The Harvard Center for Cryo-Electron Microscopy (HC2EM) is a joint effort by Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital to provide state-of-the-art cryo-EM instrumentation and expertise for the Harvard structural biology community. This user facility offers consultation and training by staff in specimen preparation, microscope operation, image acquisition, and data analysis. 

Additionally, the Molecular Electron Microscopy Suite (MEMS) at Harvard Medical School is a separate user resource currently available to qualified researchers. This user facility offers training and supervision in negative-stain and cryo-transmission electron microscopy. Equipment includes three transmission electron microscopes, two cryo plungers, and sample preparation areas. 

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Recent Publications

Paula P. Navarro, Andrea Vettiger, Virly Y. Ananda, Paula Montero Llopis, Christoph Allolio, Thomas G. Bernhardt, and Luke H. Chao. 9/12/2022. “Cell wall synthesis and remodelling dynamics determine division site architecture and cell shape in Escherichia coli.” Nature Microbiology. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The bacterial division apparatus catalyses the synthesis and remodelling of septal peptidoglycan (sPG) to build the cell wall layer that fortifies the daughter cell poles. Understanding of this essential process has been limited by the lack of native three-dimensional views of developing septa. Here, we apply state-of-the-art cryogenic electron tomography (cryo-ET) and fluorescence microscopy to visualize the division site architecture and sPG biogenesis dynamics of the Gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli. We identify a wedge-like sPG structure that fortifies the ingrowing septum. Experiments with strains defective in sPG biogenesis revealed that the septal architecture and mode of division can be modified to more closely resemble that of other Gram-negative (Caulobacter crescentus) or Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria, suggesting that a conserved mechanism underlies the formation of different septal morphologies. Finally, analysis of mutants impaired in amidase activation ($Δ$envC $Δ$nlpD) showed that cell wall remodelling affects the placement and stability of the cytokinetic ring. Taken together, our results support a model in which competition between the cell elongation and division machineries determines the shape of cell constrictions and the poles they form. They also highlight how the activity of the division system can be modulated to help generate the diverse array of shapes observed in the bacterial domain.
Sai Luo, Jun Zhang, Alex J.B. Kreutzberger, Amanda Eaton, Robert J. Edwards, Changbin Jing, Hai-Qiang Dai, Gregory D. Sempowski, Kenneth Cronin, Robert Parks, Adam Yongxin Ye, Katayoun Mansouri, Maggie Barr, Novalia Pishesha, Aimee Chapdelaine Williams, Lucas Vieira Francisco, Anand Saminathan, Hanqin Peng, Himanshu Batra, Lorenza Bellusci, Surender Khurana, S. Munir Alam, David C. Montefiori, Kevin O. Saunders, Ming Tian, Hidde Ploegh, Tom Kirchhausen, Bing Chen, Barton F. Haynes, and Frederick W. Alt. 8/11/2022. “An Antibody from Single Human VH-rearranging Mouse Neutralizes All SARS-CoV-2 Variants Through BA.5 by Inhibiting Membrane Fusion.” Science Immunology, Pp. eadd5446. Publisher's VersionAbstract
SARS-CoV-2 Omicron sub-variants have generated a world-wide health crisis due to resistance to most approved SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies and evasion of vaccination-induced antibodies. To manage Omicron sub-variants and prepare for potential new variants, additional means of isolating broad and potent humanized SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies are desirable. Here, we describe a mouse model in which the primary B cell receptor (BCR) repertoire is generated solely through V(D)J recombination of a human VH1-2 heavy chain (HC) and, substantially, a human Vκ1-33 light chain (LC). Thus, primary humanized BCR repertoire diversity in these mice derives from immensely diverse HC and LC antigen-contact complementarity-region-3 (CDR3) sequences generated by non-templated junctional modifications during V(D)J recombination. Immunizing the human VH1-2/Vκ1-33-rearranging mouse model with SARS-CoV-2 (Wuhan-Hu-1) spike protein immunogens elicited several VH1-2/Vκ1-33-based neutralizing antibodies that bound RBD in a different mode from each other and from those of many prior human patient-derived VH1-2-based neutralizing antibodies. Of these, SP1-77 potently and broadly neutralized all SARS-CoV-2 variants through BA.5. Cryo-EM studies revealed that SP1-77 bound RBD away from the receptor-binding-motif via a CDR3-dominated recognition mode. Lattice-light-sheet-microscopy-based studies showed that SP1-77 did not block ACE2-mediated viral attachment or endocytosis, but rather blocked viral-host membrane fusion. The broad and potent SP1-77 neutralization activity and non-traditonal mechanism of action suggest this antibody might have therapeutic potential. Likewise, the SP1-77 binding epitope may further inform on vacccine strategies. Finally, the general class of humanized mouse models we have described may contribute to identifying therapeutic antibodies against future SARS-CoV-2 variants and other pathogens. A humanized antibody from a recently-developed mouse model potently neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 variants by inhibiting membrane fusion.
Ian W. Windsor, Pei Tong, Olivia Lavidor, Ali Sanjari Moghaddam, Lindsay G. A. McKay, Avneesh Gautam, Yuezhou Chen, Elizabeth A. MacDonald, Duck Kyun Yoo, Anthony Griffths, Duane R. Wesemann, and Stephen C. Harrison. 5/10/2022. “Antibodies induced by an ancestral SARS-CoV-2 strain that cross-neutralize variants from Alpha to Omicron BA.1.” Science Immunology, 7, 74, Pp. eabo3425. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Neutralizing antibodies that recognize the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein are the principal host defense against viral invasion. Variants of SARS-CoV-2 bear mutations that allow escape from neutralization by many human antibodies, especially those in widely distributed (“public”) classes. Identifying antibodies that neutralize these variants of concern and determining their prevalence are important goals for understanding immune protection. To determine the Delta and Omicron BA.1 variant specificity of B cell repertoires established by an initial Wuhan strain infection, we measured neutralization potencies of 73 antibodies from an unbiased survey of the early memory B cell response. Antibodies recognizing each of three previously defined epitopic regions on the spike receptor binding domain (RBD) varied in neutralization potency and variant-escape resistance. The ACE2 binding surface (“RBD-2”) harbored the binding sites of neutralizing antibodies with the highest potency but with the greatest sensitivity to viral escape; two other epitopic regions on the RBD (“RBD-1” and “RBD-3”) bound antibodies of more modest potency but greater breadth. The structures of several Fab:spike complexes that neutralized all five variants of concern tested, including one Fab each from the RBD-1, -2, and -3 clusters, illustrated the determinants of broad neutralization and showed that B cell repertoires can have specificities that avoid immune escape driven by public antibodies. The structure of the RBD-2 binding, broad neutralizer shows why it retains neutralizing activity for Omicron BA.1, unlike most others in the same public class. Our results correlate with real-world data on vaccine efficacy, which indicate mitigation of disease caused by Omicron BA.1. Structures of SARS-CoV-2 spike-bound antibodies from Wuhan strain infection show features needed to neutralize variants of concern. As new SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) emerge, it is crucial to determine whether immune responses to previous iterations of the virus protect against VOCs. Because antibodies are critical for protection against SARS-CoV-2, a key issue is reactivity for VOCs of antibodies generated by ancestral SARS-CoV-2 exposure. Here, Windsor et al. evaluated VOC binding, cross-inhibition, and neutralization potency of 73 monoclonal antibodies from donors infected in early 2020 with ancestral SARS-CoV-2. They identified three antibodies that neutralized all VOCs tested (including Omicron BA.1) and used cryo-EM of these antibodies bound with SARS-CoV-2 spike to suggest ways in which somatic mutation might restore VOC recognition by other antibodies. This study thus yields better understanding of the reactivity for VOCs of humoral immune responses to ancestral SARS-CoV-2.

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