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Structure. 2011 Jan 12;19(1):109-16. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2010.10.006.

SAXS ensemble refinement of ESCRT-III CHMP3 conformational transitions.

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Laboratory of Chemical Physics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


We developed and implemented an ensemble-refinement method to study dynamic biomolecular assemblies with intrinsically disordered segments. Data from small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) experiments and from coarse-grained molecular simulations were combined by using a maximum-entropy approach. The method was applied to CHMP3 of ESCRT-III, a protein with multiple helical domains separated by flexible linkers. Based on recent SAXS data by Lata et al. (J. Mol. Biol. 378, 818, 2008), we constructed ensembles of CHMP3 at low- and high-salt concentration to characterize its closed autoinhibited state and open active state. At low salt, helix α(5) is bound to the tip of helices α(1) and α(2), in excellent agreement with a recent crystal structure. Helix α(6) remains free in solution and does not appear to be part of the autoinhibitory complex. The simulation-based ensemble refinement is general and effectively increases the resolution of SAXS beyond shape information to atomically detailed structures.

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