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Conformational Dynamics and the Binding of Specific and Nonspecific DNA by the Autoinhibited Transcription Factor Ets‑1

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journal contribution
posted on 30.06.2016, 00:00 by Geneviève Desjardins, Mark Okon, Barbara J. Graves, Lawrence P. McIntosh
The affinity of the Ets-1 transcription factor for DNA is autoinhibited by an intrinsically disordered serine-rich region (SRR) and a helical inhibitory module (IM) appended to its winged helix–turn–helix ETS domain. Using NMR spectroscopy, we investigated how Ets-1 recognizes specific versus nonspecific DNA, with a focus on the roles of protein dynamics and autoinhibition in these processes. Upon binding either DNA, the two marginally stable N-terminal helices of the IM predominantly unfold, but still sample partially ordered conformations. Also, on the basis of amide chemical shift perturbation mapping, Ets-1 associates with both specific and nonspecific DNA through the same canonical ETS domain interface. These interactions are structurally independent of the SRR, and thus autoinhibition does not impart DNA-binding specificity. However, relative to the pronounced NMR spectroscopic changes in Ets-1 resulting from specific DNA binding, the spectra of the nonspecific DNA complexes showed conformational exchange broadening and lacked several diagnostic amide and indole signals attributable to hydrogen bonding interactions seen in reported X-ray crystallographic structures of this transcription factor with its cognate DNA sequences. Such differences are highlighted by the chemical shift and relaxation properties of several interfacial lysine and arginine side chains. Collectively, these data support a general model in which Ets-1 interacts with nonspecific DNA via dynamic electrostatic interactions, whereas hydrogen bonding drives the formation of well-ordered complexes with specific DNA.

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