Developing a single-molecule fluorescence tool to quantify DNA damage

Biophysical Journal Elsevier 110 (2016) p164a-

Quantification of DNA damage is an important technique for medical physics, for example to assess damage caused by the quinolone antibiotics, or to examine the effects of novel cancer treatments such as low-temperature plasma therapy on healthy or tumorous cells. Existing damage quantification techniques such as the alkaline comet assay [1] are often subjective in their results, especially at higher damage levels. Methods using immunofluorescence [2] often lose information due to the three dimensional nature of the cell.

The limiting speed of the bacterial flagellar motor

Biophysical Journal Biophysical Society 111 (2016) 557–564-

RM Berry, JA Nirody, G Oster

Recent experiments on the bacterial flagellar motor have shown that the structure of this nanomachine, which drives locomotion in a wide range of bacterial species, is more dynamic than previously believed. Specifically, the number of active torque-generating complexes (stators) was shown to vary across applied loads. This finding brings under scrutiny the experimental evidence reporting that limiting (zero-torque) speed is independent of the number of active stators. Here, we propose that, contrary to previous assumptions, the maximum speed of the motor increases as additional stators are recruited. This result arises from our assumption that stators disengage from the motor for a significant portion of their mechanochemical cycles at low loads. We show that this assumption is consistent with current experimental evidence and consolidate our predictions with arguments that a processive motor must have a high duty ratio at high loads.

A Simple low-cost device enables four epi-illumination techniques on standard light microscopes

Scientific Reports Nature Publishing Group 6 (2016)

R Berry, R ishmukhametov, AN Russell, RJ Wheeler, AL Nord

Back-scattering darkfield (BSDF), epi-fluorescence (EF), interference reflection contrast (IRC), and darkfield surface reflection (DFSR) are advanced but expensive light microscopy techniques with limited availability. Here we show a simple optical design that combines these four techniques in a simple low-cost miniature epi-illuminator, which inserts into the differential interference-contrast (DIC) slider bay of a commercial microscope, without further additions required. We demonstrate with this device: 1) BSDF-based detection of Malarial parasites inside unstained human erythrocytes; 2) EF imaging with and without dichroic components, including detection of DAPI-stained Leishmania parasite without using excitation or emission filters; 3) RIC of black lipid membranes and other thin films, and 4) DFSR of patterned opaque and transparent surfaces. We believe that our design can expand the functionality of commercial bright field microscopes, provide easy field detection of parasites and be of interest to many users of light microscopy.

Domain-swap polymerization drives the self-assembly of the bacterial flagellar motor.

Nature structural & molecular biology 23 (2016) 197-203

MAB Baker, RMG Hynson, LA Ganuelas, NS Mohammadi, CW Liew, AA Rey, AP Duff, AE Whitten, CM Jeffries, NJ Delalez, YV Morimoto, D Stock, JP Armitage, AJ Turberfield, K Namba, RM Berry, LK Lee

Large protein complexes assemble spontaneously, yet their subunits do not prematurely form unwanted aggregates. This paradox is epitomized in the bacterial flagellar motor, a sophisticated rotary motor and sensory switch consisting of hundreds of subunits. Here we demonstrate that Escherichia coli FliG, one of the earliest-assembling flagellar motor proteins, forms ordered ring structures via domain-swap polymerization, which in other proteins has been associated with uncontrolled and deleterious protein aggregation. Solution structural data, in combination with in vivo biochemical cross-linking experiments and evolutionary covariance analysis, revealed that FliG exists predominantly as a monomer in solution but only as domain-swapped polymers in assembled flagellar motors. We propose a general structural and thermodynamic model for self-assembly, in which a structural template controls assembly and shapes polymer formation into rings.

Rotational Measurements and Manipulations of the Bacterial Flagellar Motor

BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 110 (2016) 198A-198A

AL Nord, RM Berry, F Pedaci

A simple low-cost device enables four epi-illumination techniques on standard light microscopes

Scientific Reports Nature Publishing Group 6 (2016) 20729

R Ishmukhametov, AN Russell, RJ Wheeler, AL Nord, RM Berry

Back-scattering darkfield (BSDF), epi-fluorescence (EF), interference reflection contrast (IRC), and darkfield surface reflection (DFSR) are advanced but expensive light microscopy techniques with limited availability. Here we show a simple optical design that combines these four techniques in a simple low-cost miniature epi-illuminator, which inserts into the differential interference-contrast (DIC) slider bay of a commercial microscope, without further additions required. We demonstrate with this device: 1) BSDF-based detection of Malarial parasites inside unstained human erythrocytes; 2) EF imaging with and without dichroic components, including detection of DAPI-stained Leishmania parasite without using excitation or emission filters; 3) RIC of black lipid membranes and other thin films, and 4) DFSR of patterned opaque and transparent surfaces. We believe that our design can expand the functionality of commercial bright field microscopes, provide easy field detection of parasites and be of interest to many users of light microscopy.

Composition, formation, and regulation of the cytosolic c-ring, a dynamic component of the type III secretion injectisome

PLoS Biology Public Library of Science 13 (2015) e1002039-

A Diepold, M Kudryashev, NJ Delalez, RM Berry, J Armitage

Many gram-negative pathogens employ a type III secretion injectisome to translocate effector proteins into eukaryotic host cells. While the structure of the distal "needle complex" is well documented, the composition and role of the functionally important cytosolic complex remain less well understood. Using functional fluorescent fusions, we found that the C-ring, an essential and conserved cytosolic component of the system, is composed of ~22 copies of SctQ (YscQ in Yersinia enterocolitica), which require the presence of YscQC, the product of an internal translation initiation site in yscQ, for their cooperative assembly. Photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) reveals that in vivo, YscQ is present in both a free-moving cytosolic and a stable injectisome-bound state. Notably, fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) shows that YscQ exchanges between the injectisome and the cytosol, with a t½ of 68 ± 8 seconds when injectisomes are secreting. In contrast, the secretin SctC (YscC) and the major export apparatus component SctV (YscV) display minimal exchange. Under non-secreting conditions, the exchange rate of YscQ is reduced to t½ = 134 ± 16 seconds, revealing a correlation between C-ring exchange and injectisome activity, which indicates a possible role for C-ring stability in regulation of type III secretion. The stabilization of the C-ring depends on the presence of the functional ATPase SctN (YscN). These data provide new insights into the formation and composition of the injectisome and present a novel aspect of type III secretion, the exchange of C-ring subunits, which is regulated with respect to secretion.

Dual stator dynamics in the Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 flagellar motor.

Molecular microbiology 96 (2015) 993-1001

A Paulick, NJ Delalez, S Brenzinger, BC Steel, RM Berry, JP Armitage, KM Thormann

The bacterial flagellar motor is an intricate nanomachine which converts ion gradients into rotational movement. Torque is created by ion-dependent stator complexes which surround the rotor in a ring. Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 expresses two distinct types of stator units: the Na(+)-dependent PomA4 B2 and the H(+)-dependent MotA4 B2. Here, we have explored the stator unit dynamics in the MR-1 flagellar system by using mCherry-labeled PomAB and MotAB units. We observed a total of between 7 and 11 stator units in each flagellar motor. Both types of stator units exchanged between motors and a pool of stator complexes in the membrane, and the exchange rate of MotAB, but not of PomAB, units was dependent on the environmental Na(+)-levels. In 200 mM Na(+), the numbers of PomAB and MotAB units in wild-type motors was determined to be about 7:2 (PomAB:MotAB), shifting to about 6:5 without Na(+). Significantly, the average swimming speed of MR-1 cells at low Na(+) conditions was increased in the presence of MotAB. These data strongly indicate that the S. oneidensis flagellar motors simultaneously use H(+) and Na(+) driven stators in a configuration governed by MotAB incorporation efficiency in response to environmental Na(+) levels.

Comparison between single-molecule and X-ray crystallography data on yeast F1-ATPase

Scientific Reports Springer Nature 5 (2015) 8773-

BC Steel, AL Nord, Y Wang, V Pagadala, DM Mueller, R Berry

Single molecule studies in recent decades have elucidated the full chemo-mechanical cycle of F1-ATPase, mostly based on F1 from thermophilic bacteria. In contrast, high-resolution crystal structures are only available for mitochondrial F1. Here we present high resolution single molecule rotational data on F1 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, obtained using new high throughput detection and analysis tools. Rotational data are presented for the wild type mitochondrial enzyme, a “liver” isoform, and six mutant forms of yeast F1 that have previously been demonstrated to be less efficient or partially uncoupled. The wild-type and “liver” isoforms show the same qualitative features as F1 from Escherichia coli and thermophilic bacteria. The analysis of the mutant forms revealed a delay at the catalytic dwell and associated decrease in Vmax, with magnitudes consistent with the level of disruption seen in the crystal structures. At least one of the mutant forms shows a previously un-observed dwell at the ATP binding angle, potentially attributable to slowed release of ADP. We discuss the correlation between crystal structures and single molecule results

Mechanics of torque generation in the bacterial flagellar motor

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Sciences 112 (2015) E4381-E4389

KK Mandadapu, JA Nirody, R Berry, G Oster

The bacterial flagellar motor (BFM) is responsible for driving bacterial locomotion and chemotaxis, fundamental processes in pathogenesis and biofilm formation. In the BFM, torque is generated at the interface between transmembrane proteins (stators) and a rotor. It is well established that the passage of ions down a transmembrane gradient through the stator complex provides the energy for torque generation. However, the physics involved in this energy conversion remain poorly understood. Here we propose a mechanically specific model for torque generation in the BFM. In particular, we identify roles for two fundamental forces involved in torque generation: electrostatic and steric. We propose that electrostatic forces serve to position the stator, whereas steric forces comprise the actual “power stroke.” Specifically, we propose that ion-induced conformational changes about a proline “hinge” residue in a stator α-helix are directly responsible for generating the power stroke. Our model predictions fit well with recent experiments on a single-stator motor. The proposed model provides a mechanical explanation for several fundamental properties of the flagellar motor, including torque–speed and speed–ion motive force relationships, backstepping, variation in step sizes, and the effects of key mutations in the stator.

Superresolution imaging of single DNA molecules using stochastic photoblinking of minor groove and intercalating dyes

Methods Elsevier BV 88 (2015) 81-88

H Miller, Z Zhou, AJM Wollman, MC Leake

Probing DNA interactions with proteins using a single-molecule toolbox: inside the cell, in a test tube and in a computer

Biochemical Society Transactions Portland Press Ltd. 43 (2015) 139-145

AJM Wollman, H Miller, Z Zhou, MC Leake

<jats:p>DNA-interacting proteins have roles in multiple processes, many operating as molecular machines which undergo dynamic meta-stable transitions to bring about their biological function. To fully understand this molecular heterogeneity, DNA and the proteins that bind to it must ideally be interrogated at a single molecule level in their native in vivo environments, in a time-resolved manner, fast enough to sample the molecular transitions across the free-energy landscape. Progress has been made over the past decade in utilizing cutting-edge tools of the physical sciences to address challenging biological questions concerning the function and modes of action of several different proteins which bind to DNA. These physiologically relevant assays are technically challenging but can be complemented by powerful and often more tractable in vitro experiments which confer advantages of the chemical environment with enhanced detection signal-to-noise of molecular signatures and transition events. In the present paper, we discuss a range of techniques we have developed to monitor DNA–protein interactions in vivo, in vitro and in silico. These include bespoke single-molecule fluorescence microscopy techniques to elucidate the architecture and dynamics of the bacterial replisome and the structural maintenance of bacterial chromosomes, as well as new computational tools to extract single-molecule molecular signatures from live cells to monitor stoichiometry, spatial localization and mobility in living cells. We also discuss recent developments from our laboratory made in vitro, complementing these in vivo studies, which combine optical and magnetic tweezers to manipulate and image single molecules of DNA, with and without bound protein, in a new super-resolution fluorescence microscope.</jats:p>

Hybrid-fuel bacterial flagellar motors in Escherichia coli.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111 (2014) 3436-3441

Y Sowa, M Homma, A Ishijima, RM Berry

The bacterial flagellar motor rotates driven by an electrochemical ion gradient across the cytoplasmic membrane, either H(+) or Na(+) ions. The motor consists of a rotor ∼50 nm in diameter surrounded by multiple torque-generating ion-conducting stator units. Stator units exchange spontaneously between the motor and a pool in the cytoplasmic membrane on a timescale of minutes, and their stability in the motor is dependent upon the ion gradient. We report a genetically engineered hybrid-fuel flagellar motor in Escherichia coli that contains both H(+)- and Na(+)-driven stator components and runs on both types of ion gradient. We controlled the number of each type of stator unit in the motor by protein expression levels and Na(+) concentration ([Na(+)]), using speed changes of single motors driving 1-μm polystyrene beads to determine stator unit numbers. De-energized motors changed from locked to freely rotating on a timescale similar to that of spontaneous stator unit exchange. Hybrid motor speed is simply the sum of speeds attributable to individual stator units of each type. With Na(+) and H(+) stator components expressed at high and medium levels, respectively, Na(+) stator units dominate at high [Na(+)] and are replaced by H(+) units when Na(+) is removed. Thus, competition between stator units for spaces in a motor and sensitivity of each type to its own ion gradient combine to allow hybrid motors to adapt to the prevailing ion gradient. We speculate that a similar process may occur in species that naturally express both H(+) and Na(+) stator components sharing a common rotor.

Stoichiometry and turnover of the bacterial flagellar switch protein FliN.

mBio American Society for Microbiology 5 (2014) e01216-e01214

NJ Delalez, R Berry, JP Armitage, NJ Delalez, R Berry, JP Armitage

Some proteins in biological complexes exchange with pools of free proteins while the complex is functioning. Evidence is emerging that protein exchange can be part of an adaptive mechanism. The bacterial flagellar motor is one of the most complex biological machines and is an ideal model system to study protein dynamics in large multimeric complexes. Recent studies showed that the copy number of FliM in the switch complex and the fraction of FliM that exchanges vary with the direction of flagellar rotation. Here, we investigated the stoichiometry and turnover of another switch complex component, FliN, labeled with the fluorescent protein CyPet, in Escherichia coli. Our results confirm that, in vivo, FliM and FliN form a complex with stoichiometry of 1:4 and function as a unit. We estimated that wild-type motors contained 120 ± 26 FliN molecules. Motors that rotated only clockwise (CW) or counterclockwise (CCW) contained 114 ± 17 and 144 ± 26 FliN molecules, respectively. The ratio of CCW-to-CW FliN copy numbers was 1.26, very close to that of 1.29 reported previously for FliM. We also measured the exchange of FliN molecules, which had a time scale and dependence upon rotation direction similar to those of FliM, consistent with an exchange of FliM-FliN as a unit. Our work confirms the highly dynamic nature of multimeric protein complexes and indicates that, under physiological conditions, these machines might not be the stable, complete structures suggested by averaged fixed methodologies but, rather, incomplete rings that can respond and adapt to changing environments. Importance: The flagellum is one of the most complex structures in a bacterial cell, with the core motor proteins conserved across species. Evidence is now emerging that turnover of some of these motor proteins depends on motor activity, suggesting that turnover is important for function. The switch complex transmits the chemosensory signal to the rotor, and we show, by using single-cell measurement, that both the copy number and the fraction of exchanging molecules vary with the rotational bias of the rotor. When the motor is locked in counterclockwise rotation, the copy number is similar to that determined by averaged, fixed methodologies, but when locked in a clockwise direction, the number is much lower, suggesting that that the switch complex ring is incomplete. Our results suggest that motor remodeling is an important component in tuning responses and adaptation at the motor.

Stepping Dynamics of the Bacterial Flagellar Motor

BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 106 (2014) 577A-578A

AL Nord, BC Steel, RM Berry

Stepping Behavior of Rotary Molecular Motors


AL Nord, BC Steel, RM Berry

Temperature dependences of torque generation and membrane voltage in the bacterial flagellar motor.

Biophys J 105 (2013) 2801-2810

Y Inoue, MAB Baker, H Fukuoka, H Takahashi, RM Berry, A Ishijima

In their natural habitats bacteria are frequently exposed to sudden changes in temperature that have been shown to affect their swimming. With our believed to be new methods of rapid temperature control for single-molecule microscopy, we measured here the thermal response of the Na(+)-driven chimeric motor expressed in Escherichia coli cells. Motor torque at low load (0.35 μm bead) increased linearly with temperature, twofold between 15°C and 40°C, and torque at high load (1.0 μm bead) was independent of temperature, as reported for the H(+)-driven motor. Single cell membrane voltages were measured by fluorescence imaging and these were almost constant (∼120 mV) over the same temperature range. When the motor was heated above 40°C for 1-2 min the torque at high load dropped reversibly, recovering upon cooling below 40°C. This response was repeatable over as many as 10 heating cycles. Both increases and decreases in torque showed stepwise torque changes with unitary size ∼150 pN nm, close to the torque of a single stator at room temperature (∼180 pN nm), indicating that dynamic stator dissociation occurs at high temperature, with rebinding upon cooling. Our results suggest that the temperature-dependent assembly of stators is a general feature of flagellar motors.

High-resolution single-molecule characterization of the enzymatic states in Escherichia coli F1-ATPase.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 368 (2013) 20120023-

T Bilyard, M Nakanishi-Matsui, BC Steel, T Pilizota, AL Nord, H Hosokawa, M Futai, RM Berry

The rotary motor F(1)-ATPase from the thermophilic Bacillus PS3 (TF(1)) is one of the best-studied of all molecular machines. F(1)-ATPase is the part of the enzyme F(1)F(O)-ATP synthase that is responsible for generating most of the ATP in living cells. Single-molecule experiments have provided a detailed understanding of how ATP hydrolysis and synthesis are coupled to internal rotation within the motor. In this work, we present evidence that mesophilic F(1)-ATPase from Escherichia coli (EF(1)) is governed by the same mechanism as TF(1) under laboratory conditions. Using optical microscopy to measure rotation of a variety of marker particles attached to the γ-subunit of single surface-bound EF(1) molecules, we characterized the ATP-binding, catalytic and inhibited states of EF(1). We also show that the ATP-binding and catalytic states are separated by 35±3°. At room temperature, chemical processes occur faster in EF(1) than in TF(1), and we present a methodology to compensate for artefacts that occur when the enzymatic rates are comparable to the experimental temporal resolution. Furthermore, we show that the molecule-to-molecule variation observed at high ATP concentration in our single-molecule assays can be accounted for by variation in the orientation of the rotating markers.

Mechanism and kinetics of a sodium-driven bacterial flagellar motor


C-J Lo, Y Sowa, T Pilizota, RM Berry

Load-dependent assembly of the bacterial flagellar motor.

mBio 4 (2013)

MJ Tipping, NJ Delalez, R Lim, RM Berry, JP Armitage

UNLABELLED: It is becoming clear that the bacterial flagellar motor output is important not only for bacterial locomotion but also for mediating the transition from liquid to surface living. The output of the flagellar motor changes with the mechanical load placed on it by the external environment: at a higher load, the motor runs more slowly and produces higher torque. Here we show that the number of torque-generating units bound to the flagellar motor also depends on the external mechanical load, with fewer stators at lower loads. Stalled motors contained at least as many stators as rotating motors at high load, indicating that rotation is unnecessary for stator binding. Mutant stators incapable of generating torque could not be detected around the motor. We speculate that a component of the bacterial flagellar motor senses external load and mediates the strength of stator binding to the rest of the motor. IMPORTANCE: The transition between liquid living and surface living is important in the life cycles of many bacteria. In this paper, we describe how the flagellar motor, used by bacteria for locomotion through liquid media and across solid surfaces, is capable of adjusting the number of bound stator units to better suit the external load conditions. By stalling motors using external magnetic fields, we also show that rotation is not required for maintenance of stators around the motor; instead, torque production is the essential factor for motor stability. These new results, in addition to previous data, lead us to hypothesize that the motor stators function as mechanosensors as well as functioning as torque-generating units.