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Cell. 1984 Sep;38(2):361-9.

Substituting an alpha-helix switches the sequence-specific DNA interactions of a repressor.


It has been suggested that many DNA-binding proteins use an alpha-helix for specific sequence recognition. We have used amino acid sequence homologies to identify the presumptive DNA-recognition helices in two related proteins whose structures are unknown--the repressor and cro protein of bacteriophage 434. The 434 repressor and cro protein each bind to three similar sites in the rightward phage 434 operator, OR, and they make different contacts in each binding site, as revealed by the chemical probe dimethyl sulfate. We substituted the putative recognition alpha-helix of 434 repressor with the putative recognition alpha-helix of 434 cro protein to create a hybrid protein named repressor*. The specific DNA contacts made by repressor* are like those of 434 cro protein.

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