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Nucleic Acids Res. 1996 May 1;24(9):1727-33.

A 39 amino acid fragment of the cell cycle regulator p21 is sufficient to bind PCNA and partially inhibit DNA replication in vivo.

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Department of Pathology, Division of Molecular Oncology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The cell cycle regulator p21 interacts with and inhibits the DNA replication and repair factor proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). We have defined a 39 amino acid fragment of p21 which is sufficient to bind PCNA with high affinity (Kd 10-20 nM). This peptide can inhibit DNA replication in vitro and microinjection of a GST fusion protein containing this domain inhibited S phase in vivo. Despite its high affinity for PCNA, the free 39 amino acid peptide does not have a well-defined structure, as judged from circular dichroism and nuclear magnetic resonance measurements, suggesting an induced fit mechanism for the PCNA-p21 interaction. The association of the small peptide with PCNA was thermolabile, suggesting that portions of p21 adjoining the minimal region of contact stabilize the interaction. In addition, a domain containing 67 amino acids from the N-terminus of PCNA was defined as both necessary and sufficient for binding to p21.

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