Conformations of p53 response elements in solution deduced using site-directed spin labeling and Monte Carlo sampling.

Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.
Nucleic Acids Research (Impact Factor: 8.81). 11/2013; DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkt1219
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The tumor suppressor protein p53 regulates numerous signaling pathways by specifically recognizing diverse p53 response elements (REs). Understanding the mechanisms of p53-DNA interaction requires structural information on p53 REs. However, such information is limited as a 3D structure of any RE in the unbound form is not available yet. Here, site-directed spin labeling was used to probe the solution structures of REs involved in p53 regulation of the p21 and Bax genes. Multiple nanometer distances in the p21-RE and BAX-RE, measured using a nucleotide-independent nitroxide probe and double-electron-electron-resonance spectroscopy, were used to derive molecular models of unbound REs from pools of all-atom structures generated by Monte-Carlo simulations, thus enabling analyses to reveal sequence-dependent DNA shape features of unbound REs in solution. The data revealed distinct RE conformational changes on binding to the p53 core domain, and support the hypothesis that sequence-dependent properties encoded in REs are exploited by p53 to achieve the energetically most favorable mode of deformation, consequently enhancing binding specificity. This work reveals mechanisms of p53-DNA recognition, and establishes a new experimental/computational approach for studying DNA shape in solution that has far-reaching implications for studying protein-DNA interactions.

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