Thermodynamics of forming a parallel DNA crossover.
ABSTRACT: The process of genetic recombination involves the formation of branched four-stranded DNA structures known as Holliday junctions. The Holliday junction is known to have an antiparallel orientation of its helices, i.e., the crossover occurs between strands of opposite polarity. Some intermediates in this process are known to involve two crossover sites, and these may involve crossovers between strands of identical polarity. Surprisingly, if a crossover occurs at every possible juxtaposition of backbones between parallel DNA double helices, the molecules form a paranemic structure with two helical domains, known as PX-DNA. Model PX-DNA molecules can be constructed from a variety of DNA molecules with five nucleotide pairs in the minor groove and six, seven or eight nucleotide pairs in the major groove. A topoisomer of the PX motif is the juxtaposed JX(1) molecule, wherein one crossover is missing between the two helical domains. The JX(1) molecule offers an outstanding baseline molecule with which to compare the PX molecule, so as to measure the thermodynamic cost of forming a crossover in a parallel molecule. We have made these measurements using calorimetric and ultraviolet hypochromicity methods, as well as denaturing gradient gel electrophoretic methods. The results suggest that in relaxed conditions, a system that meets the pairing requirements for PX-DNA would prefer to form the PX motif relative to juxtaposed molecules, particularly for the 6:5 structure.
Project description:Paranemic crossover (PX) DNA is a four-stranded coaxial DNA complex containing a central dyad axis that relates two flanking parallel double helices. The strands are held together exclusively by Watson-Crick base pairing. The key feature of the structure is that the two adjacent parallel DNA double helices form crossovers at every point possible. Hence, reciprocal crossover points flank the central dyad axis at every major or minor groove separation. This motif has been modeled and characterized in an oligonucleotide system; a minor groove separation of five nucleotide pairs and major groove separations of six, seven, or eight nucleotide pairs produce stable PX DNA molecules; a major groove separation of 9 nucleotide pairs is possible at low concentrations. Every strand undergoes a crossover every helical repeat (11, 12, 13, or 14 nucleotides), but the structural period of each strand corresponds to two helical repeats (22, 24, 26, or 28 nucleotides). Nondenaturing gel electrophoresis shows that the molecules are stable, forming well-behaved complexes. PX DNA can be produced from closed dumbbells, demonstrating that the molecule is paranemic. Ferguson analysis indicates that the molecules are similar in shape to DNA double crossover molecules. Circular dichroism spectra are consistent with B-form DNA. Thermal transition profiles suggest a premelting transition in each of the molecules. Hydroxyl radical autofootprinting analysis confirms that there is a crossover point at each of the positions expected in the secondary structure. These molecules are generalized Holliday junctions.
Project description:Reciprocating devices are key features in macroscopic machines. We have adapted the DNA PX-JX(2) device to a reciprocal format. The PX-JX(2) device is a robust sequence-dependent nanomachine, whose state is established by a pair of control strands that set it to be either in the PX state or in the JX(2) state. The two states differ by a half-turn rotation between their ends. Here we report the construction of a pair of reciprocal PX-JX(2) devices, wherein the control strands leading to the PX state in one device lead to the JX(2) state in the other device and vice versa. The formation, transformation, and reciprocal motions of these two device systems are confirmed using gel electrophoresis and atomic force microscopy. This system is likely to be of use for molecular robotic applications where reciprocal motions are of value in addition its inherent contribution to molecular choreography and molecular aesthetics.
Project description:Cre recombinase catalyzes site-specific recombination between two 34-bp loxP sites in a variety of DNA substrates. At the start of the recombination pathway, the loxP sites are each bound by two recombinase molecules, and synapsis of the sites is mediated by Cre-Cre interactions. We describe the structures of synaptic complexes formed between a symmetrized loxP site and two Cre mutants that are defective in strand cleavage. The DNA in these complexes is bent sharply at a single base pair step at one end of the crossover region in a manner that is atypical of protein-induced DNA bends. A large negative roll (-49 degrees) and a positive tilt (16 degrees) open the major groove toward the center of the synapse and compress the minor groove toward the protein-DNA interface. The bend direction of the site appears to determine which of the two DNA substrate strands will be cleaved and exchanged in the initial stages of the recombination pathway. These results provide a structural basis for the observation that exchange of DNA strands proceeds in a defined order in some tyrosine recombinase systems. The Cre-loxS synaptic complex structure supports a model in which synapsis of the loxP sites results in formation of a Holliday junction-like DNA architecture that is maintained through the initial cleavage and strand exchange steps in the site-specific recombination pathway.
Project description:PX-DNA is a four-stranded DNA structure that has been implicated in the recognition of homology, either continuously, or in an every-other-half-turn fashion. Some of the structural features of the molecule have been noted previously, but the structure requires further characterization. Here, we report atomic force microscopic characterization of PX molecules that contain periodically placed biotin groups, enabling the molecule to be labeled by streptavidin molecules at these sites. In comparison with conventional double stranded DNA and with antiparallel DNA double crossover molecules, it is clear that PX-DNA is a more dynamic structure. Furthermore, the spacing between the nucleotide pairs along the helix axis is shorter, suggesting a mixed B/A structure. Circular dichroism spectroscopy indicates unusual features in the PX molecule that are absent in both the molecules to which it is compared.
Project description:Structural DNA nanotechnology is directed at building objects, lattices, and arrays from cohesive interactions between DNA molecules. The predominant means of doing this takes advantage of the information inherent in Watson-Crick base pairing in duplex formation and in sticky-ended cohesion. Nevertheless, other forms of nucleic acid cohesion are also known, particularly paranemic edge-sharing interactions (PX). Here we report the formation of a triangular species that has four strands per edge, held together by PX interactions. We demonstrate by nondenaturing gel electrophoresis and by atomic force microscopy (AFM) that we can combine a partial triangle with other strands to form a four-stranded molecule that is robust. By combining them with a new mixed-fusion type of three-domain molecule, we demonstrate by AFM that these triangles can be self-assembled into a linear array.
Project description:We have used DNA double crossover (DX) molecules to produce a translation system that generates unique molecular products. The particular species of DX molecule used contains an even number of half-turns between crossover points, so there is a continuous strand on both sides of the molecule. One of these strands acts as the input strand containing the message, and a second strand acts as the product of translation. The crossover strands carry the "code" that connects the two sides of the molecule. This system is more robust, more extendable, and simpler than previous DNA-based translation systems that have been reported. It is designed to be useful in a variety of applications that utilize the concept of translating from one code to another.
Project description:In the major pathway of homologous DNA recombination in prokaryotic cells, the Holliday junction intermediate is processed through its association with RuvA, RuvB, and RuvC proteins. Specific binding of the RuvA tetramer to the Holliday junction is required for the RuvB motor protein to be loaded onto the junction DNA, and the RuvAB complex drives the ATP-dependent branch migration. We solved the crystal structure of the Holliday junction bound to a single Escherichia coli RuvA tetramer at 3.1-A resolution. In this complex, one side of DNA is accessible for cleavage by RuvC resolvase at the junction center. The refined junction DNA structure revealed an open concave architecture with a four-fold symmetry. Each arm, with B-form DNA, in the Holliday junction is predominantly recognized in the minor groove through hydrogen bonds with two repeated helix-hairpin-helix motifs of each RuvA subunit. The local conformation near the crossover point, where two base pairs are disrupted, suggests a possible scheme for successive base pair rearrangements, which may account for smooth Holliday junction movement without segmental unwinding.
Project description:Single-molecule orientation measurements provide unparalleled insight into a multitude of biological and polymeric systems. We report a simple, high-throughput technique for measuring the azimuthal orientation and rotational dynamics of single fluorescent molecules, which is compatible with localization microscopy. Our method involves modulating the polarization of an excitation laser, and analyzing the corresponding intensities emitted by single dye molecules and their modulation amplitudes. To demonstrate our approach, we use intercalating and groove-binding dyes to obtain super-resolved images of stretched DNA strands through binding-induced turn-on of fluorescence. By combining our image data with thousands of dye molecule orientation measurements, we develop a means of probing the structure of individual DNA strands, while also characterizing dye-DNA interactions. This approach may hold promise as a method for monitoring DNA conformation changes resulting from DNA-binding proteins.
Project description:The double Holliday junction (dHJ) is a central intermediate to homologous recombination, but biochemical analysis of the metabolism of this structure has been hindered by the lack of a substrate that adequately replicates the endogenous structure. We have synthesized a novel dHJ substrate that consists of two small, double stranded DNA circles conjoined by two Holliday junctions (HJs). Its biochemical synthesis is based on the production of two pairs of single stranded circles from phagemids, followed by their sequential annealing with reverse gyrase. The sequence between the two HJs is identical on both strands, allowing the HJs to migrate without the generation of unpaired regions of DNA, whereas the distance between the HJs is on the order of gene conversion tracts thus far measured in Drosophila and mouse model systems. The structure of this substrate also provides similar topological constraint as would occur in an endogenous dHJ. Digestion of the dHJ substrate by T7 endonuclease I resolves the substrate into crossover and non-crossover products, as predicted by the Szostak model of double strand break repair. This substrate will greatly facilitate the examination of the mechanism of resolution of double Holliday junctions.
Project description:Holliday junctions are important structural intermediates in recombination, viral integration, and DNA repair. We present here the single-crystal structure of the inverted repeat sequence d(CCGGTACCGG) as a Holliday junction at the nominal resolution of 2. 1 A. Unlike the previous crystal structures, this DNA junction has B-DNA arms with all standard Watson-Crick base pairs; it therefore represents the intermediate proposed by Holliday as being involved in homologous recombination. The junction is in the stacked-X conformation, with two interconnected duplexes formed by coaxially stacked arms, and is crossed at an angle of 41.4 degrees as a right-handed X. A sequence comparison with previous B-DNA and junction crystal structures shows that an ACC trinucleotide forms the core of a stable junction in this system. The 3'-C x G base pair of this ACC core forms direct and water-mediated hydrogen bonds to the phosphates at the crossover strands. Interactions within this core define the conformation of the Holliday junction, including the angle relating the stacked duplexes and how the base pairs are stacked in the stable form of the junction.