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Tandem Dimerization of the Human p53 Tetramerization Domain Stabilizes a Primary Dimer Intermediate and Dramatically Enhances its Oligomeric Stability

Journal of Molecular Biology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2006.10.051
  • P53
  • Tetramerization Domain
  • Oligomerization
  • Thermodynamics
  • Folding Intermediate
  • Biology
  • Engineering


Abstract Tetramerization of the human p53 tumor suppressor protein is required for its biological functions. However, cellular levels of p53 indicate that it exists predominantly in a monomeric state. Since the oligomerization of p53 involves the rate-limiting formation of a primary dimer intermediate, we engineered a covalently linked pair of human p53 tetramerization (p53tet) domains to generate a tandem dimer (p53tetTD) that minimizes the energetic requirements for forming the primary dimer. We demonstrate that p53tetTD self-assembles into an oligomeric structure equivalent to the wild-type p53tet tetramer and exhibits dramatically enhanced oligomeric stability. Specifically, the p53tetTD dimer exhibits an unfolding/dissociation equilibrium constant of 26 fM at 37 °C, or a million-fold increase in stability relative to the wild-type p53tet tetramer, and resists subunit exchange with monomeric p53tet. In addition, whereas the wild-type p53tet tetramer undergoes coupled (i.e. two-state) dissociation/unfolding to unfolded monomers, the p53tetTD dimer denatures via an intermediate that is detectable by differential scanning calorimetry but not CD spectroscopy, consistent with a folded p53tetTD monomer that is equivalent to the p53tet primary dimer. Given its oligomeric stability and resistance against hetero-oligomerization, dimerization of p53 constructs incorporating the tetramerization domain may yield functional constructs that may resist exchange with wild-type or mutant forms of p53.

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