DNA Bends in TATA-binding Protein·TATA Complexes in Solution Are DNA Sequence-dependent

Jiong Wu, Kay M. Parkhurst, Robyn M. Powell, Michael Brenowitz, Lawrence J. Parkhurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


The TATA-binding protein (TBP) initiates assembly of transcription preinitiation complexes on eukaryotic class II promoters, binding to and restructuring consensus and variant "TATA box" sequences. The sequence dependence of the DNA structure in TBP·TATA complexes has been investigated in solution using fluorescence resonance energy transfer. The mean 5′dye-3′dye distance varies significantly among oligomers bearing the adenovirus major late promoter sequence (AdMLP) and five single-site variants bound to Saccharomyces cerevisiae TBP, consistent with solution bend angles for AdMLP of 76° and for the variants ranging from 30° to 62°. These solution bends contrast sharply with the corresponding co-crystal structures, which show ∼80° bends for all sequences. Transcription activities for these TATA sequences are strongly correlated with the solution bend angles but not with TBP·DNA binding affinities. Our results support a model in which transcription efficiency derives primarily from the sequence-dependent structure of the TBP·TATA binary complex. Specifically, the distance distribution for the average solution structure of the TBP·TATA complex may reflect the sequence-dependent probability for the complex to assume a conformation in which the TATA box DNA is severely bent. Upon assumption of this geometry, the binary complex becomes a target for binding and correctly orienting the other components of the preinitiation complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14614-14622
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 4 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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