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Poly[n]catenanes: Synthesis of molecular interlocked chains

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

As the macromolecular version of mechanically interlocked molecules, mechanically interlocked polymers are promising candidates for the creation of sophisticated molecular machines and smart soft materials. Poly[n]catenanes, where the molecular chains consist solely of interlocked macrocycles, contain one of the highest concentrations of topological bonds. We report, herein, a synthetic approach toward this distinctive polymer architecture in high yield (~75%) via efficient ring closing of rationally designed metallosupramolecular polymers. Light-scattering, mass spectrometric, and nuclear magnetic resonance characterization of fractionated samples support assignment of the high–molar mass product (number-average molar mass ~21.4 kilograms per mole) to a mixture of linear poly[7–26]catenanes, branched poly[13–130]catenanes, and cyclic poly[4–7]catenanes. Increased hydrodynamic radius (in solution) and glass transition temperature (in bulk materials) were observed upon metallation with Zn2+.

Structural basis of membrane disruption and cellular toxicity by {alpha}-synuclein oligomers

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

Oligomeric species populated during the aggregation process of α-synuclein have been linked to neuronal impairment in Parkinson’s disease and related neurodegenerative disorders. By using solution and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance techniques in conjunction with other structural methods, we identified the fundamental characteristics that enable toxic α-synuclein oligomers to perturb biological membranes and disrupt cellular function; these include a highly lipophilic element that promotes strong membrane interactions and a structured region that inserts into lipid bilayers and disrupts their integrity. In support of these conclusions, mutations that target the region that promotes strong membrane interactions by α-synuclein oligomers suppressed their toxicity in neuroblastoma cells and primary cortical neurons.

Analysis of Fusobacterium persistence and antibiotic response in colorectal cancer

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

Colorectal cancers comprise a complex mixture of malignant cells, nontransformed cells, and microorganisms. Fusobacterium nucleatum is among the most prevalent bacterial species in colorectal cancer tissues. Here we show that colonization of human colorectal cancers with Fusobacterium and its associated microbiome—including Bacteroides, Selenomonas, and Prevotella species—is maintained in distal metastases, demonstrating microbiome stability between paired primary and metastatic tumors. In situ hybridization analysis revealed that Fusobacterium is predominantly associated with cancer cells in the metastatic lesions. Mouse xenografts of human primary colorectal adenocarcinomas were found to retain viable Fusobacterium and its associated microbiome through successive passages. Treatment of mice bearing a colon cancer xenograft with the antibiotic metronidazole reduced Fusobacterium load, cancer cell proliferation, and overall tumor growth. These observations argue for further investigation of antimicrobial interventions as a potential treatment for patients with Fusobacterium-associated colorectal cancer.

Vasohibins/SVBP are tubulin carboxypeptidases (TCPs) that regulate neuron differentiation

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

Reversible detyrosination of α-tubulin is crucial to microtubule dynamics and functions, and defects have been implicated in cancer, brain disorganization, and cardiomyopathies. The identity of the tubulin tyrosine carboxypeptidase (TCP) responsible for detyrosination has remained unclear. We used chemical proteomics with a potent irreversible inhibitor to show that the major brain TCP is a complex of vasohibin-1 (VASH1) with the small vasohibin binding protein (SVBP). VASH1 and its homolog VASH2, when complexed with SVBP, exhibited robust and specific Tyr/Phe carboxypeptidase activity on microtubules. Knockdown of vasohibins or SVBP and/or inhibitor addition in cultured neurons reduced detyrosinated α-tubulin levels and caused severe differentiation defects. Furthermore, knockdown of vasohibins disrupted neuronal migration in developing mouse neocortex. Thus, vasohibin/SVBP complexes represent long-sought TCP enzymes.

Vasohibins encode tubulin detyrosinating activity

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

Tubulin is subjected to a number of posttranslational modifications to generate heterogeneous microtubules. The modifications include removal and ligation of the C-terminal tyrosine of -tubulin. The enzymes responsible for detyrosination, an activity first observed 40 years ago, have remained elusive. We applied a genetic screen in haploid human cells to find regulators of tubulin detyrosination. We identified SVBP, a peptide that regulates the abundance of vasohibins (VASH1 and VASH2). Vasohibins, but not SVBP alone, increased detyrosination of -tubulin, and purified vasohibins removed the C-terminal tyrosine of -tubulin. We found that vasohibins play a cell type–dependent role in detyrosination, although cells also contain an additional detyrosinating activity. Thus, vasohibins, hitherto studied as secreted angiogenesis regulators, constitute a long-sought missing link in the tubulin tyrosination cycle.

Multiplex recording of cellular events over time on CRISPR biological tape

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

Although dynamics underlie many biological processes, our ability to robustly and accurately profile time-varying biological signals and regulatory programs remains limited. Here we describe a framework for storing temporal biological information directly in the genomes of a cell population. We developed a "biological tape recorder" in which biological signals trigger intracellular DNA production that is then recorded by the CRISPR-Cas adaptation system. This approach enables stable recording over multiple days and accurate reconstruction of temporal and lineage information by sequencing CRISPR arrays. We further demonstrate a multiplexing strategy to simultaneously record the temporal availability of three metabolites (copper, trehalose, and fucose) in the environment of a cell population over time. This work enables the temporal measurement of dynamic cellular states and environmental changes and suggests new applications for chronicling biological events on a large scale.

Comprehensive computational design of ordered peptide macrocycles

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

Mixed-chirality peptide macrocycles such as cyclosporine are among the most potent therapeutics identified to date, but there is currently no way to systematically search the structural space spanned by such compounds. Natural proteins do not provide a useful guide: Peptide macrocycles lack regular secondary structures and hydrophobic cores, and can contain local structures not accessible with l-amino acids. Here, we enumerate the stable structures that can be adopted by macrocyclic peptides composed of l- and d-amino acids by near-exhaustive backbone sampling followed by sequence design and energy landscape calculations. We identify more than 200 designs predicted to fold into single stable structures, many times more than the number of currently available unbound peptide macrocycle structures. Nuclear magnetic resonance structures of 9 of 12 designed 7- to 10-residue macrocycles, and three 11- to 14-residue bicyclic designs, are close to the computational models. Our results provide a nearly complete coverage of the rich space of structures possible for short peptide macrocycles and vastly increase the available starting scaffolds for both rational drug design and library selection methods.

New Products

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

My children help my science

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

Enzyme-free nucleic acid dynamical systems

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

Chemistries exhibiting complex dynamics—from inorganic oscillators to gene regulatory networks—have been long known but either cannot be reprogrammed at will or rely on the sophisticated enzyme chemistry underlying the central dogma. Can simpler molecular mechanisms, designed from scratch, exhibit the same range of behaviors? Abstract chemical reaction networks have been proposed as a programming language for complex dynamics, along with their systematic implementation using short synthetic DNA molecules. We developed this technology for dynamical systems by identifying critical design principles and codifying them into a compiler automating the design process. Using this approach, we built an oscillator containing only DNA components, establishing that Watson-Crick base-pairing interactions alone suffice for complex chemical dynamics and that autonomous molecular systems can be designed via molecular programming languages.

Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

Self-folding of an information-carrying polymer into a defined structure is foundational to biology and offers attractive potential as a synthetic strategy. Although multicomponent self-assembly has produced complex synthetic nanostructures, unimolecular folding has seen limited progress. We describe a framework to design and synthesize a single DNA or RNA strand to self-fold into a complex yet unknotted structure that approximates an arbitrary user-prescribed shape. We experimentally construct diverse multikilobase single-stranded structures, including a ~10,000-nucleotide (nt) DNA structure and a ~6000-nt RNA structure. We demonstrate facile replication of the strand in vitro and in living cells. The work here thus establishes unimolecular folding as a general strategy for constructing complex and replicable nucleic acid nanostructures, and expands the design space and material scalability for bottom-up nanotechnology.

The nanoscale circuitry of battery electrodes

Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:25

Developing high-performance, affordable, and durable batteries is one of the decisive technological tasks of our generation. Here, we review recent progress in understanding how to optimally arrange the various necessary phases to form the nanoscale structure of a battery electrode. The discussion begins with design principles for optimizing electrode kinetics based on the transport parameters and dimensionality of the phases involved. These principles are then used to review and classify various nanostructured architectures that have been synthesized. Connections are drawn to the necessary fabrication methods, and results from in operando experiments are highlighted that give insight into how electrodes evolve during battery cycling.

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