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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2011 Dec 18;19(1):72-8. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2175.

Mechanism of mismatch recognition revealed by human MutSβ bound to unpaired DNA loops.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, US National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


DNA mismatch repair corrects replication errors, thus reducing mutation rates and microsatellite instability. Genetic defects in this pathway cause Lynch syndrome and various cancers in humans. Binding of a mispaired or unpaired base by bacterial MutS and eukaryotic MutSα is well characterized. We report here crystal structures of human MutSβ in complex with DNA containing insertion-deletion loops (IDL) of two, three, four or six unpaired nucleotides. In contrast to eukaryotic MutSα and bacterial MutS, which bind the base of a mismatched nucleotide, MutSβ binds three phosphates in an IDL. DNA is severely bent at the IDL; unpaired bases are flipped out into the major groove and partially exposed to solvent. A normal downstream base pair can become unpaired; a single unpaired base can thereby be converted to an IDL of two nucleotides and recognized by MutSβ. The C-terminal dimerization domains form an integral part of the MutS structure and coordinate asymmetrical ATP hydrolysis by Msh2 and Msh3 with mismatch binding to signal for repair.

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