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1.  Continuous mutual improvement of macromolecular structure models in the PDB and of X-ray crystallographic software: the dual role of deposited experimental data 
Macromolecular structures deposited in the PDB can and should be continually reinterpreted and improved on the basis of their accompanying experimental X-ray data, exploiting the steady progress in methods and software that the deposition of such data into the PDB on a massive scale has made possible.
Accurate crystal structures of macromolecules are of high importance in the biological and biomedical fields. Models of crystal structures in the Protein Data Bank (PDB) are in general of very high quality as deposited. However, methods for obtaining the best model of a macromolecular structure from a given set of experimental X-ray data continue to progress at a rapid pace, making it possible to improve most PDB entries after their deposition by re-analyzing the original deposited data with more recent software. This possibility represents a very significant departure from the situation that prevailed when the PDB was created, when it was envisioned as a cumulative repository of static contents. A radical paradigm shift for the PDB is therefore proposed, away from the static archive model towards a much more dynamic body of continuously improving results in symbiosis with continuously improving methods and software. These simultaneous improvements in methods and final results are made possible by the current deposition of processed crystallographic data (structure-factor amplitudes) and will be supported further by the deposition of raw data (diffraction images). It is argued that it is both desirable and feasible to carry out small-scale and large-scale efforts to make this paradigm shift a reality. Small-scale efforts would focus on optimizing structures that are of interest to specific investigators. Large-scale efforts would undertake a systematic re-optimization of all of the structures in the PDB, or alternatively the redetermination of groups of structures that are either related to or focused on specific questions. All of the resulting structures should be made generally available, along with the precursor entries, with various views of the structures being made available depending on the types of questions that users are interested in answering.
PMCID: PMC4188001  PMID: 25286839
structure determination; model quality; data analysis; software development
2.  The metavinculin tail domain directs constitutive interactions with raver1 and vinculin RNA 
Journal of molecular biology  2012;422(5):10.1016/j.jmb.2012.06.015.
Vinculin is a key regulator of the attachment of the actin cytoskeleton to the cell membrane at cellular adhesion sites that is crucial for processes like cell motility and migration, development, survival, and wound healing. Vinculin loss results in embryonic lethality, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Its tail domain, Vt, is crucial for vinculin activation and focal adhesion turnover and binds to the actin cytoskeleton and acidic phospholipids upon which it unfurls. The RNA binding protein raver1 regulates the assembly of focal adhesions transcriptionally by binding to vinculin. The muscle-specific splice form, metavinculin, is characterized by a 68 residue insert in the tail domain (MVt) and correlates with hereditary idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Here we report that metavinculin can bind to raver1 in its inactive state. Our crystal structure explains this permissivity, where an extended coil unique to MVt is unfurled in the MVtΔ954:raver1 complex structure. Our binding assays show that raver1 forms a ternary complex with MVt and vinculin mRNA. These findings suggest that the metavinculin:raver1:RNA complex is constitutively recruited to adhesion complexes.
PMCID: PMC3835166  PMID: 22709580
adherens junction; cardiomyopathy; focal adhesion; RRM domain; RNA binding
3.  The SARS-Unique Domain (SUD) of SARS Coronavirus Contains Two Macrodomains That Bind G-Quadruplexes 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(5):e1000428.
Since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, the three-dimensional structures of several of the replicase/transcriptase components of SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), the non-structural proteins (Nsps), have been determined. However, within the large Nsp3 (1922 amino-acid residues), the structure and function of the so-called SARS-unique domain (SUD) have remained elusive. SUD occurs only in SARS-CoV and the highly related viruses found in certain bats, but is absent from all other coronaviruses. Therefore, it has been speculated that it may be involved in the extreme pathogenicity of SARS-CoV, compared to other coronaviruses, most of which cause only mild infections in humans. In order to help elucidate the function of the SUD, we have determined crystal structures of fragment 389–652 (“SUDcore”) of Nsp3, which comprises 264 of the 338 residues of the domain. Both the monoclinic and triclinic crystal forms (2.2 and 2.8 Å resolution, respectively) revealed that SUDcore forms a homodimer. Each monomer consists of two subdomains, SUD-N and SUD-M, with a macrodomain fold similar to the SARS-CoV X-domain. However, in contrast to the latter, SUD fails to bind ADP-ribose, as determined by zone-interference gel electrophoresis. Instead, the entire SUDcore as well as its individual subdomains interact with oligonucleotides known to form G-quadruplexes. This includes oligodeoxy- as well as oligoribonucleotides. Mutations of selected lysine residues on the surface of the SUD-N subdomain lead to reduction of G-quadruplex binding, whereas mutations in the SUD-M subdomain abolish it. As there is no evidence for Nsp3 entering the nucleus of the host cell, the SARS-CoV genomic RNA or host-cell mRNA containing long G-stretches may be targets of SUD. The SARS-CoV genome is devoid of G-stretches longer than 5–6 nucleotides, but more extended G-stretches are found in the 3′-nontranslated regions of mRNAs coding for certain host-cell proteins involved in apoptosis or signal transduction, and have been shown to bind to SUD in vitro. Therefore, SUD may be involved in controlling the host cell's response to the viral infection. Possible interference with poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-like domains is also discussed.
Author Summary
The genome of the SARS coronavirus codes for 16 non-structural proteins that are involved in replicating this huge RNA (approximately 29 kilobases). The roles of many of these in replication (and/or transcription) are unknown. We attempt to derive conclusions concerning the possible functions of these proteins from their three-dimensional structures, which we determine by X-ray crystallography. Non-structural protein 3 contains at least seven different functional modules within its 1922-amino-acid polypeptide chain. One of these is the so-called SARS-unique domain, a stretch of about 338 residues that is completely absent from any other coronavirus. It may thus be responsible for the extraordinarily high pathogenicity of the SARS coronavirus, compared to other viruses of this family. We describe here the three-dimensional structure of the SARS-unique domain and show that it consists of two modules with a known fold, the so-called macrodomain. Furthermore, we demonstrate that these domains bind unusual nucleic-acid structures formed by consecutive guanosine nucleotides, where four strands of nucleic acid are forming a superhelix (so-called G-quadruplexes). SUD may be involved in binding to viral or host-cell RNA bearing this peculiar structure and thereby regulate viral replication or fight the immune response of the infected host cell.
PMCID: PMC2674928  PMID: 19436709

Results 1-3 (3)