The molecular mechanism by which DNA-binding proteins find their specific binding sites is still unclear. To gain insights into structural and energetic elements of this mechanism, we used the crystal structure of the nonspecific BamHI-DNA complex as a template to study the dominant electrostatic interaction in the nonspecific association of protein with DNA, and the possible sliding pathways that could be sustained by such an interaction. Based on calculations using the nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann method and Brownian dynamics, a model is proposed for the initial nonspecific binding of BamHI to B-form DNA that differs from that seen in the crystal structure of the nonspecific complex. The model is electrostatically favorable, and the salt dependence as well as other thermodynamic parameters calculated for this model are in good agreement with experimental results. Several residues in BamHI are identified for their important contribution to the energy in the nonspecific binding model, and specific mutagenesis experiments are proposed to test the model on this basis. We show that a favorable sliding pathway of the protein along DNA is helical.
Sun, J., Viadiu, H., Aggarwal, A. K., & Weinstein, H. (2003). Energetic and structural considerations for the mechanism of protein sliding along DNA in the nonspecific BamHI-DNA complex. Biophysical Journal, 84(5), 3317–3325. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(03)70056-3