* joint first author # joint corresponding author

Alexander von der Malsburg, Gracie M Sapp, Kelly E Zuccaro, Alexander von Appen, Frank R Moss, Raghav Kalia, Jeremy A Bennett, Luciano A Abriata, Matteo Dal Peraro, Martin van der Laan, Adam Frost#, Halil Aydin#
Structural mechanism of mitochondrial membrane remodelling by human OPA1.
Nature, 620(7976) 1101-1108 (2023)
Distinct morphologies of the mitochondrial network support divergent metabolic and regulatory processes that determine cell function and fate1-3. The mechanochemical GTPase optic atrophy 1 (OPA1) influences the architecture of cristae and catalyses the fusion of the mitochondrial inner membrane4,5. Despite its fundamental importance, the molecular mechanisms by which OPA1 modulates mitochondrial morphology are unclear. Here, using a combination of cellular and structural analyses, we illuminate the molecular mechanisms that are key to OPA1-dependent membrane remodelling and fusion. Human OPA1 embeds itself into cardiolipin-containing membranes through a lipid-binding paddle domain. A conserved loop within the paddle domain inserts deeply into the bilayer, further stabilizing the interactions with cardiolipin-enriched membranes. OPA1 dimerization through the paddle domain promotes the helical assembly of a flexible OPA1 lattice on the membrane, which drives mitochondrial fusion in cells. Moreover, the membrane-bending OPA1 oligomer undergoes conformational changes that pull the membrane-inserting loop out of the outer leaflet and contribute to the mechanics of membrane remodelling. Our findings provide a structural framework for understanding how human OPA1 shapes mitochondrial morphology and show us how human disease mutations compromise OPA1 functions.

Alexander von Appen✳︎, Dollie LaJoie✳︎, Isabel E Johnson✳︎, Michael J Trnka, Sarah M Pick, Alma L Burlingame, Katharine S Ullman, Adam Frost
LEM2 phase separation promotes ESCRT-mediated nuclear envelope reformation.
Nature, 582(7810) 115-118 (2020)
During cell division, remodelling of the nuclear envelope enables chromosome segregation by the mitotic spindle1. The reformation of sealed nuclei requires ESCRTs (endosomal sorting complexes required for transport) and LEM2, a transmembrane ESCRT adaptor2-4. Here we show how the ability of LEM2 to condense on microtubules governs the activation of ESCRTs and coordinated spindle disassembly. The LEM motif of LEM2 binds BAF, conferring on LEM2 an affinity for chromatin5,6, while an adjacent low-complexity domain (LCD) promotes LEM2 phase separation. A proline-arginine-rich sequence within the LCD binds to microtubules and targets condensation of LEM2 to spindle microtubules that traverse the nascent nuclear envelope. Furthermore, the winged-helix domain of LEM2 activates the ESCRT-II/ESCRT-III hybrid protein CHMP7 to form co-oligomeric rings. Disruption of these events in human cells prevented the recruitment of downstream ESCRTs, compromised spindle disassembly, and led to defects in nuclear integrity and DNA damage. We propose that during nuclear reassembly LEM2 condenses into a liquid-like phase and coassembles with CHMP7 to form a macromolecular O-ring seal at the confluence between membranes, chromatin and the spindle. The properties of LEM2 described here, and the homologous architectures of related inner nuclear membrane proteins7,8, suggest that phase separation may contribute to other critical envelope functions, including interphase repair8-13 and chromatin organization14-17.

Alexander von Appen, Martin Beck
Structure Determination of the Nuclear Pore Complex with Three-Dimensional Cryo electron Microscopy.
J Mol Biol, 428(10 Pt A) 2001-2010 (2016)
Open Access DOI
Determining the structure of the nuclear pore complex (NPC) imposes an enormous challenge due to its size, intricate composition and membrane-embedded nature. In vertebrates, about 1000 protein building blocks assemble into a 110-MDa complex that fuses the inner and outer membranes of a cell's nucleus. Here, we review the recent progress in understanding the in situ architecture of the NPC with a specific focus on approaches using three-dimensional cryo electron microscopy. We discuss technological benefits and limitations and give an outlook toward obtaining a high-resolution structure of the NPC.

Alexander von Appen✳︎, Jan Kosinski✳︎, Lenore Sparks✳︎, Alessandro Ori, Amanda L DiGuilio, Benjamin Vollmer, Marie-Therese Mackmull, Niccolo Banterle, Luca Parca, Panagiotis Kastritis, Katarzyna Buczak, Shyamal Mosalaganti, Wim Hagen, Amparo Andres-Pons, Edward A Lemke, Peer Bork, Wolfram Antonin, Joseph S Glavy, Khanh Huy Bui, Martin Beck
In situ structural analysis of the human nuclear pore complex.
Nature, 526(7571) 140-143 (2015)
Nuclear pore complexes are fundamental components of all eukaryotic cells that mediate nucleocytoplasmic exchange. Determining their 110-megadalton structure imposes a formidable challenge and requires in situ structural biology approaches. Of approximately 30 nucleoporins (Nups), 15 are structured and form the Y and inner-ring complexes. These two major scaffolding modules assemble in multiple copies into an eight-fold rotationally symmetric structure that fuses the inner and outer nuclear membranes to form a central channel of ~60 nm in diameter. The scaffold is decorated with transport-channel Nups that often contain phenylalanine-repeat sequences and mediate the interaction with cargo complexes. Although the architectural arrangement of parts of the Y complex has been elucidated, it is unclear how exactly it oligomerizes in situ. Here we combine cryo-electron tomography with mass spectrometry, biochemical analysis, perturbation experiments and structural modelling to generate, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive architectural model of the human nuclear pore complex to date. Our data suggest previously unknown protein interfaces across Y complexes and to inner-ring complex members. We show that the transport-channel Nup358 (also known as Ranbp2) has a previously unanticipated role in Y-complex oligomerization. Our findings blur the established boundaries between scaffold and transport-channel Nups. We conclude that, similar to coated vesicles, several copies of the same structural building block--although compositionally identical--engage in different local sets of interactions and conformations.

Khanh Huy Bui✳︎, Alexander von Appen✳︎, Amanda L DiGuilio, Alessandro Ori, Lenore Sparks, Marie-Therese Mackmull, Thomas Bock, Wim Hagen, Amparo Andrés-Pons, Joseph S Glavy#, Martin Beck#
Integrated structural analysis of the human nuclear pore complex scaffold.
Cell, 155(6) 1233-1243 (2013)
The nuclear pore complex (NPC) is a fundamental component of all eukaryotic cells that facilitates nucleocytoplasmic exchange of macromolecules. It is assembled from multiple copies of about 30 nucleoporins. Due to its size and complex composition, determining the structure of the NPC is an enormous challenge, and the overall architecture of the NPC scaffold remains elusive. In this study, we have used an integrated approach based on electron tomography, single-particle electron microscopy, and crosslinking mass spectrometry to determine the structure of a major scaffold motif of the human NPC, the Nup107 subcomplex, in both isolation and integrated into the NPC. We show that 32 copies of the Nup107 subcomplex assemble into two reticulated rings, one each at the cytoplasmic and nuclear face of the NPC. This arrangement may explain how changes of the diameter are realized that would accommodate transport of huge cargoes.