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Biochemistry. 1999 Aug 24;38(34):10919-28.

Mechanism of DnaB helicase of Escherichia coli: structural domains involved in ATP hydrolysis, DNA binding, and oligomerization.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, SOM, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Stratford 08084, USA.


We describe the delineation of three distinct structural domains of the DnaB helicase of Escherichia coli: domain alpha, amino acid residues (aa) 1-156; domain beta, aa 157-302; and domain gamma, aa 303-471. Using mutants with deletion in these domains, we have examined their role(s) in hexamer formation, DNA-dependent ATPase, and DNA helicase activities. The mutant DnaBbetagamma protein, in which domain alpha was deleted, formed a hexamer; whereas the mutant DnaBalphabeta, in which domain gamma was deleted, could form only dimers. The dimerization of DnaBalphabeta was Mg(2+) dependent. These data suggest that the oligomerization of DnaB helicase involves at least two distinct protein-protein interaction sites; one of these sites is located primarily within domain beta (site 1), while the other interaction site is located within domain gamma (site 2). The mutant DnaBbeta, a polypeptide of 147 aa, where both domains alpha and gamma were deleted, displayed a completely functional ATPase activity. This domain, thus, constitutes the "central catalytic domain" for ATPase activity. The ATPase activity of DnaBalphabeta was kinetically comparable to that of DnaBbeta, indicating that domain alpha had little or no influence on the ATPase activity. In both cases, the ATPase activities were DNA independent. DnaBbetagamma had a DNA-dependent ATPase activity that was kinetically comparable to the ATPase activity of wild-type DnaB protein (wtDnaB), indicating a specific role for C-terminal domain gamma in enhancement of the ATPase activity of domain beta as well as in DNA binding. Mutant DnaBbetagamma, which lacked domain alpha, was devoid of any helicase activity pointing to a significant role for domain alpha. The major findings of this study are (i) domain beta contained a functional ATPase active site; (ii) domain gamma appeared to be the DNA binding domain and a positive regulator of the ATPase activity of domain beta; (iii) although domain alpha did not have any significant effect on the ATPase, DNA binding activities, or hexamer formation, it definitely plays a pivotal role in transducing the energy of ATP hydrolysis to DNA unwinding by the hexamer; and (iv) all three domains are required for helicase activity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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