The long acidic tail of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein forms an extended and flexible structure that interacts with specific residues within and between the HMG boxes.
Knapp S., Müller S., Digilio G., Bonaldi T., Bianchi ME., Musco G.
HMGB1 (high mobility group B1) is a conserved chromosomal protein composed of two similar DNA binding domains (HMG box A and box B) linked by a short basic stretch to an acidic C-terminal tail of 30 residues. The acidic tail modulates the DNA binding properties of HMGB1, and its length differentiates the various HMGB family members. We synthesized a peptide that corresponds to the acidic tail in HMGB1 (T-peptide) and studied its binding to the single boxes and to the fragment corresponding to tailless HMGB1 (designated as AB(bt) fragment). CD spectroscopy showed that T-peptide stabilizes significantly the AB(bt) fragment and that the complex has an identical thermal stability as full-length HMGB1. Calorimetric and NMR data showed that T-peptide binds with a dissociation constant of 9 microM to box A and much more weakly to box B. (1)H-(15)N HSQC spectra of full-length HMGB1 and of the AB(bt) fragment are very similar; the small chemical shift differences that exist correspond to those residues of the AB(bt) fragment that were affected by the addition of the T-peptide. We conclude that the T-peptide mimics closely the acidic tail and that the basic stretch and the acidic tail form an extended and flexible segment. The tail interacts with specific residues in the boxes and shields them from other interactions.