The portal protein is a key component of many double-stranded DNA viruses, governing capsid assembly and genome packaging. Twelve subunits of the portal protein define a tunnel, through which DNA is translocated into the capsid. It is unknown how the portal protein functions as a gatekeeper, preventing DNA slippage, whilst allowing its passage into the capsid, and how these processes are controlled. A cryo-EM structure of the portal protein of thermostable virus P23-45, determined in situ in its procapsid-bound state, indicates a mechanism that naturally safeguards the virus against genome loss. This occurs via an inversion of the conformation of the loops that define the constriction in the central tunnel, accompanied by a hydrophilic–hydrophobic switch. The structure also shows how translocation of DNA into the capsid could be modulated by a changing mode of protein–protein interactions between portal and capsid, across a symmetry-mismatched interface.
- Oliver W Bayfield
- Alfred A Antson
- Alasdair C Steven
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Edward H Egelman, University of Virginia, United States
This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.
Undruggability of RAS proteins has necessitated alternative strategies for the development of effective inhibitors. In this respect, phosphorylation has recently come into prominence as this reversible post-translational modification attenuates sensitivity of RAS towards RAF. As such, in this study, we set out to unveil the impact of phosphorylation on dynamics of HRASWT and aim to invoke similar behavior in HRASG12D mutant by means of small therapeutic molecules. To this end, we performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations using phosphorylated HRAS and showed that phosphorylation of Y32 distorted Switch I, hence the RAS/RAF interface. Consequently, we targeted Switch I in HRASG12D by means of approved therapeutic molecules and showed that the ligands enabled detachment of Switch I from the nucleotide-binding pocket. Moreover, we demonstrated that displacement of Switch I from the nucleotide-binding pocket was energetically more favorable in the presence of the ligand. Importantly, we verified computational findings in vitro where HRASG12D/RAF interaction was prevented by the ligand in HEK293T cells that expressed HRASG12D mutant protein. Therefore, these findings suggest that targeting Switch I, hence making Y32 accessible might open up new avenues in future drug discovery strategies that target mutant RAS proteins.
Cryogenic electron tomography (cryo-ET) combined with subtomogram averaging, allows in situ visualization and structure determination of macromolecular complexes at subnanometre resolution. Cryogenic focused ion beam (cryo-FIB) micromachining is used to prepare a thin lamella-shaped sample out of a frozen-hydrated cell for cryo-ET imaging, but standard cryo-FIB fabrication is blind to the precise location of the structure or proteins of interest. Fluorescence-guided focused ion beam (FIB) milling at target locations requires multiple sample transfers prone to contamination, and relocation and registration accuracy is often insufficient for 3D targeting. Here, we present in situ fluorescence microscopy-guided FIB fabrication of a frozen-hydrated lamella to address this problem: we built a coincident three-beam cryogenic correlative microscope by retrofitting a compact cryogenic microcooler, custom positioning stage, and an inverted widefield fluorescence microscope (FM) on an existing FIB scanning electron microscope. We show FM controlled targeting at every milling step in the lamella fabrication process, validated with transmission electron microscope tomogram reconstructions of the target regions. The ability to check the lamella during and after the milling process results in a higher success rate in the fabrication process and will increase the throughput of fabrication for lamellae suitable for high-resolution imaging.