Peptides are valuable tools for studying protein-protein interactions, especially in cases of isolated protein domains and natively unfolded proteins. Here, we used peptides to quantitatively characterize the interaction between the natively unfolded HIV-1 Tat protein and the tetramerization domain of the cellular tumor suppressor protein p53. We used peptide mapping, fluorescence anisotropy, and NMR spectroscopy to perform a detailed structural and biophysical characterization of the interaction between the two proteins and elucidate its molecular mechanism, which have so far been studied using cell-based methods. We show that the p53 tetramerization domain, p53(326-355), binds directly to residues 1-35 and 47-57 in Tat. We have characterized the interaction between p53(326-355) and Tat(47-57) in detail. The p53 residues that are mainly involved in binding to Tat(47-57) are E343 and E349, which bind to the positively charged arginine-rich motif of Tat by a partly electrostatic mechanism. All oligomerization states of p53(326-355) bind Tat(47-57) without inhibiting p53 tetramerization, since the residues in p53(326-355) that bind Tat(47-57) face away from the tetramerization interface. We conclude that p53 is able to bind Tat as a transcriptionally active tetramer.
- Fluorescence anisotropy
- Protein-protein interactions