Polymerization and phase separation of proteins containing low-complexity (LC) domains are important factors in gene expression, mRNA processing and trafficking, and localization of translation. We have used solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance methods to characterize the molecular structure of self-assembling fibrils formed by the LC domain of the fused in sarcoma (FUS) RNA-binding protein. From the 214-residue LC domain of FUS (FUS-LC), a segment of only 57 residues forms the fibril core, while other segments remain dynamically disordered. Unlike pathogenic amyloid fibrils, FUS-LC fibrils lack hydrophobic interactions within the core and are not polymorphic at the molecular structural level. Phosphorylation of core-forming residues by DNA-dependent protein kinase blocks binding of soluble FUS-LC to FUS-LC hydrogels and dissolves phase-separated, liquid-like FUS-LC droplets. These studies offer a structural basis for understanding LC domain self-assembly, phase separation, and regulation by post-translational modification.
Keywords: FUS; amyloid structure; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; electron microscopy; labile cross-β polymer; liquid droplet; liquid-liquid phase separation; low-complexity sequence; neurodegeneration; solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance.
Published by Elsevier Inc.