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J Mol Biol. 2011 May 13;408(4):670-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2011.02.050. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Small-angle X-ray scattering study of a Rex family repressor: conformational response to NADH and NAD+ binding in solution.

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Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology, Lund University, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden.


The transcriptional repressor Rex is a sensor of the intracellular NADH/NAD(+) redox state through direct binding of NADH or NAD(+). Homodimeric Rex protein from Thermus aquaticus (T-Rex) and Bacillus subtilis (B-Rex) exists in several different conformations. In both organisms, Rex in complex with NADH has the DNA binding domains packed together at the dimer interface, whereas in the apo form of B-Rex the linkers connecting these domains to the core are flexible. The crystal structures of the apo forms of B-Rex and a mutated variant of T-Rex are radically different. We describe the solution structures of B-Rex in complex with NAD(+) or NADH and in its apo form, on the basis of small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) measurements. This study addresses to what extent the unusual orientation of the DNA recognition domains of the crystal structure of apo B-Rex is due to stabilization by crystal packing. Low-resolution ab initio solution structures were obtained for apo B-Rex, B-Rex:NADH and B-Rex:NAD(+). Models giving a more detailed picture of these three solution structures were obtained also by rigid body fitting of the crystallographic domains. The SAXS data confirm the elongated and flexible nature of apo-B-Rex and the existence of two distinct and more rigid conformations for the complexes with NADH and NAD(+). The models emerging from this study indicate a reaction mechanism for B-Rex in which the recognition domains are rotated upon binding to NADH.

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