Nucleic Acids Research
Polyethylene glycol binding alters human telomere G-quadruplex structure by conformational selection
Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) are widely used to perturb the conformations of nucleic acids, including G-quadruplexes. The mechanism by which PEG alters G-quadruplex conformation is poorly understood. We describe here studies designed to determine how PEG and other co-solutes affect the conformation of the human telomeric quadruplex. Osmotic stress studies using acetonitrile and ethylene glycol show that conversion of the ‘hybrid’ conformation to an all-parallel ‘propeller’ conformation is accompanied by the release of about 17 water molecules per quadruplex and is energetically unfavorable in pure aqueous solutions. Sedimentation velocity experiments show that the propeller form is hydrodynamically larger than hybrid forms, ruling out a crowding mechanism for the conversion by PEG. PEGs do not alter water activity sufficiently to perturb quadruplex hydration by osmotic stress. PEG titration experiments are most consistent with a conformational selection mechanism in which PEG binds more strongly to the propeller conformation, and binding is coupled to the conformational transition between forms. Molecular dynamics simulations show that PEG binding to the propeller form is sterically feasible and energetically favorable. We conclude that PEG does not act by crowding and is a poor mimic of the intranuclear environment, keeping open the question of the physiologically relevant quadruplex conformation.
Structural basis for S-adenosylmethionine binding and methyltransferase activity by mitochondrial transcription factor B1
Eukaryotic transcription factor B (TFB) proteins are homologous to KsgA/Dim1 ribosomal RNA (rRNA) methyltransferases. The mammalian TFB1, mitochondrial (TFB1M) factor is an essential protein necessary for mitochondrial gene expression. TFB1M mediates an rRNA modification in the small ribosomal subunit and thus plays a role analogous to KsgA/Dim1 proteins. This modification has been linked to mitochondrial dysfunctions leading to maternally inherited deafness, aminoglycoside sensitivity and diabetes. Here, we present the first structural characterization of the mammalian TFB1 factor. We have solved two X-ray crystallographic structures of TFB1M with (2.1 Å) and without (2.0 Å) its cofactor S-adenosyl-L-methionine. These structures reveal that TFB1M shares a conserved methyltransferase core with other KsgA/Dim1 methyltransferases and shed light on the structural basis of S-adenosyl-L-methionine binding and methyltransferase activity. Together with mutagenesis studies, these data suggest a model for substrate binding and provide insight into the mechanism of methyl transfer, clarifying the role of this factor in an essential process for mitochondrial function.
Structural and biochemical studies of SLIP1-SLBP identify DBP5 and eIF3g as SLIP1-binding proteins
In metazoans, replication-dependent histone mRNAs end in a stem-loop structure instead of the poly(A) tail characteristic of all other mature mRNAs. This specialized 3' end is bound by stem-loop binding protein (SLBP), a protein that participates in the nuclear export and translation of histone mRNAs. The translational activity of SLBP is mediated by interaction with SLIP1, a middle domain of initiation factor 4G (MIF4G)-like protein that connects to translation initiation. We determined the 2.5 Å resolution crystal structure of zebrafish SLIP1 bound to the translation–activation domain of SLBP and identified the determinants of the recognition. We discovered a SLIP1-binding motif (SBM) in two additional proteins: the translation initiation factor eIF3g and the mRNA-export factor DBP5. We confirmed the binding of SLIP1 to DBP5 and eIF3g by pull-down assays and determined the 3.25 Å resolution structure of SLIP1 bound to the DBP5 SBM. The SBM-binding and homodimerization residues of SLIP1 are conserved in the MIF4G domain of CBP80/20-dependent translation initiation factor (CTIF). The results suggest how the SLIP1 homodimer or a SLIP1–CTIF heterodimer can function as platforms to bridge SLBP with SBM-containing proteins involved in different steps of mRNA metabolism.
An 'open' structure of the RecOR complex supports ssDNA binding within the core of the complex
Efficient DNA repair is critical for cell survival and the maintenance of genome integrity. The homologous recombination pathway is responsible for the repair of DNA double-strand breaks within cells. Initiation of this pathway in bacteria can be carried out by either the RecBCD or the RecFOR proteins. An important regulatory player within the RecFOR pathway is the RecOR complex that facilitates RecA loading onto DNA. Here we report new data regarding the assembly of Deinococcus radiodurans RecOR and its interaction with DNA, providing novel mechanistic insight into the mode of action of RecOR in homologous recombination. We present a higher resolution crystal structure of RecOR in an ‘open’ conformation in which the tetrameric RecR ring flanked by two RecO molecules is accessible for DNA binding. We show using small-angle neutron scattering and mutagenesis studies that DNA binding does indeed occur within the RecR ring. Binding of single-stranded DNA occurs without any major conformational changes of the RecOR complex while structural rearrangements are observed on double-stranded DNA binding. Finally, our molecular dynamics simulations, supported by our biochemical data, provide a detailed picture of the DNA binding motif of RecOR and reveal that single-stranded DNA is sandwiched between the two facing oligonucleotide binding domains of RecO within the RecR ring.
Lighting up left-handed Z-DNA: photoluminescent carbon dots induce DNA B to Z transition and perform DNA logic operations
Left-handed Z-DNA has been identified as a transient structure occurred during transcription. DNA B-Z transition has attracted much attention because of not only Z-DNA biological importance but also their relation to disease and DNA nanotechnology. Recently, photoluminescent carbon dots, especially highly luminescent nitrogen-doped carbon dots, have attracted much attention on their applications to bioimaging and gene/drug delivery because of carbon dots with low toxicity, highly stable photoluminescence and controllable surface function. However, it is still unknown whether carbon dots can influence DNA conformation or structural transition, such as B-Z transition. Herein, based on our previous series work on DNA interactions with carbon nanotubes, we report the first example that photoluminescent carbon dots can induce right-handed B-DNA to left-handed Z-DNA under physiological salt conditions with sequence and conformation selectivity. Further studies indicate that carbon dots would bind to DNA major groove with GC preference. Inspired by carbon dots lighting up Z-DNA and DNA nanotechnology, several types of DNA logic gates have been designed and constructed based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer between photoluminescent carbon dots and DNA intercalators.
DNA double-strand-break complexity levels and their possible contributions to the probability for error-prone processing and repair pathway choice
Although the DNA double-strand break (DSB) is defined as a rupture in the double-stranded DNA molecule that can occur without chemical modification in any of the constituent building blocks, it is recognized that this form is restricted to enzyme-induced DSBs. DSBs generated by physical or chemical agents can include at the break site a spectrum of base alterations (lesions). The nature and number of such chemical alterations define the complexity of the DSB and are considered putative determinants for repair pathway choice and the probability that errors will occur during this processing. As the pathways engaged in DSB processing show distinct and frequently inherent propensities for errors, pathway choice also defines the error-levels cells opt to accept. Here, we present a classification of DSBs on the basis of increasing complexity and discuss how complexity may affect processing, as well as how it may cause lethal or carcinogenic processing errors. By critically analyzing the characteristics of DSB repair pathways, we suggest that all repair pathways can in principle remove lesions clustering at the DSB but are likely to fail when they encounter clusters of DSBs that cause a local form of chromothripsis. In the same framework, we also analyze the rational of DSB repair pathway choice.
Novel approach for selecting the best predictor for identifying the binding sites in DNA binding proteins
Protein–DNA complexes play vital roles in many cellular processes by the interactions of amino acids with DNA. Several computational methods have been developed for predicting the interacting residues in DNA-binding proteins using sequence and/or structural information. These methods showed different levels of accuracies, which may depend on the choice of data sets used in training, the feature sets selected for developing a predictive model, the ability of the models to capture information useful for prediction or a combination of these factors. In many cases, different methods are likely to produce similar results, whereas in others, the predictors may return contradictory predictions. In this situation, a priori estimates of prediction performance applicable to the system being investigated would be helpful for biologists to choose the best method for designing their experiments. In this work, we have constructed unbiased, stringent and diverse data sets for DNA-binding proteins based on various biologically relevant considerations: (i) seven structural classes, (ii) 86 folds, (iii) 106 superfamilies, (iv) 194 families, (v) 15 binding motifs, (vi) single/double-stranded DNA, (vii) DNA conformation (A, B, Z, etc.), (viii) three functions and (ix) disordered regions. These data sets were culled as non-redundant with sequence identities of 25 and 40% and used to evaluate the performance of 11 different methods in which online services or standalone programs are available. We observed that the best performing methods for each of the data sets showed significant biases toward the data sets selected for their benchmark. Our analysis revealed important data set features, which could be used to estimate these context-specific biases and hence suggest the best method to be used for a given problem. We have developed a web server, which considers these features on demand and displays the best method that the investigator should use. The web server is freely available at http://www.biotech.iitm.ac.in/DNA-protein/. Further, we have grouped the methods based on their complexity and analyzed the performance. The information gained in this work could be effectively used to select the best method for designing experiments.
Loss of heterozygosity preferentially occurs in early replicating regions in cancer genomes
Erroneous repair of DNA double-strand breaks by homologous recombination (HR) leads to loss of heterozygosity (LOH). Analysing 22 392 and 74 415 LOH events in 363 glioblastoma and 513 ovarian cancer samples, respectively, and using three different metrics, we report that LOH selectively occurs in early replicating regions; this pattern differs from the trends for point mutations and somatic deletions, which are biased toward late replicating regions. Our results are independent of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation status. The LOH events are significantly clustered near RNA polII-bound transcription start sites, consistent with the reports that slow replication near paused RNA polII might initiate HR-mediated repair. The frequency of LOH events is higher in the chromosomes with shorter inter-homolog distance inside the nucleus. We propose that during early replication, HR-mediated rescue of replication near paused RNA polII using homologous chromosomes as template leads to LOH. The difference in the preference for replication timing between different classes of genomic alterations in cancer genomes also provokes a testable hypothesis that replicating cells show changing preference between various DNA repair pathways, which have different levels of efficiency and fidelity, as the replication progresses.
An evolutionary conserved pattern of 18S rRNA sequence complementarity to mRNA 5' UTRs and its implications for eukaryotic gene translation regulation
There are several key mechanisms regulating eukaryotic gene expression at the level of protein synthesis. Interestingly, the least explored mechanisms of translational control are those that involve the translating ribosome per se, mediated for example via predicted interactions between the ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) and mRNAs. Here, we took advantage of robustly growing large-scale data sets of mRNA sequences for numerous organisms, solved ribosomal structures and computational power to computationally explore the mRNA–rRNA complementarity that is statistically significant across the species. Our predictions reveal highly specific sequence complementarity of 18S rRNA sequences with mRNA 5' untranslated regions (UTRs) forming a well-defined 3D pattern on the rRNA sequence of the 40S subunit. Broader evolutionary conservation of this pattern may imply that 5' UTRs of eukaryotic mRNAs, which have already emerged from the mRNA-binding channel, may contact several complementary spots on 18S rRNA situated near the exit of the mRNA binding channel and on the middle-to-lower body of the solvent-exposed 40S ribosome including its left foot. We discuss physiological significance of this structurally conserved pattern and, in the context of previously published experimental results, propose that it modulates scanning of the 40S subunit through 5' UTRs of mRNAs.
Computational identification of novel biochemical systems involved in oxidation, glycosylation and other complex modifications of bases in DNA
Discovery of the TET/JBP family of dioxygenases that modify bases in DNA has sparked considerable interest in novel DNA base modifications and their biological roles. Using sensitive sequence and structure analyses combined with contextual information from comparative genomics, we computationally characterize over 12 novel biochemical systems for DNA modifications. We predict previously unidentified enzymes, such as the kinetoplastid J-base generating glycosyltransferase (and its homolog GREB1), the catalytic specificity of bacteriophage TET/JBP proteins and their role in complex DNA base modifications. We also predict the enzymes involved in synthesis of hypermodified bases such as alpha-glutamylthymine and alpha-putrescinylthymine that have remained enigmatic for several decades. Moreover, the current analysis suggests that bacteriophages and certain nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA viruses contain an unexpectedly diverse range of DNA modification systems, in addition to those using previously characterized enzymes such as Dam, Dcm, TET/JBP, pyrimidine hydroxymethylases, Mom and glycosyltransferases. These include enzymes generating modified bases such as deazaguanines related to queuine and archaeosine, pyrimidines comparable with lysidine, those derived using modified S-adenosyl methionine derivatives and those using TET/JBP-generated hydroxymethyl pyrimidines as biosynthetic starting points. We present evidence that some of these modification systems are also widely dispersed across prokaryotes and certain eukaryotes such as basidiomycetes, chlorophyte and stramenopile alga, where they could serve as novel epigenetic marks for regulation or discrimination of self from non-self DNA. Our study extends the role of the PUA-like fold domains in recognition of modified nucleic acids and predicts versions of the ASCH and EVE domains to be novel ‘readers’ of modified bases in DNA. These results open opportunities for the investigation of the biology of these systems and their use in biotechnology.
Nuclear CaMKII enhances histone H3 phosphorylation and remodels chromatin during cardiac hypertrophy
Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) plays a central role in pathological cardiac hypertrophy, but the mechanisms by which it modulates gene activity in the nucleus to mediate hypertrophic signaling remain unclear. Here, we report that nuclear CaMKII activates cardiac transcription by directly binding to chromatin and regulating the phosphorylation of histone H3 at serine-10. These specific activities are demonstrated both in vitro and in primary neonatal rat cardiomyocytes. Activation of CaMKII signaling by hypertrophic agonists increases H3 phosphorylation in primary cardiac cells and is accompanied by concomitant cellular hypertrophy. Conversely, specific silencing of nuclear CaMKII using RNA interference reduces both H3 phosphorylation and cellular hypertrophy. The hyper-phosphorylation of H3 associated with increased chromatin binding of CaMKII occurs at specific gene loci reactivated during cardiac hypertrophy. Importantly, H3 Ser-10 phosphorylation and CaMKII recruitment are associated with increased chromatin accessibility and are required for chromatin-mediated transcription of the Mef2 transcription factor. Unlike phosphorylation of H3 by other kinases, which regulates cellular proliferation and immediate early gene activation, CaMKII-mediated signaling to H3 is associated with hypertrophic growth. These observations reveal a previously unrecognized function of CaMKII as a kinase signaling to histone H3 and remodeling chromatin. They suggest a new epigenetic mechanism controlling cardiac hypertrophy.
Silencing subtelomeric VSGs by Trypanosoma brucei RAP1 at the insect stage involves chromatin structure changes
Trypanosoma brucei causes human African trypanosomiasis and regularly switches its major surface antigen variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) to evade mammalian host immune responses at the bloodstream form (BF) stage. Monoallelic expression of BF Expression Site (BES)-linked VSGs and silencing of metacyclic VSGs (mVSGs) in BF cells are essential for antigenic variation, whereas silencing of both BES-linked and mVSGs in the procyclic form (PF) cells is important for cell survival in the midgut of its insect vector. We have previously shown that silencing BES-linked VSGs in BF cells depends on TbRAP1. We now show that TbRAP1 silences both BES-linked and mVSGs at both BF and PF stages. The strength of TbRAP1-mediated BES-linked VSG silencing is stronger in the PF cells than that in BF cells. In addition, Formaldehyde-Assisted Isolation of Regulatory Elements analysis and MNase digestion demonstrated that depletion of TbRAP1 in PF cells led to a chromatin structure change, which is significantly stronger at the subtelomeric VSG loci than at chromosome internal loci. On the contrary, no significant chromatin structure changes were detected on depletion of TbRAP1 in BF cells. Our observations indicate that TbRAP1 helps to determine the chromatin structure at the insect stage, which likely contributes to its strong silencing effect on VSGs.
In response to different environmental stresses, eIF2α phosphorylation represses global translation coincident with preferential translation of ATF4, a master regulator controlling the transcription of key genes essential for adaptative functions. Here, we establish that the eIF2α/ATF4 pathway directs an autophagy gene transcriptional program in response to amino acid starvation or endoplasmic reticulum stress. The eIF2α-kinases GCN2 and PERK and the transcription factors ATF4 and CHOP are also required to increase the transcription of a set of genes implicated in the formation, elongation and function of the autophagosome. We also identify three classes of autophagy genes according to their dependence on ATF4 and CHOP and the binding of these factors to specific promoter cis elements. Furthermore, different combinations of CHOP and ATF4 bindings to target promoters allow the trigger of a differential transcriptional response according to the stress intensity. Overall, this study reveals a novel regulatory role of the eIF2α–ATF4 pathway in the fine-tuning of the autophagy gene transcription program in response to stresses.
Comet-FISH with strand-specific probes reveals transcription-coupled repair of 8-oxoGuanine in human cells
Oxidized bases in DNA have been implicated in cancer, aging and neurodegenerative disease. We have developed an approach combining single-cell gel electrophoresis (comet) with fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) that enables the comparative quantification of low, physiologically relevant levels of DNA lesions in the respective strands of defined nucleotide sequences and in the genome overall. We have synthesized single-stranded probes targeting the termini of DNA segments of interest using a polymerase chain reaction-based method. These probes facilitate detection of damage at the single-molecule level, as the lesions are converted to DNA strand breaks by lesion-specific endonucleases or glycosylases. To validate our method, we have documented transcription-coupled repair of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers in the ataxia telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) gene in human fibroblasts irradiated with 254 nm ultraviolet at 0.1 J/m2, a dose ~100-fold lower than those typically used. The high specificity and sensitivity of our approach revealed that 7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG) at an incidence of approximately three lesions per megabase is preferentially repaired in the transcribed strand of the ATM gene. We have also demonstrated that the hOGG1, XPA, CSB and UVSSA proteins, as well as actively elongating RNA polymerase II, are required for this process, suggesting cross-talk between DNA repair pathways.
The stability of chromosome ends, the telomeres, is dependent on the ribonucleoprotein telomerase. In vitro, telomerase requires at least one RNA molecule and a reverse transcriptase-like protein. However, for telomere homeostasis in vivo, additional proteins are required. Telomerase RNAs of different species vary in size and sequence and only few features common to all telomerases are known. Here we show that stem-loop IVc of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae telomerase RNA contains a structural element that is required for telomerase function in vivo. Indeed, the distal portion of stem-loop IVc stimulates telomerase activity in vitro in a way that is independent of Est1 binding on more proximal portions of this stem-loop. Functional analyses of the RNA in vivo reveal that this distal element we call telomerase-stimulating structure (TeSS) must contain a bulged area in single stranded form and also show that Est1-dependent functions such as telomerase import or recruitment are not affected by TeSS. This study thus uncovers a new structural telomerase RNA element implicated in catalytic activity. Given previous evidence for TeSS elements in ciliate and mammalian RNAs, we speculate that this substructure is a conserved feature that is required for optimal telomerase holoenzyme function.
UHRF1 (ubiquitin-like, containing PHD and RING finger domains 1) has a well-established role in epigenetic regulation through the recognition of various histone marks and interaction with chromatin-modifying proteins. However, its function in regulating cell cycle progression remains poorly understood and has been largely attributed to a role in transcriptional regulation. In this study we have used Xenopus laevis egg extracts to analyse Uhrf1 function in DNA replication in the absence of transcriptional influences. We demonstrate that removal of Uhrf1 inhibits chromosomal replication in this system. We further show that this requirement for Uhrf1, or an associated factor, occurs at an early stage of DNA replication and that the consequences of Uhrf1 depletion are not solely due to its role in loading Dnmt1 onto newly replicated DNA. We describe the pattern of Uhrf1 chromatin association before the initiation of DNA replication and show that this reflects functional requirements both before and after origin licensing. Our data demonstrate that the removal of Xenopus Uhrf1 influences the chromatin association of key replication proteins and reveal Uhrf1 as an important new factor required for metazoan DNA replication.
RecA is a DNA-dependent ATPase and mediates homologous recombination by first forming a filament on a single-stranded (ss) DNA. RecA binds preferentially to TGG repeat sequence, which resembles the recombination hot spot Chi (5'-GCTGGTGG-3') and is the most frequent pattern (GTG) of the codon usage in Escherichia coli. Because of the highly dynamic nature of RecA filament formation, which consists of filament nucleation, growth and shrinkage, we need experimental approaches that can resolve each of these processes separately to gain detailed insights into the molecular mechanism of sequence preference. By using a single-molecule fluorescence assay, we examined the effect of sequence on individual stages of nucleation, monomer binding and dissociation. We found that RecA does not recognize the Chi sequence as a nucleation site. In contrast, we observed that it is the reduced monomer dissociation that mainly determines the high filament stability on TGG repeats. This sequence dependence of monomer dissociation is well-correlated with that of ATP hydrolysis, suggesting that DNA sequence dictates filament stability through modulation of ATP hydrolysis.