The human guanylate-binding proteins hGBP-1 and hGBP-5 cycle between monomers and dimers only
Belonging to the dynamin superfamily of large GTPases, human guanylate-binding proteins (hGBPs) comprise a family of seven isoforms (hGBP-1 to hGBP-7) that are strongly upregulated in response to interferon-γ and other cytokines. Accordingly, several hGBPs are found to exhibit various cellular functions encompassing inhibitory effects on cell proliferation, tumor suppression as well as antiviral and antibacterial activity; however, their mechanism of action is only poorly understood. Often, cellular functions of dynamin-related proteins are closely linked to their ability to form nucleotide-dependent oligomers, a feature that also applies to hGBP-1 and hGBP-5. hGBPs are described as monomers, dimers, tetramers, and higher oligomeric species, the function of which is not clearly established. Therefore, this work focused on the oligomerization capability of hGBP-1 and hGBP-5, which are reported to assemble to homodimers and homotetramers. Employing independent methods such as size-exclusion chromatography, which relies on the hydrodynamic radius, and multiangle light scattering, which relies on the mass of the protein, revealed that previous interpretations regarding the size of the proteins and their complexes have to be revised. Additional studies using inter- and intramolecular Förster resonance energy transfer demonstrated that nucleotide-triggered intramolecular structural changes lead to a more extended shape of hGBP-1 being responsible for the appearance of larger oligomeric species. Thus, previously reported tetrameric and dimeric species of hGBP-1 and hGBP-5 were unmasked as dimers and monomers, respectively, with their shapes depending on both the bound nucleotide and the ionic strength of the solution.