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DNA modeling reveals an extended lac repressor conformation in classic in vitro binding assays.


ABSTRACT: Protein-mediated DNA looping, such as that induced by the lactose repressor (LacI) of Escherichia coli, is a well-known gene regulation mechanism. Although researchers have given considerable attention to DNA looping by LacI, many unanswered questions about this mechanism, including the role of protein flexibility, remain. Recent single-molecule observations suggest that the two DNA-binding domains of LacI are capable of splaying open about the tetramerization domain into an extended conformation. We hypothesized that if recent experiments were able to reveal the extended conformation, it is possible that such structures occurred in previous studies as well. In this study, we tested our hypothesis by reevaluating two classic in vitro binding assays using a computational rod model of DNA. The experiments and computations evaluate the looping of both linear DNA and supercoiled DNA minicircles over a broad range of DNA interoperator lengths. The computed energetic minima align well with the experimentally observed interoperator length for optimal loop stability. Of equal importance, the model reveals that the most stable loops for linear DNA occur when LacI adopts the extended conformation. In contrast, for DNA minicircles, optimal stability may arise from either the closed or the extended protein conformation depending on the degree of supercoiling and the interoperator length.

SUBMITTER: Hirsh AD 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC3145271 | BioStudies | 2011-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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