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Biochemistry. 2013 Apr 16;52(15):2536-44. doi: 10.1021/bi301562n. Epub 2013 Apr 2.

DNA translocation by human uracil DNA glycosylase: the case of single-stranded DNA and clustered uracils.

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Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 725 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21205-2185, USA.


Human uracil DNA glycosylase (hUNG) plays a central role in DNA repair and programmed mutagenesis of Ig genes, requiring it to act on sparsely or densely spaced uracil bases located in a variety of contexts, including U/A and U/G base pairs, and potentially uracils within single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). An interesting question is whether the facilitated search mode of hUNG, which includes both DNA sliding and hopping, changes in these different contexts. Here we find that hUNG uses an enhanced local search mode when it acts on uracils in ssDNA, and also, in a context where uracils are densely clustered in duplex DNA. In the context of ssDNA, hUNG performs an enhanced local search by sliding with a mean sliding length larger than that of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA). In the context of duplex DNA, insertion of high-affinity abasic product sites between two uracil lesions serves to significantly extend the apparent sliding length on dsDNA from 4 to 20 bp and, in some cases, leads to directionally biased 3' → 5' sliding. The presence of intervening abasic product sites mimics the situation where hUNG acts iteratively on densely spaced uracils. The findings suggest that intervening product sites serve to increase the amount of time the enzyme remains associated with DNA as compared to nonspecific DNA, which in turn increases the likelihood of sliding as opposed to falling off the DNA. These findings illustrate how the search mechanism of hUNG is not predetermined but, instead, depends on the context in which the uracils are located.

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