Concept: Musical form
Human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived retinal organoids are a platform for investigating retinal development, pathophysiology, and cellular therapies. In contrast to histologic analysis in which multiple specimens fixed at different times are used to reconstruct developmental processes, repeated analysis of the same living organoids provides a more direct means to characterize changes. New live imaging modalities can provide insights into retinal organoid structure and metabolic function during in vitro growth. This study employed live tissue imaging to characterize retinal organoid development, including metabolic changes accompanying photoreceptor differentiation.
Fluorescently labeled structures can be spectrally isolated and imaged at high resolution in living embryos by light sheet microscopy. Multimodal imaging techniques are now needed to put these distinct structures back into the context of the surrounding tissue. We found that the bright-field contrast of unstained specimens in a selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM) setup can be exploited for in vivo tomographic reconstructions of the three-dimensional anatomy of zebrafish, without causing phototoxicity. We report multimodal imaging of entire zebrafish embryos over several hours of development, as well as segmentation, tracking and automatic registration of individual organs.
How structure relates to function-across spatial scales, from the single molecule to the whole organism-is a central theme in biology. Bioengineers, however, wrestle with the converse question: will function follow form? That is, we struggle to approximate the architecture of living tissues experimentally, hoping that the structure we create will lead to the function we desire. A new means to explore the relationship between form and function in living tissue has arrived with three-dimensional printing, but the technology is not without limitations.
Despite recent advances, the structures of many proteins cannot be determined by electron cryomicroscopy because the individual proteins move during irradiation. This blurs the images so that they cannot be aligned with each other to calculate a three-dimensional density. Much of this movement stems from instabilities in the carbon substrates used to support frozen samples in the microscope. Here we demonstrate a gold specimen support that nearly eliminates substrate motion during irradiation. This increases the subnanometer image contrast such that α helices of individual proteins are resolved. With this improvement, we determine the structure of apoferritin, a smooth octahedral shell of α-helical subunits that is particularly difficult to solve by electron microscopy. This advance in substrate design will enable the solution of currently intractable protein structures.
In this paper, we propose a cognitive semantic approach to represent part-whole relations. We base our proposal on the theory of conceptual spaces, focusing on prototypical structures in part-whole relations. Prototypical structures are not accounted for in traditional mereological formalisms. In our account, parts and wholes are represented in distinct conceptual spaces; parts are joined to form wholes in a structure space. The structure space allows systematic similarity judgments between wholes, taking into consideration shared parts and their configurations. A point in the structure space denotes a particular part structure; regions in the space represent different general types of part structures. We argue that the structural space can represent prototype effects: structural types are formed around typical arrangements of parts. We also show how structure space captures the variations in part structure of a given concept across different domains. In addition, we discuss how some taxonomies of part-whole relations can be understood within our framework.
The higher order structure of protein therapeutics can be interrogated with hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS). HDX-MS is now a widely used tool in the structural characterization of protein therapeutics. In this review, HDX-MS-based workflows designed for protein therapeutic discovery and development processes are presented, focusing on the specific applications of epitope mapping for protein and/or drug interactions and biopharmaceutical comparability studies. Future trends in the application of HDX-MS in protein therapeutics characterization are also described.
The ZIP zinc transporter family is responsible for zinc uptake from the extracellular milieu or intracellular vesicles. The LIV-1 subfamily, containing nine out of the 14 human ZIP proteins, is featured with a large extracellular domain (ECD). The critical role of the ECD is manifested by disease-causing mutations on ZIP4, a representative LIV-1 protein. Here we report the first crystal structure of a mammalian ZIP4-ECD, which reveals two structurally independent subdomains and an unprecedented dimer centred at the signature PAL motif. Structure-guided mutagenesis, cell-based zinc uptake assays and mapping of the disease-causing mutations indicate that the two subdomains play pivotal but distinct roles and that the bridging region connecting them is particularly important for ZIP4 function. These findings lead to working hypotheses on how ZIP4-ECD exerts critical functions in zinc transport. The conserved dimeric architecture in ZIP4-ECD is also demonstrated to be a common structural feature among the LIV-1 proteins.
The regenerating region of an amputated salamander limb, known as the blastema, has the amazing capacity to replace exactly the missing structures. By grafting cells from different stages and regions of blastemas induced to form on donor animals expressing Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), to non-GFP host animals, we have determined that the cells from early stage blastemas, as well as cells at the tip of late stage blastemas are developmentally labile such that their positional identity is reprogrammed by interactions with more proximal cells with stable positional information. In contrast, cells from the adjacent, more proximal stump tissues as well as the basal region of late bud blastemas are positionally stable, and thus form ectopic limb structures when grafted. Finally, we have found that a nerve is required to maintain the blastema cells in a positionally labile state, thus indicating a role for reprogramming cues in the blastema microenvironment.
HP1 is a structural component of heterochromatin. Mammalian HP1 isoforms HP1α, HP1β, and HP1γ play different roles in genome stability, but their precise role in heterochromatin structure is unclear. Analysis of Hp1α(-/-), Hp1β(-/-), and Hp1γ(-/-) MEFs show that HP1 proteins have both redundant and unique functions within pericentric heterochromatin (PCH) and also act globally throughout the genome. HP1α confines H4K20me3 and H3K27me3 to regions within PCH, while its absence results in a global hyper-compaction of chromatin associated with a specific pattern of mitotic defects. In contrast, HP1β is functionally associated with Suv4-20h2 and H4K20me3, and its loss induces global chromatin decompaction and an abnormal enrichment of CTCF in PCH and other genomic regions. Our work provides insight into the roles of HP1 proteins in heterochromatin structure and genome stability.
Zika virus (ZIKV), formerly a neglected pathogen, has recently been associated with microcephaly in fetuses, and with Guillian-Barré syndrome in adults. Here we present the 3.7 Å resolution cryo-electron microscopy structure of ZIKV, and show that the overall architecture of the virus is similar to that of other flaviviruses. Sequence and structural comparisons of the ZIKV envelope (E) protein with other flaviviruses show that parts of the E protein closely resemble the neurovirulent West Nile and Japanese encephalitis viruses, while others are similar to dengue virus (DENV). However, the contribution of the E protein to flavivirus pathobiology is currently not understood. The virus particle was observed to be structurally stable even when incubated at 40 °C, in sharp contrast to the less thermally stable DENV. This is also reflected in the infectivity of ZIKV compared to DENV serotypes 2 and 4 (DENV2 and DENV4) at different temperatures. The cryo-electron microscopy structure shows a virus with a more compact surface. This structural stability of the virus may help it to survive in the harsh conditions of semen, saliva and urine. Antibodies or drugs that destabilize the structure may help to reduce the disease outcome or limit the spread of the virus.