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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Jul;40(13):6070-81. Epub 2012 Apr 6.

Combining H/D exchange mass spectroscopy and computational docking reveals extended DNA-binding surface on uracil-DNA glycosylase.

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  • 1San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0505, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


X-ray crystallography provides excellent structural data on protein-DNA interfaces, but crystallographic complexes typically contain only small fragments of large DNA molecules. We present a new approach that can use longer DNA substrates and reveal new protein-DNA interactions even in extensively studied systems. Our approach combines rigid-body computational docking with hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (DXMS). DXMS identifies solvent-exposed protein surfaces; docking is used to create a 3-dimensional model of the protein-DNA interaction. We investigated the enzyme uracil-DNA glycosylase (UNG), which detects and cleaves uracil from DNA. UNG was incubated with a 30 bp DNA fragment containing a single uracil, giving the complex with the abasic DNA product. Compared with free UNG, the UNG-DNA complex showed increased solvent protection at the UNG active site and at two regions outside the active site: residues 210-220 and 251-264. Computational docking also identified these two DNA-binding surfaces, but neither shows DNA contact in UNG-DNA crystallographic structures. Our results can be explained by separation of the two DNA strands on one side of the active site. These non-sequence-specific DNA-binding surfaces may aid local uracil search, contribute to binding the abasic DNA product and help present the DNA product to APE-1, the next enzyme on the DNA-repair pathway.

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