Conserved conformation of RecA protein after executing the DNA strand-exchange reaction. A site-specific linear dichroism structure study
Journal article, 2006
RecA protein and its eukaryotic homologue Rad51 protein catalyzes the DNA strand exchange, which is a key reaction of homologous recombination. At the initial step of the reaction, RecA proteins form a helical filament on a single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). Binding of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) to the filament triggers the homology search; as homology is found, the exchange of strands occurs, and the displaced DNA is released. These are the principal steps of genetic recombination; however, despite many years of extensive study of RecA activities, the details of the mechanism are still obscure. A high-resolution structure of the active nucleoprotein filament could provide information to help understand this process. Using a linear dichroism polarized-light spectroscopy technique, in combination with protein engineering (the site-specific linear dichroism method), we have previously studied the arrangement of RecA in complex with ssDNA. In the present study, we have used this approach to search for structural variations of RecA at the atomic level as the DNA in the complex is changed from ssDNA to dsDNA. The structural data of the RecA-dsDNA filament are found to be very similar to the data previously obtained for the RecA-ssDNA complex, indicating that the overall orientation and also the internal structure of RecA in the active filament are not markedly altered when the bound DNA changes from single- to double-stranded. The implications of the structural similarities as well as the significance of some conformational variations observed for a few amino acid residues that may be involved in interactions with DNA are discussed.