[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An alternative approach to promoting the crystallization of proteins is to enhance intermolecular contacts between macromolecules or to eliminate intermolecular interactions or interactions with solvent that might inhibit crystallization. Site-specific mutations have been employed, as have truncations by genetic or proteolytic means. There are, however, significant problems. Because the structure of the target macromolecule is unknown, there may be no good basis for the design of mutants or truncations. In addition, the approach requires that the protein be produced by recombinant DNA technology, which is frequently not the case. We have attempted to address these issues by initiating experiments based on two ideas. The first is that a wide variety of conventional small molecules might be systematically introduced into mother liquors during crystallization screening. By incorporation into the crystal lattice, the additional intermolecular interactions that the small molecules provide might enhance crystal nucleation and growth. A second approach that we are pursuing is the chemical modification of various amino acid side chains using traditional protein chemistry. We believe that in some cases chemically modified proteins might be induced to crystallize or crystallize better than the native protein.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gliomas are invasive cancers that resist all forms of attempted therapy. Immunotherapy using Ag-pulsed dendritic cells has improved survival in some patients. We present evidence that another level of complexity may also contribute to lack of responses by the lymphocytes toward gliomas. Atomic force microscopy of four different glioma types-human U251 and rat T9 and F98 glioma cells, including freshly isolated human glioblastoma multiforme neurosphere cultures (containing "stem cell-like cells")-revealed a complex surface topography with numerous microvilli and filopodia. These structures were not found on other cell types. Electron microscopy and immunofluorescence microscopy of glioma cells confirmed that microvilli are present. U251 cells with microvilli resisted the cytolytic actions of different human effector cells, (lymphokine-activated killer cells, γδ T cells, conventional CTLs, and chimeric Ag-receptor-redirected T cells) better than their nonmicrovilli-expressing counterparts. Killer lymphocytes released perforin, which was detected within the glioma's microvilli/filopodia, indicating these structures can receive the cytolytic effector molecules, but cytotoxicity is suboptimal. Air-dried gliomas revealed nodes within the microvilli/filopodia. The microvilli that penetrated 0.4-μm transwell chamber's pores resisted the actions of CTLs and physical damage. Those nodelike structures may represent a compartmentalization that resists physical damage. These microvilli may play multiple roles in glioma biology, such as invasion and resistance to lymphocyte-mediated killing.
The Journal of Immunology 10/2010; 185(8):4793-803. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gliomas are invasive cancers that resist all forms of attempted therapy. Immunotherapy using Ag-pulsed dendritic cells has im-proved survival in some patients. We present evidence that another level of complexity may also contribute to lack of responses by the lymphocytes toward gliomas. Atomic force microscopy of four different glioma types—human U251 and rat T9 and F98 glioma cells, including freshly isolated human glioblastoma multiforme neurosphere cultures (containing "stem cell-like cells")— revealed a complex surface topography with numerous microvilli and filopodia. These structures were not found on other cell types. Electron microscopy and immunofluorescence microscopy of glioma cells confirmed that microvilli are present. U251 cells with microvilli resisted the cytolytic actions of different human effector cells, (lymphokine-activated killer cells, gd T cells, conventional CTLs, and chimeric Ag-receptor–redirected T cells) better than their nonmicrovilli-expressing counterparts. Killer lymphocytes released perforin, which was detected within the glioma's microvilli/filopodia, indicating these structures can receive the cytolytic effector molecules, but cytotoxicity is suboptimal. Air-dried gliomas revealed nodes within the microvilli/ filopodia. The microvilli that penetrated 0.4-mm transwell chamber's pores resisted the actions of CTLs and physical damage. Those nodelike structures may represent a compartmentalization that resists physical damage. These microvilli may play multiple roles in glioma biology, such as invasion and resistance to lymphocyte-mediated killing.
The Journal of Immunology 08/2010; 185:4793-4803. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vaccinia virus was treated in a controlled manner with various combinations of nonionic detergents, reducing agents, and proteolytic enzymes, and successive products of the reactions were visualized using atomic force microscopy (AFM). Following removal of the outer lipid/protein membrane, a layer 20 to 40 nm in thickness was encountered that was composed of fibrous elements which, under reducing conditions, rapidly decomposed into individual monomers on the substrate. Beneath this layer was the virus core and its prominent lateral bodies, which could be dissociated or degraded with proteases. The core, in addition to the lateral bodies, was composed of a thick, multilayered shell of proteins of diverse sizes and shapes. The shell, which was readily etched with proteases, was thoroughly permeated with pores, or channels. Prolonged exposure to proteases and reductants produced disgorgement of the viral DNA from the remainders of the cores and also left residual, flattened, protease-resistant sacs on the imaging substrate. The DNA was readily visualized by AFM, which revealed some regions to be "soldered" by proteins, others to be heavily complexed with protein, and yet other parts to apparently exist as bundled, naked DNA. Prolonged exposure to proteases deproteinized the DNA, leaving masses of extended, free DNA. Estimates of the interior core volume suggest moderate but not extreme compaction of the genome.
Journal of Virology 09/2008; 82(15):7551-66. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We are developing an alternate strategy for the crystallization of macromolecules that does not, like current methods, depend on the optimization of traditional variables such as pH and precipitant concentration, but is based on the hypothesis that many conventional small molecules might establish stabilizing, intermolecular, noncovalent cross-links in crystals, and thereby promote lattice formation. Earlier experiments provided encouraging results that suggested further research was warranted (Larson, S. B.; Day, J. S.; Cudney, R.; McPherson, A.A novel strategy for the crystallization of proteins: X-ray diffraction validation. Acta Crystallogr., D: Biol. Crystallogr.2007, 63, 310−318. McPherson, A.; Cudney, B.Searching for silver bullets: an alternative strategy for crystallizing macromolecules. J. Struct. Biol.2006, 156, 387−406). Here we report additional, large-scale crystallization screening experiments that lend further support, though they suggest that additional mechanisms may play a positive role as well. As before, we accompanied the crystallization experiments with X-ray diffraction analyses of some of the crystals grown. A number of these showed incorporation of conventional molecules into protein crystal lattices, and further validated the underlying hypothesis. The strategy we are pursuing is essentially orthogonal to current approaches and has an objective of doubling the success rate of today.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The yeast retrovirus-like element Ty3 GAG3 gene encodes a Gag3 polyprotein analogous to retroviral Gag. Gag3 lacks matrix, but contains capsid, spacer, and nucleocapsid domains. Expression of a Ty3 Gag3 or capsid domain optimized for expression in Escherichia coli was sufficient for Ty3 particle assembly. Virus-like ordered particles assembled from Gag3 were similar in size to immature particles from yeast and contained nucleic acid. However, particles assembled from the CA domain were variable in size and displayed much less organization than native particles. These results indicate that assembly can be driven through interactions among capsid subunits in the particle, but that the nucleocapsid domain, likely in association with RNA, confers order upon this process.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viruses are compact biological nanoparticles whose elastic and dynamical properties are hardly known. Inelastic (Brillouin) light scattering was used to characterize these properties, from microcrystals of the Satellite Tobacco Mosaic Virus, a nearly spherical plant virus of 17-nm diameter. Longitudinal sound velocities in wet and dry Satellite Tobacco Mosaic Virus crystals were determined and compared to that of the well-known protein crystal, lysozyme. Localized vibrational modes of the viral particles (i.e., particle modes) were sought in the relevant frequency ranges, as derived assuming the viruses as full free nanospheres. Despite very favorable conditions, regarding virus concentration and expected low damping in dry microcrystals, no firm evidence of virus particle modes could be detected.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Particles of DeltaProCANC, a fusion of capsid (CA) and nucleocapsid (NC) protein of Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV), which lacks the amino terminal proline, were reassembled in vitro and visualized by atomic force microscopy (AFM). The particles, of 83-84 nm diameter, exhibited ordered domains based on trigonal arrays of prominent rings with center to center distances of 8.7 nm. Imperfect closure of the lattice on the spherical surface was affected by formation of discontinuities. The lattice is consistent only with plane group p3 where one molecule is shared between contiguous rings. There are no pentameric clusters nor evidence that the particles are icosahedral. Tubular structures were also reassembled, in vitro, from two HIV fusion proteins, DeltaProCANC and CANC. The tubes were uniform in diameter, 40 nm, but varied in length to a maximum of 600 nm. They exhibited left handed helical symmetry based on a p6 hexagonal net. The organization of HIV fusion proteins in the tubes is significantly different than for the protein units in the particles of M-PMV DeltaProCANC.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Three new crystal forms of satellite panicum mosaic virus (SPMV) were grown and their structures solved from X-ray diffraction data using molecular replacement techniques. The crystals were grown under conditions of pH and ionic strength that were appreciably different then those used for the original structure determination. In rhombohedral crystals grown at pH 8.5 and low ionic strength PEG 3350 solutions, Fourier syntheses revealed segments, ten amino acid residues long, of amino-terminal polypeptides not previously seen, as well as masses of electron density within concavities on the interior of the capsid, which appeared in the neighborhoods of icosahedral five- and threefold axes. The densities were compatible with secondary structural domains of RNA, and they included a segment of double helical RNA of about four to five base pairs oriented, at least approximately, along the fivefold axes. The distribution of RNA observed for SPMV appears to be distinctly different than the encapsidated nucleic acid conformation previously suggested for another satellite virus, satellite tobacco mosaic virus. This study further shows that analysis of viruses in crystals grown under different chemical conditions may reveal additional information regarding the structure of encapsidated RNA.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Retroviruses are membrane-enveloped, RNA-containing viruses that produce a wide range of threatening diseases in higher animals. Among these are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which produces acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in humans, and murine leukemia virus (MuLV), which produces leukemias in rodents. We have obtained the first atomic force microscopy (AFM) images of these two retroviruses, both isolated from culture media and emerging from infected cell surfaces. The HIV virions are 127 nm diameter on average, and those of MuLV are 145 nm, although there are wide distributions about the means. The AFM images show the arrangement of the envelope protein, responsible for host cell entry, on the surfaces of both virions. Disruption of the viruses using detergents or physical means allowed us to visualize interior structures, including the outer shells of both MuLV and HIV, the cores of MuLV, and the nucleic acid of HIV complexed with core proteins. Using immunolabeling techniques borrowed from electron microscopy, we were able to demonstrate the binding of gold-labeled antibodies directed against the envelope protein of MuLV. The AFM images are revealing, not only in terms of surface topology, but in terms of interior features as well, and they reveal the eccentricities and uniqueness of individual virus particles rather than yielding the average member of the population. Further application of AFM to viruses associated with other pathologies may ultimately have a significant impact on the diagnosis and treatment of virus-promoted diseases.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Progress in structural biology very much depends upon the development of new high-resolution techniques and tools. Despite decades of study of viruses, bacteria and bacterial spores and their pressing importance in human medicine and biodefense, many of their structural properties are poorly understood. Thus, characterization and understanding of the architecture of protein surface and internal structures of pathogens is critical to elucidating mechanisms of disease, immune response, physicochemical properties, environmental resistance and development of countermeasures against bioterrorist agents. Furthermore, even though complete genome sequences are available for various pathogens, the structure-function relationships are not understood. Because of their lack of symmetry and heterogeneity, large human pathogens are often refractory to X-ray crystallographic analysis or reconstruction by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). An alternative high-resolution method to examine native structure of pathogens is atomic force microscopy (AFM), which allows direct visualization of macromolecular assemblies at near-molecular resolution. The capability to image single pathogen surfaces at nanometer scale in vitro would profoundly impact mechanistic and structural studies of pathogenesis, immunobiology, specific cellular processes, environmental dynamics and biotransformation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Single-stranded genomic RNAs from four icosahedral viruses (poliovirus, turnip yellow mosaic virus (TYMV), brome mosaic virus (BMV), and satellite tobacco mosaic virus (STMV)) along with the RNA from the helical tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) were extracted using phenol/chloroform. The RNAs were imaged using atomic force microscopy (AFM) under dynamic conditions in which the RNA was observed to unfold. RNAs from the four icosahedral viruses initially exhibited highly condensed, uniform spherical shapes with diameters consistent with those expected from the interiors of their respective capsids. Upon incubation at 26 degrees C, poliovirus RNA gradually transformed into chains of globular domains having the appearance of thick, irregularly segmented fibers. These ultimately unwound further to reveal segmented portions of the fibers connected by single strands of RNA of 0.5-1 nm thickness. Virtually the same transformations were shown by TYMV and BMV RNA, and with heating, the RNA from STMV. Upon cooling, the chains of domains of poliovirus RNA and STMV RNA condensed and re-formed their original spherical shapes. TMV RNAs initially appeared as single-stranded threads of 0.5-1.0 nm diameter but took on the structure of the multidomain chains upon further incubation at room temperature. These ultimately condensed into short, thick chains of larger domains. Our observations suggest that classical extraction of RNA from icosahedral virions produces little effect on overall conformation. As tertiary structure is lost however, it is evident that secondary structural elements are arranged in a sequential, linear fashion along the polynucleotide chain. At least in the case of poliovirus and STMV, the process of tertiary structure re-formation from the linear chain of secondary structural domains proceeds in the absence of protein. RNA base sequence, therefore, may be sufficient to encode the conformation of the encapsidated RNA even in the absence of coat proteins.
Journal of Molecular Biology 04/2005; 347(1):41-52. · 3.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Virions of mouse leukemia virus spread on glass substrates were visualized by atomic force microscopy. The size distribution mode was 145 nm, significantly larger than that for human immunodeficiency virus particles. The distribution of particle sizes is broad, indicating that no two particles are likely identical in content or surface features. Virions possess knoblike protrusions, which may represent vestiges of budding from cell membranes. Particles which split open allowed imaging of intact cores with diameters of 65 nm. They also permitted estimation of viral shell thickness (35 to 40 nm) and showed the presence of a distinct trough between the shell and the core surface.
Journal of Virology 03/2005; 79(3):1970-4. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Moloney murine leukemia virus (M-MuLV) lacking the gene for the envelope glycoprotein (env(-)) was produced in NIH 3T3 cells and investigated using atomic force microscopy (AFM). The particles were compared with similarly produced wild-type virions, some of which had been exposed to a monoclonal antibody against the surface component of the envelope protein (SU protein). The env(-) particles generally exhibit a distinctly different external appearance suggesting only a low density of associated proteins that have an almost fluid, mechanically unstable character. The weakly associated proteins may be host cell membrane proteins that are incorporated into the viral membrane in place of or in addition to virus envelope protein. The amount of this non-viral protein on virion surfaces appears to vary from negligible in most cases to a substantial complement in others. It seems clear that the presence of the envelope protein, in a mechanical sense, significantly strengthens and stabilizes the virion envelope. Binding of monoclonal antibody to wild-type virions indicates that some particles expose a significant amount of antigen while adjacent virions may not. This suggests that the conformation of the envelope glycoprotein or the disposition of oligosaccharides may be different among particles, on some virions exposing the specific epitope, and others little or none.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Direct visualization of macromolecular crystal growth using atomic force microscopy (AFM) has provided a powerful tool in the delineation of mechanisms and the kinetics of the growth process. It has further allowed us to evaluate the wide variety of impurities that are incorporated into crystals of proteins, nucleic acids, and viruses. It is possible, using AFM, to image the defects and imperfections that afflict these crystals, the impurity layers that poison their surfaces, and the consequences of various factors on morphological development. All of these can be recorded under normal growth conditions, in native mother liquors, over time intervals ranging from minutes to days, and at the molecular level.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Isolated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and HIV-infected human lymphocytes in culture have been imaged for the first time by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Purified virus particles spread on glass substrates are roughly spherical, reasonably uniform, though pleomorphic in appearance, and have diameters of about 120 nm. Similar particles are also seen on infected cell surfaces, but morphologies and sizes are considerably more varied, possibly a reflection of the budding process. The surfaces of HIV particles exhibit "tufts" of protein, presumably gp120, which do not physically resemble spikes. The protein tufts, which number about 100 per particle, have average diameters of about 200 A, but with a large variance. They likely consist of arbitrary associations of small numbers of gp120 monomers on the surface. In examining several hundred virus particles, we found no evidence that the gp120 monomers form threefold symmetric trimers. Although >95% of HIV-infected H9 lymphocytic cells were producing HIV antigens by immunofluorescent assay, most lymphocytes displayed few or no virus on their surfaces, while others were almost covered by a hundred or more viruses, suggesting a dependence on cell cycle or physiology. HIV-infected cells treated with a viral protease inhibitor and their progeny viruses were also imaged by AFM and were indistinguishable from untreated virions. Isolated HIV virions were disrupted by exposure to mild neutral detergents (Tween 20 and CHAPS) at concentrations from 0.25 to 2.0%. Among the products observed were intact virions, the remnants of completely degraded virions, and partially disrupted particles that lacked sectors of surface proteins as well as virions that were split or broken open to reveal their empty interiors. Capsids containing nucleic acid were not seen, suggesting that the capsids were even more fragile than the envelope and were totally degraded and lost. From these images, a good estimate of the thickness of the envelope protein-membrane-matrix protein outer shell of the virion was obtained. Treatment with even low concentrations (<0.1%) of sodium dodecyl sulfate completely destroyed all virions but produced many interesting products, including aggregates of viral proteins with strands of nucleic acid.
Journal of Virology 11/2003; 77(22):11896-909. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vaccinia virus, the basis of the smallpox vaccine, is one of the largest viruses to replicate in humans. We have used in situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) to directly visualize fully hydrated, intact intracellular mature vaccinia virus (IMV) virions and chemical and enzymatic treatment products thereof. The latter included virion cores, core-enveloping coats, and core substructures. The isolated coats appeared to be composed of a highly cross-linked protein array. AFM imaging of core substructures indicated association of the linear viral DNA genome with a segmented protein sheath forming an extended approximately 16-nm-diameter filament with helical surface topography; enclosure of this filament within a 30- to 40-nm-diameter tubule which also shows helical topography; and enclosure of the folded, condensed 30- to 40-nm-diameter tubule within the core by a wall covered with peg-like projections. Proteins observed attached to the 30- to 40-nm-diameter tubules may mediate folding and/or compaction of the tubules and/or represent vestiges of the core wall and/or pegs. An accessory "satellite domain" was observed protruding from the intact core. This corresponded in size to isolated 70- to 100-nm-diameter particles that were imaged independently and might represent detached accessory domains. AFM imaging of intact virions indicated that IMV underwent a reversible shrinkage upon dehydration (as much as 2.2- to 2.5-fold in the height dimension), accompanied by topological and topographical changes, including protrusion of the satellite domain. As shown here, the chemical and enzymatic dissection of large, asymmetrical virus particles in combination with in situ AFM provides an informative complement to other structure determination techniques.
Journal of Virology 07/2003; 77(11):6332-40. · 5.08 Impact Factor