Bullied no more: when and how DNA shoves proteins around

The predominant protein-centric perspective in protein-DNA-binding studies assumes that the protein drives the interaction. Research focuses on protein structural motifs, electrostatic surfaces and contact potentials, while DNA is often ignored as a passive polymer to be manipulated. Recent studies of DNA topology, the supercoiling, knotting, and linking of the helices, have shown that DNA has the capability to be an active participant in its transactions. DNA topology-induced structural and geometric changes can drive, or at least strongly influence, the interactions between protein and DNA. Deformations of the B-form structure arise from both the considerable elastic energy arising from supercoiling and from the electrostatic energy. Here, researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine discuss how these energies are harnessed for topology-driven, sequence-specific deformations that can allow DNA to direct its own metabolism.



Fogg JM, Randall GL, Pettitt BM, Sumners de WL, Harris SA, Zechiedrich L. (2012) Bullied no more: when and how DNA shoves proteins around. Q Rev Biophys 45(3):257-99. [abstract]