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1.  Identification of the DNA-Binding Domains of Human Replication Protein A That Recognize G-Quadruplex DNA 
Journal of Nucleic Acids  2011;2011:896947.
Replication protein A (RPA), a key player in DNA metabolism, has 6 single-stranded DNA-(ssDNA-) binding domains (DBDs) A-F. SELEX experiments with the DBDs-C, -D, and -E retrieve a 20-nt G-quadruplex forming sequence. Binding studies show that RPA-DE binds preferentially to the G-quadruplex DNA, a unique preference not observed with other RPA constructs. Circular dichroism experiments show that RPA-CDE-core can unfold the G-quadruplex while RPA-DE stabilizes it. Binding studies show that RPA-C binds pyrimidine- and purine-rich sequences similarly. This difference between RPA-C and RPA-DE binding was also indicated by the inability of RPA-CDE-core to unfold an oligonucleotide containing a TC-region 5′ to the G-quadruplex. Molecular modeling studies of RPA-DE and telomere-binding proteins Pot1 and Stn1 reveal structural similarities between the proteins and illuminate potential DNA-binding sites for RPA-DE and Stn1. These data indicate that DBDs of RPA have different ssDNA recognition properties.
PMCID: PMC3136212  PMID: 21772997
2.  Protein tyrosine kinase regulation by ubiquitination: Critical roles of Cbl-family ubiquitin ligases 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2012;1833(1):122-139.
Protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) coordinate a broad spectrum of cellular responses to extracellular stimuli and cell–cell interactions during development, tissue homeostasis, and responses to environmental challenges. Thus, an understanding of the regulatory mechanisms that ensure physiological PTK function and potential aberrations of these regulatory processes during diseases such as cancer are of broad interest in biology and medicine. Aside from the expected role of phospho-tyrosine phosphatases, recent studies have revealed a critical role of covalent modification of activated PTKs with ubiquitin as a critical mechanism of their negative regulation. Members of the Cbl protein family (Cbl, Cbl-b and Cbl-c in mammals) have emerged as dominant “activated PTK-selective” ubiquitin ligases. Structural, biochemical and cell biological studies have established that Cbl protein-dependent ubiquitination targets activated PTKs for degradation either by facilitating their endocytic sorting into lysosomes or by promoting their proteasomal degradation. This mechanism also targets PTK signaling intermediates that become associated with Cbl proteins in a PTK activation-dependent manner. Cellular and animal studies have established that the relatively broadly expressed mammalian Cbl family members Cbl and Cbl-b play key physiological roles, including their critical functions to prevent the transition of normal immune responses into autoimmune disease and as tumor suppressors; the latter function has received validation from human studies linking mutations in Cbl to human leukemia. These newer insights together with embryonic lethality seen in mice with a combined deletion of Cbl and Cbl-b genes suggest an unappreciated role of the Cbl family proteins, and by implication the ubiquitin-dependent control of activated PTKs, in stem/progenitor cell maintenance. Future studies of existing and emerging animal models and their various cell lineages should help test the broader implications of the evolutionarily-conserved Cbl family protein-mediated, ubiquitin-dependent, negative regulation of activated PTKs in physiology and disease.
PMCID: PMC3628764  PMID: 23085373
Cbl; E3 ubiquitin ligase; Tyrosine kinase binding domain; Ubiquitination; Signal transduction; Animal model
3.  Oncogenic Signaling by Leukemia-Associated Mutant Cbl Proteins 
Members of the Cbl protein family (Cbl, Cbl-b, and Cbl-c) are E3 ubiquitin ligases that have emerged as critical negative regulators of protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) signaling. This function reflects their ability to directly interact with activated PTKs and to target them as well as their associated signaling components for ubiquitination. Given the critical roles of PTK signaling in driving oncogenesis, recent studies in animal models and genetic analyses in human cancer have firmly established that Cbl proteins function as tumor suppressors. Missense mutations or small in-frame deletions within the regions of Cbl protein that are essential for its E3 activity have been identified in nearly 5% of leukemia patients with myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative disorders. Based on evidence from cell culture studies, in vivo models and clinical data, we discuss the potential signaling mechanisms of mutant Cbl-driven oncogenesis. Mechanistic insights into oncogenic Cbl mutants and associated animal models are likely to enhance our understanding of normal hematopoietic stem cell homeostasis and provide avenues for targeted therapy of mutant Cbl-driven cancers.
PMCID: PMC3757940  PMID: 23997989
Cbl; E3 ubiquitin ligase; MDS/MPN; Leukemia; Tyrosine kinase; Cellular signaling; Hematopoietic
4.  Peptide truncation leads to a twist and an unusual increase in affinity for casitas B-lineage lymphoma tyrosine kinase binding domain 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2012;55(7):3583-3587.
We describe truncation and SAR studies to identify a pentapeptide that binds Cbl tyrosine kinase binding domain with a higher affinity than the parental peptide. The pentapeptide has an alternate binding mode that allows occupancy of a previously uncharacterized groove. A peptide library was used to map the binding site and define the interface landscape. Our results suggest that the pentapeptide is an ideal starting point for the development of inhibitors against Cbl driven diseases.
PMCID: PMC3325325  PMID: 22394513
Cbl inhibitors; protein-peptide complex; in silico screen; protein-protein interactions
5.  The paradox of conformational constraint in the design of Cbl(TKB)-binding peptides 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1639.
Solving the crystal structure of Cbl(TKB) in complex with a pentapeptide, pYTPEP, revealed that the PEP region adopted a poly-L-proline type II (PPII) helix. An unnatural amino acid termed a proline-templated glutamic acid (ptE) that constrained both the backbone and sidechain to the bound conformation was synthesized and incorporated into the pYTPXP peptide. We estimated imposing structural constraints onto the backbone and sidechain of the peptide and preorganize it to the bound conformation in solution will yield nearly an order of magnitude improvement in activity. NMR studies confirmed that the ptE-containing peptide adopts the PPII conformation, however, competitive binding studies showed an order of magnitude loss of activity. Given the emphasis that is placed on imposing structural constraints, we provide an example to support the contrary. These results point to conformational flexibility at the interface, which have implications in the design of potent Cbl(TKB)-binding peptides.
PMCID: PMC3965358  PMID: 23572190
6.  Processing incommensurately modulated protein diffraction data with Eval15. Corrigendum 
A correction to the article by Porta et al. [(2011). Acta Cryst. D67, 628–638].
A correction is made to a figure in the article by Porta et al. [(2011). Acta Cryst. D67, 628–638].
PMCID: PMC3270385
modulation; incommensurate; Eval15; profilin–actin; corrigendum
7.  Processing incommensurately modulated protein diffraction data with Eval15 
Data processing of an incommensurately modulated profilin–actin crystal is described.
Recent challenges in biological X-ray crystallography include the processing of modulated diffraction data. A modulated crystal has lost its three-dimensional translational symmetry but retains long-range order that can be restored by refining a periodic modulation function. The presence of a crystal modulation is indicated by an X-ray diffraction pattern with periodic main reflections flanked by off-lattice satellite reflections. While the periodic main reflections can easily be indexed using three reciprocal-lattice vectors a*, b*, c*, the satellite reflections have a non-integral relationship to the main lattice and require a q vector for indexing. While methods for the processing of diffraction intensities from modulated small-molecule crystals are well developed, they have not been applied in protein crystallography. A recipe is presented here for processing incommensurately modulated data from a macromolecular crystal using the Eval program suite. The diffraction data are from an incommensurately modulated crystal of profilin–actin with single-order satellites parallel to b*. The steps taken in this report can be used as a guide for protein crystallographers when encountering crystal modulations. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the processing of data from an incommensurately modulated macromolecular crystal.
PMCID: PMC3121298  PMID: 21697601
modulation; incommensurate; Eval15; profilin–actin
8.  Holocarboxylase synthetase is a chromatin protein and interacts directly with histone H3 to mediate biotinylation of K9 and K18 
Holocarboxylase synthetase (HCS) mediates the binding of biotin to lysine (K) residues in histones H2A, H3, and H4; HCS knockdown disturbs gene regulation, and decreases stress resistance and life span in eukaryotes. We tested the hypothesis that HCS interacts physically with histone H3 for subsequent biotinylation. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments were conducted and provided evidence that HCS co-localizes with histone H3 in human cells; physical interactions between HCS and H3 were confirmed using limited proteolysis assays. Yeast-two-hybrid studies revealed that the N-terminal and C-terminal domains in HCS participate in H3 binding. Recombinant human HCS was produced and exhibited biological activity, as evidenced by biotinylation of its known substrate, recombinant p67. Recombinant histone H3.2 and synthetic H3-based peptides were also good targets for biotinylation by rHCS in vitro, based on tracing histone-bound biotin with [3H]biotin, streptavidin, and anti-biotin antibody. Biotinylation site-specific antibodies were generated and revealed that both K9 and K18 in H3 were biotinylated by HCS. Collectively, these studies provide conclusive evidence that HCS interacts directly with histone H3, causing biotinylation of K9 and K18. We speculate that the targeting of HCS to distinct regions in human chromatin is mediated by DNA sequence, biotin, RNA, epigenetic marks, or chromatin proteins.
PMCID: PMC2975038  PMID: 20688500
biotin; chromatin; histone H3; holocarboxylase synthetase
9.  Stabilization of a G-Quadruplex from Unfolding by Replication Protein A Using Potassium and the Porphyrin TMPyP4 
Journal of Nucleic Acids  2011;2011:529828.
Replication protein A (RPA) plays an essential role in DNA replication by binding and unfolding non-canonical single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) structures. Of the six RPA ssDNA binding domains (labeled A-F), RPA-CDE selectively binds a G-quadruplex forming sequence (5′-TAGGGGAAGGGTTGGAGTGGGTT-3′ called Gq23). In K+, Gq23 forms a mixed parallel/antiparallel conformation, and in Na+ Gq23 has a less stable (TM lowered by ∼20°C), antiparallel conformation. Gq23 is intramolecular and 1D NMR confirms a stable G-quadruplex structure in K+. Full-length RPA and RPA-CDE-core can bind and unfold the Na+ form of Gq23 very efficiently, but complete unfolding is not observed with the K+ form. Studies with G-quadruplex ligands, indicate that TMPyP4 has a thermal stabilization effect on Gq23 in K+, and inhibits complete unfolding by RPA and RPA-CDE-core. Overall these data indicate that G-quadruplexes present a unique problem for RPA to unfold and ligands, such as TMPyP4, could possibly hinder DNA replication by blocking unfolding by RPA.
PMCID: PMC3136172  PMID: 21772995
10.  The Role of Histone H4 Biotinylation in the Structure of Nucleosomes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16299.
Post-translational modifications of histones play important roles in regulating nucleosome structure and gene transcription. It has been shown that biotinylation of histone H4 at lysine-12 in histone H4 (K12Bio-H4) is associated with repression of a number of genes. We hypothesized that biotinylation modifies the physical structure of nucleosomes, and that biotin-induced conformational changes contribute to gene silencing associated with histone biotinylation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To test this hypothesis we used atomic force microscopy to directly analyze structures of nucleosomes formed with biotin-modified and non-modified H4. The analysis of the AFM images revealed a 13% increase in the length of DNA wrapped around the histone core in nucleosomes with biotinylated H4. This statistically significant (p<0.001) difference between native and biotinylated nucleosomes corresponds to adding approximately 20 bp to the classical 147 bp length of nucleosomal DNA.
The increase in nucleosomal DNA length is predicted to stabilize the association of DNA with histones and therefore to prevent nucleosomes from unwrapping. This provides a mechanistic explanation for the gene silencing associated with K12Bio-H4. The proposed single-molecule AFM approach will be instrumental for studying the effects of various epigenetic modifications of nucleosomes, in addition to biotinylation.
PMCID: PMC3029316  PMID: 21298003
11.  Functional Study of the P32T ITPA Variant Associated with Drug Sensitivity in Humans 
Journal of molecular biology  2009;392(3):602-613.
Sanitization of the cellular nucleotide pools from mutagenic base analogs is necessary for the accuracy of transcription and replication of genetic material and plays a substantial role in cancer prevention. The undesirable mutagenic, recombinogenic and toxic incorporation of purine base analogs (i.e. ITP, dITP, XTP, dXTP or 6-hydroxyaminopurine (HAP) deoxynucleoside triphosphate) into nucleic acids is prevented by inosine triphosphate pyrophosphatase (ITPA). The ITPA gene is a highly conserved, moderately expressed gene. Defects in ITPA orthologs in model organisms cause severe sensitivity to HAP and chromosome fragmentation. A human polymorphic allele 94C->A encodes for the enzyme with a P32T amino acid change and leads to accumulation of non-hydrolyzed ITP. ITPase activity is not detected in erythrocytes of these patients. The P32T polymorphism has also been associated with adverse sensitivity to purine base analog drugs. We have found that the ITPA-P32T mutant is a dimer in solution, as is wild-type ITPA, and has normal ITPA activity in vitro, but the melting point of ITPA-P32T is 5 degrees C lower than that of wild-type. ITPA-P32T is also fully functional in vivo in model organisms as determined by a HAP mutagenesis assay and its complementation of a bacterial ITPA defect. The amount of ITPA protein detected by western blot is severely diminished in a human fibroblast cell line with the 94C->A change. We propose that the P32T mutation exerts its effect in certain human tissues by cumulative effects of destabilization of transcripts, protein stability and availability.
PMCID: PMC2745931  PMID: 19631656
12.  Purification and Reconstitution of the Connexin43 Carboxyl Terminus attached to the 4th Transmembrane Domain in Detergent Micelles* 
In recent years, reports have identified that many eukaryotic proteins contain disordered regions spanning greater than 30 consecutive residues in length. In particular, a number of these intrinsically disordered regions occur in the cytoplasmic segments of plasma membrane proteins. These intrinsically disordered regions play important roles in cell signaling events, as they are sites for protein-protein interactions and phosphorylation. Unfortunately, in many crystallographic studies of membrane proteins, these domains are removed because they hinder the crystallization process. Therefore, a purification procedure was developed to enable the biophysical and structural characterization of these intrinsically disordered regions while still associated with the lipid environment. The carboxyl-terminal domain from the gap junction protein connexin43 attached to the 4th transmembrane domain (TM4-Cx43CT) was used as a model system (residues G178-I382). The purification was optimized for structural analysis by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) because this method is well suited for small membrane proteins and proteins that lack a well-structured three-dimensional fold. The TM4-Cx43CT was purified to homogeneity with a yield of ~6 mg per liter from C41(DE3) bacterial cells, reconstituted in the anionic detergent 1-palmitoyl-2-hydroxy-sn-glycero-3-[phospho-RAC-(1-glycerol)], and analyzed by circular dichroism and NMR to demonstrate that the TM4-Cx43CT was properly folded into a functional conformation by its ability to form α-helical structure and associate with a known binding partner, the c-Src SH3 domain, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2446604  PMID: 18411056
13.  Structure of the orthorhombic form of human inosine triphosphate pyrophosphatase 
X-ray crystallographic analysis of human inosine triphosphate pyrophosphohydrolase provided the secondary structure and active-site structure at 1.6 Å resolution in an orthorhombic crystal form. The structure gives a framework for future structure–function studies employing site-directed mutagenesis and for the identification of substrate/product-binding sites.
The structure of human inosine triphosphate pyrophosphohydrolase (ITPA) has been determined using diffraction data to 1.6 Å resolution. ITPA contributes to the accurate replication of DNA by cleansing cellular dNTP pools of mutagenic nucleotide purine analogs such as dITP or dXTP. A similar high-resolution unpublished structure has been deposited in the Protein Data Bank from a monoclinic and pseudo-merohedrally twinned crystal. Here, cocrystallization of ITPA with a molar ratio of XTP appears to have improved the crystals by eliminating twinning and resulted in an orthorhombic space group. However, there was no evidence for bound XTP in the structure. Comparison with substrate-bound NTPase from a thermophilic organism predicts the movement of residues within helix α1, the loop before α6 and helix α7 to cap off the active site when substrate is bound.
PMCID: PMC2225220  PMID: 17077483
inosine triphosphate pyrophosphohydrolase
14.  Human Replication Protein A−Rad52−Single-Stranded DNA Complex: Stoichiometry and Evidence for Strand Transfer Regulation by Phosphorylation† 
Biochemistry  2009;48(28):6633-6643.
The eukaryotic single-stranded DNA-binding protein, replication protein A (RPA), is essential in DNA metabolism and is phosphorylated in response to DNA-damaging agents. Rad52 and RPA participate in the repair of double-stranded DNA breaks (DSBs). It is known that human RPA and Rad52 form a complex, but the molecular mass, stoichiometry, and exact role of this complex in DSB repair are unclear. In this study, absolute molecular masses of individual proteins and complexes were measured in solution using analytical size-exclusion chromatography coupled with multiangle light scattering, the protein species present in each purified fraction were verified via sodium dodecyl sulfate−polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS−PAGE)/Western analyses, and the presence of biotinylated ssDNA in the complexes was verified by chemiluminescence detection. Then, employing UV cross-linking, the protein partner holding the ssDNA was identified. These data show that phosphorylated RPA promoted formation of a complex with monomeric Rad52 and caused the transfer of ssDNA from RPA to Rad52. This suggests that RPA phosphorylation may regulate the first steps of DSB repair and is necessary for the mediator function of Rad52.
PMCID: PMC2710861  PMID: 19530647
15.  Replication Protein A (RPA) Hampers the Processive Action of APOBEC3G Cytosine Deaminase on Single-Stranded DNA 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24848.
Editing deaminases have a pivotal role in cellular physiology. A notable member of this superfamily, APOBEC3G (A3G), restricts retroviruses, and Activation Induced Deaminase (AID) generates antibody diversity by localized deamination of cytosines in DNA. Unconstrained deaminase activity can cause genome-wide mutagenesis and cancer. The mechanisms that protect the genomic DNA from the undesired action of deaminases are unknown. Using the in vitro deamination assays and expression of A3G in yeast, we show that replication protein A (RPA), the eukaryotic single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding protein, severely inhibits the deamination activity and processivity of A3G.
Principal Findings/Methodology
We found that mutations induced by A3G in the yeast genomic reporter are changes of a single nucleotide. This is unexpected because of the known property of A3G to catalyze multiple deaminations upon one substrate encounter event in vitro. The addition of recombinant RPA to the oligonucleotide deamination assay severely inhibited A3G activity. Additionally, we reveal the inverse correlation between RPA concentration and the number of deaminations induced by A3G in vitro on long ssDNA regions. This resembles the “hit and run” single base substitution events observed in yeast.
Our data suggest that RPA is a plausible antimutator factor limiting the activity and processivity of editing deaminases in the model yeast system. Because of the similar antagonism of yeast RPA and human RPA with A3G in vitro, we propose that RPA plays a role in the protection of the human genome cell from A3G and other deaminases when they are inadvertently diverged from their natural targets. We propose a model where RPA serves as one of the guardians of the genome that protects ssDNA from the destructive processive activity of deaminases by non-specific steric hindrance.
PMCID: PMC3174200  PMID: 21935481

Results 1-15 (15)