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Intrinsic Disorder and Function of the HIV-1 Tat Protein

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The type 1 Human Immunodeficiency Virus transcriptional regulator Tat is a small RNA-binding protein essential for viral gene expression and replication. The protein binds to a large number of proteins within infected cells and non-infected cells, and has been demonstrated to impact a wide variety of cellular activities. Early circular dichroism studies showed a lack of regular secondary structure in the protein whereas proton NMR studies suggested several different conformations. Multinuclear NMR structure and dynamics analysis indicates that the reduced protein is intrinsically disordered with a predominantly extended conformation at pH 4. Multiple resonances for several atoms suggest the existence of multiple local conformers in rapid equilibrium. An X-ray diffraction structure of equine Tat, in a complex with its cognate RNA and cyclin T1, supports this conclusion. Intrinsic disorder explains the protein's capacity to interact with multiple partners and effect multiple biological functions; the large buried surface in the X-ray diffraction structure illustrates how a disordered protein can have a high affinity and high specificity for its partners and how disordered Tat assembles a protein complex to enhance transcription elongation.

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Keywords: Circular dichroism; HIV-1; NMR spectroscopy; Tat; X-ray diffraction; intrinsically disordered proteins

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2010

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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