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Cell. 1984 Jun;37(2):491-502.

DNA structural variations in the E. coli tyrT promoter.


X-ray studies have established that the structure of a right-handed, Watson-Crick double helix can change from place to place along its length as a function of base sequence. The base pairs transmit deformations out to the phosphate backbone, where they can then be recognized by proteins and other DNA-binding reagents. Here we have examined at single-bond resolution the interactions of three commonly used nucleases (DNAase I, DNAase II, and copper-phenanthroline) with a DNA of natural origin, the 160 bp tyrT promoter. All three of these reagents seem sensitive to DNA backbone geometry rather than base sequence per se. Their sequence-dependent patterns of cleavage provide evidence for structural polymorphism of several sorts: global variation in helix groove width, global variation in radial asymmetry, and local variation in phosphate accessibility. These findings explain how sequence zones of a certain base composition, or purine-pyrimidine asymmetry, can influence the recognition of DNA by protein molecules.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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