DNA-binding protects p53 from interactions with cofactors involved in transcription-independent functions

Matteo Lambrughi, Luca De Gioia, Francesco Luigi Gervasio, Kresten Lindorff-Larsen, Ruth Nussinov, Chiara Urani, Maurizio Bruschi, Elena Papaleo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Binding-induced conformational changes of a protein at regions distant from the binding site may play crucial roles in protein function and regulation. The p53 tumour suppressor is an example of such an allosterically regulated protein. Little is known, however, about how DNA binding can affect distal sites for transcription factors. Furthermore, the molecular details of how a local perturbation is transmitted through a protein structure are generally elusive and occur on timescales hard to explore by simulations. Thus, we employed state-of-the-art enhanced sampling atomistic simulations to unveil DNA-induced effects on p53 structure and dynamics that modulate the recruitment of cofactors and the impact of phosphorylation at Ser215. We show that DNA interaction promotes a conformational change in a region 3 nm away from the DNA binding site. Specifically, binding to DNA increases the population of an occluded minor state at this distal site by more than 4-fold, whereas phosphorylation traps the protein in its major state. In the minor conformation, the interface of p53 that binds biological partners related to p53 transcription-independent functions is not accessible. Significantly, our study reveals a mechanism of DNA-mediated protection of p53 from interactions with partners involved in the p53 transcription-independent signalling. This also suggests that conformational dynamics is tightly related to p53 signalling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9096-9109
Number of pages14
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'DNA-binding protects p53 from interactions with cofactors involved in transcription-independent functions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this