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The conformational space and dynamics of the partially disordered transcription factor engrailed-2 explored with magnetic resonance


Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDPs), which lack a stable rigid structure constitute a large and functionally important class of proteins. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is a well-established technique to characterize the structural and dynamical features of IDPs at atomic resolution. The broad conformational space of IDPs makes them challenging targets for structural biology to define their precise structural features and motions, the physical and chemical properties that underlie their biological functions. The present thesis establishes biophysical investigation of the disordered region of the transcription factor Engrailed-2 (13.5 kDa) primarily by NMR. After describing the protocol of expression and purification of the isotopically labeled protein, we present a novel approach to characterize the pico – nano second motions in IDPs using nuclear spin relaxation data at multiple fields. Paramagnetic Relaxation Enhancements (PREs) are used to identify transient long-range interactions between the disordered region and the folded homeodomain of Engrailed-2. Binding to DNA was studied by fluorescence anisotropy and highlights the role of the disordered region in the DNA binding. We used Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) to probe the potential interaction between the hydrophobic cluster (hexapeptide) in the disordered region and the homeodomain. The one-bond 1H-15N, Cα-Hα and Cα-C′ residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) measured for Engrailed-2 provide important constraints for the refinement of the conformational space of Engrailed_2. All these approaches provide valuable insights in understanding the structural, dynamical and functional properties of this IDP.

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