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The four Rep proteins of adeno-associated virus (AAV) orchestrate all aspects of its viral life cycle, including transcription regulation, DNA replication, virus assembly, and site-specific integration of the viral genome into the human chromosome 19. All Rep proteins share a central SF3 superfamily helicase domain. In other SF3 members this domain is sufficient to induce oligomerization. However, the helicase domain in AAV Rep proteins (i.e. Rep40/Rep52) as shown by its monomeric characteristic, is not able to mediate stable oligomerization. This observation led us to hypothesize the existence of an as yet undefined structural determinant that regulates Rep oligomerization. In this document, we described a detailed structural comparison between the helicase domains of AAV-2 Rep proteins and those of the other SF3 members. This analysis shows a major structural difference residing in the small oligomerization sub-domain (OD) of Rep helicase domain. In addition, secondary structure prediction of the linker connecting the helicase domain to the origin-binding domain (OBD) indicates the potential to form α-helices. We demonstrate that mutant Rep40 constructs containing different lengths of the linker are able to form dimers, and in the presence of ATP/ADP, larger oligomers. We further identified an aromatic linker residue (Y224) that is critical for oligomerization, establishing it as a conserved signature motif in SF3 helicases. Mutation of this residue critically affects oligomerization as well as completely abolishes the ability to produce infectious virus. Taken together, our data support a model where the linker residues preceding the helicase domain fold into an α-helix that becomes an integral part of the helicase domain and is critical for the oligomerization and function of Rep68/78 proteins through cooperative interaction with the OBD and helicase domains.
Copyright: © 2012 Zarate-Perez et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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VCU Physiology and Biophysics Publications