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Biochemistry. 1994 May 17;33(19):5689-95.

In vitro selection of zinc fingers with altered DNA-binding specificity.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley 94720.


We have used random mutagenesis and phage display to alter the DNA-binding specificity of Zif268, a transcription factor that contains three zinc finger domains. Four residues in the helix of finger 1 of Zif268 that potentially mediate DNA binding were identified from an X-ray structure of the Zif268-DNA complex. A library was constructed in which these residues were randomly mutated and the Zif268 variants were fused to a truncated version of the gene III coat protein on the surface of M13 filamentous phage particles. The phage displayed the mutant proteins in a monovalent fashion and were sorted by repeated binding and elution from affinity matrices containing different DNA sequences. When the matrix contained the natural nine base pair operator sequence 5'-GCG-TGG-GCG-3', native-like zinc fingers were isolated. New finger 1 variants were found by sorting with two different operators in which the singly modified triplets, GTG and TCG, replaced the native finger 1 triplet, GCG. Overall, the selected finger 1 variants contained a preponderance of polar residues at the four sites. Interestingly, the net charge of the four residues in any selected finger never derived more that one unit from neutrality despite the fact that about half the variants contained three or four charged residues over the four sites. Measurements of the dissociation constants for two of these purified finger 1 variants by gel-shift assay showed their specificities to vary over a 10-fold range, with the greatest affinity being for the DNA binding site for which they were sorted.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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