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Biophys Chem. 2002 May 2;96(2-3):285-91.

Structural properties of the histidine-containing loop in HIV-1 RNase H.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, 229 Stanley Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


The isolated HIV-1 RNase H domain is inactive. This inactivity has been linked to the lack of structure in the C-terminus of the isolated domain. Thermodynamic stability experiments on the RNase H domain as well as a deletion mutant lacking the C-terminal helix have implied that this region is structured. His539 residing in a loop preceding the C-terminal helix was studied by NMR to determine the stability and conformational properties of this region. The stability of the structural environment of His539 matches that of the entire RNase H domain. Furthermore, His539 is locked into a defined tautometric state in the folded protein and its pK(a) is shifted compared to a freely accessible His, suggesting that this region is structured. The data support the view that the overall dynamics rather than the lack of structure in a small portion of the protein render activity of the isolated HIV-1 RNase H.

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