skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on July 9, 2022

Title: Intrinsically disordered electronegative clusters improve stability and binding specificity of RNA-binding proteins
RNA-binding proteins play crucial roles in various cellular functions, and contain abundant disordered protein regions. The disordered regions in RNA-binding proteins are rich in repetitive sequences, such as poly-K/R, poly-N/Q, poly-A, and poly-G residues. Our bioinformatic analysis identified a largely neglected repetitive sequence family we define as electronegative clusters (ENCs) that contain acidic residues and/or phosphorylation sites. The abundance and length of ENCs exceed other known repetitive sequences. Despite their abundance, the functions of ENCs in RNA-binding proteins are still elusive. To investigate the impacts of ENCs on protein stability, RNA-binding affinity, and specificity, we selected one RNA-binding protein, the ribosomal biogenesis factor 15 (Nop15) as a model. We found that the Nop15 ENC increases protein stability and inhibits nonspecific RNA binding, but minimally interferes with specific RNA binding. To investigate the effect of ENCs on sequence specificity of RNA binding, we grafted an ENC to another RNA-binding protein, Ser/Arg-rich splicing factor 3 (SRSF3). Using RNA Bind-n-Seq, we found that the engineered ENC inhibits disparate RNA motifs differently, instead of weakening all RNA motifs to the same extent. The motif site directly involved in electrostatic interaction is more susceptible to the ENC inhibition. These results suggest that one of functions more » of ENCs is to regulate RNA binding via electrostatic interaction. This is consistent with our finding that ENCs are also overrepresented in DNA-binding proteins, while underrepresented in halophiles, in which nonspecific nucleic acid binding is inhibited by high concentrations of salts. « less
; ; ; ; ; ;
Musier-Forsyth, Karin
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of biological chemistry
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Disordered binding regions (DBRs), which are embedded within intrinsically disordered proteins or regions (IDPs or IDRs), enable IDPs or IDRs to mediate multiple protein-protein interactions. DBR-protein complexes were collected from the Protein Data Bank for which two or more DBRs having different amino acid sequences bind to the same (100% sequence identical) globular protein partner, a type of interaction herein called many-to-one binding. Two distinct binding profiles were identified: independent and overlapping. For the overlapping binding profiles, the distinct DBRs interact by means of almost identical binding sites (herein called “similar”), or the binding sites contain both common and divergentmore »interaction residues (herein called “intersecting”). Further analysis of the sequence and structural differences among these three groups indicate how IDP flexibility allows different segments to adjust to similar, intersecting, and independent binding pockets.« less
  2. Crosson, Sean (Ed.)
    Quorum sensing is a chemical communication process that bacteria use to coordinate group behaviors. In the global pathogen Vibrio cholerae , one quorum-sensing receptor and transcription factor, called VqmA (VqmA Vc ), activates expression of the vqmR gene encoding the small regulatory RNA VqmR, which represses genes involved in virulence and biofilm formation. Vibriophage VP882 encodes a VqmA homolog called VqmA Phage that activates transcription of the phage gene qtip , and Qtip launches the phage lytic program. Curiously, VqmA Phage can activate vqmR expression but VqmA Vc cannot activate expression of qtip . Here, we investigate the mechanism underlyingmore »this asymmetry. We find that promoter selectivity is driven by each VqmA DNA-binding domain and key DNA sequences in the vqmR and qtip promoters are required to maintain specificity. A protein sequence-guided mutagenesis approach revealed that the residue E194 of VqmA Phage and A192, the equivalent residue in VqmA Vc , in the helix-turn-helix motifs contribute to promoter-binding specificity. A genetic screen to identify VqmA Phage mutants that are incapable of binding the qtip promoter but maintain binding to the vqmR promoter delivered additional VqmA Phage residues located immediately C-terminal to the helix-turn-helix motif as required for binding the qtip promoter. Surprisingly, these residues are conserved between VqmA Phage and VqmA Vc . A second, targeted genetic screen revealed a region located in the VqmA Vc DNA-binding domain that is necessary to prevent VqmA Vc from binding the qtip promoter, thus restricting DNA binding to the vqmR promoter. We propose that the VqmA Vc helix-turn-helix motif and the C-terminal flanking residues function together to prohibit VqmA Vc from binding the qtip promoter.« less
  3. Disordered proline-rich motifs are common across the proteomes of many species and are often involved in protein-protein interactions. Proline is a unique amino acid due to the covalent bond between the backbone nitrogen and the proline side chain. The resulting five-membered ring allows proline to sample the cis state about its peptide bond, which other residues cannot do as readily. Because proline-rich disordered sequences exist as ensembles that likely include structures with the proline peptide bond in cis , a robust methodology to accurately account for these conformations in the overall ensemble is crucial. Observing the cis conformations of prolinemore »in a disordered sequence is challenging both experimentally and computationally. Nitrogen-hydrogen NMR spectroscopy cannot directly observe proline residues, which lack an amide bond, and computational methods struggle to overcome the large kinetic barrier between the cis and trans states, since isomerization usually occurs on the order of seconds. In the current work, Gaussian accelerated molecular dynamics was used to overcome this free energy barrier and simulate proline isomerization in a tetrapeptide (KPTP) and in the 12-residue proline-rich SH3 binding peptide, ArkA. We found that Gaussian accelerated molecular dynamics, when combined with a lowered peptide bond dihedral angle potential energy barrier (15 kcal/mol), allowed sufficient sampling of the proline cis and trans states on a microsecond timescale. All ArkA prolines spend a significant fraction of time in cis , leading to a more compact ensemble with less polyproline II helix structure than an ArkA ensemble with all peptide bonds in trans . The ensemble containing cis prolines also matches more closely to in vitro circular dichroism data than the all- trans ensemble. The ability of the ArkA prolines to isomerize likely affects the peptide’s ability to bind its partner SH3 domain, and should be studied further. This is the first molecular dynamics simulation study of proline isomerization in a biologically relevant proline-rich sequence that we know of, and a similar protocol could be applied to study multi-proline isomerization in other proline-containing proteins to improve conformational diversity and agreement with in vitro data.« less
  4. Electrostatic protein/DNA interactions arise from the neutralization of the DNA phosphodiester backbone as well as coupled exchanges by charged protein residues as salt bridges or with mobile ions. Much focus has been and continues to be paid to interfacial ion pairs with DNA. The role of extra-interfacial ionic interactions, particularly as dynamic drivers of DNA sequence selectivity, remain poorly known. The ETS family of transcription factors represents an attractive model for addressing this knowledge gap given their diverse ionic composition in primary structures that fold to a tightly conserved DNA-binding motif. To probe the importance of extra-interfacial salt bridges inmore »DNA recognition, we compared the salt-dependent binding by Elk1 with ETV6, two ETS homologs differing markedly in ionic composition. While both proteins exhibit salt-dependent binding with cognate DNA that corresponds to interfacial phosphate contacts, their nonspecific binding diverges from cognate binding as well as each other. Molecular dynamics simulations in explicit solvent, which generated ionic interactions in agreement with the experimental binding data, revealed distinct salt-bridge dynamics in the nonspecific complexes formed by the two proteins. Impaired DNA contact by ETV6 resulted in fewer backbone contacts in the nonspecific complex, while Elk1 exhibited a redistribution of extra-interfacial salt bridges via residues that are non-conserved between the two ETS relatives. Thus, primary structure variation in ionic residues can encode highly differentiated specificity mechanisms in a highly conserved DNA-binding motif.« less
  5. Severe Acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-1) attaches to the host cell surface to initiate the interaction between the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of its spike glycoprotein (S) and the human Angiotensin-converting enzyme (hACE2) receptor. SARS-CoV-1 mutates frequently because of its RNA genome, which challenges the antiviral development. Here, we per-formed computational saturation mutagenesis of the S protein of SARS-CoV-1 to identify the residues crucial for its functions. We used the structure-based energy calculations to analyze the effects of the missense mutations on the SARS-CoV-1 S stability and the binding affinity with hACE2. The sequence and structure alignment showed similarities between themore »S proteins of SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. Interestingly, we found that target mutations of S protein amino acids generate similar effects on their stabilities between SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. For example, G839W of SARS-CoV-1 corresponds to G857W of SARS-CoV-2, which decrease the stability of their S glycoproteins. The viral mutation analysis of the two different SARS-CoV-1 isolates showed that mutations, T487S and L472P, weakened the S-hACE2 binding of the 2003–2004 SARS-CoV-1 isolate. In addition, the mutations of L472P and F360S destabilized the 2003–2004 viral isolate. We further predicted that many mutations on N-linked glycosylation sites would increase the stability of the S glycoprotein. Our results can be of therapeutic importance in the design of antivirals or vaccines against SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2.« less