The two-domain protein RfaH, a paralog of the universally conserved NusG/Spt5 transcription factors, is regulated by autoinhibition coupled to the reversible conformational switch of its 60-residue C-terminal KOW domain between an α-hairpin and a β-barrel. In contrast, NusG/Spt5-KOW domains only occur in the β-barrel state. To understand the principles underlying the drastic fold switch in RfaH, we elucidated the thermodynamic stability and the structural dynamics of two RfaH- and four NusG/Spt5-KOW domains by combining biophysical and structural biology methods. We find that the RfaH-KOW β-barrel is thermodynamically less stable than that of most NusG/Spt5-KOWs and we show that it is in equilibrium with a globally unfolded species, which, strikingly, contains two helical regions that prime the transition towards the α-hairpin. Our results suggest that transiently structured elements in the unfolded conformation might drive the global folding transition in metamorphic proteins in general.
Coordinates for VcRfaH-KOW have been deposited to the Protein Databank (ID: 6TF4). Chemical shifts have been deposited in the Biological Magnetic Resonance Databank under the following accession numbers: #28039 (hSpt5-KOW5), #28040 (MjSpt5-KOW), #28041 (VcRfaH) and #34450 (VcRfaH-CTD). Source data files have been provided for Figures 2, 3, 5, and 6
- Philipp K Zuber
The COST action funded PKZ's research stay to conduct DSC experiments at the Birkbeck UCL, UK.A DFG grant (to Paul Rösch, former head of department) funded PKZ's position and parts of the research material.
- Rina Rosenzweig, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
© 2022, Zuber 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.
Previously we showed that 2D template matching (2DTM) can be used to localize macromolecular complexes in images recorded by cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) with high precision, even in the presence of noise and cellular background (Lucas et al., 2021; Lucas et al., 2022). Here, we show that once localized, these particles may be averaged together to generate high-resolution 3D reconstructions. However, regions included in the template may suffer from template bias, leading to inflated resolution estimates and making the interpretation of high-resolution features unreliable. We evaluate conditions that minimize template bias while retaining the benefits of high-precision localization, and we show that molecular features not present in the template can be reconstructed at high resolution from targets found by 2DTM, extending prior work at low-resolution. Moreover, we present a quantitative metric for template bias to aid the interpretation of 3D reconstructions calculated with particles localized using high-resolution templates and fine angular sampling.
To fire action-potential-like electrical signals, the vacuole membrane requires the two-pore channel TPC1, formerly called SV channel. The TPC1/SV channel functions as a depolarization-stimulated, non-selective cation channel that is inhibited by luminal Ca2+. In our search for species-dependent functional TPC1 channel variants with different luminal Ca2+ sensitivity, we found in total three acidic residues present in Ca2+ sensor sites 2 and 3 of the Ca2+-sensitive AtTPC1 channel from Arabidopsis thaliana that were neutral in its Vicia faba ortholog and also in those of many other Fabaceae. When expressed in the Arabidopsis AtTPC1-loss-of-function background, wild-type VfTPC1 was hypersensitive to vacuole depolarization and only weakly sensitive to blocking luminal Ca2+. When AtTPC1 was mutated for these VfTPC1-homologous polymorphic residues, two neutral substitutions in Ca2+ sensor site 3 alone were already sufficient for the Arabidopsis At-VfTPC1 channel mutant to gain VfTPC1-like voltage and luminal Ca2+ sensitivity that together rendered vacuoles hyperexcitable. Thus, natural TPC1 channel variants exist in plant families which may fine-tune vacuole excitability and adapt it to environmental settings of the particular ecological niche.