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Protein Sci. 2004 Mar;13(3):617-25.

Comparison of BRCT domains of BRCA1 and 53BP1: a biophysical analysis.

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MRC Centre for Protein Engineering, Cambridge CB2 2XZ, UK.


53BP1 interacts with the DNA-binding core domain of the tumor suppressor p53 and enhances p53-mediated transcriptional activation. The p53-binding region of 53BP1 maps to the C-terminal BRCT domains, which are homologous to those found in the breast cancer protein BRCA1 and in other proteins involved in DNA repair. Here we compare the thermodynamic behavior of the BRCT domains of 53BP1 and BRCA1 and examine their ability to interact with the p53 core domain. The free energies of unfolding are of similar magnitude, although slightly higher for 53BP1-BRCT, and both populate an aggregation-prone partly folded intermediate. Interaction studies performed in vitro by analytical size-exclusion chromatography, analytical ultracentrifugation, and isothermal titration calorimetry reveal that 53BP1-BRCT interacts with p53 with a K(d) in the low micromolar range. Despite their homology with 53BP1-BRCT domains, the BRCT domains of BRCA1 did not bind p53 with any detectable affinity. In summary, although other studies have indicated that the BRCT domains of both BRCA1 and 53BP1 interact with p53 core domain, the quantitative biophysical measurements performed here indicate that only 53BP1 can bind. Although both proteins may be involved in the same DNA repair pathways, our study indicates that a direct role in p53 function is unique to 53BP1.

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