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Proteins. 2008 Dec;73(4):973-88. doi: 10.1002/prot.22125.

Mapping alpha-helical induced folding within the intrinsically disordered C-terminal domain of the measles virus nucleoprotein by site-directed spin-labeling EPR spectroscopy.

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Bioénergétique et Ingénierie des Protéines, UPR 9036 CNRS et Université Aix-Marseille I et II, 31 Chemin Joseph Aiguier, 13402 Marseille Cedex 9, France.


Using site-directed spin-labeling EPR spectroscopy, we mapped the region of the intrinsically disordered C-terminal domain of measles virus nucleoprotein (N(TAIL)) that undergoes induced folding. In addition to four spin-labeled N(TAIL) variants (S407C, S488C, L496C, and V517C) (Morin et al. (2006), J Phys Chem 110: 20596-20608), 10 new single-site cysteine variants were designed, purified from E. coli, and spin-labeled. These 14 spin-labeled variants enabled us to map in detail the gain of rigidity of N(TAIL) in the presence of either the secondary structure stabilizer 2,2,2-trifluoroethanol or the C-terminal domain X (XD) of the viral phosphoprotein. Different regions of N(TAIL) were shown to contribute to a different extent to the binding to XD, while the mobility of the spin labels grafted at positions 407 and 460 was unaffected upon addition of XD; that of the spin labels grafted within the 488-502 and the 505-522 regions was severely and moderately reduced, respectively. Furthermore, EPR experiments in the presence of 30% sucrose allowed us to precisely map to residues 488-502, the N(TAIL) region undergoing alpha-helical folding. The mobility of the 488-502 region was found to be restrained even in the absence of the partner, a behavior that could be accounted for by the existence of a transiently populated folded state. Finally, we show that the restrained motion of the 505-522 region upon binding to XD is due to the alpha-helical transition occurring within the 488-502 region and not to a direct interaction with XD.

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