All posts by dicera

Enrico Di Cera Appointed a Research Institute Fellow

Congratulations to Enrico Di Cera, M.D., on being appointed in the initial cohort of Fellows of the SLU Research Institute. Fellows are appointed for three-year renewable terms and new Fellows will be appointed each fall. Two other Biochemistry faculty were also among the initial cohort.

Research Institute Fellows are chosen based on their scholarly publications and scholarly impact through citations and awards. The Fellows program is aimed at recognizing and supporting scholars to enable them to excel in their research goals. Fellows are chosen from departments and schools throughout the university.

The full list of the initial cohort of Research Institute Fellows can be viewed on the SLU Research Institute Fellows site. 

Di Cera Lab Solves Prothrombin-Prothrombinase Complex

The Di Cera Lab recently published a plenary paper in Blood entitled “Cryo-EM structure of the prothrombin-prothrombinase complex.” The paper details the spatial arrangement of the structure of the prothrombin-fXa-fVa complex for the first time and offers a molecular view of prothrombin activation along the meizothrombin pathway.

Researchers used Cryo-EM to solve the structures of the fVa-fXa complex, one free on nanodiscs and the other bound to prothrombin.

Alaji Bah Named Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences

The Di Cera lab congratulates Alaji Bah, Ph.D., on being named a Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences. Alaji is a former student from the lab and is currently Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at Update Medical University. His current research focuses on discovery of the structure, dynamics, and functions of disordered proteins and protein regions.

The Pew Scholars Program recognizes young and talented researchers and junior faculty, and provides funding to outstanding research programs. Alaji was one of only 22 Scholars chosen from a total of 198 nominations.

You can read the full announcement on the Upstate University news page.

Di Cera Lab Reveals Structures of Factor V and Va

The Di Cera Lab recently published a paper in Blood entitled “Cryo-EM structures of human coagulation factors V and Va.” The paper details their work on solving the structures of factor V and Va. Factor V is the precursor to factor Va, which combines with calcium and phospholipids to activate prothrombin in the coagulation cascade.

Researchers used Cryo-EM to uncover the structures, including revealing the proteolytic processing sites and epitope binding sites. Key differences between the two structures were revealed and helped to clarify the function of these factors in coagulation.

Enrico Di Cera Reviews Ligand Binding

Enrico Di Cera, M.D., published a review article in the new journal Biophysics Review entitled “Mechanisms of ligand binding.” The review discusses the basic concepts of ligand binding and how these concepts have impacted understanding of binding mechanisms today.

Two main concepts are used to interpret binding data. The first, induced fit, is based on the assumption that the initial binding step induces changes in conformation that enhance the ligand/target comples. The second, conformational selection, assumes that the target exists in multiple conformations and the ligand binds to the target conformation that is most optimal. Taken together, these two concepts can be used to describe and interpret a variety of ligand binding schemes.

Read the full article in Biophysics Review.

(A) Rapid kinetics of FPR binding to prothrombin (closed circles), prethrombin-1 (mixed circles), and prethrombin-2 (open circles).

(B) Crystal structure of prothrombin that reveals the multi-domain architecture of the protein composed of the Gla domain (GD, blue), kringle-1 (K1, red), kringle-2 (K2, green), and protease domain (PD, gold) containing the binding site for the ligand FPR (arrow).

SLU and WU Center for Cellular Imaging Collaborate

SLU and Washington University have signed a collaboration agreement involving the WU Center for Cellular Imaging (WUCCI), which will allow SLU researchers to use the facility. In addition, SLU will contribute $2.5 million towards the purchase of a new cryo-electron microscope (cryo-EM). The WUCCI is a state-of-the-art imaging facility that opened in 2015, and offers light microscopy, electron microscopy, and x-ray microscopy, in addition to cryo-EM.

The agreement will give SLU researchers the same access, priority, costs, and technical help afforded to WU investigators for 15 years, as well as providing access to instruments not currently at SLU for 10 years. Funding for the partnership was provided through the Doisy Fund for Biochemistry.

Read more about the collaboration in SLU Newslink and WU NewsHub.

A list of available equipment can be downloaded here: WUCCI Equipment

Enrico Di Cera Elected AAAS Fellow

Congratulations to Enrico Di Cera, M.D., who was recently elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Each year, Fellows are elected by their peers in a two-step review process. Fellows are chosen based on their scientific accomplishments, pioneering research, and contributions to their field.

Enrico was elected due to his work on ligand binding and the structural enzymology of the proteins involved in blood coagulation. He will receive a certificate and gold and blue rosette pin (pictured right, below) at a ceremony at the AAAS Annual meeting in Seattle on February 15, 2020.

Read more about the AAAS and view list of all 2019 Fellows on the AAAS website.

Read the full story in Newslink.

Enrico Di Cera Receives SIBPA Award

Congratulations to Enrico Di Cera, M.D., who received the Marina Diana Mercurio Award at the 2016 Italian Society for Pure and Applied Biophysics (SIBPA) meeting, which was held in Cortona, Italy, September 18-21, 2016.

The award is given to a scientist whose innovative and interdisciplinary contributions shed light on human disease. Dr. Di Cera gave a talk upon accepting the award, which he shared with Leone Montagnini, Ph.D., of Biblioteche di Roma. The award announcement can be viewed on the SIBPA site.

Enrico Di Cera: “Not a Structural Biologist”

Enrico Di Cera was interviewed for SBGrid Consortium, a website that provides software infrastructure and scientific applications to support the research activities of structural biologists.

His story, which appears in the “Member Tales” section, highlights the careers and research accomplishments of selected SBGrid members. In his interview, Enrico stated that he is not a structural biologist, despite spending a good portion of his career studying the structure of thrombin and related coagulation proteins. Read the full article on the SBGrid site.

Di Cera Receives Fellows Award

Congratulations to Enrico Di Cera, who received the Outstanding St. Louis Scientist and Fellows Awards from the Academy of Science of St. Louis. The Academy presents the Outstanding Scientist Awards annually in order to recognize the St. Louis area’s individuals and institutions making unique and significant contributions to science, research, and industry.

Enrico was elected as a Fellow of the Academy, an award which recognizes a distinguished individual for outstanding achievement in science. Enrico’s pioneering research in the field of structural biology and ligand binding in blood coagulation has advanced the field and resulted in the development of novel therapies for blood clots and thrombosis. The awards were presented at the Chase Park Plaza Starlight Ballroom on Thursday, April 9, 2015.

You can read more about the Academy and the awards at the Academy website.