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.
- DNA polymerase from bacteriophage T7 undergoes large, substrate-induced conformational changes that are thought to account for high replication fidelity, but prior studies were adversely affected by mutations required to construct a Cys-lite variant needed for site-specific fluorescence labeling. Here we have optimized the direct incorporation of a fluorescent un-natural amino acid, (7-hydroxy-4-coumarin-yl)-ethylglycine, using orthogonal amber suppression machinery in Escherichia coli. MS methods verify that the unnatural amino acid is only incorporated at one position with minimal background.
- 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.