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  1. Nucleophosmin (NPM1) is an abundant, oligomeric protein in the granular component of the nucleolus with roles in ribosome biogenesis. Pentameric NPM1 undergoes liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) via heterotypic interactions with nucleolar components, including ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and proteins which display multivalent arginine-rich linear motifs (R-motifs), and is integral to the liquid-like nucleolar matrix. Here we show that NPM1 can also undergo LLPS via homotypic interactions between its polyampholytic intrinsically disordered regions, a mechanism that opposes LLPS via heterotypic interactions. Using a combination of biophysical techniques, including confocal microscopy, SAXS, analytical ultracentrifugation, and single-molecule fluorescence, we describe how conformational changes withinmore » NPM1 control valency and switching between the different LLPS mechanisms. We propose that this newly discovered interplay between multiple LLPS mechanisms may influence the direction of vectorial pre-ribosomal particle assembly within, and exit from the nucleolus as part of the ribosome biogenesis process.« less
  2. Drawing an analogy to the paradigm of quasielastic neutron scattering, we present a general approach for quantitatively investigating the spatiotemporal dependence of structural anisotropy relaxation in deformed polymers by using small-angle neutron scattering. Experiments and nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulations on polymer melts over a wide range of molecular weights reveal that their conformational relaxation at relatively high momentum transfer Q and short time can be described by a simple scaling law, with the relaxation rate proportional to Q. Furthermore, this peculiar scaling behavior, which cannot be derived from the classical Rouse and tube models, is indicative of a surprisingly weakmore » direct influence of entanglement on the microscopic mechanism of single-chain anisotropy relaxation.« less
  3. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is home to the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), a high-flux research reactor, and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), the world's most intense source of pulsed neutron beams. The unique co-localization of these two sources provided an opportunity to develop a suite of complementary small-angle neutron scattering instruments for studies of large-scale structures: the GP-SANS and Bio-SANS instruments at the HFIR and the EQ-SANS and TOF-USANS instruments at the SNS. This article provides an overview of the capabilities of the suite of instruments, with specific emphasis on how they complement each other. As a result, amore » description of the plans for future developments including greater integration of the suite into a single point of entry for neutron scattering studies of large-scale structures is also provided.« less
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  4. Here, the ligand-induced conformational changes of periplasmic binding proteins (PBP) play a key role in the acquisition of metabolites in ATP binding cassette (ABC) transport systems. This conformational change allows for differential recognition of the ligand occupancy of the PBP by the ABC transporter. This minimizes futile ATP hydrolysis in the transporter, a phenomenon in which ATP hydrolysis is not coupled to metabolite transport. In many systems, the PBP conformational change is insufficient at eliminating futile ATP hydrolysis. Here we identify an additional state of the PBP that is also allosterically regulated by the ligand. Ligand binding to the homodimericmore » apo PBP leads to a tightening of the interface alpha-helices so that the hydrogen bonding pattern shifts to that of a 3 10 helix, in-turn altering the contacts and the dynamics of the protein interface so that the monomer exists in the presence of ligand.« less
  5. The structure and dynamics of the model H-bonding liquid, n-methylacetamide (NMA) have been studied, revealing the connection between the timescale of H-bond network reorganization and viscosity.
  6. In this work, using two approaches, small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) from bulk solutions and nanopore conductance-fluctuation analysis, we studied structural and dynamic features of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) water/salt solutions in the dilute and semidilute regimes. SANS measurements on PEG 3400 at the zero-average contrast yielded the single chain radius of gyration (R g) over 1–30 wt %. We observed a small but statistically reliable decrease in R g with increasing PEG concentration: at 30 wt % the chain contracts by a factor of 0.94. Analyzing conductance fluctuations of the α-hemolysin nanopore in the mixtures of PEG 200 with PEG 3400,more » we demonstrated that polymer partitioning into the nanopore is mostly due to PEG 200. Specifically, for a 1:1 wt/wt mixture the smaller polymer dominates to the extent that only about 1/25 of the nanopore volume is taken by the larger polymer. In conclusion, these findings advance our conceptual and quantitative understanding of nanopore polymer partitioning; they also support the main assumptions of the recent “polymers-pushing-polymers” model.« less
  7. BECN1 is essential for autophagy, a critical eukaryotic cellular homeostasis pathway. Here in this study, we delineate a highly conserved BECN1 domain located between previously characterized BH3 and coiled-coil domains and elucidate its structure and role in autophagy. The 2.0 Å sulfur-single-wavelength anomalous dispersion X-ray crystal structure of this domain demonstrates that its N-terminal half is unstructured while its C-terminal half is helical; hence, we name it the flexible helical domain (FHD). Circular dichroism spectroscopy, double electron–electron resonance–electron paramagnetic resonance, and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) analyses confirm that the FHD is partially disordered, even in the context of adjacent BECN1more » domains. Molecular dynamic simulations fitted to SAXS data indicate that the FHD transiently samples more helical conformations. FHD helicity increases in 2,2,2-trifluoroethanol, suggesting it may become more helical upon binding. Finally, cellular studies show that conserved FHD residues are required for starvation-induced autophagy. Thus, the FHD likely undergoes a binding-associated disorder-to-helix transition, and conserved residues critical for this interaction are essential for starvation-induced autophagy.« less

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