Interactions between distantly separated DNA regions mediated by specialized proteins lead to the formation of synaptic protein-DNA complexes. This is a ubiquitous phenomenon which is critical in various genetic processes. Although such interactions typically occur between two sites, interactions among three specific DNA regions have been identified, and a corresponding model has been proposed. Atomic force microscopy was used to test this model for the EcoRII restriction enzyme and provide direct visualization and characterization of synaptic protein-DNA complexes involving three DNA binding sites. The complex appeared in the images as a two-loop structure, and the length measurements proved the site specificity of the protein in the complex. The protein volume measurements showed that an EcoRII dimer is the core of the three-site synaptosome. Other complexes were identified and analyzed. The protein volume data showed that the dimeric form of the protein is responsible for the formation of other types of synaptic complexes as well. The applications of these results to the mechanisms of the protein-DNA interactions are discussed.
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