A genetic screen to isolate “Lariat” peptide inhibitors of protein function
Functional genomic analyses provide information that allows hypotheses to be formulated on protein function. These hypotheses, however, need to be validated using reverse genetic approaches, which are difficult to perform on a large scale and in diploid organisms. To address this problem, we developed a genetic screen to rapidly isolate “lariat” peptides that function as trans dominant inhibitors of protein function. We engineered intein proteins to genetically produce lariats. A lariat consists of a lactone peptide covalently attached to a linear peptide. Cyclizing peptides with a lactone bond imposes a constraint even within the reducing environment found inside of cells. The covalently attached linear peptide provides a site for fusing protein moieties. We fused a transcriptional activation domain to a combinatorial lactone peptide, which allowed combinatorial lariat libraries to be screened for protein interactions using the yeast two-hybrid assay. We confirmed that the intein processed in yeast using Western blot analysis. A chemoselective ring opening of the lactone bond with heavy water, followed by mass spectrometry analysis showed that ~ 44% of purified lariat contained an intact lactone bond. To improve the stability of the lactone bond, we introduced mutations into the engineered intein and analyzed their processing and stability by mass spectrometery. Several mutations were identified that increased the amount of intact lariat. Combinatorial libraries of lactone peptides were generated and screened using the yeast-two-hybrid interaction trap. Lactone cyclic peptides that bound to a number of different targets including LexA, Jak2, and Riz1 were isolated. A lactone cyclic peptide isolated against the bacterial repressor protein LexA was characterized. LexA regulates bacterial SOS response and LexA mutants that cannot undergo autoproteolyis make bacteria more sensitive to, and inhibit resistance against cytotoxic reagents. The anti-LexA lariat interacted with LexA with a dissociation constant of 37 µM by surface plasmon resonance. The lactone constraint was determined to be required for the interaction of the anti-LexA L2 lariat with LexA in the yeast-two-hybrid assay. Alanine scanning showed that only two amino acids (G8 and E9) in the anti-LexA L2 sequence (1-SRSWDLPGEY-10) were not required for the interaction with LexA. The interaction of the anti-LexA lariat with LexA in vivo was confirmed by chromatin precipitation of the lactone peptide-LexA-DNA complex. The anti-microbial properties of the anti-LexA lariat were also characterized. The anti-LexA lariat potentiated the activity of a DNA damaging agent mitomycin C and inhibited the cleavage of LexA, preventing the SOS response pathway from being activated. In summary, lariats possess desired traits for characterizing the function and therapeutic potential of proteins. The ability to genetically and chemically synthesize lariats allows the lariat transcription activation domain to be replaced by other peptide and chemical moieties such as affinity tags, fluorescent molecules, localization sequences, et cetera, which give them advantages over “head to tail” cyclized peptides, which have no free end to attach moieties.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorGeyer, C. Ronald
CommitteeAnderson, Deborah; Wang, Hong; Roesler, William J.; Khandelwal, R.J.; Harkness, Troy; Koide, Shohei
Copyright DateFebruary 2010