Molecular chaperones: small heat shock proteins in the limelight.
Small heat shock proteins have been the Cinderellas of the molecular chaperone world, but now the crystal structure of a small heat shock protein has been solved and mutation of two human homologues implicated in genetic disease. Intermediate filaments appear to be one of the key targets of their chaperone activity. (+info
Association of snRNA genes with coiled bodies is mediated by nascent snRNA transcripts.
BACKGROUND: Coiled bodies are nuclear organelles that are highly enriched in small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs) and certain basal transcription factors. Surprisingly, coiled bodies not only contain mature U snRNPs but also associate with specific chromosomal loci, including gene clusters that encode U snRNAs and histone messenger RNAs. The mechanism(s) by which coiled bodies associate with these genes is completely unknown. RESULTS: Using stable cell lines, we show that artificial tandem arrays of human U1 and U2 snRNA genes colocalize with coiled bodies and that the frequency of the colocalization depends directly on the transcriptional activity of the array. Association of the genes with coiled bodies was abolished when the artificial U2 arrays contained promoter mutations that prevent transcription or when RNA polymerase II transcription was globally inhibited by alpha-amanitin. Remarkably, the association was also abolished when the U2 snRNA coding regions were replaced by heterologous sequences. CONCLUSIONS: The requirement for the U2 snRNA coding region indicates that association of snRNA genes with coiled bodies is mediated by the nascent U2 RNA itself, not by DNA or DNA-bound proteins. Our data provide the first evidence that association of genes with a nuclear organelle can be directed by an RNA and suggest an autogenous feedback regulation model. (+info
Vac1p coordinates Rab and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling in Vps45p-dependent vesicle docking/fusion at the endosome.
The vacuolar protein sorting (VPS) pathway of Saccharomyces cerevisiae mediates transport of vacuolar protein precursors from the late Golgi to the lysosome-like vacuole. Sorting of some vacuolar proteins occurs via a prevacuolar endosomal compartment and mutations in a subset of VPS genes (the class D VPS genes) interfere with the Golgi-to-endosome transport step. Several of the encoded proteins, including Pep12p/Vps6p (an endosomal target (t) SNARE) and Vps45p (a Sec1p homologue), bind each other directly . Another of these proteins, Vac1p/Pep7p/Vps19p, associates with Pep12p and binds phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PI(3)P), the product of the Vps34 phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase)  . Here, we demonstrate that Vac1p genetically and physically interacts with the activated, GTP-bound form of Vps21p, a Rab GTPase that functions in Golgi-to-endosome transport, and with Vps45p. These results implicate Vac1p as an effector of Vps21p and as a novel Sec1p-family-binding protein. We suggest that Vac1p functions as a multivalent adaptor protein that ensures the high fidelity of vesicle docking and fusion by integrating both phosphoinositide (Vps34p) and GTPase (Vps21p) signals, which are essential for Pep12p- and Vps45p-dependent targeting of Golgi-derived vesicles to the prevacuolar endosome. (+info
Four dimers of lambda repressor bound to two suitably spaced pairs of lambda operators form octamers and DNA loops over large distances.
Transcription factors that are bound specifically to DNA often interact with each other over thousands of base pairs  . Large DNA loops resulting from such interactions have been observed in Escherichia coli with the transcription factors deoR  and NtrC , but such interactions are not, as yet, well understood. We propose that unique protein complexes, that are not present in solution, may form specifically on DNA. Their uniqueness would make it possible for them to interact tightly and specifically with each other. We used the repressor and operators of coliphage lambda to construct a model system in which to test our proposition. lambda repressor is a dimer at physiological concentrations, but forms tetramers and octamers at a hundredfold higher concentration. We predict that two lambda repressor dimers form a tetramer in vitro when bound to two lambda operators spaced 24 bp apart and that two such tetramers interact to form an octamer. We examined, in vitro, relaxed circular plasmid DNA in which such operator pairs were separated by 2,850 bp and 2,470 bp. Of these molecules, 29% formed loops as seen by electron microscopy (EM). The loop increased the tightness of binding of lambda repressor to lambda operator. Consequently, repression of the lambda PR promoter in vivo was increased fourfold by the presence of a second pair of lambda operators, separated by a distance of 3,600 bp. (+info
Stable remodeling of tailless nucleosomes by the human SWI-SNF complex.
The histone N-terminal tails have been shown previously to be important for chromatin assembly, remodeling, and stability. We have tested the ability of human SWI-SNF (hSWI-SNF) to remodel nucleosomes whose tails have been cleaved through a limited trypsin digestion. We show that hSWI-SNF is able to remodel tailless mononucleosomes and nucleosomal arrays, although hSWI-SNF remodeling of tailless nucleosomes is less effective than remodeling of nucleosomes with tails. Analogous to previous observations with tailed nucleosomal templates, we show both (i) that hSWI-SNF-remodeled trypsinized mononucleosomes and arrays are stable for 30 min in the remodeled conformation after removal of ATP and (ii) that the remodeled tailless mononucleosome can be isolated on a nondenaturing acrylamide gel as a novel species. Thus, nucleosome remodeling by hSWI-SNF can occur via interactions with a tailless nucleosome core. (+info
Crystal structures of two H-2Db/glycopeptide complexes suggest a molecular basis for CTL cross-reactivity.
Two synthetic O-GlcNAc-bearing peptides that elicit H-2Db-restricted glycopeptide-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTL) have been shown to display nonreciprocal patterns of cross-reactivity. Here, we present the crystal structures of the H-2Db glycopeptide complexes to 2.85 A resolution or better. In both cases, the glycan is solvent exposed and available for direct recognition by the T cell receptor (TCR). We have modeled the complex formed between the MHC-glycopeptide complexes and their respective TCRs, showing that a single saccharide residue can be accommodated in the standard TCR-MHC geometry. The models also reveal a possible molecular basis for the observed cross-reactivity patterns of the CTL clones, which appear to be influenced by the length of the CDR3 loop and the nature of the immunizing ligand. (+info
Structural basis of Rab effector specificity: crystal structure of the small G protein Rab3A complexed with the effector domain of rabphilin-3A.
The small G protein Rab3A plays an important role in the regulation of neurotransmitter release. The crystal structure of activated Rab3A/GTP/Mg2+ bound to the effector domain of rabphilin-3A was solved to 2.6 A resolution. Rabphilin-3A contacts Rab3A in two distinct areas. The first interface involves the Rab3A switch I and switch II regions, which are sensitive to the nucleotide-binding state of Rab3A. The second interface consists of a deep pocket in Rab3A that interacts with a SGAWFF structural element of rabphilin-3A. Sequence and structure analysis, and biochemical data suggest that this pocket, or Rab complementarity-determining region (RabCDR), establishes a specific interaction between each Rab protein and its effectors. RabCDRs could be major determinants of effector specificity during vesicle trafficking and fusion. (+info
Crystal structures of two Sm protein complexes and their implications for the assembly of the spliceosomal snRNPs.
The U1, U2, U4/U6, and U5 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles (snRNPs) involved in pre-mRNA splicing contain seven Sm proteins (B/B', D1, D2, D3, E, F, and G) in common, which assemble around the Sm site present in four of the major spliceosomal small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs). These proteins share a common sequence motif in two segments, Sm1 and Sm2, separated by a short variable linker. Crystal structures of two Sm protein complexes, D3B and D1D2, show that these proteins have a common fold containing an N-terminal helix followed by a strongly bent five-stranded antiparallel beta sheet, and the D1D2 and D3B dimers superpose closely in their core regions, including the dimer interfaces. The crystal structures suggest that the seven Sm proteins could form a closed ring and the snRNAs may be bound in the positively charged central hole. (+info