The Argonaute-binding platform of NRPE1 evolves through modulation of intrinsically disordered repeats.
ABSTRACT: Argonaute (Ago) proteins are important effectors in RNA silencing pathways, but they must interact with other machinery to trigger silencing. Ago hooks have emerged as a conserved motif responsible for interaction with Ago proteins, but little is known about the sequence surrounding Ago hooks that must restrict or enable interaction with specific Argonautes. Here we investigated the evolutionary dynamics of an Ago-binding platform in NRPE1, the largest subunit of RNA polymerase V. We compared NRPE1 sequences from > 50 species, including dense sampling of two plant lineages. This study demonstrates that the Ago-binding platform of NRPE1 retains Ago hooks, intrinsic disorder, and repetitive character while being highly labile at the sequence level. We reveal that loss of sequence conservation is the result of relaxed selection and frequent expansions and contractions of tandem repeat arrays. These factors allow a complete restructuring of the Ago-binding platform over 50-60 million yr. This evolutionary pattern is also detected in a second Ago-binding platform, suggesting it is a general mechanism. The presence of labile repeat arrays in all analyzed NRPE1 Ago-binding platforms indicates that selection maintains repetitive character, potentially to retain the ability to rapidly restructure the Ago-binding platform.
Project description:Domains in Arabidopsis proteins NRPE1 and SPT5-like, composed almost exclusively of repeated motifs in which only WG or GW sequences and an overall amino-acid preference are conserved, have been experimentally shown to bind multiple molecules of Argonaute (AGO) protein(s). Domain swapping between the WG/GW domains of NRPE1 and the human protein GW182 showed a conserved function. As classical sequence alignment methods are poorly-adapted to detect such weakly-conserved motifs, we have developed a tool to carry out a systematic analysis to identify genes potentially encoding AGO-binding GW/WG proteins. Here, we describe exhaustive analysis of the Arabidopsis genome for all regions potentially encoding proteins bearing WG/GW motifs and consider the possible role of some of them in AGO-dependent mechanisms. We identified 20 different candidate WG/GW genes, encoding proteins in which the predicted domains range from 92aa to 654aa. These mostly correspond to a limited number of families: RNA-binding proteins, transcription factors, glycine-rich proteins, translation initiation factors and known silencing-associated proteins such as SDE3. Recent studies have argued that the interaction between WG/GW-rich domains and AGO proteins is evolutionarily conserved. Here, we demonstrate by an in silico domain-swapping simulation between plant and mammalian WG/GW proteins that the biased amino-acid composition of the AGO-binding sites is conserved.
Project description:We are just beginning to unravel the myriad of interactions in which non-coding RNAs participate. The intricate RNA interactome is the foundation of many biological processes, including bacterial virulence and human disease, and represents unexploited resources for the development of potential therapeutic interventions. However, identifying specific associations of a given RNA from the multitude of possible binding partners within the cell requires robust high-throughput systems for their rapid screening. Here, we present the first demonstration of functional-RNA arrays as a novel platform technology designed for the study of such interactions using immobilized, active RNAs. We have generated high-density RNA arrays by an innovative method involving surface-capture of in vitro transcribed RNAs. This approach has significant advantages over existing technologies, particularly in its versatility in regards to binding partner character. Indeed, proof-of-principle application of RNA arrays to both RNA-small molecule and RNA-RNA pairings is demonstrated, highlighting their potential as a platform technology for mapping RNA-based networks and for pharmaceutical screening. Furthermore, the simplicity of the method supports greater user-accessibility over currently available technologies. We anticipate that functional-RNA arrays will find broad utility in the expanding field of RNA characterization.
Project description:Alpha-satellite DNA (AS) is part of centromeric DNA and could be relevant for centromeric chromatin structure: its repetitive character may generate a specifically ordered nucleosomal arrangement and thereby facilitate kinetochore protein binding and chromatin condensation. Although nucleosomal positioning on some satellite sequences had been shown, including AS from African green monkey (AGM), the sequence-dependent nucleosomal organisation of repetitive AS of this species has so far not been analysed. We therefore studied the positioning of reconstituted nucleosomes on AGM AS tandemly repeated DNA. Enzymatic analysis of nucleosome arrays formed on an AS heptamer as well as the localisation of mononucleosomes on an AS dimer by atomic force microscopy (AFM) showed one major positioning frame, in agreement with earlier results. The occupancy of this site was in the range of 45-50%, in quite good agreement with published in vivo observations. AFM measurements of internucleosomal distances formed on the heptamer indicated that the nucleosomal arrangement is governed by sequence-specific DNA-histone interactions yielding defined internucleosomal distances, which, nevertheless, are not compatible with a uniform phasing of the nucleosomes with the AGM AS repeats.
Project description:DNA methylation is antagonistically controlled by DNA methyltransferases and DNA demethylases. The level of DNA methylation controls plant gene expression on a global level. We have examined impacts of global changes in DNA methylation on the Arabidopsis immune system. A range of hypo-methylated mutants displayed enhanced resistance to the biotrophic pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa), whereas two hyper-methylated mutants were more susceptible to this pathogen. Subsequent characterization of the hypo-methylated nrpe1 mutant, which is impaired in RNA-directed DNA methylation, and the hyper-methylated ros1 mutant, which is affected in DNA demethylation, revealed that their opposite resistance phenotypes are associated with changes in cell wall defence and salicylic acid (SA)-dependent gene expression. Against infection by the necrotrophic pathogen Plectosphaerella cucumerina, nrpe1 showed enhanced susceptibility, which was associated with repressed sensitivity of jasmonic acid (JA)-inducible gene expression. Conversely, ros1 displayed enhanced resistance to necrotrophic pathogens, which was not associated with increased responsiveness of JA-inducible gene expression. Although nrpe1 and ros1 were unaffected in systemic acquired resistance to Hpa, they failed to develop transgenerational acquired resistance against this pathogen. Global transcriptome analysis of nrpe1 and ros1 at multiple time-points after Hpa infection revealed that 49% of the pathogenesis-related transcriptome is influenced by NRPE1- and ROS1-controlled DNA methylation. Of the 166 defence-related genes displaying augmented induction in nrpe1 and repressed induction in ros1, only 25 genes were associated with a nearby transposable element and NRPE1- and/or ROS1-controlled DNA methylation. Accordingly, we propose that the majority of NRPE1- and ROS1-dependent defence genes are regulated in trans by DNA methylation.
Project description:Macromolecular binding is a complex process that involves sensing and approaching the binding partner, adopting the proper orientation, and performing the physical binding. We computationally investigated the role of E-hooks, which are intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) at the C-terminus of tubulin, on dynein microtubule binding domain (MTBD) binding to the microtubule as a function of the distance between the MTBD and its binding site on the microtubule. Our results demonstrated that the contacts between E-hooks and the MTBD are dynamical; multiple negatively charted patches of amino acids on the E-hooks grab and release the same positively charged patches on the MTBD as it approaches the microtubule. Even when the distance between the MTBD and the microtubule was greater than the E-hook length, the E-hooks sensed and guided MTBD via long-range electrostatic interactions in our simulations. Moreover, we found that E-hooks exerted electrostatic forces on the MTBD that were distance dependent; the force pulls the MTBD toward the microtubule at long distances but opposes binding at short distances. This mechanism provides a "soft-landing" for the MTBD as it binds to the microtubule. Finally, our analysis of the conformational states of E-hooks in presence and absence of the MTBD indicates that the binding process is a mixture of the induced-fit and lock-and-key macromolecular binding hypotheses. Overall, this novel binding mechanism is termed "guided-soft-binding" and could have broad-reaching impacts on the understanding of how IDRs dock to structured proteins.
Project description:The role of repetitive DNA sequences in pericentromeric regions with respect to kinetochore/heterochromatin structure and function is poorly understood. Here, we use a mouse erythroleukemia cell (MEL) system for studying how repetitive DNA assumes or is assembled into different chromatin structures. We show that human gamma-satellite DNA arrays allow a transcriptionally permissive chromatin conformation in an adjacent transgene and efficiently protect it from epigenetic silencing. These arrays contain CTCF and Ikaros binding sites. In MEL cells, this gamma-satellite DNA activity depends on binding of Ikaros proteins involved in differentiation along the hematopoietic pathway. Given our discovery of gamma-satellite DNA in pericentromeric regions of most human chromosomes and a dynamic chromatin state of gamma-satellite arrays in their natural location, we suggest that gamma-satellite DNA represents a unique region of the functional centromere with a possible role in preventing heterochromatin spreading beyond the pericentromeric region.
Project description:This study compares the role of electrostatics in the binding process between microtubules and two dynein microtubule-binding domains (MTBDs): cytoplasmic and axonemal. These two dyneins are distinctively different in terms of their functionalities: cytoplasmic dynein is processive, while axonemal dynein is involved in beating. In both cases, the binding requires frequent association/disassociation between the microtubule and MTBD, and involves highly negatively charged microtubules, including non-structured C-terminal domains (E-hooks), and an MTBD interface that is positively charged. This indicates that electrostatics play an important role in the association process. Here, we show that the cytoplasmic MTBD binds electrostatically tighter to microtubules than to the axonemal MTBD, but the axonemal MTBD experiences interactions with microtubule E-hooks at longer distances compared with the cytoplasmic MTBD. This allows the axonemal MTBD to be weakly bound to the microtubule, while at the same time acting onto the microtubule via the flexible E-hooks, even at MTBD⁻microtubule distances of 45 Å. In part, this is due to the charge distribution of MTBDs: in the cytoplasmic MTBD, the positive charges are concentrated at the binding interface with the microtubule, while in the axonemal MTBD, they are more distributed over the entire structure, allowing E-hooks to interact at longer distances. The dissimilarities of electrostatics in the cases of axonemal and cytoplasmic MTBDs were found not to result in a difference in conformational dynamics on MTBDs, while causing differences in the conformational states of E-hooks. The E-hooks' conformations in the presence of the axonemal MTBD were less restricted than in the presence of the cytoplasmic MTBD. In parallel with the differences, the common effect was found that the structural fluctuations of MTBDs decrease as either the number of contacts with E-hooks increases or the distance to the microtubule decreases.
Project description:The AT-hook has been defined as a DNA binding peptide motif that contains a glycine-arginine-proline (G-R-P) tripeptide core flanked by basic amino acids. Recent reports documented variations in the sequence of AT-hooks and revealed RNA binding activity of some canonical AT-hooks, suggesting a higher structural and functional variability of this protein domain than previously anticipated. Here we describe the discovery and characterization of the extended AT-hook peptide motif (eAT-hook), in which basic amino acids appear symmetrical mainly at a distance of 12-15 amino acids from the G-R-P core. We identified 80 human and 60 mouse eAT-hook proteins and biochemically characterized the eAT-hooks of Tip5/BAZ2A, PTOV1 and GPBP1. Microscale thermophoresis and electrophoretic mobility shift assays reveal the nucleic acid binding features of this peptide motif, and show that eAT-hooks bind RNA with one order of magnitude higher affinity than DNA. In addition, cellular localization studies suggest a role for the N-terminal eAT-hook of PTOV1 in nucleocytoplasmic shuttling. In summary, our findings classify the eAT-hook as a novel nucleic acid binding motif, which potentially mediates various RNA-dependent cellular processes.
Project description:The RNA interference (RNAi) pathway regulates gene expression in many eukaryotic organisms. Argonaute (Ago) proteins, together with bound small RNAs (sRNAs), are key effectors that mediate gene silencing function. However, there is limited knowledge of Ago proteins and their functions in nonmodel systems. In the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica, RNAi is a robust means for stable gene silencing mediated via large populations of antisense sRNAs. Here, we report functional characterization of three Ago proteins in E. histolytica (EhAgo2-1, EhAgo2-2, and EhAgo2-3). Our data show that each EhAgo protein has a distinct subcellular localization and binds 27-nucleotide (nt) sRNAs and that the localization of EhAgo proteins is altered in response to stress conditions. Via mutagenesis analyses, we demonstrated that the Ago PAZ (Piwi/Argonaute/Zwille) domain in all three EhAgos is essential for sRNA binding. With mutation of the PAZ domain in EhAgo2-2, there was no effect on the nuclear localization of the protein but a strong phenotype and a growth defect. We further show that EhAgo2-2 contains an unusual repetitive DR-rich (aspartic acid, arginine-rich) motif region which functions as a nuclear localization signal (NLS) and is both necessary and sufficient to mediate nuclear localization. Overall, our data delineate the localization and sRNA binding features of the three E. histolytica Ago proteins and demonstrate that the PAZ domain is necessary for sRNA binding. The repetitive DR-rich motif region in EhAgo2-2 has not previously been defined in other systems, which adds to the novel observations that can be made when studies of the RNAi pathway are extended to nonmodel systems.IMPORTANCE The protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica, which causes amebiasis and affects over 50 million people worldwide, contains an important RNAi pathway for gene silencing. Gene silencing via the RNAi pathway is mediated by the Argonaute (Ago) proteins. However, we lack knowledge on Ago function(s) in this nonmodel system. In this paper, we discovered that three E. histolytica Ago proteins (EhAgo2-1, EhAgo2-2, and EhAgo2-3) all bind 27-nt small RNAs and have distinct subcellular localizations, which change in response to stress conditions. The EhAgos bind small RNA populations via their PAZ domains. An unusual repetitive DR-rich motif region is identified in EhAgo2-2 that functions as a nuclear localization signal. Our results show for the first time an active nuclear transport process of the EhAgo2-2 RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) in this parasite. These data add to the novel observations that can be made when studies of the RNAi pathway are extended to nonmodel systems.
Project description:Gene duplication is an important driver for the evolution of new genes and protein functions. Duplication of DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (Pol) II subunits within plants led to the emergence of RNA Pol IV and V complexes, each of which possess unique functions necessary for RNA-directed DNA Methylation. Comprehensive identification of Pol V subunit orthologs across the monocot radiation revealed a duplication of the largest two subunits within the grasses (Poaceae), including critical cereal crops. These paralogous Pol subunits display sequence conservation within catalytic domains, but their carboxy terminal domains differ in length and character of the Ago-binding platform, suggesting unique functional interactions. Phylogenetic analysis of the catalytic region indicates positive selection on one paralog following duplication, consistent with retention via neofunctionalization. Positive selection on residue pairs that are predicted to interact between subunits suggests that paralogous subunits have evolved specific assembly partners. Additional Pol subunits as well as Pol-interacting proteins also possess grass-specific paralogs, supporting the hypothesis that a novel Pol complex with distinct function has evolved in the grass family, Poaceae.