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Keywords:

  • transcription;
  • Ras-dependent signal transduction;
  • PNT domain;
  • SAM domain;
  • MAP kinase docking;
  • phosphorylation;
  • protein dynamics;
  • hydrogen exchange;
  • NMR spectroscopy

Abstract

Pointed-P2, the Drosophila ortholog of human ETS1 and ETS2, is a transcription factor involved in Ras/MAP kinase-regulated gene expression. In addition to a DNA-binding ETS domain, Pointed-P2 contains a PNT (or SAM) domain that serves as a docking module to enhance phosphorylation of an adjacent phosphoacceptor threonine by the ERK2 MAP kinase Rolled. Using NMR chemical shift, 15N relaxation, and amide hydrogen exchange measurements, we demonstrate that the Pointed-P2 PNT domain contains a dynamic N-terminal helix H0 appended to a core conserved five-helix bundle diagnostic of the SAM domain fold. Neither the secondary structure nor dynamics of the PNT domain is perturbed significantly upon in vitro ERK2 phosphorylation of three threonine residues in a disordered sequence immediately preceding this domain. These data thus confirm that the Drosophila Pointed-P2 PNT domain and phosphoacceptors are highly similar to those of the well-characterized human ETS1 transcription factor. NMR-monitored titrations also revealed that the phosphoacceptors and helix H0, as well as region of the core helical bundle identified previously by mutational analyses as a kinase docking site, are selectively perturbed upon ERK2 binding by Pointed-P2. Based on a homology model derived from the ETS1 PNT domain, helix H0 is predicted to partially occlude the docking interface. Therefore, this dynamic helix must be displaced to allow both docking of the kinase, as well as binding of Mae, a Drosophila protein that negatively regulates Pointed-P2 by competing with the kinase for its docking site.