Viral detection and identification in 20 minutes by rapid single-particle fluorescence in-situ hybridization of viral RNA
Abstract:The increasing risk from viral outbreaks such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the need for rapid, affordable and sensitive methods for virus detection, identification and quantification; however, existing methods for detecting virus particles in biological samples usually depend on multistep protocols that take considerable time to yield a result. Here, we introduce a rapid fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) protocol capable of detecting influenza virus, avian infectious bronchitis virus and SARS-CoV-2 specifically and quantitatively in approximately 20 minutes, in both virus cultures and combined throat and nasal swabs without previous purification. This fast and facile workflow is applicable to a wide range of enveloped viruses and can be adapted both as a lab technique and a future diagnostic tool.
Transient non-specific DNA binding dominates the target search of bacterial DNA-binding proteins.
Molecular cell 81:7 (2021) 1499-1514.e6
Abstract:Despite their diverse biochemical characteristics and functions, all DNA-binding proteins share the ability to accurately locate their target sites among the vast excess of non-target DNA. Toward identifying universal mechanisms of the target search, we used single-molecule tracking of 11 diverse DNA-binding proteins in living Escherichia coli. The mobility of these proteins during the target search was dictated by DNA interactions rather than by their molecular weights. By generating cells devoid of all chromosomal DNA, we discovered that the nucleoid is not a physical barrier for protein diffusion but significantly slows the motion of DNA-binding proteins through frequent short-lived DNA interactions. The representative DNA-binding proteins (irrespective of their size, concentration, or function) spend the majority (58%-99%) of their search time bound to DNA and occupy as much as ∼30% of the chromosomal DNA at any time. Chromosome crowding likely has important implications for the function of all DNA-binding proteins.
FRET-based dynamic structural biology: Challenges, perspectives and an appeal for open-science practices.
eLife 10 (2021)
Abstract:Single-molecule FRET (smFRET) has become a mainstream technique for studying biomolecular structural dynamics. The rapid and wide adoption of smFRET experiments by an ever-increasing number of groups has generated significant progress in sample preparation, measurement procedures, data analysis, algorithms and documentation. Several labs that employ smFRET approaches have joined forces to inform the smFRET community about streamlining how to perform experiments and analyze results for obtaining quantitative information on biomolecular structure and dynamics. The recent efforts include blind tests to assess the accuracy and the precision of smFRET experiments among different labs using various procedures. These multi-lab studies have led to the development of smFRET procedures and documentation, which are important when submitting entries into the archiving system for integrative structure models, PDB-Dev. This position paper describes the current 'state of the art' from different perspectives, points to unresolved methodological issues for quantitative structural studies, provides a set of 'soft recommendations' about which an emerging consensus exists, and lists openly available resources for newcomers and seasoned practitioners. To make further progress, we strongly encourage 'open science' practices.
Transcription initiation at a consensus bacterial promoter proceeds via a “bind-unwind-load-and-lock” mechanism
Abstract:Transcription initiation starts with unwinding of promoter DNA by RNA polymerase (RNAP) to form a catalytically competent RNAP-promoter complex (RP O ). Despite extensive study, the mechanism of promoter unwinding has remained unclear, in part due to the transient nature of intermediates on path to RPo. Here, using single-molecule unwinding-induced fluorescence enhancement to monitor promoter unwinding, and single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer to monitor RNAP clamp conformation, we analyze RPo formation at a consensus bacterial core promoter. We find that the RNAP clamp is closed during promoter binding, remains closed during promoter unwinding, and then closes further, locking the unwound DNA in the RNAP active-centre cleft. Our work defines a new, “bind-unwind-load-and-lock,” model for the series of conformational changes occurring during promoter unwinding at a consensus bacterial promoter and provides the tools needed to examine the process in other organisms and at other promoters.
Significance statementTranscription initiation, the first step and most important step in gene expression for all organisms, involves unwinding of promoter DNA by RNA polymerase (RNAP) to form an open complex (RPo); this step also underpins transcriptional regulation and serves as an antibiotic target. Despite decades of research, the mechanism of promoter DNA unwinding has remained unresolved. Here, we solve this puzzle by using single-molecule fluorescence to directly monitor conformational changes in the promoter DNA and RNAP in real time during RPo formation. We show that RPo forms via a “ bind-unwind-load-and-lock ” mechanism, where the promoter unwinds outside the RNAP cleft, the unwound template DNA loads into the cleft, and RNAP “locks” the template DNA in place by closing the RNAP clamp module.
The switching mechanism of the bacterial rotary motor combines tight regulation with inherent flexibility
The EMBO journal EMBO Press 40:6 (2021) e104683