Berkeley Lab Scientists Create First 3-D Model of a Protein Critical to Embryo Development (Berkeley Lab)

Inside eLife
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The first detailed and complete picture of a protein complex that is tied to human birth defects as well as the progression of many forms of cancer has been obtained by an international team of researchers led by scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Knowing the architecture of this protein, PRC2, for Polycomb Repressive Complex 2, should be a boon to its future use in the development of new and improved therapeutic drugs.

“We present a complete molecular organization of human PRC2 that offers an invaluable structural context for understanding all of the previous biochemical and functional data that has been collected on this complex,” says Berkeley Lab biophysicist Eva Nogales, an electron microscopy expert who led this research. “Our model should also be an invaluable tool for the design of new experiments aimed at asking detailed questions about the mechanisms that enable PRC2 to function and how those mechanisms might be exploited.”

Nogales, who holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab, the University of California (UC) at Berkeley, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), is one of two corresponding authors of a paper describing this research in the journaleLife. The paper is titled “Molecular Architecture of Human Polycomb Repressive Complex 2.” The other corresponding author is Claudio Ciferri, previously a postdoctoral fellow in the Nogales Lab, now with Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostic. Additional authors are Gabriel Lander, Alessio Maiolica, Franz Herzog and Ruedi Aebersold. Read more.