マイクロ秒時間分解低温電子顕微鏡で明らかになったウイルスの高速ダイナミクス Fast viral dynamics revealed by microsecond time-resolved cryo-EM
Oliver F. Harder,Sarah V. Barrass,Marcel Drabbels & Ulrich J. Lorenz
Nature Communications Published:13 September 2023
Observing proteins as they perform their tasks has largely remained elusive, which has left our understanding of protein function fundamentally incomplete. To enable such observations, we have recently proposed a technique that improves the time resolution of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to microseconds. Here, we demonstrate that microsecond time-resolved cryo-EM enables observations of fast protein dynamics. We use our approach to elucidate the mechanics of the capsid of cowpea chlorotic mottle virus (CCMV), whose large-amplitude motions play a crucial role in the viral life cycle. We observe that a pH jump causes the extended configuration of the capsid to contract on the microsecond timescale. While this is a concerted process, the motions of the capsid proteins involve different timescales, leading to a curved reaction path. It is difficult to conceive how such a detailed picture of the dynamics could have been obtained with any other method, which highlights the potential of our technique. Crucially, our experiments pave the way for microsecond time-resolved cryo-EM to be applied to a broad range of protein dynamics that previously could not have been observed. This promises to fundamentally advance our understanding of protein function.