DNA strand arrangement within the SfiI-DNA complex: Atomic force microscopy analysis

Alexander Y. Lushnikov, Vladimir N. Potaman, Elena A. Oussatcheva, Richard R. Sinden, Yuri L. Lyubchenko

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39 Scopus citations


The SfiI restriction enzyme binds to DNA as a tetramer holding two usually distant DNA recognition sites together before cleavage of the four DNA strands. To elucidate structural properties of the SfiI-DNA complex, atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging of the complexes under noncleaving conditions (Ca 2+ instead of Mg2+ in the reaction buffer) was performed. Intramolecular complexes formed by protein interaction between two binding sites in one DNA molecule (cis interaction) as well as complexes formed by the interaction of two sites in different molecules (trans interaction) were analyzed. Complexes were identified unambiguously by the presence of a tall spherical blob at the DNA intersections. To characterize the path of DNA within the complex, the angles between the DNA helices in the proximity of the complex were systematically analyzed. All the data show clear-cut bimodal distributions centered around peak values corresponding to 60° and 120°. To unambiguously distinguish between the crossed and bent models for the DNA orientation within the complex, DNA molecules with different arm lengths flanking the SfiI binding site were designed. The analysis of the AFM images for complexes of this type led to the conclusion that the DNA recognition sites within the complex are crossed. The angles of 60° or 120° between the DNA helices correspond to a complex in which one of the helices is flipped with respect to the orientation of the other. Complexes formed by five different recognition sequences (5′-GGCCNNNNNGGCC-3′), with different central base pairs, were also analyzed. Our results showed that complexes containing the two possible orientations of the helices were formed almost equally. This suggests no preferential orientation of the DNA cognate site within the complex, suggesting that the central part of the DNA binding site does not form strong sequence specific contacts with the protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-158
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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