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Phys Biol. 2009 Jun 5;6(3):036012. doi: 10.1088/1478-3975/6/3/036012.

Physical signals for protein-DNA recognition.

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City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.


This paper discovers consensus physical signals around eukaryotic splice sites, transcription start sites, and replication origin start and end sites on a genome-wide scale based on their DNA flexibility profiles calculated by three different flexibility models. These salient physical signals are localized highly rigid and flexible DNAs, which may play important roles in protein-DNA recognition by the sliding search mechanism. The found physical signals lead us to a detailed hypothetical view of the search process in which a DNA-binding protein first finds a genomic region close to the target site from an arbitrary starting location by three-dimensional (3D) hopping and intersegment transfer mechanisms for long distances, and subsequently uses the one-dimensional (1D) sliding mechanism facilitated by the localized highly rigid DNAs to accurately locate the target flexible binding site within 30 bp (base pair) short distances. Guided by these physical signals, DNA-binding proteins rapidly search the entire genome to recognize a specific target site from the 3D to 1D pathway. Our findings also show that current promoter prediction programs (PPPs) based on DNA physical properties may suffer from lots of false positives because other functional sites such as splice sites and replication origins have similar physical signals as promoters do.

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