Conformational characterization of the intrinsically disordered protein Chibby: Interplay between structural elements in target recognition

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Abstract

The protein Chibby (Cby) is an antagonist of the Wnt signaling pathway, where it inhibits the binding between the transcriptional coactivator β-catenin and the Tcf/Lef transcription factors. The 126 residue Cby is partially disordered; its N-terminal half is unstructured while its C-terminal half comprises a coiled-coil domain. Previous structural analyses of Cby using NMR spectroscopy suffered from severe line broadening for residues within the protein's C-terminal half, hindering detailed characterization of the coiled-coil domain. Here, we use hydrogen/deuterium exchange-mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) to examine Cby's C-terminal half. Results reveal that Cby is divided into three structural elements: a disordered N-terminal half, a coiled-coil domain, and a C-terminal unstructured extension consisting of the last ˜ 25 residues (which we term C-terminal extension). A series of truncation constructs were designed to assess the roles of individual structural elements in protein stability and Cby binding to TC-1, a positive regulator of the Wnt signaling pathway. CD and NMR data show that Cby maintains coiled-coil structure upon deletion of either disordered region. NMR and ITC binding experiments between Cby and TC-1 illustrate that the interaction is retained upon deletion of either Cby's N-terminal half or its C-terminal extension. Intriguingly, Cby's C-terminal half alone binds to TC-1 with significantly greater affinity compared to full-length Cby, implying that target binding of the coiled-coil domain is affected by the flanking disordered regions.

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