Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Fusion protein


BM32 is a grass pollen allergy vaccine based on recombinant fusion proteins consisting of nonallergenic peptides from the IgE-binding sites of the 4 major grass pollen allergens and the hepatitis B preS protein.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Protein structure, Amino acid, Asthma, Immunology, Antigen, Fusion protein


Evidence is accumulating that commonly used pesticides are linked to decline of pollinator populations; adverse effects of three neonicotinoids on bees have led to bans on their use across the European Union. Developing insecticides that pose negligible risks to beneficial organisms such as honeybees is desirable and timely. One strategy is to use recombinant fusion proteins containing neuroactive peptides/proteins linked to a ‘carrier’ protein that confers oral toxicity. Hv1a/GNA (Galanthus nivalis agglutinin), containing an insect-specific spider venom calcium channel blocker (ω-hexatoxin-Hv1a) linked to snowdrop lectin (GNA) as a ‘carrier’, is an effective oral biopesticide towards various insect pests. Effects of Hv1a/GNA towards a non-target species, Apis mellifera, were assessed through a thorough early-tier risk assessment. Following feeding, honeybees internalized Hv1a/GNA, which reached the brain within 1 h after exposure. However, survival was only slightly affected by ingestion (LD50>100 µg bee(-1)) or injection of fusion protein. Bees fed acute (100 µg bee(-1)) or chronic (0.35 mg ml(-1)) doses of Hv1a/GNA and trained in an olfactory learning task had similar rates of learning and memory to no-pesticide controls. Larvae were unaffected, being able to degrade Hv1a/GNA. These tests suggest that Hv1a/GNA is unlikely to cause detrimental effects on honeybees, indicating that atracotoxins targeting calcium channels are potential alternatives to conventional pesticides.

Concepts: Protein, Insect, Arthropod, Honey bee, Fusion protein, Calcium channel blocker, Calcium channel, Galanthus


The host-restricted pathogen Streptococcus equi causes strangles in the horse, which is characterised by abscessation of the lymph nodes of the head and neck. The disease is endemic throughout the world causing considerable welfare and economic cost to the horse industry. Here we report the results of three studies where ponies were vaccinated with combinations of recombinant fusion proteins to optimise vaccine production and the level of protection conferred. Optimal protection was conferred by a prototype multicomponent subunit vaccine, Strangvac 4, which contained eight proteins CNE, SclC, SclF, SclI, EAG (fused as CCE), SEQ_402, SEQ_0256 (fused as Eq85) and IdeE. Across the three experiments only three of 16 ponies vaccinated with Strangvac 4 became pyretic compared to all 16 placebo-vaccinated control ponies (P < .001). S. equi was recovered from the lymph nodes of eight Strangvac 4-vaccinated and 15 control ponies (P = .016). None of the ponies vaccinated with Strangvac 4, or the other prototype vaccines developed adverse reactions following vaccination. Our data provide evidence in support of the further clinical development of the Strangvac 4 vaccine.

Concepts: Protein, Cancer, Vaccine, Vaccination, Fusion protein


The tremendous pandemic potential of coronaviruses was demonstrated twice in the past few decades by two global outbreaks of deadly pneumonia. Entry of coronaviruses into cells is mediated by the transmembrane spike glycoprotein S, which forms a trimer carrying receptor-binding and membrane fusion functions. S also contains the principal antigenic determinants and is the target of neutralizing antibodies. Here we present the structure of a mouse coronavirus S trimer ectodomain determined at 4.0 Å resolution by single particle cryo-electron microscopy. It reveals the metastable pre-fusion architecture of S and highlights key interactions stabilizing it. The structure shares a common core with paramyxovirus F proteins, implicating mechanistic similarities and an evolutionary connection between these viral fusion proteins. The accessibility of the highly conserved fusion peptide at the periphery of the trimer indicates potential vaccinology strategies to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies against coronaviruses. Finally, comparison with crystal structures of human coronavirus S domains allows rationalization of the molecular basis for species specificity based on the use of spatially contiguous but distinct domains.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Pneumonia, Cell membrane, Sociology, Antigen, Fusion protein


Drinking water can be exposed to different biological contaminants from the source, through the pipelines, until reaching the final consumer or industry. Some of these are pathogenic bacteria and viruses which may cause important gastrointestinal or systemic diseases. The microbiological quality of drinking water relies mainly in monitoring three indicator bacteria of faecal origin, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecalis and Clostridium perfringens, which serve as early sentinels of potential health hazards for the population. Here we describe the analysis of three chimeric fluorescent protein bullets as biosensor candidates for fast detection of E. coli in drinking water. Two of the chimeric proteins (based on GFP-hadrurin and GFP-pb5 chimera proteins) failed with respect to specificity and/or sensitivity, but the GFP-colS4 chimera protein was able to carry out specific detection of E. coli in drinking water samples in a procedure encompassing about 8 min for final result and this biosensor protein was able to detect in a linear way between 20 and 103 CFU of this bacterium. Below 20 CFU, the system cannot differentiate presence or absence of the target bacterium. The fluorescence in this biosensor system is provided by the GFP subunit of the chimeric protein, which, in the case of the better performing sensor bullet, GFP-colS4 chimera, is covalently bound to a flexible peptide bridge and to a bacteriocin binding specifically to E. coli cells. Once bound to the target bacteria, the excitation step with 395 nm LED light causes emission of fluorescence from the GFP domain, which is amplified in a photomultiplier tube, and finally this signal is converted into an output voltage which can be associated with a CFU value and these data distributed along mobile phone networks, for example. This method, and the portable fluorimeter which has been developed for it, may contribute to reduce the analysis time for detecting E. coli presence in drinking water.

Concepts: Protein, Oxygen, Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Escherichia coli, Pathogen, Fusion protein


Gene fusions are common cancer-causing mutations, but the molecular principles by which fusion protein products affect interaction networks and cause disease are not well understood. Here, we perform an integrative analysis of the structural, interactomic, and regulatory properties of thousands of putative fusion proteins. We demonstrate that genes that form fusions (i.e., parent genes) tend to be highly connected hub genes, whose protein products are enriched in structured and disordered interaction-mediating features. Fusion often results in the loss of these parental features and the depletion of regulatory sites such as post-translational modifications. Fusion products disproportionately connect proteins that did not previously interact in the protein interaction network. In this manner, fusion products can escape cellular regulation and constitutively rewire protein interaction networks. We suggest that the deregulation of central, interaction-prone proteins may represent a widespread mechanism by which fusion proteins alter the topology of cellular signaling pathways and promote cancer.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Amino acid, Molecular biology, Signal transduction, Cell biology, Fusion protein


RESOLFT super-resolution microscopy allows subdiffraction resolution imaging of living cells using low intensities of light. It relies on the light-driven switching of reversible switchable fluorescent proteins (RSFPs). So far, RESOLFT imaging was restricted to living cells, because chemical fixation typically affects the switching characteristics of RSFPs. In this study we created a fusion construct (FLASR) consisting of the RSFP rsEGFP2 and the divalent form of the antibody binding Z domain from protein A. FLASR can be used analogous to secondary antibodies in conventional immunochemistry, facilitating simple and robust sample preparation. We demonstrate RESOLFT super-resolution microscopy on chemically fixed mammalian cells. The approach may be extended to other super-resolution approaches requiring fluorescent proteins in an aqueous environment.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Gene, Chemistry, Microscopy, Fusion protein


The cellular endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery is involved in membrane budding processes, such as multivesicular biogenesis and cytokinesis. In HIV-infected cells, HIV-1 hijacks the ESCRT machinery to drive HIV release. Early in the HIV-1 assembly process, the ESCRT-I protein Tsg101 and the ESCRT-related protein ALIX are recruited to the assembly site. Further downstream, components such as the ESCRT-III proteins CHMP4 and CHMP2 form transient membrane associated lattices, which are involved in virus-host membrane fission. Although various geometries of ESCRT-III assemblies could be observed, the actual membrane constriction and fission mechanism is not fully understood. Fission might be driven from inside the HIV-1 budding neck by narrowing the membranes from the outside by larger lattices surrounding the neck, or from within the bud. Here, we use super-resolution fluorescence microscopy to elucidate the size and structure of the ESCRT components Tsg101, ALIX, CHMP4B and CHMP2A during HIV-1 budding below the diffraction limit. To avoid the deleterious effects of using fusion proteins attached to ESCRT components, we performed measurements on the endogenous protein or, in the case of CHMP4B, constructs modified with the small HA tag. Due to the transient nature of the ESCRT interactions, the fraction of HIV-1 assembly sites with colocalizing ESCRT complexes was low (1.5%-3.4%). All colocalizing ESCRT clusters exhibited closed, circular structures with an average size (full-width at half-maximum) between 45 and 60 nm or a diameter (determined using a Ripley’s L-function analysis) of roughly 60 to 100 nm. The size distributions for colocalizing clusters were narrower than for non-colocalizing clusters, and significantly smaller than the HIV-1 bud. Hence, our results support a membrane scission process driven by ESCRT protein assemblies inside a confined structure, such as the bud neck, rather than by large lattices around the neck or in the bud lumen. In the case of ALIX, a cloud of individual molecules surrounding the central clusters was often observed, which we attribute to ALIX molecules incorporated into the nascent HIV-1 Gag shell. Experiments performed using YFP-tagged Tsg101 led to an over 10-fold increase in ESCRT structures colocalizing with HIV-1 budding sites indicating an influence of the fusion protein tag on the function of the ESCRT protein.

Concepts: Proteins, Protein, Molecular biology, Cell membrane, Yeast, Assembly language, Microscopy, Fusion protein


Haemoglobin degradation during the erythrocytic life stages is the major function of the food vacuole (FV) of Plasmodium falciparum and the target of several anti-malarial drugs that interfere with this metabolic pathway, killing the parasite. Two multi-spanning food vacuole membrane proteins are known, the multidrug resistance protein 1 (PfMDR1) and Chloroquine Resistance Transporter (PfCRT). Both modulate resistance to drugs that act in the food vacuole. To investigate the formation and behaviour of the food vacuole membrane we have generated inducible GFP fusions of chloroquine sensitive and resistant forms of the PfCRT protein. The inducible expression system allowed us to follow newly-induced fusion proteins, and corroborated a previous report of a direct trafficking route from the ER/Golgi to the food vacuole membrane. These parasites also allowed the definition of a food vacuole compartment in ring stage parasites well before haemozoin crystals were apparent, as well as the elucidation of secondary PfCRT-labelled compartments adjacent to the food vacuole in late stage parasites. We demonstrated that in addition to previously demonstrated Brefeldin A sensitivity, the trafficking of PfCRT is disrupted by Dynasore, a non competitive inhibitor of dynamin-mediated vesicle formation. Chloroquine sensitivity was not altered in parasites over-expressing chloroquine resistant or sensitive forms of the PfCRT fused to GFP, suggesting that the PfCRT does not mediate chloroquine transport as a GFP fusion protein.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Metabolism, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Fusion protein, Chloroquine


Escherichia coli AcrAB-TolC is a multidrug efflux pump that expels a wide range of toxic substrates. The dynamic nature of the binding or low affinity between the components has impeded elucidation of how the three components assemble in the functional state. Here, we created fusion proteins composed of AcrB, a transmembrane linker, and two copies of AcrA. The fusion protein exhibited acridine pumping activity, suggesting that the protein reflects the functional structure in vivo. To discern the assembling mode with TolC, the AcrBA fusion protein was incubated with TolC or a chimeric protein containing the TolC aperture tip region. Three-dimensional structures of the complex proteins were determined through transmission electron microscopy. The overall structure exemplifies the adaptor bridging model, wherein the funnel-like AcrA hexamer forms an intermeshing cogwheel interaction with the α-barrel tip region of TolC, and a direct interaction between AcrB and TolC is not allowed. These observations provide a structural blueprint for understanding multidrug resistance in pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria.

Concepts: Protein, Electron, Structure, Antibiotic resistance, Escherichia coli, Lipid, Fusion protein, Gram negative bacteria