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Nucleic Acids Res. 2000 Sep 15;28(18):3504-10.

H-NS mediated compaction of DNA visualised by atomic force microscopy.

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Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, Gorlaeus Laboratories, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, PO Box 9502, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands.


The Escherichia coli H-NS protein is a nucleoid-associated protein involved in gene regulation and DNA compaction. To get more insight into the mechanism of DNA compaction we applied atomic force microscopy (AFM) to study the structure of H-NS-DNA complexes. On circular DNA molecules two different levels of H-NS induced condensation were observed. H-NS induced lateral condensation of large regions of the plasmid. In addition, large globular structures were identified that incorporated a considerable amount of DNA. The formation of these globular structures appeared not to be dependent on any specific sequence. On the basis of the AFM images, a model for global condensation of the chromosomal DNA by H-NS is proposed.

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