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Biochemistry. 2011 Sep 6;50(35):7503-13. doi: 10.1021/bi200826a. Epub 2011 Aug 16.

Schizosaccharomyces pombe protection of telomeres 1 utilizes alternate binding modes to accommodate different telomeric sequences.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0215, United States.


The ends of eukaryotic chromosomes consist of long tracts of repetitive GT-rich DNA with variable sequence homogeneity between and within organisms. Telomeres terminate in a conserved 3'-ssDNA overhang that, regardless of sequence variability, is specifically and tightly bound by proteins of the telomere-end protection family. The high affinity ssDNA-binding activity of S. pombe Pot1 protein (SpPot1) is conferred by a DNA-binding domain consisting of two subdomains, Pot1pN and Pot1pC. Previous work has shown that Pot1pN binds a single repeat of the core telomere sequence (GGTTAC) with exquisite specificity, while Pot1pC binds an extended sequence of nine nucleotides (GGTTACGGT) with modest specificity requirements. We find that full-length SpPot1 binds the composite 15mer, (GGTTAC)(2)GGT, and a shorter two-repeat 12mer, (GGTTAC)(2), with equally high affinity (<3 pM), but with substantially different kinetic and thermodynamic properties. The binding mode of the SpPot1/15mer complex is more stable than that of the 12mer complex, with a 2-fold longer half-life and increased tolerance to nucleotide and amino acid substitutions. Our data suggest that SpPot1 protection of heterogeneous telomeres is mediated through 5'-sequence recognition and the use of alternate binding modes to maintain high affinity interaction with the G-strand, while simultaneously discriminating against the complementary strand.

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