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Folding Simulations of a Nuclear Receptor Box-Containing Peptide Demonstrate the Structural Persistence of the LxxLL Motif Even in the Absence of Its Cognate Receptor

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journal contribution
posted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Triantafyllia Adamidou, Konstantina-Olympia Arvaniti, Nicholas M. Glykos
Regulation of nuclear receptors by their coactivators involves the recognition and binding of a specific sequence motif contained in the coactivator sequence. This motif is known as the nuclear receptor (NR) box and contains a conserved LxxLL subsequence, where L is leucine and x is any amino acid residue. Crystallographic studies have shown that the LxxLL motifs adopt an α-helical conformation when bound to their cognate nuclear receptors. Here we use an extensive set of folding molecular dynamics simulations to examine whether the α-helical conformation demonstrated by the LxxLL motifs in the bound state may represent a persistent structural preference of these peptides even in the absence of their cognate receptors. To this end, we have performed a grand total of 35 μs of adaptive tempering folding simulations of an NR-box-containing peptide derived from Drosophila’s fushi tarazu segmentation gene product. Our simulationsperformed using full electrostatics and an explicit representation of two different solvents (water and a TFE/water mixture)clearly indicate the presence of a persistent helical preference of the LxxLL motif with a concomitant native-like structure and contacts between the motif’s leucine residues. To lend further support to our findings, we compare the simulation-derived peptide dynamics with experimental NMR-derived nuclear Overhauser effect (NOE) measurements that had been previously obtained for the same peptide in the same two solvents. The comparison demonstrates a quantitative agreement between simulation and experiment with average upper bound NOE violations of less than 0.084 Å, thus independently validating our main conclusion concerning the intrinsic preference of NR-box motifs to form helical structures even in the absence of their cognate receptors.