Characterization of the DNA binding activity of stable RecA-DNA complexes : Interaction between the two DNA binding sites within RecA helical filaments

Berndt Marino Muller, T Koller, A Stasiak

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81 Citations (Scopus)


The DNA-binding, annealing and recombinational activities of purified RecA-DNA complexes stabilized by ATP¿S (a slowly hydrolysable analog of ATP) are described.

Electrophoretic analysis, DNase protection experiments and observations by electron microscopy suggest that saturated RecA complexes formed with single- or double-stranded DNA are able to accommodate an additional single strand of DNA with a stoichiometry of about one nucleotide of added single-stranded DNA per nucleotide or base-pair, respectively, of DNA resident in the complex. This strand uptake is independent of complementarity or homology between the added and resident DNA molecules. In the complex, the incoming and resident single-stranded DNA molecules are in close proximity as the two strands can anneal in case of their complementarity.

Stable RecA complexes formed with single-stranded DNA bind double-stranded DNA efficiently when the added DNA is homologous to the complexed strand and then initiate a strand exchange reaction between the partner DNA molecules. Electron microscopy of the RecA-single-stranded DNA complexes associated with homologous double-stranded DNA suggests that a portion of duplex DNA is taken into the complex and placed in register with the resident single strand.

Our experiments indicate that both DNA binding sites within RecA helical filaments can be occupied by either single- or double-stranded DNA. Presumably, the same first DNA binding site is used by RecA during its polymerization on single- or double-stranded DNA and the second DNA binding site becomes available for subsequent interaction of the protein-saturated complexes with naked DNA. The way by which additional DNA is taken into RecA-DNA complexes shows co-operative character and this helps to explain how topological problems are avoided during RecA-mediated homologous recombination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-112
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 1990


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