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Volume 593 Issue 7859, 20 May 2021

Joint venture

The amino acids that make up a protein dictate its structure and function. But crosslinks between amino-acid residues introduce additional chemical modifications that affect how the protein behaves under different physiological conditions. The most common links are between two sulfur atoms, known as disulfides. In this week’s issue, Kai Tittmann and his colleagues report a hitherto unidentified linkage that forms between cysteine and lysine residues, involving nitrogen and sulfur being joined together by an atom of oxygen (pictured on the cover with nitrogen in blue, oxygen in red and sulfur in yellow). The researchers found that this N–O–S bridge acts as a regulatory redox switch that controls the activity of the transaldolase enzyme in Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacterium that causes gonorrhoea. The team also did some research on structures in the Protein Data Bank and suggest that the N–O–S linkage is likely to be found in many other protein families.

Cover image: Kai Tittmann.

This Week

News in Focus

Books & Arts




    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Molecular crosslinks known as disulfides stabilize the 3D structures of many proteins, and sometimes regulate protein function. But disulfides are not alone — another type of regulatory protein crosslink has been discovered.

    • Deborah Fass
    • Sergey N. Semenov
  • News & Views |

    Organelles called mitochondria divide in at least two contexts: during cell growth and in response to mitochondrial damage. The finding that division is different in these two contexts sheds light on the regulatory pathways involved.

    • Rajarshi Chakrabarti
    • Henry N. Higgs
  • News & Views |

    How we feel about the duration of our conversations has rarely been studied. New research has asked people about the lengths of their conversations, and whether they end when they want them to.

    • Elizabeth Stokoe
  • News & Views |

    The detection of iron and nickel vapours in a broad range of Solar System comets, and of nickel vapour in a comet from outside the Solar System, provides a glimpse into the organic chemistry of young planetary systems.

    • Dennis Bodewits
    • Steven J. Bromley
  • Reviews

  • Review Article |

    This Review outlines the gene and protein expression strategies used by viruses to expand the efficiency of their coding and regulatory sequences, and the implications of these mechanisms for developing antiviral agents.

    • Jessica Sook Yuin Ho
    • Zeyu Zhu
    • Ivan Marazzi
  • Perspective

  • Perspective |

    This Perspective discusses how high-energy-density physics could tap the potential of AI-inspired algorithms for extracting relevant information and how data-driven automatic control routines may be used for optimizing high-repetition-rate experiments.

    • Peter W. Hatfield
    • Jim A. Gaffney
    • Ben Williams
  • Articles

  • Article |

    Large forest fires in Alaska and the Northwest Territories can ‘overwinter’ and then reignite in the following fire season, contributing up to one-third of the burned area in individual years.

    • Rebecca C. Scholten
    • Randi Jandt
    • Sander Veraverbeke
  • Article |

    NanoSeq is used to detect mutations in single DNA molecules and analyses show that mutational processes that are independent of cell division are important contributors to somatic mutagenesis.

    • Federico Abascal
    • Luke M. R. Harvey
    • Iñigo Martincorena
  • Article |

    The anti-leprosy drug clofazimine inhibits coronavirus replication in several cell models and shows potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a hamster model, particularly when used in combination with remdesivir.

    • Shuofeng Yuan
    • Xin Yin
    • Kwok-Yung Yuen
  • Article |

    The bispecific IgG1-like CoV-X2 prevents SARS-CoV-2 spike binding to ACE2, neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 and its variants of concern, protects against disease in a mouse model, whereas the parental monoclonal antibodies generate viral escape.

    • Raoul De Gasparo
    • Mattia Pedotti
    • Luca Varani
  • Article |

    In a cynomolgus macaque model, CRISPR base editors delivered in lipid nanoparticles are shown to efficiently and stably knock down PCSK9 in the liver to reduce levels of PCSK9 and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood.

    • Kiran Musunuru
    • Alexandra C. Chadwick
    • Sekar Kathiresan
  • Article | | Open Access

    A cryo-electron microscopy structure of the inner membrane complex of the ESX-5 type VII secretion system of Mycobacterium tuberculosis reveals an important role of interactions with MycP5 protease for complex integrity.

    • Catalin M. Bunduc
    • Dirk Fahrenkamp
    • Thomas C. Marlovits
  • Article |

    A high-resolution structure of human telomerase bound to telomeric DNA reveals details of telomerase assembly and its active site, and sheds light on how mutations alter telomerase function.

    • George E. Ghanim
    • Adam J. Fountain
    • Thi Hoang Duong Nguyen
  • Article |

    A NOS bridge between cysteine and lysine residues serves as an allosteric redox switch in the transaldolase enzyme of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, demonstrating the existence of protein regulatory switches that contain covalent crosslinks other than disulfides.

    • Marie Wensien
    • Fabian Rabe von Pappenheim
    • Kai Tittmann
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