Searching target sites on DNA by proteins: Role of DNA dynamics under confinement.
ABSTRACT: DNA-binding proteins (DBPs) rapidly search and specifically bind to their target sites on genomic DNA in order to trigger many cellular regulatory processes. It has been suggested that the facilitation of search dynamics is achieved by combining 3D diffusion with one-dimensional sliding and hopping dynamics of interacting proteins. Although, recent studies have advanced the knowledge of molecular determinants that affect one-dimensional search efficiency, the role of DNA molecule is poorly understood. In this study, by using coarse-grained simulations, we propose that dynamics of DNA molecule and its degree of confinement due to cellular crowding concertedly regulate its groove geometry and modulate the inter-communication with DBPs. Under weak confinement, DNA dynamics promotes many short, rotation-decoupled sliding events interspersed by hopping dynamics. While this results in faster 1D diffusion, associated probability of missing targets by jumping over them increases. In contrast, strong confinement favours rotation-coupled sliding to locate targets but lacks structural flexibility to achieve desired specificity. By testing under physiological crowding, our study provides a plausible mechanism on how DNA molecule may help in maintaining an optimal balance between fast hopping and rotation-coupled sliding dynamics, to locate target sites rapidly and form specific complexes precisely.
Project description:Although the fast association between DNA-binding proteins (DBPs) and DNA is explained by a facilitated diffusion mechanism, in which DBPs adopt a weighted combination of three-dimensional diffusion and one-dimensional (1D) sliding and hopping modes of transportation, the role of cellular environment that contains many nonspecifically interacting proteins and other biomolecules is mostly overlooked. By performing large-scale computational simulations with an appropriately tuned model of protein and DNA in the presence of nonspecifically interacting bulk and DNA-bound crowders (genomic crowders), we demonstrate the structural basis of the enhanced facilitated diffusion of DBPs inside a crowded cellular milieu through, to our knowledge, novel 1D scanning mechanisms. In this one-dimensional scanning mode, the protein can float along the DNA under the influence of nonspecific interactions of bulk crowder molecules. The search mode is distinctly different compared to usual 1D sliding and hopping dynamics in which protein diffusion is regulated by the DNA electrostatics. In contrast, the presence of genomic crowders expedites the target search process by transporting the protein over DNA segments through the formation of a transient protein-crowder bridged complex. By analyzing the ruggedness of the associated potential energy landscape, we underpin the molecular origin of the kinetic advantages of these search modes and show that they successfully explain the experimentally observed acceleration of facilitated diffusion of DBPs by molecular crowding agents and crowder-concentration-dependent enzymatic activity of transcription factors. Our findings provide crucial insights into gene regulation kinetics inside the crowded cellular milieu.
Project description:The recognition of DNA-binding proteins (DBPs) to their specific site often precedes by a search technique in which proteins slide, hop along the DNA contour or perform inter-segment transfer and 3D diffusion to dissociate and re-associate to distant DNA sites. In this study, we demonstrated that the strength and nature of the non-specific electrostatic interactions, which govern the search dynamics of DBPs, are strongly correlated with the conformation of the DNA. We tuned two structural parameters, namely curvature and the extent of helical twisting in circular DNA. These two factors are mutually independent of each other and can modulate the electrostatic potential through changing the geometry of the circular DNA conformation. The search dynamics for DBPs on circular DNA is therefore markedly different compared with linear B-DNA. Our results suggest that, for a given DBP, the rotation-coupled sliding dynamics is precluded in highly curved DNA (as well as for over-twisted DNA) because of the large electrostatic energy barrier between the inside and outside of the DNA molecule. Under such circumstances, proteins prefer to hop in order to explore interior DNA sites. The change in the balance between sliding and hopping propensities as a function of DNA curvature or twisting may result in different search efficiency and speed.
Project description:DNA recognition by DNA-binding proteins (DBPs), which is a pivotal event in most gene regulatory processes, is often preceded by an extensive search for the correct site. A facilitated diffusion process in which a DBP combines three-dimensional diffusion in solution with one-dimensional sliding along DNA has been suggested to explain how proteins can locate their target sites on DNA much faster than predicted by three-dimensional diffusion alone. Although experimental and theoretical studies have recently advanced understanding of the biophysical principles underlying the search mechanism, the process under in vivo cellular conditions is poorly understood. In this study, we used various computational approaches to explore how the presence of obstacle proteins on the DNA influences search efficiency. At a low obstacle occupancy (i.e., when few obstacles occupy sites on the DNA), sliding by the searching DBP may be confined, which may impair search efficiency. The obstacles, however, can be bypassed during hopping events, and the number of bypasses is larger for higher obstacle occupancies. Dynamism on the part of the obstacles may even further facilitate search kinetics. Our study shows that the nature and efficiency of the search process may be governed not only by the intrinsic properties of the DBP and the salt concentration of the medium, but also by the in vivo association of DNA with other macromolecular obstacles, their location, and occupancy.
Project description:DNA binding proteins efficiently search for their cognitive sites on long genomic DNA by combining 3D diffusion and 1D diffusion (sliding) along the DNA. Recent experimental results and theoretical analyses revealed that the proteins show a rotation-coupled sliding along DNA helical pitch. Here, we performed Brownian dynamics simulations using newly developed coarse-grained protein and DNA models for evaluating how hydrodynamic interactions between the protein and DNA molecules, binding affinity of the protein to DNA, and DNA fluctuations affect the one dimensional diffusion of the protein on the DNA. Our results indicate that intermolecular hydrodynamic interactions reduce 1D diffusivity by 30%. On the other hand, structural fluctuations of DNA give rise to steric collisions between the CG-proteins and DNA, resulting in faster 1D sliding of the protein. Proteins with low binding affinities consistent with experimental estimates of non-specific DNA binding show hopping along the CG-DNA. This hopping significantly increases sliding speed. These simulation studies provide additional insights into the mechanism of how DNA binding proteins find their target sites on the genome.
Project description:Several DNA-binding proteins, such as topoisomerases, helicases and sliding clamps, have a toroidal (i.e. ring) shape that topologically traps DNA, with this quality being essential to their function. Many DNA-binding proteins that function, for example, as transcription factors or enzymes were shown to be able to diffuse linearly (i.e. slide) along DNA during the search for their target binding sites. The protein's sliding properties and ability to search DNA, which often also involves hopping and dissociation, are expected to be different when it encircles the DNA. In this study, we explored the linear diffusion of four ring-shaped proteins of very similar structure: three sliding clamps (PCNA, ?-clamp, and the gp45) and the 9-1-1 protein, with a particular focus on PCNA. Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations were performed to decipher the sliding mechanism adopted by these ring-shaped proteins and to determine how the molecular properties of the inner and outer ring govern its search speed. We designed in silico variants to dissect the contributions of ring geometry and electrostatics to the sliding speed of ring-shaped proteins along DNA. We found that the toroidal proteins diffuse when they are tilted relative to the DNA axis and able to rotate during translocation, but that coupling between rotation and translocation is quite weak. Their diffusion speed is affected by the shape of the inner ring and, to a lesser extent, by its electrostatic properties. However, breaking the symmetry of the electrostatic potential can result in deviation of the DNA from the center of the ring and cause slower linear diffusion. The findings are discussed in light of earlier computational and experimental studies on the sliding of clamps.
Project description:The restriction endonuclease EcoRV can rapidly locate a short recognition site within long non-cognate DNA using 'facilitated diffusion'. This process has long been attributed to a sliding mechanism, in which the enzyme first binds to the DNA via nonspecific interaction and then moves along the DNA by 1D diffusion. Recent studies, however, provided evidence that 3D translocations (hopping/jumping) also help EcoRV to locate its target site. Here we report the first direct observation of sliding and jumping of individual EcoRV molecules along nonspecific DNA. Using fluorescence microscopy, we could distinguish between a slow 1D diffusion of the enzyme and a fast translocation mechanism that was demonstrated to stem from 3D jumps. Salt effects on both sliding and jumping were investigated, and we developed numerical simulations to account for both the jump frequency and the jump length distribution. We deduced from our study the 1D diffusion coefficient of EcoRV, and we estimated the number of jumps occurring during an interaction event with nonspecific DNA. Our results substantiate that sliding alternates with hopping/jumping during the facilitated diffusion of EcoRV and, furthermore, set up a framework for the investigation of target site location by other DNA-binding proteins.
Project description:A one-dimensional (1D) search is an essential step in DNA target recognition. Theoretical studies have suggested that the sequence dependence of 1D diffusion can help resolve the competing demands of a fast search and high target affinity, a conflict known as the speed-selectivity paradox. The resolution requires that the diffusion energy landscape is correlated with the underlying specific binding energies. In this work, we report observations of a 1D search by quantum dot-labeled EcoRI. Our data supports the view that proteins search DNA via rotation-coupled sliding over a corrugated energy landscape. We observed that whereas EcoRI primarily slides along DNA at low salt concentrations, at higher concentrations, its diffusion is a combination of sliding and hopping. We also observed long-lived pauses at genomic star sites, which differ by a single nucleotide from the target sequence. To reconcile these observations with prior biochemical and structural data, we propose a model of search in which the protein slides over a sequence-independent energy landscape during fast search but rapidly interconverts with a "hemispecific" binding mode in which a half site is probed. This half site interaction stabilizes the transition to a fully specific mode of binding, which can then lead to target recognition.
Project description:Our study of DNA dynamics in weakly attractive nanofabricated post arrays revealed crowding enhances polymer transport, contrary to hindered transport in repulsive medium. The coupling of DNA diffusion and adsorption to the microposts results in more frequent cross-post hopping and increased long-term diffusivity with increased crowding density. We performed Langevin dynamics simulations and found maximum long-term diffusivity in post arrays with gap sizes comparable to the polymer radius of gyration. We found that macromolecular transport in weakly attractive post arrays is faster than in non-attractive dense medium. Furthermore, we employed hidden Markov analysis to determine the transition of macromolecular adsorption-desorption on posts and hopping between posts. The apparent free energy barriers are comparable to theoretical estimates determined from polymer conformational fluctuations.
Project description:Transcription activator-like effector (TALE) proteins are a class of programmable DNA-binding proteins for which the fundamental mechanisms governing the search process are not fully understood. Here we use single-molecule techniques to directly observe TALE search dynamics along DNA templates. We find that TALE proteins are capable of rapid diffusion along DNA using a combination of sliding and hopping behaviour, which suggests that the TALE search process is governed in part by facilitated diffusion. We also observe that TALE proteins exhibit two distinct modes of action during the search process-a search state and a recognition state-facilitated by different subdomains in monomeric TALE proteins. Using TALE truncation mutants, we further demonstrate that the N-terminal region of TALEs is required for the initial non-specific binding and subsequent rapid search along DNA, whereas the central repeat domain is required for transitioning into the site-specific recognition state.
Project description:Human DNA repair glycosylases must encounter and inspect each DNA base in the genome to discover damaged bases that may be present at a density of <1 in 10 million normal base pairs. This remarkable example of specific molecular recognition requires a reduced dimensionality search process (facilitated diffusion) that involves both hopping and sliding along the DNA chain. Despite the widely accepted importance of facilitated diffusion in protein-DNA interactions, the molecular features of DNA that influence hopping and sliding are poorly understood. Here we explore the role of the charged DNA phosphate backbone in sliding and hopping by human uracil DNA glycosylase (hUNG), which is an exemplar that efficiently locates rare uracil bases in both double-stranded DNA and single-stranded DNA. Substitution of neutral methylphosphonate groups for anionic DNA phosphate groups weakened nonspecific DNA binding affinity by 0.4-0.5 kcal/mol per substitution. In contrast, sliding of hUNG between uracil sites embedded in duplex and single-stranded DNA substrates persisted unabated when multiple methylphosphonate linkages were inserted between the sites. Thus, a continuous phosphodiester backbone negative charge is not essential for sliding over nonspecific DNA binding sites. We consider several alternative mechanisms for these results. A model consistent with previous structural and nuclear magnetic resonance dynamic results invokes the presence of open and closed conformational states of hUNG. The open state is short-lived and has weak or nonexistent interactions with the DNA backbone that are conducive for sliding, and the populated closed state has stronger interactions with the phosphate backbone. These data suggest that the fleeting sliding form of hUNG is a distinct weakly interacting state that facilitates rapid movement along the DNA chain and resembles the transition state for DNA dissociation.