2022 Volume 11 Issue 1 Pages A0110
The contribution of disordered regions to protein function and structure is a relatively new field of study and of particular significance as their function has been implicated in some human diseases. Our objective was to analyze various deletion mutants of the bromodomain-containing protein 4 (BRD4) using native mass spectrometry to characterize the gas-phase behavior of the disordered region connected to the folded domain. A protein with a single bromodomain but no long disordered linker displayed a narrow charge distribution at low charge states, suggesting a compact structure. In contrast, proteins containing one or two bromodomains connected to a long disordered region exhibited multimodal charge distributions, suggesting the presence of compact and elongated conformers. In the presence of a pan-BET-bromodomain inhibitor, JQ1, the protein–JQ1 complex ions had relatively small numbers of positive charges, corresponding to compact conformers. In contrast, the ions with extremely high charge states did not form a complex with JQ1. This suggests that all of the JQ1-bound BRD4 proteins in the gas phase are in a compact conformation, including the linker region, while the unbound forms are considerably elongated. Although these are gas-phase phenomena, it is possible that the long disordered linker connected to the bromodomain causes the denaturation of the folded domain, which, in turn, affects its JQ1 recognition.