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Electrostatic and Hydrophobic Interactions Mediate Single-Stranded DNA Recognition and Acta2 Repression by Purine-Rich Element-Binding Protein B

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journal contribution
posted on 11.04.2016 by Amy E. Rumora, Lauren A. Ferris, Tamar R. Wheeler, Robert J. Kelm
Myofibroblast differentiation is characterized by an increased level of expression of cytoskeletal smooth muscle α-actin. In human and murine fibroblasts, the gene encoding smooth muscle α-actin (Acta2) is tightly regulated by a network of transcription factors that either activate or repress the 5′ promoter–enhancer in response to environmental cues signaling tissue repair and remodeling. Purine-rich element-binding protein B (Purβ) suppresses the expression of Acta2 by cooperatively interacting with the sense strand of a 5′ polypurine sequence containing an inverted MCAT cis element required for gene activation. In this study, we evaluated the chemical basis of nucleoprotein complex formation between the Purβ repressor and the purine-rich strand of the MCAT element in the mouse Acta2 promoter. Quantitative single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding assays conducted in the presence of increasing concentrations of monovalent salt or anionic detergent suggested that the assembly of a high-affinity nucleoprotein complex is driven by a combination of electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions. Consistent with the results of pH titration analysis, site-directed mutagenesis revealed several basic amino acid residues in the intermolecular (R267) and intramolecular (K82 and R159) subdomains that are essential for Purβ transcriptional repressor function in Acta2 promoter–reporter assays. In keeping with their diminished Acta2 repressor activity in fibroblasts, purified Purβ variants containing an R267A mutation exhibited reduced binding affinity for purine-rich ssDNA. Moreover, certain double and triple-point mutants were also defective in binding to the Acta2 corepressor protein, Y-box-binding protein 1. Collectively, these findings establish the repertoire of noncovalent interactions that account for the unique structural and functional properties of Purβ.