In contrast to proteins recognizing small-molecule ligands, DNA-dependent enzymes cannot rely solely on interactions in the substrate-binding centre to achieve their exquisite specificity. It is widely believed that substrate recognition by such enzymes involves a series of conformational changes in the enzyme-DNA complex with sequential gates favoring cognate DNA and rejecting nonsubstrates. However, direct evidence for such mechanism is limited to a few systems. We report that discrimination between the oxidative DNA lesion, 8-oxoguanine (oxoG) and its normal counterpart, guanine, by the repair enzyme, formamidopyrimidine-DNA glycosylase (Fpg), likely involves multiple gates. Fpg uses an aromatic wedge to open the Watson-Crick base pair and everts the lesion into its active site. We used molecular dynamics simulations to explore the eversion free energy landscapes of oxoG and G by Fpg, focusing on structural and energetic details of oxoG recognition. The resulting energy profiles, supported by biochemical analysis of site-directed mutants disturbing the interactions along the proposed path, show that Fpg selectively facilitates eversion of oxoG by stabilizing several intermediate states, helping the rapidly sliding enzyme avoid full extrusion of every encountered base for interrogation. Lesion recognition through multiple gating intermediates may be a common theme in DNA repair enzymes.
Li, H., Endutkin, A. V., Bergonzo, C., Campbell, A. J., De Los Santos, C., Grollman, A., … Simmerling, C. (2016). A dynamic checkpoint in oxidative lesion discrimination by formamidopyrimidine-DNA glycosylase. Nucleic Acids Research, 44(2), 683–694. https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkv1092