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Eur J Biochem. 1998 Jan 15;251(1-2):427-34.

Formation of large nucleoprotein complexes upon binding of the high-mobility-group (HMG) box B-domain of HMG1 protein to supercoiled DNA.

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Institute of Biophysics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Brno.


High-mobility group (HMG) 1 is a relatively highly abundant chromosomal protein with structural- rather than sequence-specific preference for binding to DNA. HMG1 has two highly related, folded domains A and B (HMG boxes), attached by a short basic region to an acidic C-terminal domain. We have studied binding of the B-domain of HMG1 protein and its mutants to supercoiled DNA by a gel-retardation assay and electron microscopy. Using a gel-retardation assay, we have demonstrated that HMG1 or HMG1 lacking the acidic C-terminal domain [i.e. HMG1(A+B) bi-domain], but not the isolated B-domain, could preferentially bind supercoiled over-relaxed closed circular or linear DNA. Mutational analysis of the HMG1 B-domain revealed that replacement of Lys96 of the extended N-terminal segment (and much less the neighboring Arg97) and Lys128 of helix II to glutamic acid severely impaired binding of the HMG box domain to supercoiled DNA. The latter mutation within helix II significantly decreased the alpha-helical content of the B-domain as revealed by circular dichroism. We have also shown that mutation of several residues within helix I of the B-domain, in particular Arg110, resulted in a diminished binding to supercoiled DNA as revealed by intensive smearing and reduced retardation of the protein/DNA complexes. These findings indicated that the extended N-terminus, helix I and helix II of the HMG1 B-domain are likely in contact with DNA. Electron microscopy revealed that the B-domain could bind to supercoiled DNA at higher HMG/DNA molar ratios as oligomeric protein beads with subsequent association of the beads into large nucleoprotein complexes from which many looped DNA molecules emerged. Most of the introduced mutations within all three helices of the B-domain (involving mainly basic and aromatic residues) abolished formation of the large nucleoprotein complexes even though the binding of the HMG box to supercoiled DNA was retained as revealed by a gel-retardation assay. A model for the interaction of the B-domain of HMG 1 with supercoiled DNA is presented and discussed.

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