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EMBO J. Dec 16, 1985; 4(13A): 3605–3616.
PMCID: PMC554704

Binding and bending of the lambda replication origin by the phage O protein.


We have characterized the binding of lambda phage replication initiation protein O to the phage origin of replication. The minimal DNA segment required for O binding is the single iteron, a 19-bp sequence of hyphenated dyad symmetry that is repeated with variations four times in the origin. The isolated amino terminus of O protein is also sufficient to bind DNA. Electrophoretic studies show that the amino terminus of O protein induces bending of a single iteron. The DNA-protein interaction was characterized by ethylation interference, dimethyl sulfate protection and neocarzinostatin footprinting. Points of DNA-protein contact are largely concentrated in two areas symmetrically disposed with respect to the dyad symmetry of the iteron. This suggests the protein interacts as a dimer with half sites in the DNA. However, a few non-symmetrical contacts are found, indicating that O protein may distort the helix. This may correlate with the bending effects demonstrated electrophoretically. Cylindrical DNA projections were used to model O protein binding to the lambda origin and compare it with the lambda repressor-operator interaction. Whereas bound repressor nearly encircles the DNA in the major groove, O protein leaves the major groove on the opposite side exposed.

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