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Proteins. 2005 Nov 1;61(2):258-71.

Protein-nucleic acid recognition: statistical analysis of atomic interactions and influence of DNA structure.

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  • 1Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire Numérique, Faculté Universitaire des Sciences Agronomiques, Gembloux, Belgium.


We analyzed structural features of 11,038 direct atomic contacts (either electrostatic, H-bonds, hydrophobic, or other van der Waals interactions) extracted from 139 protein-DNA and 49 protein-RNA nonhomologous complexes from the Protein Data Bank (PDB). Globally, H-bonds are the most frequent interactions (approximately 50%), followed by van der Waals, hydrophobic, and electrostatic interactions. From the protein viewpoint, hydrophilic amino acids are over-represented in the interaction databases: Positively charged amino acids mainly contact nucleic acid phosphate groups but can also interact with base edges. From the nucleotide point of view, DNA and RNA behave differently: Most protein-DNA interactions involve phosphate atoms, while protein-RNA interactions involve more frequently base edge and ribose atoms. The increased participation of DNA phosphate involves H-bonds rather than salt bridges. A statistical analysis was performed to find the occurrence of amino acid-nucleotide pairs most different from chance. These pairs were analyzed individually. Finally, we studied the conformation of DNA in the interaction sites. Despite the prevalence of B-DNA in the database, our results suggest that A-DNA is favored in the interaction sites.

Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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