DNA-induced dimerization of the Escherichia coli rep helicase: Allosteric effects of single-stranded and duplex DNA

Isaac Wong, Kinlin L. Chao, Wlodzimierz Bujalowski, Timothy M. Lohman

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105 Scopus citations


The Escherichia coli Rep helicase is a stable monomer (Mr = 72,802) in the absence of DNA; however, binding of single-stranded (ss) or duplex (ds) DNA induces Rep monomers to dimerize. Furthermore, a chemically cross-linked Rep dimer retains both its DNA-dependent ATPase and helicase activities, suggesting that the functionally active Rep helicase is a dimer (Chao, K., and Lohman, T. M. (1991) J. Mol. Biol. 221, 1165-1181). Using a modified "double-filter" nitrocellulose filter binding assay, we have examined quantitatively the equilibrium binding of Rep to a series of ss-oligodeoxynucleotides, d(pN)n (8 ≤ n ≤ 20) and two 16-base pair duplex oligodeoxynucleotides, which are short enough so that only a single Rep monomer can bind to each oligonucleotide. This strategy has enabled us to examine the linkage between DNA binding and dimerization. We also present a statistical thermodynamic model to describe the DNA-induced Rep dimerization in the presence of ss- and/or ds-oligodeoxynucleotides. We observe quantitative agreement between this model and the experimental binding isotherms and have analyzed these isotherms to obtain the seven independent interaction constants that describe Rep-DNA binding and Rep dimerization. We find that Rep monomers (P) can bind either ss-DNA (S) or ds-DNA (D) to form PS or PD, respectively, which can then dimerize to form P2S or P2D. Furthermore, both protomers of the DNA-induced Rep dimer can bind DNA to form either P2S2, P2D2 or the mixed dimer species P2SD and ss- and ds-DNA compete for the same sites on the Rep protein. When bound to DNA, the Rep dimerization constants are ∼1-2 × 108 M-1 (6 mM NaCl, pH 7.5, 4°C), which are greater than the dimerization constant for free Rep monomers by at least 104-fold. The Rep-ss-DNA interaction constants are independent of base composition and sequence, consistent with its role as a nonspecific DNA-binding protein. Allosteric effects are associated with ss- and ds-DNA binding to the half-saturated Rep dimers, i.e. the affinity of either ss- or ds-DNA to the free protomer of a half-saturated Rep dimer is clearly influenced by the conformation of DNA bound to the first protomer. These allosteric effects further support the proposal that the Rep dimer is functionally important and that the Rep-DNA species P2S2 and P2SD may serve as useful models for intermediates that occur during DNA unwinding. The ability of Rep to form the ternary complexes P2S2 and P2SD has important implications for how a Rep dimer may interact with a DNA replication fork and unwind DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7596-7610
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Apr 15 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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