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J Am Chem Soc. 2006 Oct 11;128(40):13034-5.

The catalytic power of uracil DNA glycosylase in the opening of thymine base pairs.

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Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Uracil DNA glycosylase (UNG) locates uracil and its structural congener thymine in the context of duplex DNA using a base flipping mechanism. NMR imino proton exchange measurements were performed on free and UNG-bound DNA duplexes in which a single thymine (T) was paired with a series of adenine analogues (X) capable of forming one, two, or three hydrogen bonds. The base pair opening equilibrium for the free DNA increased 55-fold as the number of hydrogen bonds decreased, but the opening rate constants were nearly the same in the absence and presence of UNG. In contrast, UNG was found to slow the base pair closing rate constants (kcl) compared to each free duplex by a factor of 3- to 23-fold. These findings indicate that regardless of the inherent thermodynamic stability of the TX pair, UNG does not alter the spontaneous opening rate. Instead, the enzyme holds the spontaneously expelled thymine (or uracil) in a transient extrahelical sieving site where it may partition forward into the enzyme active site (uracil) or back into the DNA base stack (thymine).

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