Latest Articles Include:
- The Upside of Slackers
Meadows R - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000487 (2010)
- NOX4: A Guilty Party in Stroke Damage
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000478 (2010)
- Quiet Down Now: How Excitatory Neurons Inhibit One Another
Robinson R - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000474 (2010)
- Clever Cattle Parasite Captures Cell Division Machinery
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000498 (2010)
- Arms and the Man: The Problem of Symmetric Growth
Wolpert L - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000477 (2010)
- Bringing the Tiger Back from the Brink—The Six Percent Solution
Walston J Robinson JG Bennett EL Breitenmoser U da Fonseca GA Goodrich J Gumal M Hunter L Johnson A Karanth KU Leader-Williams N Mackinnon K Miquelle D Pattanavibool A Poole C Rabinowitz A Smith JL Stokes EJ Stuart SN Vongkhamheng C Wibisono H - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000485 (2010)
- Primed for Reading
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000424 (2010)
- The Goldilocks Model for TCR—Too Much Attraction Might Not Be Best for Vaccine Design
Slansky JE Jordan KR - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000482 (2010)
Recent research on T cell-antigen interactions suggests that tighter binding is not always better at eliciting an effective immune response.
- How and Why Chromosome Inversions Evolve
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000501 (2010)
- Creative Research Science Experiences for High School Students
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000447 (2010)
- Inferring the Dynamics of Diversification: A Coalescent Approach
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000493 (2010)
Recent analyses of the fossil record and molecular phylogenies suggest that there are fundamental limits to biodiversity, possibly arising from constraints in the availability of space, resources, or ecological niches. Under this hypothesis, speciation rates decay over time and biodiversity eventually saturates, with new species emerging only when others are driven to extinction. This view of macro-evolution contradicts an alternative hypothesis that biodiversity is unbounded, with species ever accumulating as they find new niches to occupy. These contrasting theories of biodiversity dynamics yield fundamentally different explanations for the disparity in species richness across taxa and regions. Here, we test whether speciation rates have decayed or remained constant over time, and whether biodiversity is saturated or still expanding. We first derive a general likelihood expression for internode distances in a phylogeny, based on the well-known coalescent process from! population genetics. This expression accounts for either time-constant or time-variable rates, time-constant or time-variable diversity, and completely or incompletely sampled phylogenies. We then compare the performance of different diversification scenarios in explaining a set of 289 phylogenies representing amphibians, arthropods, birds, mammals, mollusks, and flowering plants. Our results indicate that speciation rates typically decay over time, but that diversity is still expanding at present. The evidence for expanding-diversity models suggests that an upper limit to biodiversity has not yet been reached, or that no such limit exists.
- Genomic Fossils Calibrate the Long-Term Evolution of Hepadnaviruses
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000495 (2010)
Because most extant viruses mutate rapidly and lack a true fossil record, their deep evolution and long-term substitution rates remain poorly understood. In addition to retroviruses, which rely on chromosomal integration for their replication, many other viruses replicate in the nucleus of their host's cells and are therefore prone to endogenization, a process that involves integration of viral DNA into the host's germline genome followed by long-term vertical inheritance. Such endogenous viruses are highly valuable as they provide a molecular fossil record of past viral invasions, which may be used to decipher the origins and long-term evolutionary characteristics of modern pathogenic viruses. Hepadnaviruses (Hepadnaviridae) are a family of small, partially double-stranded DNA viruses that include hepatitis B viruses. Here we report the discovery of endogenous hepadnaviruses in the genome of the zebra finch. We used a combination of cross-species analysis of orthologo! us insertions, molecular dating, and phylogenetic analyses to demonstrate that hepadnaviruses infiltrated repeatedly the germline genome of passerine birds. We provide evidence that some of the avian hepadnavirus integration events are at least 19 My old, which reveals a much deeper ancestry of Hepadnaviridae than could be inferred based on the coalescence times of modern hepadnaviruses. Furthermore, the remarkable sequence similarity between endogenous and extant avian hepadnaviruses (up to 75% identity) suggests that long-term substitution rates for these viruses are on the order of 10−8 substitutions per site per year, which is a 1,000-fold slower than short-term rates estimated based on the sequences of circulating hepadnaviruses. Together, these results imply a drastic shift in our understanding of the time scale of hepadnavirus evolution, and suggest that the rapid evolutionary dynamics characterizing modern avian hepadnaviruses do not reflect their mode of evolutio! n on a deep time scale.
- A Mixture of "Cheats" and "Co-Operators" Can Enable Maximal Group Benefit
Maclean RC Fuentes-Hernandez A Greig D Hurst LD Gudelj I - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000486 (2010)
Is a group best off if everyone co-operates? Theory often considers this to be so (e.g. the "conspiracy of doves"), this understanding underpinning social and economic policy. We observe, however, that after competition between "cheat" and "co-operator" strains of yeast, population fitness is maximized under co-existence. To address whether this might just be a peculiarity of our experimental system or a result with broader applicability, we assemble, benchmark, dissect, and test a systems model. This reveals the conditions necessary to recover the unexpected result. These are 3-fold: (a) that resources are used inefficiently when they are abundant, (b) that the amount of co-operation needed cannot be accurately assessed, and (c) the population is structured, such that co-operators receive more of the resource than the cheats. Relaxing any of the assumptions can lead to population fitness being maximized when cheats are absent, which we experimentally demon! strate. These three conditions will often be relevant, and hence in order to understand the trajectory of social interactions, understanding the dynamics of the efficiency of resource utilization and accuracy of information will be necessary.
- Broca's Region: Novel Organizational Principles and Multiple Receptor Mapping
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000489 (2010)
There is a considerable contrast between the various functions assigned to Broca's region and its relatively simple subdivision into two cytoarchitectonic areas (44 and 45). Since the regional distribution of transmitter receptors in the cerebral cortex has been proven a powerful indicator of functional diversity, the subdivision of Broca's region was analyzed here using a multireceptor approach. The distribution patterns of six receptor types using in vitro receptor autoradiography revealed previously unknown areas: a ventral precentral transitional cortex 6r1, dorsal and ventral areas 44d and 44v, anterior and posterior areas 45a and 45p, and areas op8 and op9 in the frontal operculum. A significant lateralization of receptors was demonstrated with respect to the cholinergic M2 receptor, particularly in area 44v+d. We propose a new concept of the anterior language region, which elucidates the relation between premotor cortex, prefrontal cortex, and Broca's region. It! offers human brain homologues to the recently described subdivision of area 45, and the segregation of the ventral premotor cortex in macaque brains. The results provide a novel structural basis of the organization of language regions in the brain.
- Post-Stroke Inhibition of Induced NADPH Oxidase Type 4 Prevents Oxidative Stress and Neurodegeneration
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000479 (2010)
Ischemic stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Only one moderately effective therapy exists, albeit with contraindications that exclude 90% of the patients. This medical need contrasts with a high failure rate of more than 1,000 pre-clinical drug candidates for stroke therapies. Thus, there is a need for translatable mechanisms of neuroprotection and more rigid thresholds of relevance in pre-clinical stroke models. One such candidate mechanism is oxidative stress. However, antioxidant approaches have failed in clinical trials, and the significant sources of oxidative stress in stroke are unknown. We here identify NADPH oxidase type 4 (NOX4) as a major source of oxidative stress and an effective therapeutic target in acute stroke. Upon ischemia, NOX4 was induced in human and mouse brain. Mice deficient in NOX4 (Nox4−/−) of either sex, but not those deficient for NOX1 or NOX2, were largely protected from oxidative stress, blood-brain-barrier leakage,! and neuronal apoptosis, after both transient and permanent cerebral ischemia. This effect was independent of age, as elderly mice were equally protected. Restoration of oxidative stress reversed the stroke-protective phenotype in Nox4−/− mice. Application of the only validated low-molecular-weight pharmacological NADPH oxidase inhibitor, VAS2870, several hours after ischemia was as protective as deleting NOX4. The extent of neuroprotection was exceptional, resulting in significantly improved long-term neurological functions and reduced mortality. NOX4 therefore represents a major source of oxidative stress and novel class of drug target for stroke therapy.
- Desynchronization of Neocortical Networks by Asynchronous Release of GABA at Autaptic and Synaptic Contacts from Fast-Spiking Interneurons
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000492 (2010)
Networks of specific inhibitory interneurons regulate principal cell firing in several forms of neocortical activity. Fast-spiking (FS) interneurons are potently self-inhibited by GABAergic autaptic transmission, allowing them to precisely control their own firing dynamics and timing. Here we show that in FS interneurons, high-frequency trains of action potentials can generate a delayed and prolonged GABAergic self-inhibition due to sustained asynchronous release at FS-cell autapses. Asynchronous release of GABA is simultaneously recorded in connected pyramidal (P) neurons. Asynchronous and synchronous autaptic release show differential presynaptic Ca2+ sensitivity, suggesting that they rely on different Ca2+ sensors and/or involve distinct pools of vesicles. In addition, asynchronous release is modulated by the endogenous Ca2+ buffer parvalbumin. Functionally, asynchronous release decreases FS-cell spike reliability and reduces the ability of P neurons to integrate in! coming stimuli into precise firing. Since each FS cell contacts many P neurons, asynchronous release from a single interneuron may desynchronize a large portion of the local network and disrupt cortical information processing.
- Brief Bursts Self-Inhibit and Correlate the Pyramidal Network
Berger TK Silberberg G Perin R Markram H - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000473 (2010)
Inhibitory pathways are an essential component in the function of the neocortical microcircuitry. Despite the relatively small fraction of inhibitory neurons in the neocortex, these neurons are strongly activated due to their high connectivity rate and the intricate manner in which they interconnect with pyramidal cells (PCs). One prominent pathway is the frequency-dependent disynaptic inhibition (FDDI) formed between layer 5 PCs and mediated by Martinotti cells (MCs). Here, we show that simultaneous short bursts in four PCs are sufficient to exert FDDI in all neighboring PCs within the dimensions of a cortical column. This powerful inhibition is mediated by few interneurons, leading to strongly correlated membrane fluctuations and synchronous spiking between PCs simultaneously receiving FDDI. Somatic integration of such inhibition is independent and electrically isolated from monosynaptic excitation formed between the same PCs. FDDI is strongly shaped by I(h) in PC de! ndrites, which determines the effective integration time window for inhibitory and excitatory inputs. We propose a key disynaptic mechanism by which brief bursts generated by a few PCs can synchronize the activity in the pyramidal network.
- A Key Commitment Step in Erythropoiesis Is Synchronized with the Cell Cycle Clock through Mutual Inhibition between PU.1 and S-Phase Progression
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000484 (2010)
Hematopoietic progenitors undergo differentiation while navigating several cell division cycles, but it is unknown whether these two processes are coupled. We addressed this question by studying erythropoiesis in mouse fetal liver in vivo. We found that the initial upregulation of cell surface CD71 identifies developmentally matched erythroblasts that are tightly synchronized in S-phase. We show that DNA replication within this but not subsequent cycles is required for a differentiation switch comprising rapid and simultaneous committal transitions whose precise timing was previously unknown. These include the onset of erythropoietin dependence, activation of the erythroid master transcriptional regulator GATA-1, and a switch to an active chromatin conformation at the β-globin locus. Specifically, S-phase progression is required for the formation of DNase I hypersensitive sites and for DNA demethylation at this locus. Mechanistically, we show that S-phase progression ! during this key committal step is dependent on downregulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase p57KIP2 and in turn causes the downregulation of PU.1, an antagonist of GATA-1 function. These findings therefore highlight a novel role for a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor in differentiation, distinct to their known function in cell cycle exit. Furthermore, we show that a novel, mutual inhibition between PU.1 expression and S-phase progression provides a "synchromesh" mechanism that "locks" the erythroid differentiation program to the cell cycle clock, ensuring precise coordination of critical differentiation events.
- A Senescence-Like Cell-Cycle Arrest Occurs During Megakaryocytic Maturation: Implications for Physiological and Pathological Megakaryocytic Proliferation
Besancenot R Chaligné R Tonetti C Pasquier F Marty C Lécluse Y Vainchenker W Constantinescu SN Giraudier S - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000476 (2010)
Thrombopoietin (TPO) via signaling through its cognate receptor MPL is a key cytokine involved in the regulation of megakaryocyte differentiation leading to platelet production. Mature megakaryocytes are polyploid cells that have arrested DNA replication and cellular proliferation but continue sustained protein synthesis. Here, we show that TPO induces cell-cycle arrest in the megakaryocytic UT7-MPL cell line by the activation of the ERK/MAPK pathway, induction of p21CIP transcription, and senescence markers through EGR1 activation. A similar senescence-like process was also detected in normal primary postmitotic megakaryocytes. In contrast, senescence was not observed in malignant megakaryocytes derived from primary myelofibrosis patients (a form of chronic myeloid hemopathy). Our data indicate that polyploid mature megakaryocytes receive signals from TPO to arrest cell proliferation and enter a senescent-like state. An escape from this physiological process may be as! sociated with certain myeloproliferative neoplasms leading to abnormal megakaryocytic proliferation.
- Attenuated T Cell Responses to a High-Potency Ligand In Vivo
Corse E Gottschalk RA Krogsgaard M Allison JP - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000481 (2010)
αβ T cell receptor (TCR) recognition of foreign peptides bound to major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) molecules on the surface of antigen presenting cells is a key event in the initiation of adaptive cellular immunity. In vitro, high-affinity binding and/or long-lived interactions between TCRs and pMHC correlate with high-potency T cell activation. However, less is known about the influence of TCR/pMHC interaction parameters on T cell responses in vivo. We studied the influence of TCR/pMHC binding characteristics on in vivo T cell immunity by tracking CD4+ T cell activation, effector, and memory responses to immunization with peptides exhibiting a range of TCR/pMHC half-lives and in vitro T cell activation potencies. Contrary to predictions from in vitro studies, we found that optimal in vivo T cell responses occur to ligands with intermediate TCR/pMHC half-lives. The diminished in vivo responses we observed to the ligand exhibiting the longest TCR/pMHC half-life! were associated with attenuation of intracellular signaling, expansion, and function over a broad range of time points. Our results reveal a level of control over T cell activation in vivo not recapitulated in in vitro assays and highlight the importance of considering in vivo efficacy of TCR ligands as part of vaccine design.
- The Transforming Parasite Theileria Co-opts Host Cell Mitotic and Central Spindles to Persist in Continuously Dividing Cells
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000499 (2010)
The protozoan parasite Theileria inhabits the host cell cytoplasm and possesses the unique capacity to transform the cells it infects, inducing continuous proliferation and protection against apoptosis. The transforming schizont is a multinucleated syncytium that resides free in the host cell cytoplasm and is strictly intracellular. To maintain transformation, it is crucial that this syncytium is divided over the two daughter cells at each host cell cytokinesis. This process was dissected using different cell cycle synchronization methods in combination with the targeted application of specific inhibitors. We found that Theileria schizonts associate with newly formed host cell microtubules that emanate from the spindle poles, positioning the parasite at the equatorial region of the mitotic cell where host cell chromosomes assemble during metaphase. During anaphase, the schizont interacts closely with host cell central spindle. As part of this process, the schizont recr! uits a host cell mitotic kinase, Polo-like kinase 1, and we established that parasite association with host cell central spindles requires Polo-like kinase 1 catalytic activity. Blocking the interaction between the schizont and astral as well as central spindle microtubules prevented parasite segregation between the daughter cells during cytokinesis. Our findings provide a striking example of how an intracellular eukaryotic pathogen that evolved ways to induce the uncontrolled proliferation of the cells it infects usurps the host cell mitotic machinery, including Polo-like kinase 1, one of the pivotal mitotic kinases, to ensure its own persistence and survival.
- Stochastic E2F Activation and Reconciliation of Phenomenological Cell-Cycle Models
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000488 (2010)
The transition of the mammalian cell from quiescence to proliferation is a highly variable process. Over the last four decades, two lines of apparently contradictory, phenomenological models have been proposed to account for such temporal variability. These include various forms of the transition probability (TP) model and the growth control (GC) model, which lack mechanistic details. The GC model was further proposed as an alternative explanation for the concept of the restriction point, which we recently demonstrated as being controlled by a bistable Rb-E2F switch. Here, through a combination of modeling and experiments, we show that these different lines of models in essence reflect different aspects of stochastic dynamics in cell cycle entry. In particular, we show that the variable activation of E2F can be described by stochastic activation of the bistable Rb-E2F switch, which in turn may account for the temporal variability in cell cycle entry. Moreover, we show ! that temporal dynamics of E2F activation can be recast into the frameworks of both the TP model and the GC model via parameter mapping. This mapping suggests that the two lines of phenomenological models can be reconciled through the stochastic dynamics of the Rb-E2F switch. It also suggests a potential utility of the TP or GC models in defining concise, quantitative phenotypes of cell physiology. This may have implications in classifying cell types or states.
- Polymorphic Cis- and Trans-Regulation of Human Gene Expression
Cheung VG Nayak RR Wang IX Elwyn S Cousins SM Morley M Spielman RS - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000480 (2010)
Expression levels of human genes vary extensively among individuals. This variation facilitates analyses of expression levels as quantitative phenotypes in genetic studies where the entire genome can be scanned for regulators without prior knowledge of the regulatory mechanisms, thus enabling the identification of unknown regulatory relationships. Here, we carried out such genetic analyses with a large sample size and identified cis- and trans-acting polymorphic regulators for about 1,000 human genes. We validated the cis-acting regulators by demonstrating differential allelic expression with sequencing of transcriptomes (RNA-Seq) and the trans-regulators by gene knockdown, metabolic assays, and chromosome conformation capture analysis. The majority of the regulators act in trans to the target (regulated) genes. Most of these trans-regulators were not known to play a role in gene expression regulation. The identification of these regulators enabled the characterization! of polymorphic regulation of human gene expression at a resolution that was unattainable in the past.
- A Widespread Chromosomal Inversion Polymorphism Contributes to a Major Life-History Transition, Local Adaptation, and Reproductive Isolation
- PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000500 (2010)
The role of chromosomal inversions in adaptation and speciation is controversial. Historically, inversions were thought to contribute to these processes either by directly causing hybrid sterility or by facilitating the maintenance of co-adapted gene complexes. Because inversions suppress recombination when heterozygous, a recently proposed local adaptation mechanism predicts that they will spread if they capture alleles at multiple loci involved in divergent adaptation to contrasting environments. Many empirical studies have found inversion polymorphisms linked to putatively adaptive phenotypes or distributed along environmental clines. However, direct involvement of an inversion in local adaptation and consequent ecological reproductive isolation has not to our knowledge been demonstrated in nature. In this study, we discovered that a chromosomal inversion polymorphism is geographically widespread, and we test the extent to which it contributes to adaptation and repr! oductive isolation under natural field conditions. Replicated crosses between the prezygotically reproductively isolated annual and perennial ecotypes of the yellow monkeyflower, Mimulus guttatus, revealed that alternative chromosomal inversion arrangements are associated with life-history divergence over thousands of kilometers across North America. The inversion polymorphism affected adaptive flowering time divergence and other morphological traits in all replicated crosses between four pairs of annual and perennial populations. To determine if the inversion contributes to adaptation and reproductive isolation in natural populations, we conducted a novel reciprocal transplant experiment involving outbred lines, where alternative arrangements of the inversion were reciprocally introgressed into the genetic backgrounds of each ecotype. Our results demonstrate for the first time in nature the contribution of an inversion to adaptation, an annual/perennial life-history shift,! and multiple reproductive isolating barriers. These results a! re consistent with the local adaptation mechanism being responsible for the distribution of the two inversion arrangements across the geographic range of M. guttatus and that locally adaptive inversion effects contribute directly to reproductive isolation. Such a mechanism may be partially responsible for the observation that closely related species often differ by multiple chromosomal rearrangements.
- Multi-Platform Next-Generation Sequencing of the Domestic Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo): Genome Assembly and Analysis
Dalloul RA Long JA Zimin AV Aslam L Beal K Ann Blomberg L Bouffard P Burt DW Crasta O Crooijmans RP Cooper K Coulombe RA De S Delany ME Dodgson JB Dong JJ Evans C Frederickson KM Flicek P Florea L Folkerts O Groenen MA Harkins TT Herrero J Hoffmann S Megens HJ Jiang A de Jong P Kaiser P Kim H Kim KW Kim S Langenberger D Lee MK Lee T Mane S Marcais G Marz M McElroy AP Modise T Nefedov M Notredame C Paton IR Payne WS Pertea G Prickett D Puiu D Qioa D Raineri E Ruffier M Salzberg SL Schatz MC Scheuring C Schmidt CJ Schroeder S Searle SM Smith EJ Smith J Sonstegard TS Stadler PF Tafer H Tu ZJ Van Tassell CP Vilella AJ Williams KP Yorke JA Zhang L Zhang HB Zhang X Zhang Y Reed KM - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000475 (2010)
A synergistic combination of two next-generation sequencing platforms with a detailed comparative BAC physical contig map provided a cost-effective assembly of the genome sequence of the domestic turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). Heterozygosity of the sequenced source genome allowed discovery of more than 600,000 high quality single nucleotide variants. Despite this heterozygosity, the current genome assembly (∼1.1 Gb) includes 917 Mb of sequence assigned to specific turkey chromosomes. Annotation identified nearly 16,000 genes, with 15,093 recognized as protein coding and 611 as non-coding RNA genes. Comparative analysis of the turkey, chicken, and zebra finch genomes, and comparing avian to mammalian species, supports the characteristic stability of avian genomes and identifies genes unique to the avian lineage. Clear differences are seen in number and variety of genes of the avian immune system where expansions and novel genes are less frequent than examples of gene l! oss. The turkey genome sequence provides resources to further understand the evolution of vertebrate genomes and genetic variation underlying economically important quantitative traits in poultry. This integrated approach may be a model for providing both gene and chromosome level assemblies of other species with agricultural, ecological, and evolutionary interest.
- A Global Census of Fission Yeast Deubiquitinating Enzyme Localization and Interaction Networks Reveals Distinct Compartmentalization Profiles and Overlapping Functions in Endocytosis and Polarity
Kouranti I McLean JR Feoktistova A Liang P Johnson AE Roberts-Galbraith RH Gould KL - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000471 (2010)
Ubiquitination and deubiquitination are reciprocal processes that tune protein stability, function, and/or localization. The removal of ubiquitin and remodeling of ubiquitin chains is catalyzed by deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs), which are cysteine proteases or metalloproteases. Although ubiquitination has been extensively studied for decades, the complexity of cellular roles for deubiquitinating enzymes has only recently been explored, and there are still several gaps in our understanding of when, where, and how these enzymes function to modulate the fate of polypeptides. To address these questions we performed a systematic analysis of the 20 Schizosaccharomyces pombe DUBs using confocal microscopy, proteomics, and enzymatic activity assays. Our results reveal that S. pombe DUBs are present in almost all cell compartments, and the majority are part of stable protein complexes essential for their function. Interestingly, DUB partners identified by our study include the! homolog of a putative tumor suppressor gene not previously linked to the ubiquitin pathway, and two conserved tryptophan-aspartate (WD) repeat proteins that regulate Ubp9, a DUB that we show participates in endocytosis, actin dynamics, and cell polarity. In order to understand how DUB activity affects these processes we constructed multiple DUB mutants and find that a quintuple deletion of ubp4 ubp5 ubp9 ubp15 sst2/amsh displays severe growth, polarity, and endocytosis defects. This mutant allowed the identification of two common substrates for five cytoplasmic DUBs. Through these studies, a common regulatory theme emerged in which DUB localization and/or activity is modulated by interacting partners. Despite apparently distinct cytoplasmic localization patterns, several DUBs cooperate in regulating endocytosis and cell polarity. These studies provide a framework for dissecting DUB signaling pathways in S. pombe and may shed light on DUB functions in metazoans.
- Complete Structural Model of Escherichia coli RNA Polymerase from a Hybrid Approach
Opalka N Brown J Lane WJ Twist KA Landick R Asturias FJ Darst SA - PLoS Biol 8(9):e1000483 (2010)
The Escherichia coli transcription system is the best characterized from a biochemical and genetic point of view and has served as a model system. Nevertheless, a molecular understanding of the details of E. coli transcription and its regulation, and therefore its full exploitation as a model system, has been hampered by the absence of high-resolution structural information on E. coli RNA polymerase (RNAP). We use a combination of approaches, including high-resolution X-ray crystallography, ab initio structural prediction, homology modeling, and single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, to generate complete atomic models of E. coli core RNAP and an E. coli RNAP ternary elongation complex. The detailed and comprehensive structural descriptions can be used to help interpret previous biochemical and genetic data in a new light and provide a structural framework for designing experiments to understand the function of the E. coli lineage-specific insertions and their role i! n the E. coli transcription program.