Sci Rep 9 (1) 818 [2019-01-28; online 2019-01-28]
UVR8 (UV RESISTANCE LOCUS 8) is a UV-B photoreceptor responsible for initiating UV-B signalling in plants. UVR8 is a homodimer in its signalling inactive form. Upon absorption of UV radiation, the protein monomerizes into its photoactivated state. In the monomeric form, UVR8 binds the E3 ubiquitin ligase COP1 (CONSTITUTIVELY PHOTOMORPHOGENIC 1), triggering subsequent UV-B-dependent photomorphogenic development in plants. Recent in vivo experiments have shown that the UVR8 C-terminal region (aa 397-423; UVR8C27) alone is sufficient to regulate the activity of COP1. In this work, CD spectroscopy and NMR experiments showed that the UVR8C27 domain was non-structured but gained secondary structure at higher temperatures leading to increased order. Bias-exchange metadynamics simulations were also performed to evaluate the free energy landscape of UVR8C27. An inverted free energy landscape was revealed, with a disordered structure in the global energy minimum. Flanking the global energy minimum, more structured states were found at higher energies. Furthermore, stabilization of the low energy disordered state was attributed to a proline residue, P411, as evident from P411A mutant data. P411 is also a key residue in UVR8 binding to COP1. UVR8C27 is therefore structurally competent to function as a molecular switch for interaction of UVR8 with different binding partners since at higher free energies different structural conformations are being induced in this peptide. P411 has a key role for this function.