Doctor of Philosophy, Chinese Academy Of Sciences (2015)
Bachelor of Engineering, Xi'An Jiaotong University (2009)
Liang Feng, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Long-chain alk(a/e)nes represent the major constituents of conventional transportation fuels. Biosynthesis of alkanes is ubiquitous in many kinds of organisms. Cyanobacteria possess two enzymes, acyl-acyl carrier protein (acyl-ACP) reductase (AAR) and aldehyde-deformylating oxygenase (ADO), which function in a two-step alkane biosynthesis pathway. These two enzymes act in series and possibly form a complex that efficiently converts long chain fatty acyl-ACP/fatty acyl-CoA into hydrocarbon. While the structure of ADO has been previously described, structures of both AAR and AAR-ADO complex have not been solved, preventing deeper understanding of this pathway. Here, we report a ligand-free AAR structure, and three AAR-ADO complex structures in which AARs bind various ligands. Our results reveal the binding pattern of AAR with its substrate/cofactor, and suggest a potential aldehyde-transferring channel from AAR to ADO. Based on our structural and biochemical data, we proposed a model for the complete catalytic cycle of AAR.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-020-15268-y
View details for PubMedID 32251275
Mitochondria take up Ca2+ through the mitochondrial calcium uniporter complex to regulate energy production, cytosolic Ca2+ signalling and cell death1,2. In mammals, the uniporter complex (uniplex) contains four core components: the pore-forming MCU protein, the gatekeepers MICU1 and MICU2, and an auxiliary subunit, EMRE, essential for Ca2+ transport3-8. To prevent detrimental Ca2+ overload, the activity of MCU must be tightly regulated by MICUs, which sense changes in cytosolic Ca2+ concentrations to switch MCU on and off9,10. Here we report cryo-electron microscopic structures of the human mitochondrial calcium uniporter holocomplex in inhibited and Ca2+-activated states. These structures define the architecture of this multicomponent Ca2+-uptake machinery and reveal the gating mechanism by which MICUs control uniporter activity. Our work provides a framework for understanding regulated Ca2+ uptake in mitochondria, and could suggest ways of modulating uniporter activity to treat diseases related to mitochondrial Ca2+ overload.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-020-2309-6
View details for PubMedID 32494073
Mitochondrial calcium uptake is critical for regulating ATP production, intracellular calcium signalling, and cell death. This uptake is mediated by a highly selective calcium channel called the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU). Here, we determined the structures of the pore-forming MCU proteins from two fungi by X-ray crystallography and single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. The stoichiometry, overall architecture, and individual subunit structure differed markedly from those described in the recent nuclear magnetic resonance structure of Caenorhabditis elegans MCU. We observed a dimer-of-dimer architecture across species and chemical environments, which was corroborated by biochemical experiments. Structural analyses and functional characterization uncovered the roles of key residues in the pore. These results reveal a new ion channel architecture, provide insights into calcium coordination, selectivity and conduction, and establish a structural framework for understanding the mechanism of mitochondrial calcium uniporter function.
View details for PubMedID 29995856