Volume 1  |  Issue 1  |  2019


We invite you to explore the first edition of the CBSD Quarterly Courier! Through this newsletter, we are planning to highlight recent successes, report marks of achievements and note upcoming opportunities for engagement. You can expect to hear from us in January, April, July, and October. Each quarter, we will highlight a different CBSD core facility and research project, and introduce you to one of the many talented students mentored by CBSD faculty. We will keep you updated on publications from CBSD researchers and their success in garnering extramural grant support. If you have suggestions for content, simply reply to this email or connect with any one of the CBSD team members. We look forward to connecting!

In this issue

Photo of Stephen Sprang and Bruce Bowler

A note from Stephen Sprang and Bruce Bowler

Greetings, CBSD Stakeholders! We sincerely hope you enjoy the inaugural CBSD Courier. As an interdisciplinary research center with a breadth of disciplines, it is our intention that through this newsletter you are up to date on the recent achievements and aware of opportunities for collaboration.

Since August 2018, 12 proposals totaling $7,083,893 have been submitted through the CBSD and we have been notified of 4 awards totaling $1,147,343. Some submitted proposals are still pending a final review. We continue to observe an increasing interest in our bi-annual Hot Water Workshop. If you plan to submit a grant application to NIH, NSF or other funding agencies this summer and would like feedback on your proposal, make sure to sign up for the next Hot Water Workshop occurring May 10-11, 2019. Contact Sara Jestrab (sara.jestrab@umontana.edu or 406-243-6003) for more information.

The Mass Spectrometry Core has undergone a revitalization! For a complete list of services and updated fee structure, please visit the Mass Spectrometry website. If you are interested in using the Mass Spectrometry facility, please contact Eric Schultz or Earle Adams.
Cytochrome C (reduced form) (5DFS, 5TY3)

Featured Core Facility: Integrated Structural Biology (ISB)

We’ve given the CBSD Macromolecular X-ray Diffraction Core (MXDC), a new name to better reflect its current mission. We proudly introduce the Integrated Structural Biology (ISB) core. For some time now, Manager Dr. Tung-Chung (TC) Mou and his team offered gene-to-structure services to UM researchers. The Core expresses proteins from DNA vectors in bacteria and insect cells, purifies them and conducts a variety of biochemical and biophysical analyses. Protein X-ray crystallography, by which we decipher the three-dimensional near-atomic structures of biological molecules, remains a central mission of the ISB.

The core has collaborated with more than 15 principal investigators to determine crystal structures of over 42 biological macromolecules, of which 19 have been deposited in the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics (RCSB) protein data bank. In collaboration with Dr. Wah Chiu who directs the Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM Initiative, the ISB can assist UM researchers to use single particle cryo-electron microscopy to elucidate the structures of large biomolecules and their macromolecular complexes.

CBSD’s ISB core is primarily supported by the NIH-CoBRE with additional funding provided by UM’s Vice President of Research and Creative Scholarship (VPRCS). To enhance the sustainability of the Core, it has operated as a recharge facility with an established fee structure. An updated fee structure for ISB core service is available on the website. Moreover, the vouchers provided by the VPRCS and CBSD support users who are unable to provide funding for their use of core facilities or for acquiring preliminary data that leads to a future publication or grant application. Staff and students from individual research laboratories are encouraged to consult with Drs. Stephen Sprang or Tung-Chung (TC) Mou about how our core resources can advance their research programs.

The Small Molecule X-ray Diffraction Core, directed by Dr. Orion Berryman and staffed by Dan Decato, is thriving and now has its own web page that describes its services and fees. The SMXDC can now 3-D print a three-dimensional model of your favorite molecule to hold in your hand. In the April issue of the CBSD Quarterly Courier, we will feature the SMXDC.

Image of Travis Wheeler

Project highlight: Travis Wheeler

Travis Wheeler, a CBSD CoBRE subproject holder in year two of support was awarded an approximately $400,000 subcontract from the Institute of Systems Biology (ISB) in October. The Wheeler lab will develop the Dfam infrastructure to expand to 1000s of genomes, and establish a self-sustaining TE Data Commons that enables community contribution of TE datasets with limited centralized curation. For more information, please read Travis Wheeler’s blog post.

Image of Harmen Steele

Student Highlight: Harmen Steele

Biospectroscopy Core Fellow, Harmen Steele successfully defended his dissertation this month. His dissertation is titled The Human Cytochrome c Domain-Swapped Dimer: Tighter Regulation of Intrinsic Apoptosis.  

Harmen’s research has focused on heme protein cytochrome c (cytc), known to most biochemists to play a crucial role in the mitochondrial electron transport chain. More recently, cytc has also been shown to play a role in initiating apoptosis – a form of programmed cellular death. The interaction of cytc with the lipid cardiolipin initiates intrinsic apoptosis when, among other things, oxidation of cardiolipin by cytc permeabilizes the mitochondrial membrane, allowing it, along with other pro-apoptotic factors to be released into the cytoplasm of the cell. In his dissertation research, Dr. Steele has used fluorescence spectroscopy, circular dichroism, and computer modeling to show how a conformation of cytc called the domain-swapped dimer promotes the catalytic activity of cytc, allowing it to catalyze the peroxidation of cardiolipin more efficiently and at a higher rate. Harmen’s dissertation is now available on UM’s ScholarWorks

During Harmen’s tenure with the Biochemistry and Biophysics program, he contributed to many publications:

  • Penny WM, Steele HB, Ross JBA, and Palmer CP, Phospholipid Bilayer Affinities and Solvation Characteristics by Electrokinetic Chromatography with a Nanodisc Pseudostationary Phase, Electrophoresis, 2017, 1–9.
  • McClelland LJ, Steele HB, Whitby FG, Mou TC, Holley D, Ross JBA, Sprang SR and Bowler BE, Cytochrome c Can Form a Well-Defined Binding Pocket for Hydrocarbons, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138 (2016), 16770–78.
  • Her C, Filoti DI, McLean MA, Sligar SG, Ross JBA, Steele HB, and Laue TM, The Charge Properties of Phospholipid Nanodiscs. Biophysical Journal, 111 (2016), 989–98.
  • Steele HB, Sydor MJ, Anderson DS, Ross JBA and Holian A. Using Time-Resolved Fluorescence Anisotropy of di-4-ANEPPDHQ and F2N12S to Analyze Lipid Packing Dynamics in Model Systems. Journal of Fluorescence. In review.
  • Steele HB, Rogan J, Elmer-Dixon MM, Ross JBA, Bowler B. The Human Cytochrome c Domain-Swapped Dimer Allows for Tight Regulation of Intrinsic Apoptosis. Journal of the American Chemical Society. In review.
  • Elmer-Dixon MM, Hoody J, Steele HB, Bowler BE. Consequences of Cardiolipin Structure for Leaflet Partitioning in Mixed Lipid. Biophysical Journal. In review.

While he is a man of many talents, outside of the lab you can likely find Harmen competing in bonspiels, nordic skiing or spending time with his son Finnegan in and around the Missoula area. 

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Upcoming events

Watch your inbox in mid-February for the Hot Water Workshop registration. The Workshop will occur May 10-11, 2019, at Fairmont Hot Springs.

CBSD is hosting four seminars this spring. Full details are available on our website.

  • Feb. 8Tim S Bugni, University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • Feb. 22Ian de Vera, Saint Louis University School of Medicine
  • April 5: Seemay Chou, University of California - San Francisco
  • April 19: Gautam Basu, Bose Institute
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Recent publications

View all publications citing CBSD CoBRE. If you are working on a manuscript that has used CBSD CoBRE resources please remember to cite P20GM103546.

Did you miss this?

Orion Berryman sat down with SciShow's Hank Green to talk all about Molecular Architecture.
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