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Protein Sci. 2012 Oct;21(10):1577-85. doi: 10.1002/pro.2138. Epub 2012 Sep 17.

Interaction between the C-terminal domains of measles virus nucleoprotein and phosphoprotein: a tight complex implying one binding site.

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CNRS, Aix-Marseille Université, Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques (AFMB) UMR 7257, 13288 Marseille, France.


The intrinsically disordered C-terminal domain (N(TAIL) ) of the measles virus (MeV) nucleoprotein undergoes α-helical folding upon binding to the C-terminal X domain (XD) of the phosphoprotein. The N(TAIL) region involved in binding coupled to folding has been mapped to a conserved region (Box2) encompassing residues 489-506. In the previous studies published in this journal, we obtained experimental evidence supporting a K(D) for the N(TAIL) -XD binding reaction in the nM range and also showed that an additional N(TAIL) region (Box3, aa 517-525) plays a role in binding to XD. In striking contrast with these data, studies published in this journal by Kingston and coworkers pointed out a much less stable complex (K(D) in the μM range) and supported lack of involvement of Box3 in complex formation. The objective of this study was to critically re-evaluate the role of Box3 in N(TAIL) -XD binding. Since our previous studies relied on N(TAIL) -truncated forms possessing an irrelevant Flag sequence appended at their C-terminus, we, herein, generated an N(TAIL) devoid of Box3 and any additional C-terminal residues, as well as a form encompassing only residues 482-525. We then used isothermal titration calorimetry to characterize the binding reactions between XD and these N(TAIL) forms. Results effectively argue for the presence of a single XD-binding site located within Box2, in agreement with the results by Kingston et al., while providing clear experimental support for a high-affinity complex. Altogether, the present data provide mechanistic insights into the replicative machinery of MeV and clarify a hitherto highly debated point.

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