Bullied no more: When and how DNA shoves proteins around

Jonathan M. Fogg, Graham L. Randall, B. Montgomery Pettitt, De Witt L. Sumners, Sarah A. Harris, Lynn Zechiedrich

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

39 Scopus citations


The predominant protein-centric perspective in protein-DNA-binding studies assumes that the protein drives the interaction. Research focuses on protein structural motifs, electrostatic surfaces and contact potentials, while DNA is often ignored as a passive polymer to be manipulated. Recent studies of DNA topology, the supercoiling, knotting, and linking of the helices, have shown that DNA has the capability to be an active participant in its transactions. DNA topology-induced structural and geometric changes can drive, or at least strongly influence, the interactions between protein and DNA. Deformations of the B-form structure arise from both the considerable elastic energy arising from supercoiling and from the electrostatic energy. Here, we discuss how these energies are harnessed for topology-driven, sequence-specific deformations that can allow DNA to direct its own metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-299
Number of pages43
JournalQuarterly Reviews of Biophysics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics

Cite this

Fogg, J. M., Randall, G. L., Pettitt, B. M., Sumners, D. W. L., Harris, S. A., & Zechiedrich, L. (2012). Bullied no more: When and how DNA shoves proteins around. Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics, 45(3), 257-299. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033583512000054