Link to DOI – 10.1101/2022.05.29.493873
bioRxiv 2022 10.1101/2022.05.29.493873
In recent years, major advances in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) have enabled the routine determination of complex biomolecular structures at atomic resolution. An open challenge for this approach, however, concerns large systems that exhibit continuous dynamics. To address this problem, we developed the metadynamic electron-microscopy metainference (MEMMI) method, which incorporates metadynamics, an enhanced conformational sampling approach, into the metainference method of integrative structural biology. MEMMI enables the simultaneous determination of the structure and dynamics of large heterogeneous systems by combining cryo-EM density maps with prior information through molecular dynamics, while at the same time modelling the different sources of error. To illustrate the method, we apply it to elucidate the dynamics of an amyloid fibril of the islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP). The resulting conformational ensemble provides an accurate description of the structural variability of the disordered region of the amyloid fibril, known as fuzzy coat. The conformational ensemble also reveals that in nearly half of the structural core of this amyloid fibril the side-chains exhibit liquid-like dynamics despite the presence of the highly ordered network backbone of hydrogen bonds characteristic of the cross-\beta structure of amyloid fibrils.