bims-indpro Biomed News
on Intrinsically disordered proteins
Issue of 2022‒06‒05
fifteen papers selected by
Sara Mingu
Johannes Gutenberg University

  1. Chem Sci. 2022 May 11. 13(18): 5220-5229
      Many proteins recognise other proteins via mechanisms that involve the folding of intrinsically disordered regions upon complex formation. Here we investigate how the selectivity of a drug-like small molecule arises from its modulation of a protein disorder-to-order transition. Binding of the compound AM-7209 has been reported to confer order upon an intrinsically disordered 'lid' region of the oncoprotein MDM2. Calorimetric measurements revealed that truncation of the lid region of MDM2 increases the apparent dissociation constant of AM-7209 250-fold. By contrast, lid truncation has little effect on the binding of the ligand Nutlin-3a. Insights into these differential binding energetics were obtained via a complete thermodynamic analysis that featured adaptive absolute alchemical free energy of binding calculations with enhanced-sampling molecular dynamics simulations. The simulations reveal that in apo MDM2 the ordered lid state is energetically disfavoured. AM-7209, but not Nutlin-3a, shows a significant energetic preference for ordered lid conformations, thus shifting the balance towards ordering of the lid in the AM-7209/MDM2 complex. The methodology reported herein should facilitate broader targeting of intrinsically disordered regions in medicinal chemistry.
  2. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2022 Jun 01.
      The stabilization of native states of proteins is a powerful drug discovery strategy. It is still unclear, however, whether this approach can be applied to intrinsically disordered proteins. Here, we report a small molecule that stabilizes the native state of the Aβ42 peptide, an intrinsically disordered protein fragment associated with Alzheimer's disease. We show that this stabilization takes place by a disordered binding mechanism, in which both the small molecule and the Aβ42 peptide remain disordered. This disordered binding mechanism involves enthalpically favorable local π-stacking interactions coupled with entropically advantageous global effects. These results indicate that small molecules can stabilize disordered proteins in their native states through transient non-specific interactions that provide enthalpic gain while simultaneously increasing the conformational entropy of the proteins.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; Aβ42 peptide; native state; small molecule
  3. Front Mol Biosci. 2022 ;9 906437
      The artificial intelligence program AlphaFold 2 is revolutionizing the field of protein structure determination as it accurately predicts the 3D structure of two thirds of the human proteome. Its predictions can be used directly as structural models or indirectly as aids for experimental structure determination using X-ray crystallography, CryoEM or NMR spectroscopy. Nevertheless, AlphaFold 2 can neither afford insight into how proteins fold, nor can it determine protein stability or dynamics. Rare folds or minor alternative conformations are also not predicted by AlphaFold 2 and the program does not forecast the impact of post translational modifications, mutations or ligand binding. The remaining third of human proteome which is poorly predicted largely corresponds to intrinsically disordered regions of proteins. Key to regulation and signaling networks, these disordered regions often form biomolecular condensates or amyloids. Fortunately, the limitations of AlphaFold 2 are largely complemented by NMR spectroscopy. This experimental approach provides information on protein folding and dynamics as well as biomolecular condensates and amyloids and their modulation by experimental conditions, small molecules, post translational modifications, mutations, flanking sequence, interactions with other proteins, RNA and virus. Together, NMR spectroscopy and AlphaFold 2 can collaborate to advance our comprehension of proteins.
    Keywords:  AlphaFold; Intrisically disordered proteins; NMR spectroscopy; Rare conformations; posttranslational modifications
  4. ACS Macro Lett. 2020 Dec 15. 9(12): 1844-1852
      Self-coacervation of animal-derived proteins has been extensively investigated while that of plant proteins remains largely unexplored. Here, we study the process of soy glycinin self-coacervation and transformation into hollow condensates. The protein hexameric structure composed of hydrophilic and hydrophobic polypeptides is crucial for coacervation. The process is driven by charge screening of the intrinsically disordered region of acidic polypeptides, allowing for weak hydrophobic interactions between exposed hydrophobic polypeptides. We find that the coacervate surface exhibits order, which stabilizes the coacervate shape during hollow-condensate formation. The latter process occurs via nucleation and growth of protein-poor phase in the coacervate interior, during which another ordered layer at the inner surface is formed. Aging enhances the stability of both coacervates and hollow condensates. Understanding plant protein coacervation holds promises for fabricating novel functional materials.
  5. Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 May 30. pii: gkac451. [Epub ahead of print]
      Transcription elongation factor Spt6 associates with RNA polymerase II (Pol II) and acts as a histone chaperone, which promotes the reassembly of nucleosomes following the passage of Pol II. The precise mechanism of nucleosome reassembly mediated by Spt6 remains unclear. In this study, we used a hybrid approach combining cryo-electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering to visualize the architecture of Spt6 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The reconstructed overall architecture of Spt6 reveals not only the core of Spt6, but also its flexible N- and C-termini, which are critical for Spt6's function. We found that the acidic N-terminal region of Spt6 prevents the binding of Spt6 not only to the Pol II CTD and Pol II CTD-linker, but also to pre-formed intact nucleosomes and nucleosomal DNA. The N-terminal region of Spt6 self-associates with the tSH2 domain and the core of Spt6 and thus controls binding to Pol II and nucleosomes. Furthermore, we found that Spt6 promotes the assembly of nucleosomes in vitro. These data indicate that the cooperation between the intrinsically disordered and structured regions of Spt6 regulates nucleosome and Pol II CTD binding, and also nucleosome assembly.
  6. Chembiochem. 2022 Jun 03.
      The amyloid aggregation of α-synuclein (α-Syn) is a critical pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD). Prevention of α-Syn aggregation becomes a key strategy for treating PD. Recent studies suggested that α-Syn undergoes liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) to facilitate nucleation and amyloid formation. Here, we examined the modulation of α-Syn aggregation by myricetin, a polyhydroxyflavonol compound, under the condition of LLPS. Unexpectedly, neither the initial morphology nor the phase-separated fraction of α-Syn was altered by myricetin. However, the dynamics of α-Syn condensates decreased upon myricetin binding. Further studies showed myricetin dose-dependently inhibits the amyloid aggregation in the condensates by delaying the liquid-to-solid phase transition. In addition, myricetin could disassemble the preformed α-Syn amyloid aggregates matured from the condensates. Together, our study discovers myricetin inhibits α-Syn amyloid aggregation in the condensates by retarding the liquid-to-solid phase transition and reveals α-Syn phase transition can be targeted to inhibit amyloid aggregation.
    Keywords:  amyloid; condensate; liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS); myricetin; α-synuclein
  7. Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 Jun 01. pii: gkac455. [Epub ahead of print]
      Transcriptional regulators select their targets from a large pool of similar genomic sites. The binding of the Drosophila dosage compensation complex (DCC) exclusively to the male X chromosome provides insight into binding site selectivity rules. Previous studies showed that the male-specific organizer of the complex, MSL2, and ubiquitous DNA-binding protein CLAMP directly interact and play an important role in the specificity of X chromosome binding. Here, we studied the highly specific interaction between the intrinsically disordered region of MSL2 and the N-terminal zinc-finger C2H2-type (C2H2) domain of CLAMP. We obtained the NMR structure of the CLAMP N-terminal C2H2 zinc finger, which has a classic C2H2 zinc-finger fold with a rather unusual distribution of residues typically used in DNA recognition. Substitutions of residues in this C2H2 domain had the same effect on the viability of males and females, suggesting that it plays a general role in CLAMP activity. The N-terminal C2H2 domain of CLAMP is highly conserved in insects. However, the MSL2 region involved in the interaction is conserved only within the Drosophila genus, suggesting that this interaction emerged during the evolution of a mechanism for the specific recruitment of the DCC on the male X chromosome in Drosophilidae.
  8. Protein Sci. 2022 Jun;31(6): e4353
      AlphaFold2 has revolutionized protein structure prediction by leveraging sequence information to rapidly model protein folds with atomic-level accuracy. Nevertheless, previous work has shown that these predictions tend to be inaccurate for structurally heterogeneous proteins. To systematically assess factors that contribute to this inaccuracy, we tested AlphaFold2's performance on 98-fold-switching proteins, which assume at least two distinct-yet-stable secondary and tertiary structures. Topological similarities were quantified between five predicted and two experimentally determined structures of each fold-switching protein. Overall, 94% of AlphaFold2 predictions captured one experimentally determined conformation but not the other. Despite these biased results, AlphaFold2's estimated confidences were moderate-to-high for 74% of fold-switching residues, a result that contrasts with overall low confidences for intrinsically disordered proteins, which are also structurally heterogeneous. To investigate factors contributing to this disparity, we quantified sequence variation within the multiple sequence alignments used to generate AlphaFold2's predictions of fold-switching and intrinsically disordered proteins. Unlike intrinsically disordered regions, whose sequence alignments show low conservation, fold-switching regions had conservation rates statistically similar to canonical single-fold proteins. Furthermore, intrinsically disordered regions had systematically lower prediction confidences than either fold-switching or single-fold proteins, regardless of sequence conservation. AlphaFold2's high prediction confidences for fold switchers indicate that it uses sophisticated pattern recognition to search for one most probable conformer rather than protein biophysics to model a protein's structural ensemble. Thus, it is not surprising that its predictions often fail for proteins whose properties are not fully apparent from solved protein structures. Our results emphasize the need to look at protein structure as an ensemble and suggest that systematic examination of fold-switching sequences may reveal propensities for multiple stable secondary and tertiary structures.
    Keywords:  AlphaFold2; fold-switching; protein-folding; structural heterogeneity
  9. New Phytol. 2022 Jun 02.
      The steady-state level of histone acetylation is maintained by histone acetyltransferase (HAT) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) complexes. INhibitor of Growth (ING) proteins are key components of the HAT or HDAC complexes but their relationship with other components and roles in phytopathogenic fungi are not well-characterized. Here, the FNG3 ING gene was functionally characterized in the wheat head blight fungus Fusarium graminearum. Deletion of FNG3 results in defects in fungal development and pathogenesis. Unlike other ING proteins that are specifically associated with distinct complexes, Fng3 was associated with both NuA3 HAT and FgRpd3 HDAC complexes to regulate H3 acetylation and H4 deacetylation. Whereas FgNto1 mediates the FgSas3-Fng3 interaction in the NuA3 complex, Fng3 interacted with the C-terminal region of FgRpd3 that is present in Rpd3 orthologs from filamentous fungi but absent in yeast Rpd3. The intrinsically disordered regions in the C-terminal tail of FgRpd3 underwent phase separation, which was important for its interaction with Fng3. Furthermore, the ING domain of Fng3 is responsible for its specificities in protein-protein interactions and functions. Taken together, Fng3 is involved in the dynamic regulation of histone acetylation by interacting with two histone modification complexes, and is important for fungal development and pathogenicity.
    Keywords:  Fusarium graminearum; Histone acetylation; Histone deacetylation; ING protein; Pathogenesis; Phytopathogenic fungus; Wheat head blight
  10. Expert Rev Proteomics. 2022 Jun 02.
      INTRODUCTION: : The life cycle of a virus involves interacting with the host cell, entry, hijacking host machinery for viral replication, evading the host's immune system, and releasing mature virions. However, viruses, being small in size, can only harbor a genome large enough to code for the minimal number of proteins required for the replication and maturation of the virions. As a result, many viral proteins are multifunctional machines that do not directly obey the classic structure-function paradigm. Often, such multifunctionality is rooted in intrinsic disorder that allows viral proteins to interact with various cellular factors and remain functional in the hostile environment of different cellular compartments.AREAS COVERED: : This report covers the classification of flaviviruses, their proteome organization, and the prevalence of intrinsic disorder in the proteomes of different flaviviruses. Further, we have summarized the speculations made about the apparent roles of intrinsic disorder in the observed multifunctionality of flaviviral proteins.
    EXPERT OPINION: : Small sizes of viral genomes impose multifunctionality on their proteins, which is dependent on the excessive usage of intrinsic disorder. In fact, intrinsic disorder serves as a universal functional tool, weapon, and armor of viruses and clearly plays an important role in their functionality and evolution.
    Keywords:  Intrinsically disordered proteins; flaviviruses; protein function; protein multifunctionality; viral protein
  11. Cell Rep. 2022 May 31. pii: S2211-1247(22)00670-2. [Epub ahead of print]39(9): 110895
      The ATP-dependent nucleosome remodeler Mi-2/CHD4 broadly modulates chromatin landscapes to repress transcription and to maintain genome integrity. Here we use individual nucleotide resolution crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (iCLIP) to show that Drosophila Mi-2 associates with thousands of mRNA molecules in vivo. Biochemical data reveal that recombinant dMi-2 preferentially binds to G-rich RNA molecules using two intrinsically disordered regions of unclear function. Pharmacological inhibition of transcription and RNase digestion approaches establish that RNA inhibits the association of dMi-2 with chromatin. We also show that RNA inhibits dMi-2-mediated nucleosome mobilization by competing with the nucleosome substrate. Importantly, this activity is shared by CHD4, the human homolog of dMi-2, strongly suggesting that RNA-mediated regulation of remodeler activity is an evolutionary conserved mechanism. Our data support a model in which RNA serves to protect actively transcribed regions of the genome from dMi-2/CHD4-mediated establishment of repressive chromatin structures.
    Keywords:  ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling; CP: Molecular biology; NuRD; RNA; chromatin; gene regulation; iCLIP
  12. Protein Sci. 2022 Jun;31(6): e4334
      Human androgen receptor contains a large N-terminal domain (AR-NTD) that is highly dynamic and this poses a major challenge for experimental and computational analysis to decipher its conformation. Misfolding of the AR-NTD is implicated in prostate cancer and Kennedy's disease, yet our knowledge of its structure is limited to primary sequence information of the chain and a few functionally important secondary structure motifs. Here, we employed an innovative combination of molecular dynamics simulations and circuit topology (CT) analysis to identify the tertiary structure of AR-NTD. We found that the AR-NTD adopts highly dynamic loopy conformations with two identifiable regions with distinct topological make-up and dynamics. This consists of a N-terminal region (NR, residues 1-224) and a C-terminal region (CR, residues 225-538), which carries a dense core. Topological mapping of the dynamics reveals a traceable time-scale dependent topological evolution. NR adopts different positioning with respect to the CR and forms a cleft that can partly enclose the hormone-bound ligand-binding domain (LBD) of the androgen receptor. Furthermore, our data suggest a model in which dynamic NR and CR compete for binding to the DNA-binding domain of the receptor, thereby regulating the accessibility of its DNA-binding site. Our approach allowed for the identification of a previously unknown regulatory binding site within the CR core, revealing the structural mechanisms of action of AR inhibitor EPI-001, and paving the way for other drug discovery applications.
    Keywords:  androgen receptor; circuit topology; conformational dynamics; intrachain contacts; nuclear hormone receptors
  13. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 ;10 876893
      Mutations in TDP-43, a RNA-binding protein with multiple functions in RNA metabolism, cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but it is uncertain how defects in RNA biology trigger motor neuron degeneration. TDP-43 is a major constituent of ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granules, phase separated biomolecular condensates that regulate RNA splicing, mRNA transport, and translation. ALS-associated TDP-43 mutations, most of which are found in the low complexity domain, promote aberrant liquid to solid phase transitions and impair the dynamic liquid-like properties and motility of RNP transport granules in neurons. Here, we perform a comparative analysis of ALS-linked mutations and TDP-43 variants in order to identify critical structural elements, aromatic and charged residues that are key determinants of TDP-43 RNP transport and condensate formation in neurons. We find that A315T and Q343R disease-linked mutations and substitutions of aromatic residues within the α-helical domain and LARKS, show the most severe defects in TDP-43 RNP granule transport and impair both anterograde and retrograde motility. F313L and F313-6L/Y substitutions of one or both phenylalanine residues in LARKS suggest the aromatic rings are important for TDP-43 RNP transport. Similarly, W334F/L substitutions of the tryptophan residue in the α-helical domain, impair TDP-43 RNP motility (W334L) or anterograde transport (W334F). We also show that R293A and R293K mutations, which disrupt the only RGG in the LCD, profoundly reduce long-range, directed transport and net velocity of TDP-43 RNP granules. In the disordered regions flanking the α-helical domain, we find that F283Y, F397Y or Y374F substitutions of conserved GF/G and SYS motifs, also impair anterograde and/or retrograde motility, possibly by altering hydrophobicity. Similarly, ALS-linked mutations in disordered regions distant from the α-helical domain also show anterograde transport deficits, consistent with previous findings, but these mutations are less severe than A315T and Q343R. Overall our findings demonstrate that the conserved α-helical domain, phenylalanine residues within LARKS and RGG motif are key determinants of TDP-43 RNP transport, suggesting they may mediate efficient recruitment of motors and adaptor proteins. These results offer a possible mechanism underlying ALS-linked TDP-43 defects in axonal transport and homeostasis.
    Keywords:  TDP-43; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; axonal transport; biomolecular condensates; neuron; ribonucleoprotein granules
  14. Biophys J. 2022 May 28. pii: S0006-3495(22)00435-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is an RNA-regulating protein that carries out many cellular functions through liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS). The LLPS of TDP-43 is mediated by its C-terminal low-complexity domain (TDP43-LCD) corresponding to the region 267-414. In neurodegenerative disorders amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia, pathological inclusions of the TDP-43 are found that are rich in the C-terminal fragments of ∼25 and ∼35 kDa, of which TDP43-LCD is a part. Thus, understanding the assembly process of TDP43-LCD is essential, given its involvement in the formation of both functional liquid-like assemblies and solid- or gel-like pathological aggregates. Here, we show that the solution pH and salt modulate TDP43-LCD LLPS. A gradual reduction in the pH below its isoelectric point of 9.8 results in a monotonic decrease of TDP43-LCD LLPS due to charge-charge repulsion between monomers, while at pH 6 and below no LLPS was observed. The addition of heparin to TDP43-LCD solution at pH 6, at a 1:2 heparin-to-TDP43-LCD molar ratio, promotes TDP43-LCD LLPS, while at higher concentration, it disrupts LLPS through a reentrant phase transition. Upon incubation at pH 6, TDP43-LCD undergoes gelation without phase separation. However, in the reentrant regime in the presence of a high heparin concentration, it forms thick amyloid aggregates that are significantly more SDS resistant than the gel. The results indicate that the material nature of the TDP43-LCD assembly products can be modulated by heparin which is significant in the context of liquid to solid phase transition observed in TDP-43 proteinopathies. Our findings are also crucial in relation to similar transitions that could occur due to alteration in the molecular level interactions among various multivalent biomolecules involving other LCDs and RNAs.
    Keywords:  gelation without phase separation; liquid-liquid phase separation; low-complexity domains; multivalent biomolecules; reentrant transition
  15. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2022 May 30.
      Proteins including FUS, hnRNPA2, and TDP-43 reversibly aggregate into amyloid-like fibrils through interactions of their low-complexity domains (LCDs). Mutations in LCDs can promote irreversible amyloid aggregation and disease. We introduce a computational approach to identify mutations in LCDs of disease-associated proteins predicted to increase propensity for amyloid aggregation. We identify several disease-related mutations in the intermediate filament protein keratin-8 (KRT8). Atomic structures of wild-type and mutant KRT8 segments confirm the transition to a pleated strand capable of amyloid formation. Biochemical analysis reveals KRT8 forms amyloid aggregates, and the identified mutations promote aggregation. Aggregated KRT8 is found in Mallory-Denk bodies, observed in hepatocytes of livers with alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH). We demonstrate that ethanol promotes KRT8 aggregation, and KRT8 amyloids co-crystallize with alcohol. Lastly, KRT8 aggregation can be seeded by liver extract from people with ASH, consistent with the amyloid nature of KRT8 aggregates and the classification of ASH as an amyloid-related condition.