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J Mol Biol. 2014 Apr 3;426(7):1377-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2013.10.042. Epub 2013 Dec 19.

Alanine scan of core positions in ubiquitin reveals links between dynamics, stability, and function.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Center for Biomolecular Structure and Organization, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
2
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.
3
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA. Electronic address: dan.bolon@umassmed.edu.
4
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Center for Biomolecular Structure and Organization, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA. Electronic address: fushman@umd.edu.

Abstract

Mutations at solvent-inaccessible core positions in proteins can impact function through many biophysical mechanisms including alterations to thermodynamic stability and protein dynamics. As these properties of proteins are difficult to investigate, the impacts of core mutations on protein function are poorly understood for most systems. Here, we determined the effects of alanine mutations at all 15 core positions in ubiquitin on function in yeast. The majority (13 of 15) of alanine substitutions supported yeast growth as the sole ubiquitin. Both the two null mutants (I30A and L43A) were less stable to temperature-induced unfolding in vitro than wild type (WT) but were well folded at physiological temperatures. Heteronuclear NMR studies indicated that the L43A mutation reduces temperature stability while retaining a ground-state structure similar to WT. This structure enables L43A to bind to common ubiquitin receptors in vitro. Many of the core alanine ubiquitin mutants, including one of the null variants (I30A), exhibited an increased accumulation of high-molecular-weight species, suggesting that these mutants caused a defect in the processing of ubiquitin-substrate conjugates. In contrast, L43A exhibited a unique accumulation pattern with reduced levels of high-molecular-weight species and undetectable levels of free ubiquitin. When conjugation to other proteins was blocked, L43A ubiquitin accumulated as free ubiquitin in yeast. Based on these findings, we speculate that ubiquitin's stability to unfolding may be required for efficient recycling during proteasome-mediated substrate degradation.

KEYWORDS:

proteasome; protein function; structural dynamics; thermodynamic stability; ubiquitin recycling

PMID:
24361330
PMCID:
PMC3951674
DOI:
10.1016/j.jmb.2013.10.042
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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