Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (2010)
  • BS, University of Chicago, Mathematics (2005)
  • BA, University of Chicago, Physics (2005)

Stanford Advisors

Journal Articles

  • Posttranslational Acetylation of alpha-Tubulin Constrains Protofilament Number in Native Microtubules CURRENT BIOLOGY Cueva, J. G., Hsin, J., Huang, K. C., Goodman, M. B. 2012; 22 (12): 1066-1074


    Microtubules are built from linear polymers of ?-? tubulin dimers (protofilaments) that form a tubular quinary structure. Microtubules assembled from purified tubulin in vitro contain between 10 and 16 protofilaments; however, such structural polymorphisms are not found in cells. This discrepancy implies that factors other than tubulin constrain microtubule protofilament number, but the nature of these constraints is unknown.Here, we show that acetylation of MEC-12 ?-tubulin constrains protofilament number in C. elegans touch receptor neurons (TRNs). Whereas the sensory dendrite of wild-type TRNs is packed with a cross-linked bundle of long, 15-protofilament microtubules, mec-17;atat-2 mutants lacking ?-tubulin acetyltransferase activity have short microtubules, rampant lattice defects, and variable protofilament number both between and within microtubules. All-atom molecular dynamics simulations suggest a model in which acetylation of lysine 40 promotes the formation of interprotofilament salt bridges, stabilizing lateral interactions between protofilaments and constraining quinary structure to produce stable, structurally uniform microtubules in vivo.Acetylation of ?-tubulin is an essential constraint on protofilament number in vivo. We propose a structural model in which this posttranslational modification promotes the formation of lateral salt bridges that fine-tune the association between adjacent protofilaments and enable the formation of uniform microtubule populations in vivo.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2012.05.012

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305766900020

    View details for PubMedID 22658592

  • Nucleotide-dependent conformations of FtsZ dimers and force generation observed through molecular dynamics simulations PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Hsin, J., Gopinathan, A., Huang, K. C. 2012; 109 (24): 9432-9437


    The bacterial cytoskeletal protein FtsZ is a GTPase that is thought to provide mechanical constriction force via an unidentified mechanism. Purified FtsZ polymerizes into filaments with varying structures in vitro: while GTP-bound FtsZ assembles into straight or gently curved filaments, GDP-bound FtsZ forms highly curved filaments, prompting the hypothesis that a difference in the inherent curvature of FtsZ filaments provides mechanical force. However, no nucleotide-dependent structural transition of FtsZ monomers has been observed to support this force generation model. Here, we present a series of all-atom molecular dynamics simulations probing the effects of nucleotide binding on the structure of an FtsZ dimer. We found that the FtsZ-dimer structure is dependent on nucleotide-binding state. While a GTP-bound FtsZ dimer retained a firm monomer-monomer contact, a GDP-bound FtsZ dimer lost some of the monomer-monomer association, leading to a "hinge-opening" event that resulted in a more bent dimer, while leaving each monomer structure largely unaffected. We constructed models of FtsZ filaments and found that a GDP-FtsZ filament is much more curved than a GTP-FtsZ filament, with the degree of curvature matching prior experimental data. FtsZ dynamics were used to estimate the amount of force an FtsZ filament could exert when hydrolysis occurs (20-30 pN per monomer). This magnitude of force is sufficient to direct inward cell-wall growth during division, and to produce the observed degree of membrane pinching in liposomes. Taken together, our data provide molecular-scale insight on the origin of FtsZ-based constriction force, and the mechanism underlying prokaryotic cell division.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1120761109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305511300049

    View details for PubMedID 22647609