Bacterial single-stranded DNA-binding proteins (SSBs) are required for DNA replication and repair. We have over-expressed and purified the native form and two His-tagged fusions of the SSB from Thermus thermophilus (TthSSB). The three proteins were found as dimers in solution. They bound in vitro to single-stranded DNA specifically over a temperature range of 4-80 degrees C, and the wild-type protein could withstand incubation at 94 degrees C for 2 min. Addition of TthSSB to PCR halved the elongation time required for the DNA polymerases of T.thermophilus (Tth) and Pyrococcus furiosus (Pfu) to synthesise DNA fragments in PCRs. The presence of TthSSB increased the fidelity of the proof- reading-free DNA polymerase of T.thermophilus. TthSSB was also able to bind single-stranded RNA, allowing a dramatic enhancement of the reverse transcription activity of its cognate Tth DNA polymerase during cDNA synthesis.
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