All Publications

  • Near-physiological-temperature serial crystallography reveals conformations of SARS-CoV-2 main protease active site for improved drug repurposing. Structure (London, England : 1993) Durdagi, S., Dag, C., Dogan, B., Yigin, M., Avsar, T., Buyukdag, C., Erol, I., Ertem, F. B., Calis, S., Yildirim, G., Orhan, M. D., Guven, O., Aksoydan, B., Destan, E., Sahin, K., Besler, S. O., Oktay, L., Shafiei, A., Tolu, I., Ayan, E., Yuksel, B., Peksen, A. B., Gocenler, O., Yucel, A. D., Can, O., Ozabrahamyan, S., Olkan, A., Erdemoglu, E., Aksit, F., Tanisali, G., Yefanov, O. M., Barty, A., Tolstikova, A., Ketawala, G. K., Botha, S., Dao, E. H., Hayes, B., Liang, M., Seaberg, M. H., Hunter, M. S., Batyuk, A., Mariani, V., Su, Z., Poitevin, F., Yoon, C. H., Kupitz, C., Sierra, R. G., Snell, E. H., DeMirci, H. 2021


    The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in 198 million reported infections and more than 4 million deaths as of July 2021 ( Research to identify effective therapies for COVID-19 includes: (1) designing a vaccine as future protection; (2) de novo drug discovery; and (3) identifying existing drugs to repurpose them as effective and immediate treatments. To assist in drug repurposing and design, we determine two apo structures of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) main protease at ambient temperature by serial femtosecond X-ray crystallography. We employ detailed molecular simulations of selected known main protease inhibitors with the structures and compare binding modes and energies. The combined structural and molecular modeling studies not only reveal the dynamics of small molecules targeting the main protease but also provide invaluable opportunities for drug repurposing and structure-based drug design strategies against SARS-CoV-2.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.str.2021.07.007

    View details for PubMedID 34403647

  • Reproducibility of protein x-ray diffuse scattering and potential utility for modeling atomic displacement parameters. Structural dynamics (Melville, N.Y.) Su, Z., Dasgupta, M., Poitevin, F., Mathews, I. I., van den Bedem, H., Wall, M. E., Yoon, C. H., Wilson, M. A. 2021; 8 (4): 044701


    Protein structure and dynamics can be probed using x-ray crystallography. Whereas the Bragg peaks are only sensitive to the average unit-cell electron density, the signal between the Bragg peaks-diffuse scattering-is sensitive to spatial correlations in electron-density variations. Although diffuse scattering contains valuable information about protein dynamics, the diffuse signal is more difficult to isolate from the background compared to the Bragg signal, and the reproducibility of diffuse signal is not yet well understood. We present a systematic study of the reproducibility of diffuse scattering from isocyanide hydratase in three different protein forms. Both replicate diffuse datasets and datasets obtained from different mutants were similar in pairwise comparisons (Pearson correlation coefficient ≥0.8). The data were processed in a manner inspired by previously published methods using custom software with modular design, enabling us to perform an analysis of various data processing choices to determine how to obtain the highest quality data as assessed using unbiased measures of symmetry and reproducibility. The diffuse data were then used to characterize atomic mobility using a liquid-like motions (LLM) model. This characterization was able to discriminate between distinct anisotropic atomic displacement parameter (ADP) models arising from different anisotropic scaling choices that agreed comparably with the Bragg data. Our results emphasize the importance of data reproducibility as a model-free measure of diffuse data quality, illustrate the ability of LLM analysis of diffuse scattering to select among alternative ADP models, and offer insights into the design of successful diffuse scattering experiments.

    View details for DOI 10.1063/4.0000087

    View details for PubMedID 34258328

  • Structure of the Visual Signaling Complex between Transducin and Phosphodiesterase 6. Molecular cell Gao, Y., Eskici, G., Ramachandran, S., Poitevin, F., Seven, A. B., Panova, O., Skiniotis, G., Cerione, R. A. 2020


    Heterotrimeric G proteins communicate signals from activated G protein-coupled receptors to downstream effector proteins. In the phototransduction pathway responsible for vertebrate vision, the G protein-effector complex is composed of the GTP-bound transducin alpha subunit (GalphaT·GTP) and the cyclic GMP (cGMP) phosphodiesterase 6 (PDE6), which stimulates cGMP hydrolysis, leading to hyperpolarization of the photoreceptor cell. Here we report a cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) structure of PDE6 complexed to GTP-bound GalphaT. The structure reveals two GalphaT·GTP subunits engaging the PDE6 hetero-tetramer at both the PDE6 catalytic core and the PDEgamma subunits, driving extensive rearrangements to relieve all inhibitory constraints on enzyme catalysis. Analysis of the conformational ensemble in the cryoEM data highlights the dynamic nature of the contacts between the two GalphaT·GTP subunits and PDE6 that supports an alternating-site catalytic mechanism.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2020.09.013

    View details for PubMedID 33007200

  • Structure of the 30S ribosomal decoding complex at ambient temperature RNA Dao, E., Poitevin, F., Sierra, R. G., Gati, C., Rao, Y., Ciftci, H., Aksit, F., McGurk, A., Obrinski, T., Mgbam, P., Hayes, B., De Lichtenberg, C., Pardo-Avila, F., Corsepius, N., Zhang, L., Seaberg, M. H., Hunter, M. S., Liang, M., Koglin, J. E., Wakatsuki, S., Demirci, H. 2018; 24 (12): 1667–76
  • Aminoglycoside ribosome interactions reveal novel conformational states at ambient temperature NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH O'Sullivan, M. E., Poitevin, F., Sierra, R. G., Gati, C., Dao, E., Rao, Y., Aksit, F., Ciftci, H., Corsepius, N., Greenhouse, R., Hayes, B., Hunter, M. S., Liang, M., McGurk, A., Mbgam, P., Obrinsky, T., Pardo-Avila, F., Seaberg, M. H., Cheng, A. G., Ricci, A. J., DeMirci, H. 2018; 46 (18): 9793–9804

    View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gky693

    View details for Web of Science ID 000450953200048

  • Nutrient transport suggests an evolutionary basis for charged archaeal surface layer proteins ISME JOURNAL Li, P., Herrmann, J., Tolar, B. B., Poitevin, F., Ramdasi, R., Bargar, J. R., Stahl, D. A., Jensen, G. J., Francis, C. A., Wakatsuki, S., van den Bedem, H. 2018; 12 (10): 2389–2402
  • Structure of the 30S ribosomal decoding complex at ambient temperature. RNA (New York, N.Y.) Dao, E. H., Poitevin, F., Sierra, R. G., Gati, C., Rao, Y., Ciftci, H. I., Aksit, F., McGurk, A., Obrinski, T., Mgbam, P., Hayes, B., DE Lichtenberg, C., Pardo-Avila, F., Corsepius, N., Zhang, L., Seaberg, M. H., Hunter, M. S., Liang, M., Koglin, J. E., Wakatsuki, S., Demirci, H. 2018


    The ribosome translates nucleotide sequences of messenger RNA to proteins through selection of cognate transfer RNA according to the genetic code. To date, structural studies of ribosomal decoding complexes yielding high-resolution data have predominantly relied on experiments performed at cryogenic temperatures. New lightsources like the X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) have enabled data collection from macromolecular crystals at ambient temperature. Here, we report an X-ray crystal structure of the Thermus thermophilus 30S ribosomal subunit decoding complex to 3.45 A resolution using data obtained at ambient temperature at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). We find that this ambient-temperature structure is largely consistent with existing cryogenic-temperature crystal structures, with key residues of the decoding complex exhibiting similar conformations, including adenosine residues 1492 and 1493. Minor variations were observed, namely an alternate conformation of cytosine 1397 near the mRNA channel and the A-site. Our serial crystallography experiment illustrates the amenability of ribosomal microcrystals to routine structural studies at ambient temperature, thus overcoming a long-standing experimental limitation to structural studies of RNA and RNA-protein complexes at near-physiological temperatures.

    View details for PubMedID 30139800

  • Atomistic string method solution for ion channel gating and modulation by general anesthetics Lev, B., Murail, S., Poitevin, F., Cromer, B., Baaden, M., Delarue, M., Allen, T. AMER CHEMICAL SOC. 2018
  • Aminoglycoside ribosome interactions reveal novel conformational states at ambient temperature. Nucleic acids research O'Sullivan, M. E., Poitevin, F., Sierra, R. G., Gati, C., Dao, E. H., Rao, Y., Aksit, F., Ciftci, H., Corsepius, N., Greenhouse, R., Hayes, B., Hunter, M. S., Liang, M., McGurk, A., Mbgam, P., Obrinsky, T., Pardo-Avila, F., Seaberg, M. H., Cheng, A. G., Ricci, A. J., DeMirci, H. 2018


    The bacterial 30S ribosomal subunit is a primary antibiotic target. Despite decades of discovery, the mechanisms by which antibiotic binding induces ribosomal dysfunction are not fully understood. Ambient temperature crystallographic techniques allow more biologically relevant investigation of how local antibiotic binding site interactions trigger global subunit rearrangements that perturb protein synthesis. Here, the structural effects of 2-deoxystreptamine (paromomycin and sisomicin), a novel sisomicin derivative, N1-methyl sulfonyl sisomicin (N1MS) and the non-deoxystreptamine (streptomycin) aminoglycosides on the ribosome at ambient and cryogenic temperatures were examined. Comparative studies led to three main observations. First, individual aminoglycoside-ribosome interactions in the decoding center were similar for cryogenic versus ambient temperature structures. Second, analysis of a highly conserved GGAA tetraloop of h45 revealed aminoglycoside-specific conformational changes, which are affected by temperature only for N1MS. We report the h44-h45 interface in varying states, i.e. engaged, disengaged and in equilibrium. Third, we observe aminoglycoside-induced effects on 30S domain closure, including a novel intermediary closure state, which is also sensitive to temperature. Analysis of three ambient and five cryogenic crystallography datasets reveal a correlation between h44-h45 engagement and domain closure. These observations illustrate the role of ambient temperature crystallography in identifying dynamic mechanisms of ribosomal dysfunction induced by local drug-binding site interactions. Together, these data identify tertiary ribosomal structural changes induced by aminoglycoside binding that provides functional insight and targets for drug design.

    View details for PubMedID 30113694

  • Intermolecular correlations are necessary to explain diffuse scattering from protein crystals IUCRJ Peck, A., Poitevin, F., Lane, T. J. 2018; 5: 211–22


    Conformational changes drive protein function, including catalysis, allostery and signaling. X-ray diffuse scattering from protein crystals has frequently been cited as a probe of these correlated motions, with significant potential to advance our understanding of biological dynamics. However, recent work has challenged this prevailing view, suggesting instead that diffuse scattering primarily originates from rigid-body motions and could therefore be applied to improve structure determination. To investigate the nature of the disorder giving rise to diffuse scattering, and thus the potential applications of this signal, a diverse repertoire of disorder models was assessed for its ability to reproduce the diffuse signal reconstructed from three protein crystals. This comparison revealed that multiple models of intramolecular conformational dynamics, including ensemble models inferred from the Bragg data, could not explain the signal. Models of rigid-body or short-range liquid-like motions, in which dynamics are confined to the biological unit, showed modest agreement with the diffuse maps, but were unable to reproduce experimental features indicative of long-range correlations. Extending a model of liquid-like motions to include disorder across neighboring proteins in the crystal significantly improved agreement with all three systems and highlighted the contribution of intermolecular correlations to the observed signal. These findings anticipate a need to account for intermolecular disorder in order to advance the interpretation of diffuse scattering to either extract biological motions or aid structural inference.

    View details for PubMedID 29765611

  • Nutrient transport suggests an evolutionary basis for charged archaeal surface layer proteins. The ISME journal Li, P. N., Herrmann, J. n., Tolar, B. B., Poitevin, F. n., Ramdasi, R. n., Bargar, J. R., Stahl, D. A., Jensen, G. J., Francis, C. A., Wakatsuki, S. n., van den Bedem, H. n. 2018


    Surface layers (S-layers) are two-dimensional, proteinaceous, porous lattices that form the outermost cell envelope component of virtually all archaea and many bacteria. Despite exceptional sequence diversity, S-layer proteins (SLPs) share important characteristics such as their ability to form crystalline sheets punctuated with nano-scale pores, and their propensity for charged amino acids, leading to acidic or basic isoelectric points. However, the precise function of S-layers, or the role of charged SLPs and how they relate to cellular metabolism is unknown. Nano-scale lattices affect the diffusion behavior of low-concentration solutes, even if they are significantly smaller than the pore size. Here, we offer a rationale for charged S-layer proteins in the context of the structural evolution of S-layers. Using the ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) as a model for S-layer geometry, and a 2D electrodiffusion reaction computational framework to simulate diffusion and consumption of the charged solute ammonium (NH4+), we find that the characteristic length scales of nanoporous S-layers elevate the concentration of NH4+ in the pseudo-periplasmic space. Our simulations suggest an evolutionary, mechanistic basis for S-layer charge and shed light on the unique ability of some AOA to oxidize ammonia in environments with nanomolar NH4+ availability, with broad implications for comparisons of ecologically distinct populations.

    View details for PubMedID 29899515

  • Reduction of small-angle scattering profiles to finite sets of structural invariants ACTA CRYSTALLOGRAPHICA A-FOUNDATION AND ADVANCES Houdayer, J., Poitevin, F. 2017; 73: 317–32


    This paper shows how small-angle scattering (SAS) curves can be decomposed in a simple sum using a set of invariant parameters called Kn which are related to the shape of the object of study. These Kn, together with a radius R, give a complete theoretical description of the SAS curve. Adding an overall constant, these parameters are easily fitted against experimental data giving a concise comprehensive description of the data. The pair distance distribution function is also entirely described by this invariant set and the Dmax parameter can be measured. In addition to the understanding they bring, these invariants can be used to reliably estimate structural moments beyond the radius of gyration, thereby rigorously expanding the actual set of model-free quantities one can extract from experimental SAS data, and possibly paving the way to designing new shape reconstruction strategies.

    View details for DOI 10.1107/S205327331700451X

    View details for Web of Science ID 000404590700005

    View details for PubMedID 28660864

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5571748

  • String method solution of the gating pathways for a pentameric ligand-gated ion channel PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Lev, B., Murail, S., Poitevin, F., Cromer, B. A., Baaden, M., Delarue, M., Allen, T. W. 2017; 114 (21): E4158-E4167


    Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels control synaptic neurotransmission by converting chemical signals into electrical signals. Agonist binding leads to rapid signal transduction via an allosteric mechanism, where global protein conformational changes open a pore across the nerve cell membrane. We use all-atom molecular dynamics with a swarm-based string method to solve for the minimum free-energy gating pathways of the proton-activated bacterial GLIC channel. We describe stable wetted/open and dewetted/closed states, and uncover conformational changes in the agonist-binding extracellular domain, ion-conducting transmembrane domain, and gating interface that control communication between these domains. Transition analysis is used to compute free-energy surfaces that suggest allosteric pathways; stabilization with pH; and intermediates, including states that facilitate channel closing in the presence of an agonist. We describe a switching mechanism that senses proton binding by marked reorganization of subunit interface, altering the packing of β-sheets to induce changes that lead to asynchronous pore-lining M2 helix movements. These results provide molecular details of GLIC gating and insight into the allosteric mechanisms for the superfamily of pentameric ligand-gated channels.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1617567114

    View details for Web of Science ID 000401797800009

    View details for PubMedID 28487483

  • The Renormalization Group and Its Applications to Generating Coarse-Grained Models of Large Biological Molecular Systems. Journal of chemical theory and computation Koehl, P., Poitevin, F., Navaza, R., Delarue, M. 2017


    Understanding the dynamics of biomolecules is the key to understanding their biological activities. Computational methods ranging from all-atom molecular dynamics simulations to coarse-grained normal-mode analyses based on simplified elastic networks provide a general framework to studying these dynamics. Despite recent successes in studying very large systems with up to a 100,000,000 atoms, those methods are currently limited to studying small- to medium-sized molecular systems due to computational limitations. One solution to circumvent these limitations is to reduce the size of the system under study. In this paper, we argue that coarse-graining, the standard approach to such size reduction, must define a hierarchy of models of decreasing sizes that are consistent with each other, i.e., that each model contains the information of the dynamics of its predecessor. We propose a new method, Decimate, for generating such a hierarchy within the context of elastic networks for normal-mode analysis. This method is based on the concept of the renormalization group developed in statistical physics. We highlight the details of its implementation, with a special focus on its scalability to large systems of up to millions of atoms. We illustrate its application on two large systems, the capsid of a virus and the ribosome translation complex. We show that highly decimated representations of those systems, containing down to 1% of their original number of atoms, still capture qualitatively and quantitatively their dynamics. Decimate is available as an OpenSource resource.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jctc.6b01136

    View details for PubMedID 28170254

  • Gating Pathways for a Pentameric Ligand-Gated Ion Channel Solved by Atomistic String Method Simulations Lev, B., Murail, S., Poitevin, F., Cromer, B. A., Baaden, M., Delarue, M., Allen, T. W. CELL PRESS. 2017: 475A
  • Beyond Poisson-Boltzmann: Numerical Sampling of Charge Density Fluctuations JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B Poitevin, F., Delarue, M., Orland, H. 2016; 120 (26): 6270-6277


    We present a method aimed at sampling charge density fluctuations in Coulomb systems. The derivation follows from a functional integral representation of the partition function in terms of charge density fluctuations. Starting from the mean-field solution given by the Poisson-Boltzmann equation, an original approach is proposed to numerically sample fluctuations around it, through the propagation of a Langevin-like stochastic partial differential equation (SPDE). The diffusion tensor of the SPDE can be chosen so as to avoid the numerical complexity linked to long-range Coulomb interactions, effectively rendering the theory completely local. A finite-volume implementation of the SPDE is described, and the approach is illustrated with preliminary results on the study of a system made of two like-charge ions immersed in a bath of counterions.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b02650

    View details for Web of Science ID 000379457200055

    View details for PubMedID 27075231

  • Comparative Normal Mode Analysis of the Dynamics of DENV and ZIKV Capsids. Frontiers in molecular biosciences Hsieh, Y., Poitevin, F., Delarue, M., Koehl, P. 2016; 3: 85-?


    Key steps in the life cycle of a virus, such as the fusion event as the virus infects a host cell and its maturation process, relate to an intricate interplay between the structure and the dynamics of its constituent proteins, especially those that define its capsid, much akin to an envelope that protects its genomic material. We present a comprehensive, comparative analysis of such interplay for the capsids of two viruses from the flaviviridae family, Dengue (DENV) and Zika (ZIKV). We use for that purpose our own software suite, DD-NMA, which is based on normal mode analysis. We describe the elements of DD-NMA that are relevant to the analysis of large systems, such as virus capsids. In particular, we introduce our implementation of simplified elastic networks and justify their parametrization. Using DD-NMA, we illustrate the importance of packing interactions within the virus capsids on the dynamics of the E proteins of DENV and ZIKV. We identify differences between the computed atomic fluctuations of the E proteins in DENV and ZIKV and relate those differences to changes observed in their high resolution structures. We conclude with a discussion on additional analyses that are needed to fully characterize the dynamics of the two viruses.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fmolb.2016.00085

    View details for PubMedID 28083537

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5187361

  • AquaSAXS: a web server for computation and fitting of SAXS profiles with non-uniformally hydrated atomic models NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH Poitevin, F., Orland, H., Doniach, S., Koehl, P., Delarue, M. 2011; 39: W184-W189


    Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) techniques are becoming more and more useful for structural biologists and biochemists, thanks to better access to dedicated synchrotron beamlines, better detectors and the relative easiness of sample preparation. The ability to compute the theoretical SAXS profile of a given structural model, and to compare this profile with the measured scattering intensity, yields crucial structural informations about the macromolecule under study and/or its complexes in solution. An important contribution to the profile, besides the macromolecule itself and its solvent-excluded volume, is the excess density due to the hydration layer. AquaSAXS takes advantage of recently developed methods, such as AquaSol, that give the equilibrium solvent density map around macromolecules, to compute an accurate SAXS/WAXS profile of a given structure and to compare it to the experimental one. Here, we describe the interface architecture and capabilities of the AquaSAXS web server (

    View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gkr430

    View details for Web of Science ID 000292325300031

    View details for PubMedID 21665925

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3125794