1st Presenter: Sonya Hanson, PhD, Research Scientist & Project Leader for SMB.
Topic: Coiled coils as temperature sensors in voltage-gated sodium channels of marine bacteria
Abstract: How biological organisms sense temperature remains poorly understood. Recently, the bacterial voltage-gated sodium channel of Silicibacter pomeroyi (NaVSp1) was found to become temperature insensitive upon glycine mutations of the neck region connecting its pore domain to a C-terminal coiled coil. Here, using molecular dynamics simulations, circular dichroism spectroscopy, and bioinformatics analyses, we localize the modular temperature sensor of NaVSp1 and other BacNaV channels to the coiled-coil domain, with the neck acting only as a linker, and exploit the modularity of this sensor and the ease with which its coiled-coil probability can be predicted to screen broadly for temperature-sensitive bacterial channels.
2nd Presenter: Pilar Cossio, PhD, Research Scientist & Project Leader for SMB.
Topic: Peptide design towards MHC II alleles
Abstract: Optimizing epitopes for pan-allele binding to Major Histocompatibility Complex class II (MHC II) receptors can lead to a rational design of T-helpers and universal vaccines. However, due to the large amount of possible mutations, experimental assays are too costly and time consuming for an unsupervised design. In this work, we developed and validated a computational evolution peptide-design protocol to engineer epitopes for pan-allele MHC II binding. In vitro experiments showed that four designed peptides were improved pan-allele binders. Moreover, C57BL/6 mice immunized with these peptides induced specific cellular immune responses