Different interactions used by Cro repressor in specific and nonspecific DNA binding

Y. Takeda, J. G. Kim, C. G. Caday, E. Steers, D. H. Ohlendorf, W. F. Anderson, B. W. Matthews

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The mode of interaction of Cro repressor with specific and nonspecific sites on DNA was explored by chemical modification and protection of lysine and tyrosine residues. Cro has 8 lysines. In the presence of DNA, lysines 32 and 56 are fully protected and lysines 21, 62 and 63 are partially protected from alkylation. However, the terminal amino group and lysines 8, 18, and 39 are not protected. Location of the protected and unprotected lysines on the three-dimensional Cro structure defines a DNA-binding region. The results provide direct experimental support for a mode of interaction between Cro and DNA, in which Cro buries its 2-fold related α-helices in consecutive DNA major grooves (Anderson, W.F., Ohlendorf, D.H., Takeda Y., and Matthews, B.W. (1981) Nature 290, 754-758; Ohlendorf, D.H., Anderson, W.F., Fisher R.G., Takeda, Y., and Matthews, B.W. (1982) Nature 298, 718-723). In the model, the carboxyl-terminal part of Cro was tentatively presumed to interact with the DNA minor groove. Protection of lysines 62 and 63 confirms the involvement of the carboxyl terminus in DNA binding. Although nonspecific and specific DNA protect the same lysine residues, there are differences in the nature of the interaction of Cro with nonspecific and specific DNA. Cro-nonspecific DNA interaction is salt-sensitive, suggesting that the interaction is predominantly electrostatic. On the other hand, Cro-specific DNA interaction is salt-resistant, suugesting that the interaction may include nonelectrostatic components (hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions) as well. Protection experiments of tyrosine residues (against iodination) suggest that the conformation of Cro repressor changes in two stages: first, when Cro binds at nonspecific sites, and second, when Cro binds to specific sites on DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8608-8616
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1986


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