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Int J Biol Macromol. 2011 Oct 1;49(3):297-304. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2011.05.001. Epub 2011 May 11.

Thermal and chemical denaturation of the BRCT functional module of human 53BP1.

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Biomolecular Physics Laboratory, IRRP, NCSR Demokritos, Aghia Paraskevi, Greece.


BRCTs are protein-docking modules involved in eukaryotic DNA repair. They are characterized by low sequence homology with generally well-conserved structure organization. In a considerable number of proteins, a pair of BRCT structural repeats occurs, connected with inter-BRCT linkers, variable in length, sequence and structure. Linkers may separate and control the relative position of BRCT domains as well as protect and stabilize the hydrophobic inter-BRCT interface region. Their vital role in protein function has been demonstrated by recent findings associating missense mutations in the inter-repeat linker region of the BRCT domain of BRCA1 (BRCA1-BRCT) to hereditary breast/ovarian cancer. The interaction of 53BP1 with the core domain of the p53 tumor suppressor involves the C-terminal BRCT repeat as well as the inert-BRCT linker of the tandem BRCT domain of 53BP1 (53BP1-BRCT). High-accuracy differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and circular dichroism (CD) have been employed to characterize the heat-induced unfolding of 53BP1-BRCT domain. The calorimetric results provide evidence for unfolding to an intermediate, only partly unfolded state, which, based on the CD results, retains the secondary structural characteristics of the native protein. A direct comparison with the corresponding thermal processes for BRAC1-BRCT and BARD1-BRCT provides evidence that the observed behavior is analogous to BRCA1-BRCT even though the two domains differ substantially in the linker structure. Moreover, chemical denaturation experiments of the untagged 53BP1-BRCT and comparison with BRCA1 and BARD1 BRCTs show that no clear association can be drawn between the structural organization of the inter-BRCT linkers and the overall stability of the BRCT domains.

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