Tar rna mediated folding of a single-arginine-mutant hiv-1 tat protein within hela cells experiencing intracellular crowding

Jung Min Kim, Honggu Chun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The various effects of native protein folding on the stability and folding rate of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) in crowded intracellular environments are important in biomedicine. Although most studies on protein folding have been conducted in vitro, providing valuable insights, studies on protein folding in crowded intracellular environments are scarce. This study aimed to explore the effects of intracellular molecular crowding on the folding of mutant transactivator HIV-1 Tat based on intracellular interactions, including TAR RNA, as proof of the previously reported chaperna-RNA concept. Considering that the Tat–TAR RNA motif binds RNA, we assessed the po tential function of TAR RNA as a chaperna for the refolding of R52Tat, a mutant in which the argi nine (R) residues at R52 have been replaced with alanine (A) by site-directed mutagenesis. We mon itored Tat-EGFP and Tat folding in HeLa cells via time-lapse fluorescence microscopy and biolayer interferometry using EGFP fusion as an indicator for folding status. These results show that the refolding of R52A Tat was stimulated well at a 0.3 µM TAR RNA concentration; wild-type Tat refolding was essentially abolished because of a reduction in the affinity for TAR RNA at that con centration. The folding and refolding of R52Tat were mainly promoted upon stimulation with TAR RNA. Our findings provide novel insights into the therapeutic potential of chaperna-mediated fold ing through the examination of as-yet-unexplored RNA-mediated protein folding as well as viral genetic variants that modulate viral evolutionary linkages for viral diseases inside a crowded intra cellular environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9998
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sept


  • Arginine-rich domains
  • Chaperna
  • Folding kinetics
  • Tat
  • crowding effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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