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EMBO J. 1997 Feb 17;16(4):880-8.

UvrAB activity at a damaged DNA site: is unpaired DNA present?

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Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8040, USA.


To study the activity of the Escherichia coli UvrA and UvrB nucleotide excision repair proteins during the formation of the pre-incision complex at a damaged DNA site, we used substrates with modifications around a single 2-(acetylamino)fluorene (AAF) lesion. Based on the release of AAF-containing oligonucleotides from a single-stranded DNA circle, we conclude that during interaction with our substrates UvrAB introduces changes in DNA which are localized at the lesion and are limited to 1-3 bp. Since these changes might include a denaturation of DNA at the lesion site and, consequently, a bubble structure might be present in a pre-incision complex, we studied incision activity of UvrABC excinuclease on substrates with 1-4 unpaired bases next to an AAF adduct. Opening more than one base on either or both sides of the lesion caused a significant decrease in the incision activity of UvrABC, but did not change the position of the incision sites. We conclude that the UvrAB action leading to a pre-incision complex does not include the formation of a bubble intermediate generated by extensive denaturation of base pairs.

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