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Protein Sci. 2013 May;22(5):595-604. doi: 10.1002/pro.2243. Epub 2013 Mar 30.

pH-sensitive residues in the p19 RNA silencing suppressor protein from carnation Italian ringspot virus affect siRNA binding stability.

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Department of Chemistry and Biophysics Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


Tombusviruses, such as Carnation Italian ringspot virus (CIRV), encode a protein homodimer called p19 that is capable of suppressing RNA silencing in their infected hosts by binding to and sequestering short-interfering RNA (siRNA) away from the RNA silencing pathway. P19 binding stability has been shown to be sensitive to changes in pH but the specific amino acid residues involved have remained unclear. Using constant pH molecular dynamics simulations, we have identified key pH-dependent residues that affect CIRV p19-siRNA binding stability at various pH ranges based on calculated changes in the free energy contribution from each titratable residue. At high pH, the deprotonation of Lys60, Lys67, Lys71, and Cys134 has the largest effect on the binding stability. Similarly, deprotonation of several acidic residues (Asp9, Glu12, Asp20, Glu35, and/or Glu41) at low pH results in a decrease in binding stability. At neutral pH, residues Glu17 and His132 provide a small increase in the binding stability and we find that the optimal pH range for siRNA binding is between 7.0 and 10.0. Overall, our findings further inform recent experiments and are in excellent agreement with data on the pH-dependent binding profile.

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