Life & Health Sciences

Prof. Rita Singh

Dr Peggy L. Carver

Prof. Vincent Pecoraro

Prof. Tetyana Milojevic

Prof. Jill Heathcock

Dr David Crottès

Dr Anil Annamneedi


Thermal Shift Assay for Characterizing the Stability of RNA Helicases and Their Interaction with Ligands


Thermofluor or thermal shift assay is an easily implementable, high-throughput method for assessing the thermostability of proteins and the influence of various ligands on that stability. It is particularly useful for the assaying of ligands that may stabilize oligomeric helicases, which rely on both substrates (oligonucleotides) and nucleotide cofactors (ATP analogues) for their stability in a functional state. In this chapter, we describe the rationale and present a basic protocol for the use of this technique. Multi-ligand screening is also discussed via a worked example of the stabilization of a hexameric RNA helicase, a target protein for structural studies in our laboratories.


Cryo-EM structure of transcription termination factor Rho from Mycobacterium tuberculosis reveals bicyclomycin resistance mechanism


The bacterial Rho factor is a ring-shaped motor triggering genome-wide transcription termination and R-loop dissociation. Rho is essential in many species, including in Mycobacterium tuberculosis where rho gene inactivation leads to rapid death. Yet, the M. tuberculosis Rho [MtbRho] factor displays poor NTPase and helicase activities, and resistance to the natural Rho inhibitor bicyclomycin [BCM] that remain unexplained. To address these issues, we solved the cryo-EM structure of MtbRho at 3.3 Å resolution. The MtbRho hexamer is poised into a pre-catalytic, open-ring state wherein specific contacts stabilize ATP in intersubunit ATPase pockets, thereby explaining the cofactor preference of MtbRho. We reveal a leucine-to-methionine substitution that creates a steric bulk in BCM binding cavities near the positions of ATP γ-phosphates, and confers resistance to BCM at the expense of motor efficiency. Our work contributes to explain the unusual features of MtbRho and provides a framework for future antibiotic development.

Dr Franciska Vidáné Erdő