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Bioessays. 2001 Feb;23(2):179-83.

High local protein concentrations at promoters: strategies in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

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Institute of Genetics, University of Cologne, Germany.


The speed of chemical reactions is proportional to the concentration of molecules involved. Since proteins catalyze most of the essential reactions inside a living cell, their concentration should be as high as possible. An economical way to achieve this is through the establishment of small cell compartments. We propose that within these compartments, two types of local concentration effects are at work. (1) With local concentration type I reactions, multimeric proteins bound to a specific DNA sequence have an increased local concentration for a second DNA site sufficiently close-by, or for proteins bound to such a site. (2) For type II effects, DNA can be used as a scaffold to build unique nucleoprotein complexes that would otherwise not exist free in solution. These complexes are proficient in establishing longer-range interactions with similarly unique complexes located far away on the genome. We discuss the consequences of these local concentration effects in the light of the markedly different sizes of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and of their genomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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