Interactions of the Escherichia coli DnaB helicase hexamer with the replication factor the DnaC Protein. Effect of nucleotide cofactors and the ssDNA on protein-protein interactions and the topology of the complex

Roberto Galletto, Maria J. Jezewska, Wlodzimierz Bujalowski

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Quantitative studies of interactions between the Escherichia coli replication factor DnaC protein and the DnaB helicase have been performed using sedimentation velocity and fluorescence energy transfer techniques. The applied novel analysis of the sedimentation data allows us to construct thermodynamic rigorous binding isotherms without any assumption as to the relationship between the observed molecular property of the complexes formed, the average sedimentation coefficient, or the degree of binding. Experiments have been performed with the fluorescein-modified DnaB helicase, which allows an exclusive monitoring of the DnaB-DnaC complex formation. The DnaC binding to the unmodified helicase has been characterized in competition experiments. The data establish that, in the presence of the ATP analog AMP-PNP, or ADP, a maximum of six DnaC monomers bind cooperatively to the DnaB hexamer. The positive cooperative interactions are limited to the two neighboring DnaC molecules. Analyses using a statistical thermodynamic hexagon model indicate that, under the solution conditions examined, the affinity is characterized by the intrinsic binding constant K=1.4(±0.5)×105M-1 and cooperativity parameter σ=21±5. These data suggest strongly that the DnaC-DnaB complex exists in vivo as a mixture of complexes with a different number of bound DnaC molecules, although the complex with six DnaC molecules bound dominates the distribution. The DnaC nucleotide-binding site is not involved in the stabilization of the complex. Moreover, the hydrolysis of NTP bound to the helicase or the DnaC is not required for the release of the DnaC protein from the complex. The single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) bound to the helicase does not affect the DnaC protein binding. However, in the presence of the DNA, there is a significant difference in the energetics and structure of the ternary complex, DnaC-DnaB-ssDNA, formed in the presence of AMP-PNP as compared to ADP. The topology of the ternary complex DnaC-DnaB-ssDNA has been determined using the fluorescence energy transfer method. In solution, the DnaC protein-binding site is located on the large 33 kDa domain of the DnaB helicase. The significance of the results in the functioning of the DnaB helicase-DnaC protein complex is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-465
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 6 2003



  • DNA replication
  • E. coli DnaB helicase
  • E. coli DnaC protein
  • Quantitative fluorescence titrations
  • Sedimentation velocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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