We have examined the ability of the Escherichia coli single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB) tetramer to form its different binding modes on poly(dC), poly(U), and poly(A) over a range of NaCl and NaF concentrations for comparison with previous studies with poly(dT). In reverse titrations with poly(U) and poly (A) at 25 °C, pH 8.1, SSB forms all four binding modes previously observed with poly(dT), namely, (SSB)35, (SSB)40, (SSB)56, and (SSB)65, where the subscript denotes the site size (i.e., the average number of nucleotides occluded per SSB tetramer). As with poly(dT), the low site size modes are favored at low monovalent salt concentration (<10 mM), whereas increasing salt concentration facilitates the transitions to the higher site size modes. Surprisingly, SSB does not form a stable (SSB)35 complex on poly(dC), even at 1 mM NaCl; rather, the (SSB)56 mode is formed under these conditions. Upon raising the [NaCl], the (SSB)56 complex undergoes a transition to the (SSB)65 complex (transition midpoint, 40 mM NaCl). On the basis of studies with dC(pC)34, dT(pT)34, and dA(pA)34, the inability of the SSB tetramer to form the (SSB)35 complex with poly(dC) is due mainly to a much lower degree of negative cooperativity for binding oligodeoxycytidylates to the SSB tetramer. At low salt concentration, the negative cooperativity parameter, σ35, is lowest for dA(pA)34, intermediate for dT(pT)34, and highest for dC(pC)34, indicating that it is most difficult to saturate the SSB tetramer with two molecules of dA(pA)34. We have also measured the equilibrium constants for binding the oligodeoxynucleotides dC(pC)34, dC(pC)69, dA(pA)34, and dA(pA)69 as a function of [NaCl] and [NaBr] and find that the salt dependencies of these oligonucleotides are dependent upon base composition. These studies also indicate that ion binding accompanies formation of these SSB-ss-DNA complexes, although there is a net release of ions upon formation of the complex. This influence of both salt concentration and base composition indicates that both electrostatic and nonelectrostatic factors contribute to the negative cooperativity associated with ss-DNA binding to the SSB tetramer.
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