Interactions of the Escherichia coli PriA helicase with nucleotide cofactors have been studied using the fluorescence titration and analytical ultracentrifugation techniques. Binding of unmodified cofactors was characterized by the fluorescence competition titration method. The obtained data establish that at saturation the PriA helicase binds two nucleotide molecules per protein monomer. This result corroborates with the primary structure of the protein, which contains sequence motifs implicated as putative nucleotide-binding sites. The intrinsic affinities of the binding sites differ by 2-4 orders of magnitude. Thus, the PriA helicase has a strong and a weak nucleotide-binding site. The binding sites differ dramatically in their properties. The strong site is highly specific for adenosine cofactors, while the weak site shows very modest base specificity. The affinities of the strong and weak binding sites for ATP are lower than the affinities for ADP, although both sites have similar affinity for the inorganic phosphate group. Unlike the weak site, the affinity of the strong site profoundly depends on the structure of the phosphate group of the ATP cofactor. Binding of unmodified nucleotides indicates the presence of positive cooperative interactions between bound cofactors (i.e., the existence of communication between the two sites). Magnesium cations are specifically involved in controlling the cofactor affinity for the strong site, while the affinity of the weak site is predominantly determined by interactions between the phosphate group and ribose regions of the cofactor and the protein matrix. The significance of these results for the activities of the PriA helicase is discussed.
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