Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Single-stranded DNA-binding protein proven dynamic, critical to DNA repair

22.10.2009
Researchers report that a single-stranded DNA-binding protein (SSB), once thought to be a static player among the many molecules that interact with DNA, actually moves back and forth along single-stranded DNA, gradually allowing other proteins to repair, recombine or replicate the strands.

Their study, of SSB in the bacterium Escherichia coli, appears today in the journal Nature.

Whenever the double helix of DNA unravels, exposing each strand to the harsh environment of the cell, SSB is usually first on the scene, said University of Illinois physics professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Taekjip Ha, who led the study.

Although DNA unwinding is necessary for replication or recombination, it is normally a transient process, he said. Exposed single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) can be damaged or degraded by enzymes in the cell. Damaged DNA may also come unwound, and ssDNA can bond to itself, forming hairpin loops and other problematic structures.

“If you have lots of single-stranded DNA in the cell, basically it’s a sign of trouble,” Ha said. “SSB needs to come and bind to it to protect it from degradation and to control what kind of proteins have access to the single-stranded DNA.”

Although other proteins are known to travel along double-stranded DNA, this is the first study to find a protein that migrates back and forth randomly on single-stranded DNA, Ha said.

Other researchers had assumed that SSB simply bound to DNA where it was needed and then fell off when its job was done. But a collaborator on the new study who has studied SSB for two decades, Timothy Lohman, of Washington University School of Medicine, suspected that the protein’s interaction with DNA was more dynamic. That hunch turned out to be true, Ha said.

The SSB protein is made up of four identical subunits. Single-stranded DNA loops around and through them in a pattern “that looks like the seam on a baseball,” Ha said. The DNA entry and exit points are very close to one another, making it possible to track the interaction of ssDNA and SSB using a technique called fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET).

FRET makes use of fluorescent molecules whose signals vary in intensity depending on their proximity to one another. By labeling different lengths of ssDNA with red and green dyes about 65 nucleotides apart (the length of ssDNA that threads through the SSB) and tracking the FRET signal as these single DNA molecules were exposed to SSB, the researchers were able to track the movement of SSB in relation to the single-stranded DNA.

In a series of experiments, the researchers showed that SSB diffuses randomly back and forth along single-stranded DNA, and that this movement is independent of the sequence of nucleotides that make up the DNA. They also found that an important DNA repair protein in E. coli, RecA, grows along the ssDNA in tandem with the movement of SSB. As the RecA protein extends along the DNA strand it prevents the backward movement of the SSB.

The researchers also found that SSB can “melt” small hairpin loops that appear in single-stranded DNA, straightening them so that the RecA protein can bind to and repair them. In this way SSB modulates the activity of RecA and other proteins that are involved in DNA repair, recombination and replication.

“SSB may be a master coordinator of all these important processes,” Ha said.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health. The study is a project of the NSF-funded Center for the Physics of Living Cells at the University of Illinois, which Ha co-directs with U. of I. physics professor Klaus Schulten. Ha also is an affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology.

Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>