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Title: Dynamic structure of T4 gene 32 protein filaments facilitates rapid noncooperative protein dissociation

Bacteriophage T4 gene 32 protein (gp32) is a model single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding protein, essential for DNA replication. gp32 forms cooperative filaments on ssDNA through interprotein interactions between its core and N-terminus. However, detailed understanding of gp32 filament structure and organization remains incomplete, particularly for longer, biologically-relevant DNA lengths. Moreover, it is unclear how these tightly-bound filaments dissociate from ssDNA during complementary strand synthesis. We use optical tweezers and atomic force microscopy to probe the structure and binding dynamics of gp32 on long (∼8 knt) ssDNA substrates. We find that cooperative binding of gp32 rigidifies ssDNA while also reducing its contour length, consistent with the ssDNA helically winding around the gp32 filament. While measured rates of gp32 binding and dissociation indicate nM binding affinity, at ∼1000-fold higher protein concentrations gp32 continues to bind into and restructure the gp32–ssDNA filament, leading to an increase in its helical pitch and elongation of the substrate. Furthermore, the oversaturated gp32–ssDNA filament becomes progressively unwound and unstable as observed by the appearance of a rapid, noncooperative protein dissociation phase not seen at lower complex saturation, suggesting a possible mechanism for prompt removal of gp32 from the overcrowded ssDNA in front of the polymerase during replication.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Nucleic Acids Research
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 8587-8605
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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