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The regulatory subunit of human DNA primase has a C-terminal domain (p58C) that contains a [4Fe4S] cluster and binds DNA. Previous electrochemical analysis of a p58C construct revealed that its affinity for DNA is sensitive to the redox state of the [4Fe4S] cluster. Concerns about the validity of this conclusion have been raised, based in part on differences in X-ray crystal structures of the p58C272-464 construct used for that study and that of a N-terminally shifted p58C266-456 construct and consequently, an assumption that p58C272-464 has abnormal physical and functional properties. To address this controversy, a new p58C266-464 construct containing all residues was crystallized under the conditions previously used for crystallizing p58C272-464, and the solution structures of both constructs were assessed using circular dichroism and NMR spectroscopy. In the new crystal structure, p58C266-464 exhibits the same elements of secondary structure near the DNA binding site as observed in the crystal structure of p58C272-464. Moreover, in solution, circular dichroism and 15N,1H-heteronuclear single quantum coherence (HSQC) NMR spectra show there are no significant differences in the distribution of secondary structures or in the tertiary structure or the two constructs. To validate that the two constructs have the same functional properties, binding of a primed DNA template was measured using a fluorescence-based DNA binding assay, and the affinities for this substrate were the same (3.4 ± 0.5 μM and 2.7 ± 0.3 μM, respectively). The electrochemical properties of p58C266-464 were also measured and this p58C construct was able to engage in redox switching on DNA with the same efficiency as p58C272-464. Together, these results show that although p58C can be stabilized in different conformations in the crystalline state, in solution there is effectively no difference in the structure and functional properties of p58C constructs of different lengths.
Eukaryotic DNA primases contain a [4Fe4S] cluster in the C-terminal domain of the p58 subunit (p58C) that affects substrate affinity but is not required for catalysis. We show that, in yeast primase, the cluster serves as a DNA-mediated redox switch governing DNA binding, just as in human primase. Despite a different structural arrangement of tyrosines to facilitate electron transfer between the DNA substrate and [4Fe4S] cluster, in yeast, mutation of tyrosines Y395 and Y397 alters the same electron transfer chemistry and redox switch. Mutation of conserved tyrosine 395 diminishes the extent of p58C participation in normal redox-switching reactions, whereas mutation of conserved tyrosine 397 causes oxidative cluster degradation to the [3Fe4S] species during p58C redox signaling. Switching between oxidized and reduced states in the presence of the Y397 mutations thus puts primase [4Fe4S] cluster integrity and function at risk. Consistent with these observations, we find that yeast tolerate mutations to Y395 in p58C, but the single-residue mutation Y397L in p58C is lethal. Our data thus show that a constellation of tyrosines for protein-DNA electron transfer mediates the redox switch in eukaryotic primases and is required for primase function in vivo.
Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.
Generation of daughter strands during DNA replication requires the action of DNA primase to synthesize an initial short RNA primer on the single-stranded DNA template. Primase is a heterodimeric enzyme containing two domains whose activity must be coordinated during primer synthesis: an RNA polymerase domain in the small subunit (p48) and a [4Fe4S] cluster-containing C-terminal domain of the large subunit (p58C). Here we examine the redox switching properties of the [4Fe4S] cluster in the full p48/p58 heterodimer using DNA electrochemistry. Unlike with isolated p58C, robust redox signaling in the primase heterodimer requires binding of both DNA and NTPs; NTP binding shifts the p48/p58 cluster redox potential into the physiological range, generating a signal near 160 mV vs NHE. Preloading of primase with NTPs enhances catalytic activity on primed DNA, suggesting that primase configurations promoting activity are more highly populated in the NTP-bound protein. We propose that p48/p58 binding of anionic DNA and NTPs affects the redox properties of the [4Fe4S] cluster; this electrostatic change is likely influenced by the alignment of primase subunits during activity because the configuration affects the [4Fe4S] cluster environment and coupling to DNA bases for redox signaling. Thus, both binding of polyanionic substrates and configurational dynamics appear to influence [4Fe4S] redox signaling properties. These results suggest that these factors should be considered generally in characterizing signaling networks of large, multisubunit DNA-processing [4Fe4S] enzymes.
Replication of DNA in eukaryotes is primarily executed by the combined action of processive DNA polymerases δ and ɛ. These enzymes cannot initiate synthesis of new DNA without the presence of a primer on the template ssDNA. The primers on both the leading and lagging strands are generated by DNA polymerase α-primase (pol-prim). DNA primase is a DNA-dependent RNA polymerase that synthesizes the first ~10 nucleotides and then transfers the substrate to polymerase α to complete primer synthesis. The mechanisms governing the coordination and handoff between primase and polymerase α are largely unknown. Isolated DNA primase contains a [4Fe-4S] cluster that has been shown to serve as a redox switch modulating DNA binding affinity. This discovery suggests a mechanism for modulating the priming activity of primase and handoff to polymerase α. In this chapter, we briefly discuss the current state of knowledge of primase structure and function, including the role of its iron-sulfur cluster. This is followed by providing the methods for expressing, purifying, and biophysically/structurally characterizing primase and its iron-sulfur cluster-containing domain, p58C.
© 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Baranovskiy and Pellegrini argue that, based on structural data, the path for charge transfer through the [4Fe4S] domain of primase is not feasible. Our manuscript presents electrochemical data directly showing charge transport through DNA to the [4Fe4S] cluster of a primase p58C construct and a reversible switch in the DNA-bound signal with oxidation/reduction, which is inhibited by mutation of three tyrosine residues. Although the dispositions of tyrosines differ in different constructs, all are within range for microsecond electron transfer.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
Multiprotein machines drive virtually all primary cellular processes. Modular multidomain proteins are widely distributed within these dynamic complexes because they provide the flexibility needed to remodel structure as well as rapidly assemble and disassemble components of the machinery. Understanding the functional dynamics of modular multidomain proteins is a major challenge confronting structural biology today because their structure is not fixed in time. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy have proven particularly useful for the analysis of the structural dynamics of modular multidomain proteins because they provide highly complementary information for characterizing the architectural landscape accessible to these proteins. SAXS provides a global snapshot of all architectural space sampled by a molecule in solution. Furthermore, SAXS is sensitive to conformational changes, organization and oligomeric states of protein assemblies, and the existence of flexibility between globular domains in multiprotein complexes. The power of NMR to characterize dynamics provides uniquely complementary information to the global snapshot of the architectural ensemble provided by SAXS because it can directly measure domain motion. In particular, NMR parameters can be used to define the diffusion of domains within modular multidomain proteins, connecting the amplitude of interdomain motion to the architectural ensemble derived from SAXS. Our laboratory has been studying the roles of modular multidomain proteins involved in human DNA replication using SAXS and NMR. Here, we present the procedure for acquiring and analyzing SAXS and NMR data, using DNA primase and replication protein A as examples.
© 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
DNA damage and secondary structures can stall the replication machinery. Cells possess numerous tolerance mechanisms to complete genome duplication in the presence of such impediments. In addition to translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases, most eukaryotic cells contain a multifunctional replicative enzyme called primase-polymerase (PrimPol) that is capable of directly bypassing DNA damage by TLS, as well as repriming replication downstream of impediments. Here, we report that PrimPol is recruited to reprime through its interaction with RPA. Using biophysical and crystallographic approaches, we identify that PrimPol possesses two RPA-binding motifs and ascertained the key residues required for these interactions. We demonstrate that one of these motifs is critical for PrimPol's recruitment to stalled replication forks in vivo. In addition, biochemical analysis reveals that RPA serves to stimulate the primase activity of PrimPol. Together, these findings provide significant molecular insights into PrimPol's mode of recruitment to stalled forks to facilitate repriming and restart.
DNA charge transport chemistry offers a means of long-range, rapid redox signaling. We demonstrate that the [4Fe4S] cluster in human DNA primase can make use of this chemistry to coordinate the first steps of DNA synthesis. Using DNA electrochemistry, we found that a change in oxidation state of the [4Fe4S] cluster acts as a switch for DNA binding. Single-atom mutations that inhibit this charge transfer hinder primase initiation without affecting primase structure or polymerization. Generating a single base mismatch in the growing primer duplex, which attenuates DNA charge transport, inhibits primer truncation. Thus, redox signaling by [4Fe4S] clusters using DNA charge transport regulates primase binding to DNA and illustrates chemistry that may efficiently drive substrate handoff between polymerases during DNA replication.
Copyright © 2017, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
PrimPol is a recently identified polymerase involved in eukaryotic DNA damage tolerance, employed in both re-priming and translesion synthesis mechanisms to bypass nuclear and mitochondrial DNA lesions. In this report, we investigate how the enzymatic activities of human PrimPol are regulated. We show that, unlike other TLS polymerases, PrimPol is not stimulated by PCNA and does not interact with it in vivo. We identify that PrimPol interacts with both of the major single-strand binding proteins, RPA and mtSSB in vivo. Using NMR spectroscopy, we characterize the domains responsible for the PrimPol-RPA interaction, revealing that PrimPol binds directly to the N-terminal domain of RPA70. In contrast to the established role of SSBs in stimulating replicative polymerases, we find that SSBs significantly limit the primase and polymerase activities of PrimPol. To identify the requirement for this regulation, we employed two forward mutation assays to characterize PrimPol's replication fidelity. We find that PrimPol is a mutagenic polymerase, with a unique error specificity that is highly biased towards insertion-deletion errors. Given the error-prone disposition of PrimPol, we propose a mechanism whereby SSBs greatly restrict the contribution of this enzyme to DNA replication at stalled forks, thus reducing the mutagenic potential of PrimPol during genome replication.
© The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.
DNA replication in all organisms requires polymerases to synthesize copies of the genome. DNA polymerases are unable to function on a bare template and require a primer. Primases are crucial RNA polymerases that perform the initial de novo synthesis, generating the first 8-10 nucleotides of the primer. Although structures of archaeal and bacterial primases have provided insights into general priming mechanisms, these proteins are not well conserved with heterodimeric (p48/p58) primases in eukaryotes. Here, we present X-ray crystal structures of the catalytic engine of a eukaryotic primase, which is contained in the p48 subunit. The structures of p48 reveal that eukaryotic primases maintain the conserved catalytic prim fold domain, but with a unique subdomain not found in the archaeal and bacterial primases. Calorimetry experiments reveal that Mn(2+) but not Mg(2+) significantly enhances the binding of nucleotide to primase, which correlates with higher catalytic efficiency in vitro. The structure of p48 with bound UTP and Mn(2+) provides insights into the mechanism of nucleotide synthesis by primase. Substitution of conserved residues involved in either metal or nucleotide binding alter nucleotide binding affinities, and yeast strains containing the corresponding Pri1p substitutions are not viable. Our results reveal that two residues (S160 and H166) in direct contact with the nucleotide were previously unrecognized as critical to the human primase active site. Comparing p48 structures to those of similar polymerases in different states of action suggests changes that would be required to attain a catalytically competent conformation capable of initiating dinucleotide synthesis.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.