[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The breast cancer suppressor BRCA2 controls the recombinase RAD51 in the reactions that mediate homologous DNA recombination, an essential cellular process required for the error-free repair of DNA double-stranded breaks. The primary mode of interaction between BRCA2 and RAD51 is through the BRC repeats, which are ∼35 residue peptide motifs that interact directly with RAD51 in vitro. Human BRCA2, like its mammalian orthologues, contains 8 BRC repeats whose sequence and spacing are evolutionarily conserved. Despite their sequence conservation, there is evidence that the different human BRC repeats have distinct capacities to bind RAD51. A previously published crystal structure reports the structural basis of the interaction between human BRC4 and the catalytic core domain of RAD51. However, no structural information is available regarding the binding of the remaining seven BRC repeats to RAD51, nor is it known why the BRC repeats show marked variation in binding affinity to RAD51 despite only subtle sequence variation. To address these issues, we have performed fluorescence polarisation assays to indirectly measure relative binding affinity, and applied computational simulations to interrogate the behaviour of the eight human BRC-RAD51 complexes, as well as a suite of BRC cancer-associated mutations. Our computational approaches encompass a range of techniques designed to link sequence variation with binding free energy. They include MM-PBSA and thermodynamic integration, which are based on classical force fields, and a recently developed approach to computing binding free energies from large-scale quantum mechanical first principles calculations with the linear-scaling density functional code onetep. Our findings not only reveal how sequence variation in the BRC repeats directly affects affinity with RAD51 and provide significant new insights into the control of RAD51 by human BRCA2, but also exemplify a palette of computational and experimental tools for the analysis of protein-protein interactions for chemical biology and molecular therapeutics.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is considerable interest in the structure and function of G-quadruplex nucleic acid secondary structures, their cellular functions, and their potential as therapeutic targets. G-Quadruplex sequence motifs are prevalent in gene promoter regions and it has been hypothesized that G-quadruplex structure formation is associated with the transcriptional status of the downstream gene. Using a functional cell-based assay, we have identified two novel G-quadruplex ligands that reduce the transcription of a luciferase reporter driven from the G-quadruplex-containing c-KIT promoter. We have further shown that endogenous c-KIT expression in a human gastric carcinoma cell line is also reduced on treatment with these molecules. Biophysical analysis using surface plasmon resonance has shown that these molecules preferentially bind with high affinity to one of the two G-quadruplex sequences in the c-KIT promoter over double-stranded DNA. This work highlights the utility of cell-based reporter assays to identify new G-quadruplex binding molecules that modulate transcription and identifies benzo[a]phenoxazine derivatives as potential antitumor agents.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 02/2011; 133(8):2658-63. · 10.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Polo-Like Kinase 1 (PLK1) acts as a central regulator of mitosis and is over-expressed in a wide range of human tumours where high levels of expression correlate with a poor prognosis. PLK1 comprises two structural elements, a kinase domain and a polo-box domain (PBD). The PBD binds phosphorylated substrates to control substrate phosphorylation by the kinase domain. Although the PBD preferentially binds to phosphopeptides, it has a relatively broad sequence specificity in comparison with other phosphopeptide binding domains. We analysed the molecular determinants of recognition by performing molecular dynamics simulations of the PBD with one of its natural substrates, CDC25c. Predicted binding free energies were calculated using a molecular mechanics, Poisson-Boltzmann surface area approach. We calculated the per-residue contributions to the binding free energy change, showing that the phosphothreonine residue and the mainchain account for the vast majority of the interaction energy. This explains the very broad sequence specificity with respect to other sidechain residues. Finally, we considered the key role of bridging water molecules at the binding interface. We employed inhomogeneous fluid solvation theory to consider the free energy of water molecules on the protein surface with respect to bulk water molecules. Such an analysis highlights binding hotspots created by elimination of water molecules from hydrophobic surfaces. It also predicts that a number of water molecules are stabilized by the presence of the charged phosphate group, and that this will have a significant effect on the binding affinity. Our findings suggest a molecular rationale for the promiscuous binding of the PBD and highlight a role for bridging water molecules at the interface. We expect that this method of analysis will be very useful for probing other protein surfaces to identify binding hotspots for natural binding partners and small molecule inhibitors.