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The High-resolution Structure Of DNA-binding Protein HU From Bacillus Stearothermophilus.

S. White, K. Wilson, K. Appelt, I. Tanaka
Published 1999 · Medicine, Chemistry, Biology

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Protein HU is a ubiquitous prokaryotic protein which controls the architecture of genomic DNA. It binds DNA non-specifically and promotes the bending and supercoiling of the double helical structure. HU is involved in many DNA-associated cellular processes, including replication, transcription and the packaging of DNA into chromosome-like structures. Originally determined at medium resolution, the crystal structure of HU has now been refined at 2.0 A resolution. The high-resolution structure shows that the dimeric molecule is essentially a compact platform for two flexible and basic arms which wrap around the DNA molecule. To maximize the protein's stability, non-secondary structural regions are reduced to a minimum, there is an extensive aromatic hydrophobic core and several salt bridges and hydrogen-bonded water molecules knit together crucial regions. Based on the original medium-resolution structure of HU, several proposals were made concerning the structural basis of HU's ability to bind, bend and supercoil DNA. Each of these proposals is fully supported by the high-resolution structure. Most notably, the surfaces of the molecule which appear to mediate protein-DNA and protein-protein interactions have the ideal shapes and physicochemical properties to perform these functions.
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