explore ternary phases in the Zn-Sb-In system resulted in the discovery of the new intermetallic compounds, stable Zn5Sb4In2-δ (δ=0.15) and metastable Zn9Sb6In2. Millimeter-sized crystals were grown from molten metal fluxes, where indium metal was employed as a reactive flux medium.Zn5Sb4In2-δ and Zn9Sb6In2 crystallize in new structure types featuring complex framework and the presence of structural disorder (defects and split atomic positions). The structure and phase relations between ternary Zn5Sb4In2-δ, Zn9Sb6In2 and binary Zn4Sb3 are discussed. To establish and understand structure-property relationships, thermoelectric properties measurements were carried out. The measurements suggested that Zn5Sb4In2-δ and Zn9Sb6In2 are narrow band gap semiconductors, similar to β-Zn4Sb3. Also, the peculiar low thermal conductivity of Zn4Sb3 (1 W/mK) is preserved. In the investigated temperature range 10 to 350 K Zn5Sb4In2-δ displays higher thermoelectric figure of merits than Zn4Sb3, indicating a potential significance in thermoelectric applications. Finally, the glass-like thermal conductivities of binary and ternary antimonides with complex structures are compared and the mechanism behind their low thermal conductivities is briefly discussed.

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2011

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Femtosecond x-ray protein nanocrystallography and correlated fluctuation small-angle x-ray scattering

Description

With the advent of the X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL), an opportunity has arisen to break the nexus between radiation dose and spatial resolution in diffractive imaging, by outrunning radiation damage altogether when using single X-ray pulses so brief that they

With the advent of the X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL), an opportunity has arisen to break the nexus between radiation dose and spatial resolution in diffractive imaging, by outrunning radiation damage altogether when using single X-ray pulses so brief that they terminate before atomic motion commences. This dissertation concerns the application of XFELs to biomolecular imaging in an effort to overcome the severe challenges associated with radiation damage and macroscopic protein crystal growth. The method of femtosecond protein nanocrystallography (fsPNX) is investigated, and a new method for extracting crystallographic structure factors is demonstrated on simulated data and on the first experimental fsPNX data obtained at an XFEL. Errors are assessed based on standard metrics familiar to the crystallography community. It is shown that resulting structure factors match the quality of those measured conventionally, at least to 9 angstrom resolution. A new method for ab-initio phasing of coherently-illuminated nanocrystals is then demonstrated on simulated data. The method of correlated fluctuation small-angle X-ray scattering (CFSAXS) is also investigated as an alternative route to biomolecular structure determination, without the use of crystals. It is demonstrated that, for a constrained two-dimensional geometry, a projection image of a single particle can be formed, ab-initio and without modeling parameters, from measured diffracted intensity correlations arising from disordered ensembles of identical particles illuminated simultaneously. The method is demonstrated experimentally, based on soft X-ray diffraction from disordered but identical nanoparticles, providing the first experimental proof-of-principle result. Finally, the fundamental limitations of CFSAXS is investigated through both theory and simulations. It is found that the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for CFSAXS data is essentially independent of the number of particles exposed in each diffraction pattern. The dependence of SNR on particle size and resolution is considered, and realistic estimates are made (with the inclusion of solvent scatter) of the SNR for protein solution scattering experiments utilizing an XFEL source.

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2011

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Construct Design, Protein Expression, and Purification of a Human Dopamine Receptor

Description

The dopamine 2 receptor (D2R) is a Class A GPCR which is essential for signaling in the nervous system, and has been implicated in numerous illnesses. While there are over 50 currently approved drugs which act on D2R, the structure

The dopamine 2 receptor (D2R) is a Class A GPCR which is essential for signaling in the nervous system, and has been implicated in numerous illnesses. While there are over 50 currently approved drugs which act on D2R, the structure has never been determined in detail. Although crystallography has historically been difficult with GPCRs, in recent years many structures have been solved using lipidic cubic phase (LCP) crystallization techniques. Sample preparation for LCP crystallization typically requires optimization of genetic constructs, recombinant expression, and purification techniques in order to produce a sample with sufficient stability and homogeneity. This study compares several genetic constructs utilizing different promoters, fusion proteins, fusion positions, and truncations in order to determine a high quality construct for LCP crystallization of
D2R. All constructs were expressed using the Bac-to-bac baculovirus expression system, then extracted with n-Dodecyl-β-D-Maltoside (DDM) and purified using metal affinity chromatography. Samples were then tested for quantity, purity, and homogeneity using SDS-PAGE, western blot, and size-exclusion chromatography. High quality samples were chosen based on insect cell expression levels, purification yield, and stability estimated by the levels of homomeric protein relative to aggregated protein. A final construct was chosen with which to continue future studies in optimization of thermal stability and crystallization conditions. Future work on this project is required to produce a sample amenable to crystallization. Screening of ligands for co-crystallization,
thermostabilizing point mutations, and potentially optimization of extraction and purification techniques prior to crystallization trials. Solving the D2R structure will lead to an increased understanding of its signaling mechanism and the mechanisms of currently approved drugs, while also providing a basis for more effective structure-based drug design.

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2016-12

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Nucleoporin Gle1: Crystallographic Analysis and the Future of Neuron Disease Pathology

Description

Gle1 is an mRNP export mediator with major activity localized to the nuclear pore complex in eukaryotic cells. The protein's high preservation across vast phylogenetic distances allows us to approximate research on the properties of yeast Gle1 (yGle1) with those

Gle1 is an mRNP export mediator with major activity localized to the nuclear pore complex in eukaryotic cells. The protein's high preservation across vast phylogenetic distances allows us to approximate research on the properties of yeast Gle1 (yGle1) with those of human Gle1 (hGle1). Research at Vanderbilt University in 2016, which provides the research basis of this thesis, suggests that the coiled-coil domain of yGle1 is best crystallized in dicationic aqueous conditions of pH ~8.0 and 10\u201420% PEG 8000. Further exploration of crystallizable microconditions revealed a favorability toward lower pH and lower PEG concentration. Following the discovery of the protein's native crystallography conditions, a comprehensive meta-analysis of scientific literature on Gle1 was conducted on the association of Gle1 mutations with neuron disease.

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2016-12

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Injection methods and instrumentation for serial X-ray free electron laser experiments

Description

Scientists have used X-rays to study biological molecules for nearly a century. Now with the X-ray free electron laser (XFEL), new methods have been developed to advance structural biology. These new methods include serial femtosecond crystallography, single particle imaging, solution

Scientists have used X-rays to study biological molecules for nearly a century. Now with the X-ray free electron laser (XFEL), new methods have been developed to advance structural biology. These new methods include serial femtosecond crystallography, single particle imaging, solution scattering, and time resolved techniques.

The XFEL is characterized by high intensity pulses, which are only about 50 femtoseconds in duration. The intensity allows for scattering from microscopic particles, while the short pulses offer a way to outrun radiation damage. XFELs are powerful enough to obliterate most samples in a single pulse. While this allows for a “diffract and destroy” methodology, it also requires instrumentation that can position microscopic particles into the X-ray beam (which may also be microscopic), continuously renew the sample after each pulse, and maintain sample viability during data collection.

Typically these experiments have used liquid microjets to continuously renew sample. The high flow rate associated with liquid microjets requires large amounts of sample, most of which runs to waste between pulses. An injector designed to stream a viscous gel-like material called lipidic cubic phase (LCP) was developed to address this problem. LCP, commonly used as a growth medium for membrane protein crystals, lends itself to low flow rate jetting and so reduces the amount of sample wasted significantly.

This work discusses sample delivery and injection for XFEL experiments. It reviews the liquid microjet method extensively, and presents the LCP injector as a novel device for serial crystallography, including detailed protocols for the LCP injector and anti-settler operation.

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Date Created
2015