Concentration and Length Dependence of DNA Looping in Transcriptional Regulation

Department of Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 02/2009; 4(5):e5621. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005621
Source: PubMed


In many cases, transcriptional regulation involves the binding of transcription factors at sites on the DNA that are not immediately adjacent to the promoter of interest. This action at a distance is often mediated by the formation of DNA loops: Binding at two or more sites on the DNA results in the formation of a loop, which can bring the transcription factor into the immediate neighborhood of the relevant promoter. These processes are important in settings ranging from the historic bacterial examples (bacterial metabolism and the lytic-lysogeny decision in bacteriophage), to the modern concept of gene regulation to regulatory processes central to pattern formation during development of multicellular organisms. Though there have been a variety of insights into the combinatorial aspects of transcriptional control, the mechanism of DNA looping as an agent of combinatorial control in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes remains unclear. We use single-molecule techniques to dissect DNA looping in the lac operon. In particular, we measure the propensity for DNA looping by the Lac repressor as a function of the concentration of repressor protein and as a function of the distance between repressor binding sites. As with earlier single-molecule studies, we find (at least) two distinct looped states and demonstrate that the presence of these two states depends both upon the concentration of repressor protein and the distance between the two repressor binding sites. We find that loops form even at interoperator spacings considerably shorter than the DNA persistence length, without the intervention of any other proteins to prebend the DNA. The concentration measurements also permit us to use a simple statistical mechanical model of DNA loop formation to determine the free energy of DNA looping, or equivalently, the for looping.

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    • "The putative flexible constructs have a higher looping probability than the random constructs in vitro (Figure 4B). Here we apply a similar statistical mechanical model to that described above for in vivo repression to extract the in vitro free energy of loop formation [51] [53]. "
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    Physical Biology 11/2013; 10(6):066005. DOI:10.1088/1478-3975/10/6/066005 · 2.54 Impact Factor
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    • "DNA looping can be detected by EMSA, footprinting, electron microscopy or atomic force microscopy, Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) and tethered particle microscopy (TPM) (6,46–48). Initially we attempted to apply EMSA to DNA looping by the LZD peptides, but the large DNA size required and also competition with sandwich complexes made the results difficult to interpret. We turned to DNA ligation because the assay depends on the reactivity of molecules that are entirely in free solution, not immobilized or in gels. "
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    ABSTRACT: Artificial DNA looping peptides were engineered to study the roles of protein and DNA flexibility in controlling the geometry and stability of protein-mediated DNA loops. These LZD (leucine zipper dual-binding) peptides were derived by fusing a second, C-terminal, DNA-binding region onto the GCN4 bZip peptide. Two variants with different coiled-coil lengths were designed to control the relative orientations of DNA bound at each end. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays verified formation of a sandwich complex containing two DNAs and one peptide. Ring closure experiments demonstrated that looping requires a DNA-binding site separation of 310 bp, much longer than the length needed for natural loops. Systematic variation of binding site separation over a series of 10 constructs that cyclize to form 862-bp minicircles yielded positive and negative topoisomers because of two possible writhed geometries. Periodic variation in topoisomer abundance could be modeled using canonical DNA persistence length and torsional modulus values. The results confirm that the LZD peptides are stiffer than natural DNA looping proteins, and they suggest that formation of short DNA loops requires protein flexibility, not unusual DNA bendability. Small, stable, tunable looping peptides may be useful as synthetic transcriptional regulators or components of protein-DNA nanostructures.
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    • "Our TPM protocol was essentially that of (17), with the following modifications: "
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    ABSTRACT: DNA is subject to large deformations in a wide range of biological processes. Two key examples illustrate how such deformations influence the readout of the genetic information: the sequestering of eukaryotic genes by nucleosomes and DNA looping in transcriptional regulation in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. These kinds of regulatory problems are now becoming amenable to systematic quantitative dissection with a powerful dialogue between theory and experiment. Here, we use a single-molecule experiment in conjunction with a statistical mechanical model to test quantitative predictions for the behavior of DNA looping at short length scales and to determine how DNA sequence affects looping at these lengths. We calculate and measure how such looping depends upon four key biological parameters: the strength of the transcription factor binding sites, the concentration of the transcription factor, and the length and sequence of the DNA loop. Our studies lead to the surprising insight that sequences that are thought to be especially favorable for nucleosome formation because of high flexibility lead to no systematically detectable effect of sequence on looping, and begin to provide a picture of the distinctions between the short length scale mechanics of nucleosome formation and looping.
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