Human importin α3 and its N-terminal truncated form, without the importin-β-binding domain, are oligomeric species with a low conformational stability in solution

Clara Díaz-García, Felipe Hornos, A. Marcela Giudici, Ana Cámara-Artigas, Juan Román Luque-Ortega, Arantxa Arbe, Bruno Rizzuti, Carlos Alfonso, Jade K. Forwood, Juan L. Iovanna, Javier Gómez, Manuel Prieto, Ana Coutinho, José L. Neira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background

Eukaryotic cells have a continuous transit of macromolecules between the cytoplasm and the nucleus. Several carrier proteins are involved in this transport. One of them is importin α, which must form a complex with importin β to accomplish its function, by domain-swapping its 60-residue-long N terminus. There are several human isoforms of importin α; among them, importin α3 has a particularly high flexibility.

Methods

We studied the conformational stability of intact importin α3 (Impα3) and its truncated form, where the 64-residue-long, N-terminal importin-β-binding domain (IBB) has been removed (ΔImpα3), in a wide pH range, with several spectroscopic, biophysical, biochemical methods and with molecular dynamics (MD).

Results

Both species acquired native-like structure between pH 7 and 10.0, where Impα3 was a dimer (with an apparent self-association constant of ~10 μM) and ΔImpα3 had a higher tendency to self-associate than the intact species. The acquisition of secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure, and the burial of hydrophobic patches, occurred concomitantly. Both proteins unfolded irreversibly at physiological pH, by using either temperature or chemical denaturants, through several partially folded intermediates. The MD simulations support the presence of these intermediates.

Conclusions

The thermal stability of Impα3 at physiological pH was very low, but was higher than that of ΔImpα3. Both proteins were stable in a narrow pH range, and they unfolded at physiological pH populating several intermediate species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129609
Number of pages14
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Volume1864
Issue number7
Early online date29 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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