Identification of a short, hydrophilic amino acid sequence critical for origin recognition by the bovine papillomavirus E1 protein.
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The E1 protein of bovine papillomavirus (BPV) is a site-specific DNA binding protein that recognizes an 18-bp inverted repeat element in the viral origin of replication. Sequence-specific DNA binding function maps to the region from approximately amino acids 140 to 300, and isolated polypeptides containing this region have been shown to retain origin binding in vitro. To investigate the sequence and structural characteristics which contribute to sequence-specific binding, the primary sequence of this region was examined for conserved features. The BPV E1 DNA binding domain (E1DBD) contains three major hydrophilic domains (HR1, amino acids 179-191; HR2, amino acids 218 to 230; and HR3, amino acids 241 to 252), of which only HR1 and HR3 are conserved among papillomavirus E1 proteins. E1DBD proteins with lysine-to-alanine mutations in HR1 and HR3 were severely impaired for DNA binding function in vitro, while a lysine-to-alanine mutation in HR2 had a minimal effect on DNA binding. Mutation of adjacent threonine residues in HR1 (T187 and T188) revealed that these two amino acids made drastically different contributions to DNA binding, with the T187 mutant being severely defective for origin binding whereas the T188 mutant was only mildly affected. Helical wheel projections of HR1 predict that T187 is on the same helical face as the critical lysine residues whereas T188 is on the opposing face, which is consistent with their respective contributions to DNA binding activity. To examine E1 binding in vivo, a yeast one-hybrid system was developed. Both full-length E1 and the E1DBD polypeptide were capable of specifically interacting with the E1 binding site in the context of the yeast genome, and HR1 was also critical for this in vivo interaction. Overall, our results indicate that HR1 is essential for origin binding by E1, and the features and properties of HR1 suggest that it may be part of a recognition sequence that mediates specific E1-nucleotide contacts.