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Protein Sci. 1997 Jun;6(6):1248-63.

Refined solution structure and backbone dynamics of HIV-1 Nef.

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Laboratory of Chemical Physics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-0520, USA.


The tendency of HIV-1 Nef to form aggregates in solution, particularly at pH values below 8, together with its large fraction of highly mobile residues seriously complicated determination of its three-dimensional structure, both for heteronuclear solution NMR (Grzesiek et al., 1996a, Nat Struct Biol 3:340-345) and for X-ray crystallography (Lee et al., 1996, Cell 85:931-942). Methods used to determine the Nef structure by NMR at pH 8 and 0.6 mM concentration are presented, together with a detailed description of Nef's secondary and tertiary structure. The described techniques have general applicability for the NMR structure determination of proteins that are aggregating and/or have limited stability at low pH values. Extensive chemical shift assignments are reported for backbone and side chain 1H, 13C, and 15N resonances of the HIV-1 Nef deletion mutants NEF delta 2-39, NEF delta 2-39, delta 159-173, and of NEF delta 2-39, delta 159-173 in complex with the SH3 domain of the Hck tyrosine protein kinase. Besides a type II polyproline helix, Nef's structure consists of three alpha-helices, a 3(10) helix, and a five-stranded anti-parallel beta-sheet. The analysis of 15N relaxation parameters of the backbone amide sites reveals that all the secondary structure elements are non-mobile on the picosecond to nanosecond and on the millisecond time scale. A large number of slowly exchanging amide protons provides evidence for the stability of the Nef core even on the time scale of hours. Significant internal motions on the ps to ns time scale are detected for residues 60 to 71 and for residues 149 to 180, which form solvent-exposed loops. The residues of the HIV-1 protease cleavage site (W57/L58) do not exhibit large amplitude motions on the sub-nanosecond time scale, and their side chains insert themselves into a hydrophobic crevice formed between the C-terminus of helix 1 and the N-terminus of helix 2. A refined structure has been determined based on additional constraints for side-chain and backbone dihedral angles derived from a large number of three-bond J-coupling and ROE data.

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