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Bioessays. 2014 Dec;36(12):1156-61. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400107. Epub 2014 Aug 29.

Replication protein A: single-stranded DNA's first responder: dynamic DNA-interactions allow replication protein A to direct single-strand DNA intermediates into different pathways for synthesis or repair.

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Department of Biochemistry, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.


Replication protein A (RPA), the major single-stranded DNA-binding protein in eukaryotic cells, is required for processing of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) intermediates found in replication, repair, and recombination. Recent studies have shown that RPA binding to ssDNA is highly dynamic and that more than high-affinity binding is needed for function. Analysis of DNA binding mutants identified forms of RPA with reduced affinity for ssDNA that are fully active, and other mutants with higher affinity that are inactive. Single molecule studies showed that while RPA binds ssDNA with high affinity, the RPA complex can rapidly diffuse along ssDNA and be displaced by other proteins that act on ssDNA. Finally, dynamic DNA binding allows RPA to prevent error-prone repair of double-stranded breaks and promote error-free repair. Together, these findings suggest a new paradigm where RPA acts as a first responder at sites with ssDNA, thereby actively coordinating DNA repair and DNA synthesis.


DNA repair; DNA replication; DNA-interactions; recombination; single-strand DNA-binding protein

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