register interest

Tzviya Zeev-Ben-Mordehai

Research Area: Protein Science and Structural Biology
Technology Exchange: Bioinformatics, Computational biology, Crystallography, In vivo imaging, Microscopy (EM) and Protein interaction
Scientific Themes: Protein Science & Structural Biology and Physiology, Cellular & Molecular Biology

Membrane fusion is a central process for all eukaryotic cells that are not only surrounded by membrane but also using membranes to form cellular compartments. Membrane merging or fusion is important for organelle formation and trafficking within the cell but also some important cells fuse as part of their function.

Biological membrane fusion is widely assumed to follow a pathway that is controlled by the action of specialised proteins called fusogens that lower the energy barrier of the process, and drive membrane bilayer rearrangements that result in merging of the membranes. The 3D structures of a substantial number of viral fusogens have been determined by X-ray crystallography, and several different basic architectures of fusogens have been described. These structures have contributed valuable insights into the mechanism of protein-mediated fusion. In particular, the different conformational states described, namely pre-fusion and post-fusion conformations, have provided an insight into the refolding of the fusogen that provides the energy for membrane fusion. However, all the published X-ray structures are of truncated fusogens devoid of the membrane bilayers whose fusion they promotes. This constitutes a fundamental shortcoming in interpreting how the fusogens mediate the bilayer rearrangement that results in fusion.

The principal thrust of the research group is studying fusion machineries in the context of the membranes. A hybrid structural approach is applied using electron cryo microscopy (CryoEM) and electron cryo tomography (cryoET) as core techniques. CryoEM and cryoET are ideally suited techniques for studying macromolecules, and the processes in which they are involved, in their native cellular and sub-cellular contexts. Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, crystallography and biophysics are complementing techniques applied.

The study aims to pave the way for molecular intervention in membrane fusion, e.g drug delivery and anti-viral agents. 

There are no collaborations listed for this principal investigator.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Vasishtan D, Hernández Durán A, Vollmer B, White P, Prasad Pandurangan A, Siebert CA, Topf M, Grünewald K. 2016. Two distinct trimeric conformations of natively membrane-anchored full-length herpes simplex virus 1 glycoprotein B. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113 (15), pp. 4176-4181. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many viruses are enveloped by a lipid bilayer acquired during assembly, which is typically studded with one or two types of glycoproteins. These viral surface proteins act as the primary interface between the virus and the host. Entry of enveloped viruses relies on specialized fusogen proteins to help merge the virus membrane with the host membrane. In the multicomponent herpesvirus fusion machinery, glycoprotein B (gB) acts as this fusogen. Although the structure of the gB ectodomain postfusion conformation has been determined, any other conformations (e.g., prefusion, intermediate conformations) have so far remained elusive, thus restricting efforts to develop antiviral treatments and prophylactic vaccines. Here, we have characterized the full-length herpes simplex virus 1 gB in a native membrane by displaying it on cell-derived vesicles and using electron cryotomography. Alongside the known postfusion conformation, a novel one was identified. Its structure, in the context of the membrane, was determined by subvolume averaging and found to be trimeric like the postfusion conformation, but appeared more condensed. Hierarchical constrained density-fitting of domains unexpectedly revealed the fusion loops in this conformation to be apart and pointing away from the anchoring membrane. This vital observation is a substantial step forward in understanding the complex herpesvirus fusion mechanism, and opens up new opportunities for more targeted intervention of herpesvirus entry.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Weberruß M, Lorenz M, Cheleski J, Hellberg T, Whittle C, El Omari K, Vasishtan D, Dent KC, Harlos K et al. 2015. Crystal Structure of the Herpesvirus Nuclear Egress Complex Provides Insights into Inner Nuclear Membrane Remodeling. Cell Rep, 13 (12), pp. 2645-2652. | Show Abstract | Read more

Although nucleo-cytoplasmic transport is typically mediated through nuclear pore complexes, herpesvirus capsids exit the nucleus via a unique vesicular pathway. Together, the conserved herpesvirus proteins pUL31 and pUL34 form the heterodimeric nuclear egress complex (NEC), which, in turn, mediates the formation of tight-fitting membrane vesicles around capsids at the inner nuclear membrane. Here, we present the crystal structure of the pseudorabies virus NEC. The structure revealed that a zinc finger motif in pUL31 and an extensive interaction network between the two proteins stabilize the complex. Comprehensive mutational analyses, characterized both in situ and in vitro, indicated that the interaction network is not redundant but rather complementary. Fitting of the NEC crystal structure into the recently determined cryoEM-derived hexagonal lattice, formed in situ by pUL31 and pUL34, provided details on the molecular basis of NEC coat formation and inner nuclear membrane remodeling.

Hagen C, Dent KC, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Grange M, Bosse JB, Whittle C, Klupp BG, Siebert CA, Vasishtan D, Bäuerlein FJB et al. 2015. Structural Basis of Vesicle Formation at the Inner Nuclear Membrane. Cell, 163 (7), pp. 1692-1701. | Show Abstract | Read more

Vesicular nucleo-cytoplasmic transport is becoming recognized as a general cellular mechanism for translocation of large cargoes across the nuclear envelope. Cargo is recruited, enveloped at the inner nuclear membrane (INM), and delivered by membrane fusion at the outer nuclear membrane. To understand the structural underpinning for this trafficking, we investigated nuclear egress of progeny herpesvirus capsids where capsid envelopment is mediated by two viral proteins, forming the nuclear egress complex (NEC). Using a multi-modal imaging approach, we visualized the NEC in situ forming coated vesicles of defined size. Cellular electron cryo-tomography revealed a protein layer showing two distinct hexagonal lattices at its membrane-proximal and membrane-distant faces, respectively. NEC coat architecture was determined by combining this information with integrative modeling using small-angle X-ray scattering data. The molecular arrangement of the NEC establishes the basic mechanism for budding and scission of tailored vesicles at the INM.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Vasishtan D, Siebert CA, Whittle C, Grünewald K. 2014. Extracellular vesicles: a platform for the structure determination of membrane proteins by Cryo-EM. Structure, 22 (11), pp. 1687-1692. | Show Abstract | Read more

Membrane protein-enriched extracellular vesicles (MPEEVs) provide a platform for studying intact membrane proteins natively anchored with the correct topology in genuine biological membranes. This approach circumvents the need to conduct tedious detergent screens for solubilization, purification, and reconstitution required in classical membrane protein studies. We have applied this method to three integral type I membrane proteins, namely the Caenorhabditis elegans cell-cell fusion proteins AFF-1 and EFF-1 and the glycoprotein B (gB) from Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1). Electron cryotomography followed by subvolume averaging allowed the 3D reconstruction of EFF-1 and HSV1 gB in the membrane as well as an analysis of the spatial distribution and interprotein interactions on the membrane. MPEEVs have many applications beyond structural/functional investigations, such as facilitating the raising of antibodies, for protein-protein interaction assays or for diagnostics use, as biomarkers, and possibly therapeutics.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Vasishtan D, Siebert CA, Grünewald K. 2014. The full-length cell-cell fusogen EFF-1 is monomeric and upright on the membrane. Nat Commun, 5 (1), pp. 3912. | Show Abstract | Read more

Fusogens are membrane proteins that remodel lipid bilayers to facilitate membrane merging. Although several fusogen ectodomain structures have been solved, structural information on full-length, natively membrane-anchored fusogens is scarce. Here we present the electron cryo microscopy three-dimensional reconstruction of the Caenorhabditis elegans epithelial fusion failure 1 (EFF-1) protein natively anchored in cell-derived membrane vesicles. This reveals a membrane protruding, asymmetric, elongated monomer. Flexible fitting of a protomer of the EFF-1 crystal structure, which is homologous to viral class-II fusion proteins, shows that EFF-1 has a hairpin monomeric conformation before fusion. These structural insights, when combined with our observations of membrane-merging intermediates between vesicles, enable us to propose a model for EFF-1 mediated fusion. This process, involving identical proteins on both membranes to be fused, follows a mechanism that shares features of SNARE-mediated fusion while using the structural building blocks of the unilaterally acting class-II viral fusion proteins.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Hagen C, Grünewald K. 2014. A cool hybrid approach to the herpesvirus 'life' cycle. Curr Opin Virol, 5 (1), pp. 42-49. | Show Abstract | Read more

Electron cryo tomography (cryoET) is an ideal technique to study virus-host interactions at molecular resolution. Imaging of biological specimens in a frozen-hydrated state assures a close to native environment. Various virus-host cell interactions have been analysed in this way, with the herpesvirus 'life' cycle being the most comprehensively studied. The data obtained were further integrated with fluorescence and soft X-ray cryo microscopy data applied on experimental systems covering a wide range of biological complexity. This hybrid approach combines dynamic with static imaging and spans a resolution range from micrometres to angstroms. Along selected aspects of the herpesvirus replication cycle, we describe dedicated combinations of approaches and how subsequent data integration enables insights towards a functional understanding of the underlying processes.

Maurer UE, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Pandurangan AP, Cairns TM, Hannah BP, Whitbeck JC, Eisenberg RJ, Cohen GH, Topf M, Huiskonen JT, Grünewald K. 2013. The structure of herpesvirus fusion glycoprotein B-bilayer complex reveals the protein-membrane and lateral protein-protein interaction. Structure, 21 (8), pp. 1396-1405. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glycoprotein B (gB) is a key component of the complex herpesvirus fusion machinery. We studied membrane interaction of two gB ectodomain forms and present an electron cryotomography structure of the gB-bilayer complex. The two forms differed in presence or absence of the membrane proximal region (MPR) but showed an overall similar trimeric shape. The presence of the MPR impeded interaction with liposomes. In contrast, the MPR-lacking form interacted efficiently with liposomes. Lateral interaction resulted in coat formation on the membranes. The structure revealed that interaction of gB with membranes was mediated by the fusion loops and limited to the outer membrane leaflet. The observed intrinsic propensity of gB to cluster on membranes indicates an additional role of gB in driving the fusion process forward beyond the transient fusion pore opening and subsequently leading to fusion pore expansion.

Avinoam O, Fridman K, Valansi C, Abutbul I, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Maurer UE, Sapir A, Danino D, Grünewald K, White JM, Podbilewicz B. 2011. Conserved eukaryotic fusogens can fuse viral envelopes to cells. Science, 332 (6029), pp. 589-592. | Show Abstract | Read more

Caenorhabditis elegans proteins AFF-1 and EFF-1 [C. elegans fusion family (CeFF) proteins] are essential for developmental cell-to-cell fusion and can merge insect cells. To study the structure and function of AFF-1, we constructed vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) displaying AFF-1 on the viral envelope, substituting the native fusogen VSV glycoprotein. Electron microscopy and tomography revealed that AFF-1 formed distinct supercomplexes resembling pentameric and hexameric "flowers" on pseudoviruses. Viruses carrying AFF-1 infected mammalian cells only when CeFFs were on the target cell surface. Furthermore, we identified fusion family (FF) proteins within and beyond nematodes, and divergent members from the human parasitic nematode Trichinella spiralis and the chordate Branchiostoma floridae could also fuse mammalian cells. Thus, FF proteins are part of an ancient family of cellular fusogens that can promote fusion when expressed on a viral particle.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Mylonas E, Paz A, Peleg Y, Toker L, Silman I, Svergun DI, Sussman JL. 2009. The quaternary structure of amalgam, a Drosophila neuronal adhesion protein, explains its dual adhesion properties. Biophys J, 97 (8), pp. 2316-2326. | Show Abstract | Read more

Amalgam (Ama) is a secreted neuronal adhesion protein that contains three tandem immunoglobulin domains. It has both homophilic and heterophilic cell adhesion properties, and is required for axon guidance and fasciculation during early stages of Drosophila development. Here, we report its biophysical characterization and use small-angle x-ray scattering to determine its low-resolution structure in solution. The biophysical studies revealed that Ama forms dimers in solution, and that its secondary and tertiary structures are typical for the immunoglobulin superfamily. Ab initio and rigid-body modeling by small-angle x-ray scattering revealed a distinct V-shaped dimer in which the two monomer chains are aligned parallel to each other, with the dimerization interface being formed by domain 1. These data provide a structural basis for the dual adhesion characteristics of Ama. Thus, the dimeric structure explains its homophilic adhesion properties. Its V shape suggests a mechanism for its interaction with its receptor, the single-pass transmembrane adhesion protein neurotactin, in which each "arm" of Ama binds to the extracellular domain of neurotactin, thus promoting its clustering on the outer face of the plasma membrane.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Paz A, Peleg Y, Toker L, Wolf SG, Rydberg EH, Sussman JL, Silman I. 2009. Amalgam, an axon guidance Drosophila adhesion protein belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily: over-expression, purification and biophysical characterization. Protein Expr Purif, 63 (2), pp. 147-157. | Show Abstract | Read more

Amalgam, a multi-domain member of the immunoglobulin superfamily, possesses homophilic and heterophilic cell adhesion properties. It is required for axon guidance during Drosophila development in which it interacts with the extracellular domain of the transmembrane protein, neurotactin, to promote adhesion. Amalgam was heterologously expressed in Pichia pastoris, and the secreted protein product, bearing an NH(2)-terminal His(6)Tag, was purified from the growth medium by metal affinity chromatography. Size exclusion chromatography separated the purified protein into two fractions: a major, multimeric fraction and a minor, dimeric one. Two protocols to reduce the percentage of multimers were tested. In one, protein induction was performed in the presence of the zwitterionic detergent CHAPS, yielding primarily the dimeric form of amalgam. In a second protocol, agitation was gradually reduced during the course of the induction and antifoam was added daily to reduce the air/liquid interfacial foam area. This latter protocol lowered the percentage of multimer 2-fold, compared to constant agitation. Circular dichroism measurements showed that the dimeric fraction had a high beta-sheet content, as expected for a protein with an immunoglobulin fold. Dynamic light scattering and sedimentation velocity measurements showed that the multimeric fraction displays a monodisperse distribution, with R(H)=16 nm. When co-expressed together with amalgam the ectodomain of neurotactin copurified with it. Furthermore, both purified fractions of amalgam were shown to interact with Torpedo californica acetylcholinesterase, a structural homolog of neurotactin.

Paz A, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Lundqvist M, Sherman E, Mylonas E, Weiner L, Haran G, Svergun DI, Mulder FAA, Sussman JL, Silman I. 2008. Biophysical characterization of the unstructured cytoplasmic domain of the human neuronal adhesion protein neuroligin 3. Biophys J, 95 (4), pp. 1928-1944. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cholinesterase-like adhesion molecules (CLAMs) are a family of neuronal cell adhesion molecules with important roles in synaptogenesis, and in maintaining structural and functional integrity of the nervous system. Our earlier study on the cytoplasmic domain of one of these CLAMs, the Drosophila protein, gliotactin, showed that it is intrinsically unstructured in vitro. Bioinformatic analysis suggested that the cytoplasmic domains of other CLAMs are also intrinsically unstructured, even though they bear no sequence homology to each other or to any known protein. In this study, we overexpress and purify the cytoplasmic domain of human neuroligin 3, notwithstanding its high sensitivity to the Escherichia coli endogenous proteases that cause its rapid degradation. Using bioinformatic analysis, sensitivity to proteases, size exclusion chromatography, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, analytical ultracentrifugation, small angle x-ray scattering, circular dichroism, electron spin resonance, and nuclear magnetic resonance, we show that the cytoplasmic domain of human neuroligin 3 is intrinsically unstructured. However, several of these techniques indicate that it is not fully extended, but becomes significantly more extended under denaturing conditions.

Aricescu AR, Assenberg R, Bill RM, Busso D, Chang VT, Davis SJ, Dubrovsky A, Gustafsson L, Hedfalk K, Heinemann U et al. 2006. Eukaryotic expression: developments for structural proteomics. Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr, 62 (Pt 10), pp. 1114-1124. | Show Abstract | Read more

The production of sufficient quantities of protein is an essential prelude to a structure determination, but for many viral and human proteins this cannot be achieved using prokaryotic expression systems. Groups in the Structural Proteomics In Europe (SPINE) consortium have developed and implemented high-throughput (HTP) methodologies for cloning, expression screening and protein production in eukaryotic systems. Studies focused on three systems: yeast (Pichia pastoris and Saccharomyces cerevisiae), baculovirus-infected insect cells and transient expression in mammalian cells. Suitable vectors for HTP cloning are described and results from their use in expression screening and protein-production pipelines are reported. Strategies for co-expression, selenomethionine labelling (in all three eukaryotic systems) and control of glycosylation (for secreted proteins in mammalian cells) are assessed.

Prilusky J, Felder CE, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Rydberg EH, Man O, Beckmann JS, Silman I, Sussman JL. 2005. FoldIndex: a simple tool to predict whether a given protein sequence is intrinsically unfolded. Bioinformatics, 21 (16), pp. 3435-3438. | Show Abstract | Read more

An easy-to-use, versatile and freely available graphic web server, FoldIndex is described: it predicts if a given protein sequence is intrinsically unfolded implementing the algorithm of Uversky and co-workers, which is based on the average residue hydrophobicity and net charge of the sequence. FoldIndex has an error rate comparable to that of more sophisticated fold prediction methods. Sliding windows permit identification of large regions within a protein that possess folding propensities different from those of the whole protein.

Venema DR, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Auld VJ. 2004. Transient apical polarization of Gliotactin and Coracle is required for parallel alignment of wing hairs in Drosophila. Dev Biol, 275 (2), pp. 301-314. | Show Abstract | Read more

In Drosophila, wing hairs are aligned in a distally oriented, parallel array. The frizzled pathway determines proximal-distal cell polarity in the wing; however, in frizzled pathway mutants, wing hairs remain parallel. How wing hairs align has not been determined. We have demonstrated a novel role for the septate junction proteins Gliotactin (Gli) and Coracle (Cora) in this process. Prior to prehair extension, Gli and Cora were restricted to basolateral membranes. During pupal prehair development, Gli and Cora transiently formed apical ribbons oriented from the distal wing tip to the proximal hinge. These ribbons were aligned beneath prehair bases and persisted for several hours. During this time, Gli was lost entirely from the basolateral domain. A Gliotactin mutation altered the apical polarization Gli and Cora and induced defects in hair alignment in pupal and adult stages. Genetic and cell biological assays demonstrated that Gli and Cora function to align hairs independently of frizzled. Taken together, our results indicate that Gli and Cora function as the first-identified members of a long-predicted, frizzled-independent parallel alignment mechanism. We propose a model whereby the apical polarization of Gli and Cora functions to stabilize and align prehairs relative to anterior-posterior cell boundaries during pupal wing development.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Rydberg EH, Solomon A, Toker L, Auld VJ, Silman I, Botti S, Sussman JL. 2003. The intracellular domain of the Drosophila cholinesterase-like neural adhesion protein, gliotactin, is natively unfolded. Proteins, 53 (3), pp. 758-767. | Show Abstract | Read more

Drosophila gliotactin (Gli) is a 109-kDa transmembrane, cholinesterase-like adhesion molecule (CLAM), expressed in peripheral glia, that is crucial for formation of the blood-nerve barrier. The intracellular portion (Gli-cyt) was cloned and expressed in the cytosolic fraction of Escherichia coli BLR(DE3) at 45 mg/L and purified by Ni-NTA (nitrilotriacetic acid) chromatography. Although migration on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), under denaturing conditions, was unusually slow, molecular weight determination by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) confirmed that the product was consistent with its theoretical size. Gel filtration chromatography yielded an anomalously large Stokes radius, suggesting a fully unfolded conformation. Circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy demonstrated that Gli-cyt was >50% unfolded, further suggesting a nonglobular conformation. Finally, 1D-(1)H NMR conclusively demonstrated that Gli-cyt possesses an extended unfolded structure. In addition, Gli-cyt was shown to possess charge and hydrophobic properties characteristic of natively unfolded proteins (i.e., proteins that, when purified, are intrinsically disordered under physiologic conditions in vitro).

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Silman I, Sussman JL. 2003. Acetylcholinesterase in motion: visualizing conformational changes in crystal structures by a morphing procedure. Biopolymers, 68 (3), pp. 395-406. | Show Abstract | Read more

In order to visualize and appreciate conformational changes between homologous three-dimensional (3D) protein structures or protein/inhibitor complexes, we have developed a user-friendly morphing procedure. It enabled us to detect coordinated conformational changes not easily discernible by analytic methods or by comparison of static images. This procedure was applied to comparison of native Torpedo californica acetylcholinesterase and of complexes with reversible inhibitors and conjugates with covalent inhibitors. It was likewise shown to be valuable for the visualization of conformational differences between acetylcholinesterases from different species. The procedure involves generation, in Cartesian space, of 25 interpolated intermediate structures between the initial and final 3D structures, which then serve as the individual frames in a QuickTime movie.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Vasishtan D, Hernández Durán A, Vollmer B, White P, Prasad Pandurangan A, Siebert CA, Topf M, Grünewald K. 2016. Two distinct trimeric conformations of natively membrane-anchored full-length herpes simplex virus 1 glycoprotein B. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113 (15), pp. 4176-4181. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many viruses are enveloped by a lipid bilayer acquired during assembly, which is typically studded with one or two types of glycoproteins. These viral surface proteins act as the primary interface between the virus and the host. Entry of enveloped viruses relies on specialized fusogen proteins to help merge the virus membrane with the host membrane. In the multicomponent herpesvirus fusion machinery, glycoprotein B (gB) acts as this fusogen. Although the structure of the gB ectodomain postfusion conformation has been determined, any other conformations (e.g., prefusion, intermediate conformations) have so far remained elusive, thus restricting efforts to develop antiviral treatments and prophylactic vaccines. Here, we have characterized the full-length herpes simplex virus 1 gB in a native membrane by displaying it on cell-derived vesicles and using electron cryotomography. Alongside the known postfusion conformation, a novel one was identified. Its structure, in the context of the membrane, was determined by subvolume averaging and found to be trimeric like the postfusion conformation, but appeared more condensed. Hierarchical constrained density-fitting of domains unexpectedly revealed the fusion loops in this conformation to be apart and pointing away from the anchoring membrane. This vital observation is a substantial step forward in understanding the complex herpesvirus fusion mechanism, and opens up new opportunities for more targeted intervention of herpesvirus entry.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Weberruß M, Lorenz M, Cheleski J, Hellberg T, Whittle C, El Omari K, Vasishtan D, Dent KC, Harlos K et al. 2015. Crystal Structure of the Herpesvirus Nuclear Egress Complex Provides Insights into Inner Nuclear Membrane Remodeling. Cell Rep, 13 (12), pp. 2645-2652. | Show Abstract | Read more

Although nucleo-cytoplasmic transport is typically mediated through nuclear pore complexes, herpesvirus capsids exit the nucleus via a unique vesicular pathway. Together, the conserved herpesvirus proteins pUL31 and pUL34 form the heterodimeric nuclear egress complex (NEC), which, in turn, mediates the formation of tight-fitting membrane vesicles around capsids at the inner nuclear membrane. Here, we present the crystal structure of the pseudorabies virus NEC. The structure revealed that a zinc finger motif in pUL31 and an extensive interaction network between the two proteins stabilize the complex. Comprehensive mutational analyses, characterized both in situ and in vitro, indicated that the interaction network is not redundant but rather complementary. Fitting of the NEC crystal structure into the recently determined cryoEM-derived hexagonal lattice, formed in situ by pUL31 and pUL34, provided details on the molecular basis of NEC coat formation and inner nuclear membrane remodeling.

Hagen C, Dent KC, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Grange M, Bosse JB, Whittle C, Klupp BG, Siebert CA, Vasishtan D, Bäuerlein FJB et al. 2015. Structural Basis of Vesicle Formation at the Inner Nuclear Membrane. Cell, 163 (7), pp. 1692-1701. | Show Abstract | Read more

Vesicular nucleo-cytoplasmic transport is becoming recognized as a general cellular mechanism for translocation of large cargoes across the nuclear envelope. Cargo is recruited, enveloped at the inner nuclear membrane (INM), and delivered by membrane fusion at the outer nuclear membrane. To understand the structural underpinning for this trafficking, we investigated nuclear egress of progeny herpesvirus capsids where capsid envelopment is mediated by two viral proteins, forming the nuclear egress complex (NEC). Using a multi-modal imaging approach, we visualized the NEC in situ forming coated vesicles of defined size. Cellular electron cryo-tomography revealed a protein layer showing two distinct hexagonal lattices at its membrane-proximal and membrane-distant faces, respectively. NEC coat architecture was determined by combining this information with integrative modeling using small-angle X-ray scattering data. The molecular arrangement of the NEC establishes the basic mechanism for budding and scission of tailored vesicles at the INM.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Vasishtan D, Siebert CA, Whittle C, Grünewald K. 2014. Extracellular vesicles: a platform for the structure determination of membrane proteins by Cryo-EM. Structure, 22 (11), pp. 1687-1692. | Show Abstract | Read more

Membrane protein-enriched extracellular vesicles (MPEEVs) provide a platform for studying intact membrane proteins natively anchored with the correct topology in genuine biological membranes. This approach circumvents the need to conduct tedious detergent screens for solubilization, purification, and reconstitution required in classical membrane protein studies. We have applied this method to three integral type I membrane proteins, namely the Caenorhabditis elegans cell-cell fusion proteins AFF-1 and EFF-1 and the glycoprotein B (gB) from Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1). Electron cryotomography followed by subvolume averaging allowed the 3D reconstruction of EFF-1 and HSV1 gB in the membrane as well as an analysis of the spatial distribution and interprotein interactions on the membrane. MPEEVs have many applications beyond structural/functional investigations, such as facilitating the raising of antibodies, for protein-protein interaction assays or for diagnostics use, as biomarkers, and possibly therapeutics.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Vasishtan D, Siebert CA, Grünewald K. 2014. The full-length cell-cell fusogen EFF-1 is monomeric and upright on the membrane. Nat Commun, 5 (1), pp. 3912. | Show Abstract | Read more

Fusogens are membrane proteins that remodel lipid bilayers to facilitate membrane merging. Although several fusogen ectodomain structures have been solved, structural information on full-length, natively membrane-anchored fusogens is scarce. Here we present the electron cryo microscopy three-dimensional reconstruction of the Caenorhabditis elegans epithelial fusion failure 1 (EFF-1) protein natively anchored in cell-derived membrane vesicles. This reveals a membrane protruding, asymmetric, elongated monomer. Flexible fitting of a protomer of the EFF-1 crystal structure, which is homologous to viral class-II fusion proteins, shows that EFF-1 has a hairpin monomeric conformation before fusion. These structural insights, when combined with our observations of membrane-merging intermediates between vesicles, enable us to propose a model for EFF-1 mediated fusion. This process, involving identical proteins on both membranes to be fused, follows a mechanism that shares features of SNARE-mediated fusion while using the structural building blocks of the unilaterally acting class-II viral fusion proteins.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Hagen C, Grünewald K. 2014. A cool hybrid approach to the herpesvirus 'life' cycle. Curr Opin Virol, 5 (1), pp. 42-49. | Show Abstract | Read more

Electron cryo tomography (cryoET) is an ideal technique to study virus-host interactions at molecular resolution. Imaging of biological specimens in a frozen-hydrated state assures a close to native environment. Various virus-host cell interactions have been analysed in this way, with the herpesvirus 'life' cycle being the most comprehensively studied. The data obtained were further integrated with fluorescence and soft X-ray cryo microscopy data applied on experimental systems covering a wide range of biological complexity. This hybrid approach combines dynamic with static imaging and spans a resolution range from micrometres to angstroms. Along selected aspects of the herpesvirus replication cycle, we describe dedicated combinations of approaches and how subsequent data integration enables insights towards a functional understanding of the underlying processes.

Maurer UE, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Pandurangan AP, Cairns TM, Hannah BP, Whitbeck JC, Eisenberg RJ, Cohen GH, Topf M, Huiskonen JT, Grünewald K. 2013. The structure of herpesvirus fusion glycoprotein B-bilayer complex reveals the protein-membrane and lateral protein-protein interaction. Structure, 21 (8), pp. 1396-1405. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glycoprotein B (gB) is a key component of the complex herpesvirus fusion machinery. We studied membrane interaction of two gB ectodomain forms and present an electron cryotomography structure of the gB-bilayer complex. The two forms differed in presence or absence of the membrane proximal region (MPR) but showed an overall similar trimeric shape. The presence of the MPR impeded interaction with liposomes. In contrast, the MPR-lacking form interacted efficiently with liposomes. Lateral interaction resulted in coat formation on the membranes. The structure revealed that interaction of gB with membranes was mediated by the fusion loops and limited to the outer membrane leaflet. The observed intrinsic propensity of gB to cluster on membranes indicates an additional role of gB in driving the fusion process forward beyond the transient fusion pore opening and subsequently leading to fusion pore expansion.

Avinoam O, Fridman K, Valansi C, Abutbul I, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Maurer UE, Sapir A, Danino D, Grünewald K, White JM, Podbilewicz B. 2011. Conserved eukaryotic fusogens can fuse viral envelopes to cells. Science, 332 (6029), pp. 589-592. | Show Abstract | Read more

Caenorhabditis elegans proteins AFF-1 and EFF-1 [C. elegans fusion family (CeFF) proteins] are essential for developmental cell-to-cell fusion and can merge insect cells. To study the structure and function of AFF-1, we constructed vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) displaying AFF-1 on the viral envelope, substituting the native fusogen VSV glycoprotein. Electron microscopy and tomography revealed that AFF-1 formed distinct supercomplexes resembling pentameric and hexameric "flowers" on pseudoviruses. Viruses carrying AFF-1 infected mammalian cells only when CeFFs were on the target cell surface. Furthermore, we identified fusion family (FF) proteins within and beyond nematodes, and divergent members from the human parasitic nematode Trichinella spiralis and the chordate Branchiostoma floridae could also fuse mammalian cells. Thus, FF proteins are part of an ancient family of cellular fusogens that can promote fusion when expressed on a viral particle.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Mylonas E, Paz A, Peleg Y, Toker L, Silman I, Svergun DI, Sussman JL. 2009. The quaternary structure of amalgam, a Drosophila neuronal adhesion protein, explains its dual adhesion properties. Biophys J, 97 (8), pp. 2316-2326. | Show Abstract | Read more

Amalgam (Ama) is a secreted neuronal adhesion protein that contains three tandem immunoglobulin domains. It has both homophilic and heterophilic cell adhesion properties, and is required for axon guidance and fasciculation during early stages of Drosophila development. Here, we report its biophysical characterization and use small-angle x-ray scattering to determine its low-resolution structure in solution. The biophysical studies revealed that Ama forms dimers in solution, and that its secondary and tertiary structures are typical for the immunoglobulin superfamily. Ab initio and rigid-body modeling by small-angle x-ray scattering revealed a distinct V-shaped dimer in which the two monomer chains are aligned parallel to each other, with the dimerization interface being formed by domain 1. These data provide a structural basis for the dual adhesion characteristics of Ama. Thus, the dimeric structure explains its homophilic adhesion properties. Its V shape suggests a mechanism for its interaction with its receptor, the single-pass transmembrane adhesion protein neurotactin, in which each "arm" of Ama binds to the extracellular domain of neurotactin, thus promoting its clustering on the outer face of the plasma membrane.

Prilusky J, Felder CE, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Rydberg EH, Man O, Beckmann JS, Silman I, Sussman JL. 2005. FoldIndex: a simple tool to predict whether a given protein sequence is intrinsically unfolded. Bioinformatics, 21 (16), pp. 3435-3438. | Show Abstract | Read more

An easy-to-use, versatile and freely available graphic web server, FoldIndex is described: it predicts if a given protein sequence is intrinsically unfolded implementing the algorithm of Uversky and co-workers, which is based on the average residue hydrophobicity and net charge of the sequence. FoldIndex has an error rate comparable to that of more sophisticated fold prediction methods. Sliding windows permit identification of large regions within a protein that possess folding propensities different from those of the whole protein.

Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Rydberg EH, Solomon A, Toker L, Auld VJ, Silman I, Botti S, Sussman JL. 2003. The intracellular domain of the Drosophila cholinesterase-like neural adhesion protein, gliotactin, is natively unfolded. Proteins, 53 (3), pp. 758-767. | Show Abstract | Read more

Drosophila gliotactin (Gli) is a 109-kDa transmembrane, cholinesterase-like adhesion molecule (CLAM), expressed in peripheral glia, that is crucial for formation of the blood-nerve barrier. The intracellular portion (Gli-cyt) was cloned and expressed in the cytosolic fraction of Escherichia coli BLR(DE3) at 45 mg/L and purified by Ni-NTA (nitrilotriacetic acid) chromatography. Although migration on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), under denaturing conditions, was unusually slow, molecular weight determination by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) confirmed that the product was consistent with its theoretical size. Gel filtration chromatography yielded an anomalously large Stokes radius, suggesting a fully unfolded conformation. Circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy demonstrated that Gli-cyt was >50% unfolded, further suggesting a nonglobular conformation. Finally, 1D-(1)H NMR conclusively demonstrated that Gli-cyt possesses an extended unfolded structure. In addition, Gli-cyt was shown to possess charge and hydrophobic properties characteristic of natively unfolded proteins (i.e., proteins that, when purified, are intrinsically disordered under physiologic conditions in vitro).

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