Modular organization and combinatorial energetics of proline-tyrosine nuclear localization signals

Katherine E. Süel, Hongmei Gu, Yuh Min Chook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Scopus citations

Abstract

Proline-tyrosine nuclear localization signals (PY-NLSs) are recognized and transported into the nucleus by human Karyopherin (Kap) β2/Transportin and yeast Kap104p. Multipartite PY-NLSs are highly diverse in sequence and structure, share a common C-terminal R/H/KX2-5PY motif, and can be subdivided into hydrophobic and basic subclasses based on loose N-terminal sequence motifs. PY-NLS variability is consistent with weak consensus motifs, but such diversity potentially renders comprehensive genome-scale searches intractable. Here, we use yeast Kap104p as a model system to understand the energetic organization of this NLS. First, we show that Kap104p substrates contain PY-NLSs, demonstrating their generality across eukaryotes. Previously reported Kapβ2-NLS structures explain Kap104p specificity for the basic PY-NLS. More importantly, thermodynamic analyses revealed physical properties that govern PY-NLS binding affinity: (1) PY-NLSs contain three energetically significant linear epitopes, (2) each epitope accommodates substantial sequence diversity, within defined limits, (3) the epitopes are energetically quasi-independent, and (4) a given linear epitope can contribute differently to total binding energy in different PY-NLSs, amplifying signal diversity through combinatorial mixing of energetically weak and strong motifs. The modular organization of the PY-NLS coupled with its combinatorial energetics lays a path to decode this diverse and evolvable signal for future comprehensive genome-scale identification of nuclear import substrates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere137
Pages (from-to)1253-1267
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS biology
Volume6
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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