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1.  Bimodal high-affinity association of Brd4 with murine leukemia virus integrase and mononucleosomes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(8):4868-4881.
The importance of understanding the molecular mechanisms of murine leukemia virus (MLV) integration into host chromatin is highlighted by the development of MLV-based vectors for human gene-therapy. We have recently identified BET proteins (Brd2, 3 and 4) as the main cellular binding partners of MLV integrase (IN) and demonstrated their significance for effective MLV integration at transcription start sites. Here we show that recombinant Brd4, a representative of the three BET proteins, establishes complementary high-affinity interactions with MLV IN and mononucleosomes (MNs). Brd4(1–720) but not its N- or C-terminal fragments effectively stimulate MLV IN strand transfer activities in vitro. Mass spectrometry- and NMR-based approaches have enabled us to map key interacting interfaces between the C-terminal domain of BRD4 and the C-terminal tail of MLV IN. Additionally, the N-terminal fragment of Brd4 binds to both DNA and acetylated histone peptides, allowing it to bind tightly to MNs. Comparative analyses of the distributions of various histone marks along chromatin revealed significant positive correlations between H3- and H4-acetylated histones, BET protein-binding sites and MLV-integration sites. Our findings reveal a bimodal mechanism for BET protein-mediated MLV integration into select chromatin locations.
doi:10.1093/nar/gku135
PMCID: PMC4005663  PMID: 24520112
2.  Structural basis for high-affinity binding of LEDGF PWWP to mononucleosomes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(6):3924-3936.
Lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF/p75) tethers lentiviral preintegration complexes (PICs) to chromatin and is essential for effective HIV-1 replication. LEDGF/p75 interactions with lentiviral integrases are well characterized, but the structural basis for how LEDGF/p75 engages chromatin is unknown. We demonstrate that cellular LEDGF/p75 is tightly bound to mononucleosomes (MNs). Our proteomic experiments indicate that this interaction is direct and not mediated by other cellular factors. We determined the solution structure of LEDGF PWWP and monitored binding to the histone H3 tail containing trimethylated Lys36 (H3K36me3) and DNA by NMR. Results reveal two distinct functional interfaces of LEDGF PWWP: a well-defined hydrophobic cavity, which selectively interacts with the H3K36me3 peptide and adjacent basic surface, which non-specifically binds DNA. LEDGF PWWP exhibits nanomolar binding affinity to purified native MNs, but displays markedly lower affinities for the isolated H3K36me3 peptide and DNA. Furthermore, we show that LEDGF PWWP preferentially and tightly binds to in vitro reconstituted MNs containing a tri-methyl-lysine analogue at position 36 of H3 and not to their unmodified counterparts. We conclude that cooperative binding of the hydrophobic cavity and basic surface to the cognate histone peptide and DNA wrapped in MNs is essential for high-affinity binding to chromatin.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt074
PMCID: PMC3616739  PMID: 23396443
3.  Assembly of the Complex between Archaeal RNase P Proteins RPP30 and Pop5 
Archaea  2011;2011:891531.
RNase P is a highly conserved ribonucleoprotein enzyme that represents a model complex for understanding macromolecular RNA-protein interactions. Archaeal RNase P consists of one RNA and up to five proteins (Pop5, RPP30, RPP21, RPP29, and RPP38/L7Ae). Four of these proteins function in pairs (Pop5-RPP30 and RPP21–RPP29). We have used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) to characterize the interaction between Pop5 and RPP30 from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus (Pfu). NMR backbone resonance assignments of free RPP30 (25 kDa) indicate that the protein is well structured in solution, with a secondary structure matching that observed in a closely related crystal structure. Chemical shift perturbations upon the addition of Pop5 (14 kDa) reveal its binding surface on RPP30. ITC experiments confirm a net 1 : 1 stoichiometry for this tight protein-protein interaction and exhibit complex isotherms, indicative of higher-order binding. Indeed, light scattering and size exclusion chromatography data reveal the complex to exist as a 78 kDa heterotetramer with two copies each of Pop5 and RPP30. These results will inform future efforts to elucidate the functional role of the Pop5-RPP30 complex in RNase P assembly and catalysis.
doi:10.1155/2011/891531
PMCID: PMC3227427  PMID: 22162665

Results 1-3 (3)