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J Mol Biol. 2007 Jun 15;369(4):1113-25. Epub 2007 Apr 12.

Hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometric analysis of conformational changes accompanying the assembly of the yeast prion Ure2p into protein fibrils.

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Laboratoire d'Enzymologie et Biochimie Structurales, CNRS, Avenue de la Terrasse, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France. <>


The Ure2 protein from baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) has prion properties. In vitro, at neutral pH, soluble Ure2p forms long, twisted fibrils. Two models have been proposed to account for Ure2p polymerization. The first postulates that a segment of 70 amino acid residues in the flexible N-terminal domain from different Ure2p molecules forms a parallel superpleated beta-structure running along the fibrils. The second hypothesizes that assembly of full-length Ure2p is driven by limited conformational rearrangements and non-native inter- and intramolecular interactions. The knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of the fibrillar form of Ure2p is critical for understanding the molecular events leading to the polymerization of soluble Ure2p into fibrils and hence for the design of inhibitors that might have therapeutic potential as yeast prions possessing domains rich in N and Q residues, similar to huntingtin. Solvent-accessibility studies using hydrogen/deuterium exchange monitored by mass spectrometry (HXMS) can provide insights into the structure of the fibrillar form of Ure2p and characterize at the molecular level the conformational rearrangements that occur upon assembly, in particular through the identification of protected regions and their localization in the overall structure of the protein. We have analyzed the changes in Ure2p structure associated with its assembly into fibrils using HXMS. The deuterium incorporation profile along the sequence allows the identification of the regions that exhibit the most important conformational change. Our data reveal that Ure2p undergoes minor structural changes upon assembly. While polypeptides [82-92] and [13-37] exhibit significant increased and decreased exposure to the solvent, respectively, no marked change was observed for the rest of the protein upon assembly. Our results afford new insights into the conformational rearrangements that lead to the assembly of Ure2p into fibrils and the propagation of the [URE3] element in yeast.

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