Conformational Regulation of the Essential Epigenetic Regulator UHRF1

  • Aar√≥n Pantoja Angles

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


UHRF1 is an essential epigenetic regulator implicated in the maintenance of DNA methylation. While its functional state has been suggested to be allosterically regulated by phosphatidylinositol 5-phosphate and dependent on purification conditions and tags coupled to the protein, the expression system might have a broader impact on UHRF1s interaction properties. We hypothesized that the translation kinetics defined by the expression host has an impact on the folding process of the protein, which ultimately affects its structure and function. To test this idea, the cDNA of UHRF1 was recoded in order to generate optimized and harmonized sequences that were expected to alter the overall translation speed. Both proteins were expressed in Escherichia coli BL21-DE3 and their interaction profiles with H3K9me3 and unmodified H3 peptides were determined by microscale thermophoresis assays. The dissociation constants were compared by ttests in order to evaluate a possible change in the interaction properties of the optimized and harmonized proteins, compared to non-optimized UHRF1 expressed in E. coli BL21-DE3. While no difference was found for the interaction of optimized UHRF1 with the H3K9me3 peptide, a significant difference was found for its interaction with the unmodified H3 peptide. Moreover, both the interactions of harmonized UHRF1 with H3K9me3 and unmodified H3 peptides were determined to change. For this reason, we concluded that translation kinetics dependent on the expression system impacts the functional state of UHRF1. To further study this phenomenon, we expressed the consensus sequence of UHRF1 in Escherichia coli BL21-Codon Plus-(DE3)-RIL, a bacterial strain that is enriched with arginine, isoleucine, and leucine tRNA isoacceptors. Differences in its interaction profile with histone peptides were found when compared with UHRF1 expressed in Escherichia coli BL21-DE3. Since the major difference between these strains is the abundance of tRNAs, we obtained further findings that support our initial hypothesis. Additionally, the interaction profiles from the consensus UHRF1 protein were determined in the presence of PI5P to get an insight into how this phosphoinositide might impact the final structure and function of UHRF1. MST measurements and limited proteolysis assays led us to the idea of a partially open conformation for the UHRF1 expressed in E. coli BL21-DE3 and E.coli Codon Plus-(DE3)-RIL.
Date of AwardMay 2018
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorWolfgang Fischle (Supervisor)


  • UHRF1

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