Phe217 regulates the transfer of allosteric information across the subunit interface of the RecA protein filament

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Background: ATP-mediated cooperative assembly of a RecA nucleoprotein filament activates the protein for catalysis of DNA strand exchange. RecA is a classic allosterically regulated enzyme in that ATP binding results in a dramatic increase in ssDNA binding affinity. This increase in ssDNA binding affinity results almost exclusively from an ATP-mediated increase in cooperative filament assembly rather than an increase in the inherent affinity of monomeric RecA for DNA. Therefore, certain residues at the subunit interface must play an important role in transmitting allosteric information across the filament structure of RecA. Results: Using electron microscopic analysis of RecA polymer formation in the absence of DNA, we show that while wild-type RecA undergoes a slight decrease in filament length in the presence of ATP, a Phe217Tyr substitution results in a dramatic ATP-induced increase in cooperative filament assembly. Biosensor DNA binding measurements reveal that the Phe217Tyr mutation increases ATP-mediated cooperative interaction between RecA subunits by more than 250-fold. Conclusions: These studies represent the first identification of a subunit interface residue in RecA (Phe217) that plays a critical role in regulating the flow of ATP-mediated information throughout the protein filament structure. We propose a model by which conformational changes that occur upon ATP binding are propagated through the structure of a RecA monomer, resulting in the insertion of the Phe217 side chain into a pocket in the neighboring subunit. This event serves as a key step in intersubunit communication leading to ATP-mediated cooperative filament assembly and high affinity binding to ssDNA.




Kelley De Zutter, J., Forget, A. L., Logan, K. M., & Knight, K. L. (2001). Phe217 regulates the transfer of allosteric information across the subunit interface of the RecA protein filament. Structure, 9(1), 47–55.

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