[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ubiquitous and abundant cytoplasmic poly(A) binding protein (PABP) is a highly conserved multifunctional protein, many copies of which bind to the poly(A) tail of eukaryotic mRNAs to promote translation initiation. The N-terminus of PABP is responsible for the high binding specificity and affinity to poly(A), whereas the C-terminus is known to stimulate PABP multimerization on poly(A). Here, we use single-molecule nanopore force spectroscopy to directly measure interactions between poly(A) and PABPs. Both electrical and biochemical results show that the C-C domain interaction between two consecutive PABPs promotes cooperative binding. Up to now, investigators have not been able to probe the detailed polarity configuration (i.e., the internal arrangement of two PABPs on a poly(A) streak in which the C-termini face toward or away from each other). Our nanopore force spectroscopy system is able to distinguish the cooperative binding conformation from the noncooperative one. The ∼50% cooperative binding conformation of wild-type PABPs indicates that the C-C domain interaction doubles the cooperative binding probability. Moreover, the longer dissociation time of a cooperatively bound poly(A)/PABP complex as compared with a noncooperatively bound one indicates that the cooperative mode is the most stable conformation for PABPs binding onto the poly(A). However, ∼50% of the poly(A)/PABP complexes exhibit a noncooperative binding conformation, which is in line with previous studies showing that the PABP C-terminal domain also interacts with additional protein cofactors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Helix-coil transition kinetics of polyadenylic acid [poly(A)] inside a small protein channel is investigated for the first time, at the single molecule level. The confinement of a RNA molecule inside the channel slows its kinetics by nearly 3 orders of magnitude as compared to bulk measurements of free poly(A). These findings are related to the interaction energy of the RNA structure with the interior of the pore, explained by a simple two-state model. These results shed light on the way intermolecular interactions alter nucleic acid kinetics.