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Nat Methods. 2008 Nov;5(11):965-71. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1259. Epub 2008 Oct 12.

A nano-positioning system for macromolecular structural analysis.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Center for Integrated Protein Science München, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Butenandtstrasse 11, 81377 München, Germany.


Very often, the positions of flexible domains within macromolecules as well as within macromolecular complexes cannot be determined by standard structural biology methods. To overcome this problem, we developed a method that uses probabilistic data analysis to combine single-molecule measurements with X-ray crystallography data. The method determines not only the most likely position of a fluorescent dye molecule attached to the domain but also the complete three-dimensional probability distribution depicting the experimental uncertainty. With this approach, single-pair fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements can now be used as a quantitative tool for investigating the position and dynamics of flexible domains within macromolecular complexes. We applied this method to find the position of the 5' end of the nascent RNA exiting transcription elongation complexes of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) RNA polymerase II and studied the influence of transcription factor IIB on the position of the RNA.

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