Protein-DNA recognition of a nonspecific complex is modeled to understand the nature of the transient encounter states. We consider the structural and energetic features and the role of water in the DNA grooves in the process of protein-DNA recognition. Here we have used the nuclease domain of colicin E7 (N-ColE7) from Escherichia coli in complex with a 12-bp DNA duplex as the model system to consider how a protein approaches, encounters, and associates with DNA. Multiscale simulation studies using Brownian dynamics and molecular-dynamics simulations were performed to provide the binding process on multiple length- and timescales. We define the encounter states and identified the spatial and orientational aspects. For the molecular length-scales, we used molecular-dynamics simulations. Several intermediate binding states were found, which have different positions and orientations of protein around DNA including major and minor groove orientations. The results show that the contact number and the hydrated interfacial area are measures that facilitate better understanding of sequence-independent protein-DNA binding landscapes and pathways.
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