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Structural Biology

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April 2015

Internally labeled Cy3/Cy5 DNA constructs show greatly enhanced photo-stability in single-molecule FRET experiments
Lee, W; von Hippel, PH; Marcus, AH
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 5967-5977
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DNA constructs labeled with cyanine fluorescent dyes are important substrates for single-molecule (sm) studies of the functional activity of protein-DNA complexes. We previously studied the local DNA backbone fluctuations of replication fork and primer-template DNA constructs labeled with Cy3/Cy5 donor-acceptor Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET) chromophore pairs and showed that, contrary to dyes linked 'externally' to the bases with flexible tethers, direct 'internal' (and rigid) insertion of the chromophores into the sugar-phosphate backbones resulted in DNA constructs that could be used to study intrinsic and protein-induced DNA backbone fluctuations by both smFRET and sm Fluorescent Linear Dichroism (smFLD). Here we show that these rigidly inserted Cy3/Cy5 chromophores also exhibit two additional useful properties, showing both high photo-stability and minimal effects on the local thermodynamic stability of the DNA constructs. The increased photo-stability of the internal labels significantly reduces the proportion of false positive smFRET conversion 'background' signals, thereby simplifying interpretations of both smFRET and smFLD experiments...

YoeB-ribosome structure: a canonical RNase that requires the ribosome for its specific activity
Feng, S; Chen, Y; Kamada, K; Wang, H; Tang, K; Wang, MT; Gao, YG
Nucleic Acids Res. 2013, 41, 9549-9556
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As a typical endoribonuclease, YoeB mediates cellular adaptation in diverse bacteria by degrading mRNAs on its activation. Although the catalytic core of YoeB is thought to be identical to well-studied nucleases, this enzyme specifically targets mRNA substrates that are associated with ribosomes in vivo. However, the molecular mechanism of mRNA recognition and cleavage by YoeB, and the requirement of ribosome for its optimal activity, largely remain elusive. Here, we report the structure of YoeB bound to 70S ribosome in pre-cleavage state, revealing that both the 30S and 50S subunits participate in YoeB binding. The mRNA is recognized by the catalytic core of YoeB, of which the general base/acid (Glu46/His83) are within hydrogen-bonding distance to their reaction atoms, demonstrating an active conformation of YoeB on ribosome. Also, the mRNA orientation involves the universally conserved A1493 and G530 of 16S rRNA. In addition, mass spectrometry data indicated that YoeB cleaves mRNA following the second position at the A-site codon, resulting in a final product with a 3'-phosphate at the newly formed 3' end...

{mu}ABC: a systematic microsecond molecular dynamics study of tetranucleotide sequence effects in B-DNA
Pasi, M; Maddocks, JH; Beveridge, D; Bishop, TC; Case, DA; Cheatham, TC; Dans, PD; Jayaram, B; Lankas, F; Laughton, C; Mitchell, J; Osman, R; Orozco, M; Perez, A; Petkeviciute, D; Spackova, N; Sponer, J; Zakrzewska, K; Lavery, R
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 12272-12283
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We present the results of microsecond molecular dynamics simulations carried out by the ABC group of laboratories on a set of B-DNA oligomers containing the 136 distinct tetranucleotide base sequences. We demonstrate that the resulting trajectories have extensively sampled the conformational space accessible to B-DNA at room temperature. We confirm that base sequence effects depend strongly not only on the specific base pair step, but also on the specific base pairs that flank each step. Beyond sequence effects on average helical parameters and conformational fluctuations, we also identify tetranucleotide sequences that oscillate between several distinct conformational substates. By analyzing the conformation of the phosphodiester backbones, it is possible to understand for which sequences these substates will arise, and what impact they will have on specific helical parameters.

Structural insights into Paf1 complex assembly and histone binding
Chu, XL; Qin, XH; Xu, HS; Li, L; Wang, Z; Li, FZ; Xie, XQ; Zhou, H; Shen, YQ; Long, JF
Nucleic Acids Res. 2013, 41, 10619-10629
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The highly conserved Paf1 complex (PAF1C) plays critical roles in RNA polymerase II transcription elongation and in the regulation of histone modifications. It has also been implicated in other diverse cellular activities, including posttranscriptional events, embryonic development and cell survival and maintenance of embryonic stem cell identity. Here, we report the structure of the human Paf1/Leo1 subcomplex within PAF1C. The overall structure reveals that the Paf1 and Leo1 subunits form a tightly associated heterodimer through antiparallel beta-sheet interactions. Detailed biochemical experiments indicate that Leo1 binds to PAF1C through Paf1 and that the Ctr9 subunit is the key scaffold protein in assembling PAF1C. Furthermore, we show that the Paf1/Leo1 heterodimer is necessary for its binding to histone H3, the histone octamer, and nucleosome in vitro. Our results shed light on the PAF1C assembly process and substrate recognition during various PAF1C-coordinated histone modifications.

Phospho-dependent and phospho-independent interactions of the helicase UPF1 with the NMD factors SMG5-SMG7 and SMG6
Chakrabarti, S; Bonneau, F; Schussler, S; Eppinger, E; Conti, E
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 9447-9460
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Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is a eukaryotic surveillance pathway that recognizes mRNAs with premature stop codons and targets them for rapid degradation. Evidence from previous studies has converged on UPF1 as the central NMD factor. In human cells, the SMG1 kinase phosphorylates UPF1 at the N-terminal and C-terminal tails, in turn allowing the recruitment of the NMD factors SMG5, SMG6 and SMG7. To understand the molecular mechanisms, we recapitulated these steps of NMD in vitro using purified components. We find that a short C-terminal segment of phosphorylated UPF1 containing the last two Ser-Gln motifs is recognized by the heterodimer of SMG5 and SMG7 14-3-3-like proteins. In contrast, the SMG6 14-3-3-like domain is a monomer. The crystal structure indicates that the phosphoserine binding site of the SMG6 14-3-3-like domain is similar to that of SMG5 and can mediate a weak phospho-dependent interaction with UPF1. The dominant SMG6-UPF1 interaction is mediated by a low-complexity region bordering the 14-3-3-like domain of SMG6 and by the helicase domain and C-terminal tail of UPF1. This interaction is phosphorylation independent...

Probing the elastic limit of DNA bending
Le, TT; Kim, HD
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 10786-10794
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Sharp bending of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) plays an essential role in genome structure and function. However, the elastic limit of dsDNA bending remains controversial. Here, we measured the opening rates of small dsDNA loops with contour lengths ranging between 40 and 200 bp using single-molecule Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer. The relationship of loop lifetime to loop size revealed a critical transition in bending stress. Above the critical loop size, the loop lifetime changed with loop size in a manner consistent with elastic bending stress, but below it, became less sensitive to loop size, indicative of softened dsDNA. The critical loop size increased from similar to 60 bp to similar to 100 bp with the addition of 5 mM magnesium. We show that our result is in quantitative agreement with the kinkable worm-like chain model, and furthermore, can reproduce previously reported looping probabilities of dsDNA over the range between 50 and 200 bp. Our findings shed new light on the energetics of sharply bent dsDNA.

Structural studies of p53 inactivation by DNA-contact mutations and its rescue by suppressor mutations via alternative protein-DNA interactions
Eldar, A; Rozenberg, H; Diskin-Posner, Y; Rohs, R; Shakked, Z
Nucleic Acids Res. 2013, 41, 8748-8759
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A p53 hot-spot mutation found frequently in human cancer is the replacement of R273 by histidine or cysteine residues resulting in p53 loss of function as a tumor suppressor. These mutants can be reactivated by the incorporation of second-site suppressor mutations. Here, we present high-resolution crystal structures of the p53 core domains of the cancer-related proteins, the rescued proteins and their complexes with DNA. The structures show that inactivation of p53 results from the incapacity of the mutated residues to form stabilizing interactions with the DNA backbone, and that reactivation is achieved through alternative interactions formed by the suppressor mutations. Detailed structural and computational analysis demonstrates that the rescued p53 complexes are not fully restored in terms of DNA structure and its interface with p53. Contrary to our previously studied wild-type (wt) p53-DNA complexes showing non-canonical Hoogsteen A/T base pairs of the DNA helix that lead to local minor-groove narrowing and enhanced electrostatic interactions with p53, the current structures display Watson-Crick base pairs associated with...

Structure of human RNA N6-methyladenine demethylase ALKBH5 provides insights into its mechanisms of nucleic acid recognition and demethylation
Aik, W; Scotti, JS; Choi, H; Gong, LZ; Demetriades, M; Schofield, CJ; McDonough, MA
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 4741-4754
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ALKBH5 is a 2-oxoglutarate (2OG) and ferrous iron-dependent nucleic acid oxygenase (NAOX) that catalyzes the demethylation of N-6-methyladenine in RNA. ALKBH5 is upregulated under hypoxia and plays a role in spermatogenesis. We describe a crystal structure of human ALKBH5 (residues 66-292) to 2.0 A resolution. ALKBH5(66-292) has a double-stranded beta-helix core fold as observed in other 2OG and iron-dependent oxygenase family members. The active site metal is octahedrally coordinated by an HXD...H motif (comprising residues His204, Asp206 and His266) and three water molecules. ALKBH5 shares a nucleotide recognition lid and conserved active site residues with other NAOXs. A large loop (beta IV-V) in ALKBH5 occupies a similar region as the L1 loop of the fat mass and obesity-associated protein that is proposed to confer single-stranded RNA selectivity. Unexpectedly, a small molecule inhibitor, IOX3, was observed covalently attached to the side chain of Cys200 located outside of the active site...

Structural basis for inhibition of DNA replication by aphidicolin
Baranovskiy, AG; Babayeva, ND; Suwa, Y; Gu, JY; Pavlov, YI; Tahirov, TH
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 14013-14021
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Natural tetracyclic diterpenoid aphidicolin is a potent and specific inhibitor of B-family DNA polymerases, haltering replication and possessing a strong antimitotic activity in human cancer cell lines. Clinical trials revealed limitations of aphidicolin as an antitumor drug because of its low solubility and fast clearance from human plasma. The absence of structural information hampered the improvement of aphidicolin-like inhibitors: more than 50 modifications have been generated so far, but all have lost the inhibitory and antitumor properties. Here we report the crystal structure of the catalytic core of human DNA polymerase alpha (Pol alpha) in the ternary complex with an RNA-primed DNA template and aphidicolin. The inhibitor blocks binding of dCTP by docking at the Pol alpha active site and by rotating the template guanine. The structure provides a plausible mechanism for the selectivity of aphidicolin incorporation opposite template guanine and explains why previous modifications of aphidicolin failed to improve its affinity for Pol alpha. With new structural information, aphidicolin becomes an attractive lead compound for the design of novel derivatives with enhanced inhibitory properties

A competitive formation of DNA:RNA hybrid G-quadruplex is responsible to the mitochondrial transcription termination at the DNA replication priming site
Zheng, KW; Wu, RY; He, YD; Xiao, S; Zhang, JY; Liu, JQ; Hao, YH; Tan, Z
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 10832-10844
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Human mitochondrial DNA contains a distinctive guanine-rich motif denoted conserved sequence block II (CSB II) that stops RNA transcription, producing prematurely terminated transcripts to prime mitochondrial DNA replication. Recently, we reported a general phenomenon that DNA: RNA hybrid G-quadruplexes (HQs) readily form during transcription when the non-template DNA strand is guanine-rich and such HQs in turn regulate transcription. In this work, we show that transcription of mitochondrial DNA leads to the formation of a stable HQ or alternatively an unstable intramolecular DNA G-quadruplex (DQ) at the CSB II. The HQ is the dominant species and contributes to the majority of the premature transcription termination. Manipulating the stability of the DQ has little effect on the termination even in the absence of HQ; however, abolishing the formation of HQs by preventing the participation of either DNA or RNA abolishes the vast majority of the termination. These results demonstrate that the type of G-quadruplexes (HQ or DQ) is a crucial determinant in directing the transcription termination at the CSB II...

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