YB-1 is a major mRNP protein participating in the regulation of transcription and translation of a wide range of eukaryotic genes in many organisms probably due to its influence on mRNA packing into mRNPs. While the functional properties of YB-1 are extensively studied, little is known about its structural properties. In the present work we focused on studying its secondary structure, rigidity of its tertiary structure, compactness, and oligomerization in vitro by using far UV-CD, DSC, one-dimensional (1)H NMR, SAXS, sedimentation and FPLC. It was shown that only the cold shock domain within the entire YB-1 chain has a well-packed tertiary structure undergoing cooperative heat and cold denaturation transitions. In contrast, the rest of the YB-1 molecule is not rigidly packed and consists of PP II-like helical secondary structure elements and coil-like regions. At the same time, the overall dimension of the protein molecule is unexpectedly small. The polypeptide chains of YB-1 have a high tendency to form oligomers at neutral pH, while the extent and structural organization of the oligomers depend on protein concentration and ionic strength varying from compact monomeric units up to high molecular weight oligomers. These oligomers in solution are unstable and dissociate upon protein concentration decrease.
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