MDM2 and MDMX are homologous proteins that bind to p53 and regulate its activity. Both contain three folded domains and ~70% intrinsically disordered regions. Previous detailed structural and biophysical studies have concentrated on the isolated folded domains. The N-terminal domains of both exhibit high affinity for the disordered N-terminal of p53 (p53TAD) and inhibit its transactivation function. Here, we have studied full-length MDMX and found a ~100-fold weaker affinity for p53TAD than does its isolated N-terminal domain. We found from NMR spectroscopy and binding studies that MDMX (but not MDM2) contains a conserved, disordered self-inhibitory element that competes intramolecularly for binding with p53TAD. This motif, which we call the WWW element, is centered around residues Trp200 and Trp201. Deletion or mutation of the element increased binding affinity of MDMX to that of the isolated N-terminal domain level. The self-inhibition of MDMX implies a regulatory, allosteric mechanism of its activity. MDMX rests in a latent state in which its binding activity with p53TAD is masked by autoinhibition. Activation of MDMX would require binding to a regulatory protein. The inhibitory function of the WWW element may explain the oncogenic effects of an alternative splicing variant of MDMX that does not contain the WWW element and is found in some aggressive cancers.
Centrioles are cylindrical, ninefold symmetrical structures with peripheral triplet microtubules strictly required to template cilia and flagella. The highly conserved protein SAS-6 constitutes the center of the cartwheel assembly that scaffolds centrioles early in their biogenesis. We determined the x-ray structure of the amino-terminal domain of SAS-6 from zebrafish, and we show that recombinant SAS-6 self-associates in vitro into assemblies that resemble cartwheel centers. Point mutations are consistent with the notion that centriole formation in vivo depends on the interactions that define the self-assemblies observed here. Thus, these interactions are probably essential to the structural organization of cartwheel centers.
Human mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) is a multi-functional protein, involved in different aspects of maintaining mitochondrial genome integrity. In this report, we characterized TFAM and its interaction with tumor suppressor p53 using various biophysical methods. DNA-free TFAM is a thermally unstable protein that is in equilibrium between monomers and dimers. Self-association of TFAM is modulated by its basic C-terminal tail. The DNA-binding ability of TFAM is mainly contributed by its first HMG-box, while the second HMG-box has low-DNA-binding capability. We also obtained backbone resonance assignments from the NMR spectra of both HMG-boxes of TFAM. TFAM binds primarily to the N-terminal transactivation domain of p53, with a K(d) of 1.95 +/- 0.19 microM. The C-terminal regulatory domain of p53 provides a secondary binding site for TFAM. The TFAM-p53-binding interface involves both TAD1 and TAD2 sub-domains of p53. Helices alpha1 and alpha2 of the HMG-box constitute the main p53-binding region. Since both TFAM and p53 binds preferentially to distorted DNA, the TFAM-p53 interaction is implicated in DNA damage and repair. In addition, the DNA-binding mechanism of TFAM and biological relevance of the TFAM-p53 interaction are discussed.
Transcription factors activate their target genes by binding to specific response elements. Many transcription factor families evolved from a common ancestor by gene duplication and subsequent divergent evolution. Members of the p53 family, which play key roles in cell-cycle control and development, share conserved DNA binding and oligomerisation domains but exhibit distinct functions. In this study, the molecular basis of the functional divergence of related transcription factors was investigated.
Methylation of DNA is one of the mechanisms controlling the expression landscape of the genome. Its pattern is altered in cancer and often results in the hypermethylation of the promoter regions and abnormal expression of tumour suppressor genes. Methylation of CpG dinucleotides located in the binding sites of transcription factors may contribute to the development of cancers by preventing their binding or altering their specificity. We studied the effects of CpG methylation on DNA recognition by the tumour suppressor p53, a transcription factor involved in the response to carcinogenic stress. p53 recognises a large number of DNA sequences, many of which contain CpG dinucleotides. We systematically substituted a CpG dinucleotide at each position in the consensus p53 DNA binding sequence and identified substitutions tolerated by p53. We compared the binding affinities of methylated versus non-methylated sequences by fluorescence anisotropy titration. We found that binding of p53 was not affected by cytosine methylation in a majority of cases. However, for a few sequences containing multiple CpG dinucleotides, such as sites in the RB and Met genes, methylation resulted in a four- to sixfold increase in binding of p53. This approach can be used to quantify the effects of CpG methylation on the DNA recognition by other DNA-binding proteins.
Single-stranded DNA-binding proteins (SSB) form a class of proteins that bind preferentially single-stranded DNA with high affinity. They are involved in DNA metabolism in all organisms and serve a vital role in replication, recombination and repair of DNA. In this report, we identify human mitochondrial SSB (HmtSSB) as a novel protein-binding partner of tumour suppressor p53, in mitochondria. It binds to the transactivation domain (residues 1-61) of p53 via an extended binding interface, with dissociation constant of 12.7 (+/- 0.7) microM. Unlike most binding partners reported to date, HmtSSB interacts with both TAD1 (residues 1-40) and TAD2 (residues 41-61) subdomains of p53. HmtSSB enhances intrinsic 3-5 exonuclease activity of p53, particularly in hydrolysing 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) present at 3-end of DNA. Taken together, our data suggest that p53 is involved in DNA repair within mitochondria during oxidative stress. In addition, we characterize HmtSSB binding to ssDNA and p53 N-terminal domain using various biophysical measurements and we propose binding models for both.
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