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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Jan 25;134(3):1617-22. doi: 10.1021/ja2078619. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Long-range modulation of chain motions within the intrinsically disordered transactivation domain of tumor suppressor p53.

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Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0QH, United Kingdom.


The tumor suppressor p53 is a hub protein with a multitude of binding partners, many of which target its intrinsically disordered N-terminal domain, p53-TAD. Partners, such as the N-terminal domain of MDM2, induce formation of local structure and leave the remainder of the domain apparently disordered. We investigated segmental chain motions in p53-TAD using fluorescence quenching of an extrinsic label by tryptophan in combination with fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (PET-FCS). We studied the loop closure kinetics of four consecutive segments within p53-TAD and their response to protein binding and phosphorylation. The kinetics was multiexponential, showing that the conformational ensemble of the domain deviates from random coil, in agreement with previous findings from NMR spectroscopy. Phosphorylations or binding of MDM2 changed the pattern of intrachain kinetics. Unexpectedly, we found that upon binding and phosphorylation chain motions were altered not only within the targeted segments but also in remote regions. Long-range interactions can be induced in an intrinsically disordered domain by partner proteins that induce apparently only local structure or by post-translational modification.

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