Mechanisms of transcription may involve protein-directed changes in DNA structure and DNA-directed changes in protein structure. We have employed Raman spectroscopy to characterize vibrational signatures associated with such induced molecular fitting for two classes of transcription factors - the basic leucine-zipper (bZIP) motif and the high-mobility-group (HMG) box - each with a DNA target site. Results for bZIP are described here; findings for the HMG-box are reported in the preceding paper in this issue [Benevides, J. M., Chart, G., Lu, X.-J., Olson, W. K., Weiss, M. A., and Thomas, G. J., Jr. (2000) Biochemistry 39, 537-547]. The yeast activator GCN4 provides a well-studied example of bZIP recognition, wherein B-DNA serves essentially as a template for protein folding. Analysis of Raman spectra of the 57-residue GCN4 bZIP domain, its AP-1 binding site, and their specific complex confirms a DNA-induced increase in α-helicity, attributable to folding of GCN4 basic arms with virtually no change in B-DNA structure, consistent with previous X- ray and NMR structure determinations. The absence of DNA perturbations in the bZIP model contrasts sharply with the HMG box, where DNA structure perturbations predominate. The bZIP and HMG-box models represent two opposing extremes in a range of induced fits identifiable by Raman spectroscopy. Previously characterized λ repressor/operator complexes [Benevides, J. M., Weiss, M. A., and Thomas, G. J. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269, 10869-10878] occupy an intermediate position within this range. A comprehensive tabulation of Raman markers proposed as diagnostic of different protein/DNA recognition motifs is presented. The results are analyzed in terms of available DNA crystal structures (Nucleic Acid Database) to identify details of DNA conformation that correlate with specific Raman recognition markers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes