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Identification of G-Quadruplex-Binding Protein from the Exploration of RGG Motif/G-Quadruplex Interactions

Huang, Zhou-Li, Dai, Jing, Luo, Wen-Hua, Wang, Xiang-Gui, Tan, Jia-Heng, Chen, Shuo-Bin, Huang, Zhi-Shu
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018 v.140 no.51 pp. 17945-17955
DNA-binding proteins, RNA-binding proteins, amino acids, binding capacity, hydrogen bonding, nucleobases, peptides
The arginine/glycine-rich region termed the RGG domain is usually found in G-quadruplex (G4)-binding proteins and is important in G4–protein interactions. Studies on the binding mechanism of RGG domains found that small segments (RGG motif) inside the domain contribute greatly to the G4 binding affinity. However, unlike the entire RGG domains that have been broadly explored, the role of the RGG motif remains obscure, with very limited study. Herein, to clarify the role of the RGG motif in G4–protein interactions, we systematically investigated the binding affinity and mode between RGG-motif peptides and G4s. The internal arrangement of RGG repeats and gap amino acids played a more crucial role in the G4-binding mechanism than a critical number of RGG repeats. Arginines and phenylalanines at the exact position of the RGG motif might enable additional hydrogen bonding and π-stacking interaction with nucleobases and strengthen the binding of G4. Impressively, proceeding from a G4-binding RGG peptide, 12, discovered above, we identified the cold-inducible RNA-binding protein (CIRBP) as a new G4 DNA-binding protein both in vitro and in cells. In addition, we found that the key amino acids for G4 binding in peptide 12 and CIRBP were highly similar, and peptide 12 clearly played a key role in the G4 binding of CIRBP. This report is the first in which a G4-binding protein was identified from exploration of the G4-binding RGG motif. Our findings suggest a novel strategy for discovering new G4-binding proteins by exploring key peptide segments.