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Disordered RNA chaperones can enhance nucleic acid folding via local charge screening


Holmstrom, Erik D; Liu, Zhaowei; Nettels, Daniel; Best, Robert B; Schuler, Benjamin (2019). Disordered RNA chaperones can enhance nucleic acid folding via local charge screening. Nature Communications, 10:2453.

Abstract

RNA chaperones are proteins that aid in the folding of nucleic acids, but remarkably, many of these proteins are intrinsically disordered. How can these proteins function without a well-defined three-dimensional structure? Here, we address this question by studying the hepatitis C virus core protein, a chaperone that promotes viral genome dimerization. Using single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy, we find that this positively charged disordered protein facilitates the formation of compact nucleic acid conformations by acting as a flexible macromolecular counterion that locally screens repulsive electrostatic interactions with an efficiency equivalent to molar salt concentrations. The resulting compaction can bias unfolded nucleic acids towards folding, resulting in faster folding kinetics. This potentially widespread mechanism is supported by molecular simulations that rationalize the experimental findings by describing the chaperone as an unstructured polyelectrolyte.

Abstract

RNA chaperones are proteins that aid in the folding of nucleic acids, but remarkably, many of these proteins are intrinsically disordered. How can these proteins function without a well-defined three-dimensional structure? Here, we address this question by studying the hepatitis C virus core protein, a chaperone that promotes viral genome dimerization. Using single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy, we find that this positively charged disordered protein facilitates the formation of compact nucleic acid conformations by acting as a flexible macromolecular counterion that locally screens repulsive electrostatic interactions with an efficiency equivalent to molar salt concentrations. The resulting compaction can bias unfolded nucleic acids towards folding, resulting in faster folding kinetics. This potentially widespread mechanism is supported by molecular simulations that rationalize the experimental findings by describing the chaperone as an unstructured polyelectrolyte.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Biochemistry
07 Faculty of Science > Department of Biochemistry
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > General Chemistry
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Physical Sciences > General Physics and Astronomy
Language:English
Date:5 June 2019
Deposited On:25 Sep 2019 13:20
Last Modified:12 Sep 2020 08:16
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-10356-0
PubMed ID:31165735

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