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Structural Biology

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July 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...

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...

μABC: 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 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

Structure, dynamics and RNA binding of the multi-domain splicing factor TIA-1
Wang, I; Hennig, J; Jagtap, PKA; Sonntag, M; Valcarcel, J; Sattler, M
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 5949-5966
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Alternative pre-messenger ribonucleic acid (pre-mRNA) splicing is an essential process in eukaryotic gene regulation. The T-cell intracellular antigen-1 (TIA-1) is an apoptosis-promoting factor that modulates alternative splicing of transcripts, including the pre-mRNA encoding the membrane receptor Fas. TIA-1 is a multi-domain ribonucleic acid (RNA) binding protein that recognizes poly-uridine tract RNA sequences to facilitate 5' splice site recognition by the U1 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP). Here, we characterize the RNA interaction and conformational dynamics of TIA-1 by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). Our NMR-derived solution structure of TIA-1 RRM2-RRM3 (RRM2,3) reveals that RRM2 adopts a canonical RNA recognition motif (RRM) fold, while RRM3 is preceded by an non-canonical helix alpha 0. NMR and SAXS data show that all three RRMs are largely independent structural modules in the absence of RNA, while RNA binding induces a compact arrangement. RRM2,3 binds to pyrimidine-rich FAS pre-mRNA or poly-uridine (U9) RNA with nanomolar affinities...

Analyzing ion distributions around DNA
Lavery, R; Maddocks, JH; Pasi, M; Zakrzewska, K
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 8138-8149
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We present a new method for analyzing ion, or molecule, distributions around helical nucleic acids and illustrate the approach by analyzing data derived from molecular dynamics simulations. The analysis is based on the use of curvilinear helicoidal coordinates and leads to highly localized ion densities compared to those obtained by simply superposing molecular dynamics snapshots in Cartesian space. The results identify highly populated and sequence-dependent regions where ions strongly interact with the nucleic and are coupled to its conformational fluctuations. The data from this approach is presented as ion populations or ion densities (in units of molarity) and can be analyzed in radial, angular and longitudinal coordinates using 1D or 2D graphics. It is also possible to regenerate 3D densities in Cartesian space. This approach makes it easy to understand and compare ion distributions and also allows the calculation of average ion populations in any desired zone surrounding a nucleic acid without requiring references to its constituent atoms. The method is illustrated using microsecond molecular dynamics simulations for two different DNA oligomers in the presence of 0.15 M potassium chloride...

Architecture and ssDNA interaction of the Timeless-Tipin-RPA complex
Witosch, J; Wolf, E; Mizuno, N
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 12912-12927
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The Timeless-Tipin (Tim-Tipin) complex, also referred to as the fork protection complex, is involved in coordination of DNA replication. Tim-Tipin is suggested to be recruited to replication forks via Replication Protein A (RPA) but details of the interaction are unknown. Here, using cryo-EM and biochemical methods, we characterized complex formation of Tim-Tipin, RPA and single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). Tim-Tipin and RPA form a 258 kDa complex with a 1:1:1 stoichiometry. The cryo-EM 3D reconstruction revealed a globular architecture of the Tim-Tipin-RPA complex with a ring-like and a U-shaped domain covered by a RPA lid. Interestingly, RPA in the complex adopts a horse shoe-like shape resembling its conformation in the presence of long ssDNA (>30 nucleotides). Furthermore, the recruitment of the TimTipin- RPA complex to ssDNA is modulated by the RPA conformation and requires RPA to be in the more compact 30 nt ssDNA binding mode. The dynamic formation and disruption of the Tim-Tipin-RPA-ssDNA complex implicates the RPA-based recruitment of Tim-Tipin to the replication fork.

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...

The crystal structure of TDP-43 RRM1-DNA complex reveals the specific recognition for UG- and TG-rich nucleic acids
Kuo, PH; Chiang, CH; Wang, YT; Doudeva, LG; Yuan, HS
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 4712-4722
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TDP-43 is an important pathological protein that aggregates in the diseased neuronal cells and is linked to various neurodegenerative disorders. In normal cells, TDP-43 is primarily an RNA-binding protein; however, how the dimeric TDP-43 binds RNA via its two RNA recognition motifs, RRM1 and RRM2, is not clear. Here we report the crystal structure of human TDP-43 RRM1 in complex with a single-stranded DNA showing that RRM1 binds the nucleic acid extensively not only by the conserved beta-sheet residues but also by the loop residues. Mutational and biochemical assays further reveal that both RRMs in TDP-43 dimers participate in binding of UG-rich RNA or TG-rich DNA with RRM1 playing a dominant role and RRM2 playing a supporting role. Moreover, RRM1 of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-linked mutant D169G binds DNA as efficiently as the wild type; nevertheless, it is more resistant to thermal denaturation, suggesting that the resistance to degradation is likely linked to TDP-43 proteinopathies. Taken together all the data, we suggest a model showing that the two RRMs in each protomer of TDP-43 homodimer work together in RNA binding...

Revealing transient structures of nucleosomes as DNA unwinds
Chen, YJ; Tokuda, JM; Topping, T; Sutton, JL; Meisburger, SP; Pabit, SA; Gloss, LM; Pollack, L
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 8767-8776
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The modulation of DNA accessibility by nucleosomes is a fundamental mechanism of gene regulation in eukaryotes. The nucleosome core particle (NCP) consists of 147 bp of DNA wrapped around a symmetric octamer of histone proteins. The dynamics of DNA packaging and unpackaging from the NCP affect all DNA-based chemistries, but depend on many factors, including DNA positioning sequence, histone variants and modifications. Although the structure of the intact NCP has been studied by crystallography at atomic resolution, little is known about the structures of the partially unwrapped, transient intermediates relevant to nucleosome dynamics in processes such as transcription, DNA replication and repair. We apply a new experimental approach combining contrast variation with time-resolved small angle X-ray scattering (TR-SAXS) to determine transient structures of protein and DNA constituents of NCPs during salt-induced disassembly. We measure the structures of unwrapping DNA and monitor protein dissociation from Xenopus laevis histones reconstituted with two model NCP positioning constructs: the Widom 601 sequence and the sea urchin 5S ribosomal gene...

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