DNA and Chromosomes
- Magnesium ions play a critical role in catalysis by many enzymes and contribute to the fidelity of DNA polymerases through a two-metal ion mechanism. However, specificity is a kinetic phenomenon and the roles of Mg2+ ions in each step in the catalysis have not been resolved. We first examined the roles of Mg2+ by kinetic analysis of single nucleotide incorporation catalyzed by HIV reverse transcriptase. We show that Mg.dNTP binding induces an enzyme conformational change at a rate that is independent of free Mg2+ concentration.
- We address the role of enzyme conformational dynamics in specificity for a high-fidelity DNA polymerase responsible for genome replication. We present the complete characterization of the conformational dynamics during the correct nucleotide incorporation forward and reverse reactions using stopped-flow and rapid-quench methods with a T7 DNA polymerase variant containing a fluorescent unnatural amino acid, (7-hydroxy-4-coumarin-yl) ethylglycine, which provides a signal for enzyme conformational changes.
- The human mitochondrial ssDNA-binding protein (mtSSB) is a homotetrameric protein, involved in mtDNA replication and maintenance. Although mtSSB is structurally similar to SSB from Escherichia coli (EcoSSB), it lacks the C-terminal disordered domain, and little is known about the biophysics of mtSSB–ssDNA interactions. Here, we characterized the kinetics and thermodynamics of mtSSB binding to ssDNA by equilibrium titrations and stopped-flow kinetic measurements. We show that the mtSSB tetramer can bind to ssDNA in two distinct binding modes: (SSB)30 and (SSB)60, defined by DNA binding site sizes of 30 and 60 nucleotides, respectively.