ABSTRACT: In DNA transcription, the base pairs are unzipped in response to the enzymatic forces, separating apart two intertwined nucleotide strands. Consequently, the double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), in which two nucleotide strands wind about each other, transits structurally to the single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) in which two nucleotide strands are completely unwound and separated. The large interstrand separation is intimately related to the softening nucleotide strands. This conceptual framework is reinforced with the flow of the bending modulus toward zero under recursion relations derived from the momentum shell renormalization group. Interestingly, the stretch modulus remains the same under recursion relations. The renormalization of the bending modulus to zero has a profound implication that ssDNA has the shorter bending persistence length than does dsDNA in accordance with experiments.
Project description:Scaffolded DNA origami is a widely used technology for self-assembling precisely structured nanoscale objects that contain a large number of addressable features. Typical scaffolds are long, single strands of DNA (ssDNA) that are folded into distinct shapes through the action of many, short ssDNA staples that are complementary to several different domains of the scaffold. However, sources of long single-stranded DNA are scarce, limiting the size and complexity of structures that can be assembled. Here we demonstrated that dsDNA (double-stranded DNA) scaffolds can be directly used to fabricate integrated DNA origami structures that incorporate both of the constituent ssDNA molecules. Two basic principles were employed in the design of scaffold folding paths: folding path asymmetry and periodic convergence of the two ssDNA scaffold strands. Asymmetry in the folding path minimizes unwanted complementarity between staples, and incorporating an offset between the folding paths of each ssDNA scaffold strand reduces the number of times that complementary portions of the strands are brought into close proximity with one another, both of which decrease the likelihood of dsDNA scaffold recovery. Meanwhile, the folding paths of the two ssDNA scaffold strands were designed to periodically converge to promote the assembly of a single, unified structure rather than two individual ones. Our results reveal that this basic strategy can be used to reliably assemble integrated DNA nanostructures from dsDNA scaffolds.
Project description:The bending stiffness of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) at high curvatures is fundamental to its biological activity, yet this regime has been difficult to probe experimentally, and literature results have not been consistent. We created a 'molecular vise' in which base-pairing interactions generated a compressive force on sub-persistence length segments of dsDNA. Short dsDNA strands (<41 base pairs) resisted this force and remained straight; longer strands became bent, a phenomenon called 'Euler buckling'. We monitored the buckling transition via Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) between appended fluorophores. For low-to-moderate concentrations of monovalent salt (up to ?150 mM), our results are in quantitative agreement with the worm-like chain (WLC) model of DNA elasticity, without the need to invoke any 'kinked' states. Greater concentrations of monovalent salts or 1 mM Mg(2+) induced an apparent softening of the dsDNA, which was best accounted for by a kink in the region of highest curvature. We tested the effects of all single-nucleotide mismatches on the DNA bending. Remarkably, the propensity to kink correlated with the thermodynamic destabilization of the mismatched DNA relative the perfectly complementary strand, suggesting that the kinked state is locally melted. The molecular vise is exquisitely sensitive to the sequence-dependent linear and nonlinear elastic properties of dsDNA.
Project description:Flap endonuclease (FEN1), essential for DNA replication and repair, removes RNA and DNA 5' flaps. FEN1 5' nuclease superfamily members acting in nucleotide excision repair (XPG), mismatch repair (EXO1), and homologous recombination (GEN1) paradoxically incise structurally distinct bubbles, ends, or Holliday junctions, respectively. Here, structural and functional analyses of human FEN1:DNA complexes show structure-specific, sequence-independent recognition for nicked dsDNA bent 100° with unpaired 3' and 5' flaps. Above the active site, a helical cap over a gateway formed by two helices enforces ssDNA threading and specificity for free 5' ends. Crystallographic analyses of product and substrate complexes reveal that dsDNA binding and bending, the ssDNA gateway, and double-base unpairing flanking the scissile phosphate control precise flap incision by the two-metal-ion active site. Superfamily conserved motifs bind and open dsDNA; direct the target region into the helical gateway, permitting only nonbase-paired oligonucleotides active site access; and support a unified understanding of superfamily substrate specificity.
Project description:A RecA-single-stranded DNA (RecA-ssDNA) filament searches a genome for sequence homology by rapidly binding and unbinding double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) until homology is found. We demonstrate that pulling on the opposite termini (3' and 5') of one of the two DNA strands in a dsDNA molecule stabilizes the normally unstable binding of that dsDNA to non-homologous RecA-ssDNA filaments, whereas pulling on the two 3', the two 5', or all four termini does not. We propose that the 'outgoing' strand in the dsDNA is extended by strong DNA-protein contacts, whereas the 'complementary' strand is extended by the tension on the base pairs that connect the 'complementary' strand to the 'outgoing' strand. The stress resulting from different levels of tension on its constitutive strands causes rapid dsDNA unbinding unless sufficient homology is present.
Project description:Hexameric helicases are processive DNA unwinding machines but how they engage with a replication fork during unwinding is unknown. Using electron microscopy and single particle analysis we determined structures of the intact hexameric helicase E1 from papillomavirus and two complexes of E1 bound to a DNA replication fork end-labelled with protein tags. By labelling a DNA replication fork with streptavidin (dsDNA end) and Fab (5' ssDNA) we located the positions of these labels on the helicase surface, showing that at least 10 bp of dsDNA enter the E1 helicase via a side tunnel. In the currently accepted 'steric exclusion' model for dsDNA unwinding, the active 3' ssDNA strand is pulled through a central tunnel of the helicase motor domain as the dsDNA strands are wedged apart outside the protein assembly. Our structural observations together with nuclease footprinting assays indicate otherwise: strand separation is taking place inside E1 in a chamber above the helicase domain and the 5' passive ssDNA strands exits the assembly through a separate tunnel opposite to the dsDNA entry point. Our data therefore suggest an alternative to the current general model for DNA unwinding by hexameric helicases.
Project description:Bell shaped nuclei of metakaryotic cells double their DNA content during and after symmetric and asymmetric amitotic fissions rather than in the separate, pre-mitotic S-phase of eukaryotic cells. A parsimonious hypothesis was tested that the two anti-parallel strands of each chromatid DNA helix were first segregated as ssDNA-containing complexes into sister nuclei then copied to recreate a dsDNA genome. Metakaryotic nuclei that were treated during amitosis with RNase A and stained with acridine orange or fluorescent antibody to ssDNA revealed large amounts of ssDNA. Without RNase treatment metakaryotic nuclei in amitosis stained strongly with an antibody complex specific to dsRNA/DNA. Images of amitotic figures co-stained with dsRNA/DNA antibody and DAPI indicated that the entire interphase dsDNA genome (B-form helices) was transformed into two dsRNA/DNA genomes (A-form helices) that were segregated in the daughter cell nuclei then retransformed into dsDNA. As this process segregates DNA strands of opposite polarity in sister cells it hypothetically offers a sequential switching mechanism within the diverging stem cell lineages of development.
Project description:Single-molecule tweezers measurements of double-stranded nucleic acids (dsDNA and dsRNA) provide unprecedented opportunities to dissect how these fundamental molecules respond to forces and torques analogous to those applied by topoisomerases, viral capsids, and other biological partners. However, tweezers data are still most commonly interpreted post facto in the framework of simple analytical models. Testing falsifiable predictions of state-of-the-art nucleic acid models would be more illuminating but has not been performed. Here we describe a blind challenge in which numerical predictions of nucleic acid mechanical properties were compared to experimental data obtained recently for dsRNA under applied force and torque. The predictions were enabled by the HelixMC package, first presented in this paper. HelixMC advances crystallography-derived base-pair level models (BPLMs) to simulate kilobase-length dsDNAs and dsRNAs under external forces and torques, including their global linking numbers. These calculations recovered the experimental bending persistence length of dsRNA within the error of the simulations and accurately predicted that dsRNA's "spring-like" conformation would give a two-fold decrease of stretch modulus relative to dsDNA. Further blind predictions of helix torsional properties, however, exposed inaccuracies in current BPLM theory, including three-fold discrepancies in torsional persistence length at the high force limit and the incorrect sign of dsRNA link-extension (twist-stretch) coupling. Beyond these experiments, HelixMC predicted that 'nucleosome-excluding' poly(A)/poly(T) is at least two-fold stiffer than random-sequence dsDNA in bending, stretching, and torsional behaviors; Z-DNA to be at least three-fold stiffer than random-sequence dsDNA, with a near-zero link-extension coupling; and non-negligible effects from base pair step correlations. We propose that experimentally testing these predictions should be powerful next steps for understanding the flexibility of dsDNA and dsRNA in sequence contexts and under mechanical stresses relevant to their biology.
Project description:Bacterial recombinational repair of double-strand breaks often begins with creation of initiating 3' single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) tails on each side of a double-strand break (DSB). Importantly, if the RecBCD pathway is followed, RecBCD creates a gap between the sequences at 3' ends of the initiating strands. The gap flanks the DSB and extends at least to the nearest Chi site on each strand. Once the initiating strands form ssDNA-RecA filaments, each ssDNA-RecA filament searches for homologous double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) to use as a template for the DNA synthesis needed to fill the gap created by RecBCD. Our experimental results show that the DNA synthesis requires formation of a heteroduplex dsDNA that pairs >20 contiguous bases in the initiating strand with sequence matched bases in a strand from the original dsDNA. To trigger synthesis, the heteroduplex must be near the 3' end of the initiating strand. Those experimentally determined requirements for synthesis combined with the Chi site dependence of the function of RecBCD and the distribution of Chi sites in bacterial genomes could allow the RecBCD pathway to avoid some genomic rearrangements arising from directly induced DSBs; however, the same three factors could promote other rearrangements.
Project description:Homologous recombination is important for the error-free repair of DNA double-strand breaks and for replication fork restart. Recombinases of the RecA/Rad51 family perform the central catalytic role in this process. UvsX recombinase is the RecA/Rad51 ortholog of bacteriophage T4. UvsX and other recombinases form presynaptic filaments on ssDNA that are activated to search for homology in dsDNA and to perform DNA strand exchange. To effectively initiate recombination, UvsX must find and bind to ssDNA within an excess of dsDNA. Here we examine the binding of UvsX to ssDNA and dsDNA in the presence and absence of nucleotide cofactor, ATP. We also examine how the binding of one DNA substrate is affected by simultaneous binding of the other to determine how UvsX might selectively assemble on ssDNA. We show that the two DNA binding sites of UvsX are regulated by the nucleotide cofactor ATP and are coordinated with each other such that in the presence of ssDNA, dsDNA binding is significantly reduced and correlated with its homology to the ssDNA bound to the enzyme. UvsX has high affinity for dsDNA in the absence of ssDNA, which may allow for sequestration of the enzyme in an inactive form prior to ssDNA generation.
Project description:Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rad52 performs multiple functions during the recombinational repair of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) breaks (DSBs). It mediates assembly of Rad51 onto single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) that is complexed with replication protein A (RPA); the resulting nucleoprotein filament pairs with homologous dsDNA to form joint molecules. Rad52 also catalyzes the annealing of complementary strands of ssDNA, even when they are complexed with RPA. Both Rad51 and Rad52 can be envisioned to promote "second-end capture," a step that pairs the ssDNA generated by processing of the second end of a DSB to the joint molecule formed by invasion of the target dsDNA by the first processed end. Here, we show that Rad52 promotes annealing of complementary ssDNA that is complexed with RPA to the displaced strand of a joint molecule, to form a complement-stabilized joint molecule. RecO, a prokaryotic homolog of Rad52, cannot form complement-stabilized joint molecules with RPA-ssDNA complexes, nor can Rad52 promote second-end capture when the ssDNA is bound with either human RPA or the prokaryotic ssDNA-binding protein, SSB, indicating a species-specific process. We conclude that Rad52 participates in second-end capture by annealing a resected DNA break, complexed with RPA, to the joint molecule product of single-end invasion event. These studies support a role for Rad52-promoted annealing in the formation of Holliday junctions in DSB repair.