Helicases utilize NTP hydrolysis to translocate along single-stranded nucleic acids (NA) and unwind the duplex. In the cell, helicases function in the context of other NA-associated proteins such as single-stranded DNA binding proteins. Such encounters regulate helicase function, although the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. F. acidarmanus XPD helicase serves as a model for understanding the molecular mechanisms of Superfamily 2B helicases, and its activity is enhanced by the cognate single-stranded DNA binding protein RPA2. Here, optical trap measurements of the unwinding activity of a single XPD helicase in the presence of RPA2 reveal a mechanism in which XPD interconverts between two states with different processivities and transient RPA2 interactions stabilize the more processive state, activating a latent 'processivity switch' in XPD. A point mutation at a regulatory DNA binding site on XPD similarly activates this switch. These findings provide new insights on mechanisms of helicase regulation by accessory proteins.
Summary data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for Figures 2, 3, 4, 5 and corresponding figure supplements.
- Yann R Chemla
- Maria Spies
- Barbara Stekas
- Masayoshi Honda
- Steve Yeo
- Alice Troitskaia
- Sei Sho
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- James M Berger, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, United States
© 2021, Stekas et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Human adult muscle-type acetylcholine receptors are heteropentameric ion channels formed from two α-subunits, and one each of the β-, d-, and e-subunits. To form functional channels, the subunits must assemble with one another in a precise stoichiometry and arrangement. Despite being different, the four subunits share a common ancestor that is presumed to have formed homopentamers. The extent to which the properties of the modern-day receptor result from its subunit complexity is unknown. Here we discover that a reconstructed ancestral muscle-type β-subunit can form homopentameric ion channels. These homopentamers open spontaneously and display single-channel hallmarks of muscle-type acetylcholine receptor activity. Our findings attest to the homopentameric origin of the muscle-type acetylcholine receptor, and demonstrate that signature features of its function are both independent of agonist and do not necessitate the complex heteropentameric architecture of the modern-day protein.
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