The inherent properties of DNA four-way junctions: comparing the crystal structures of holliday junctions.

Eichman BF, Ortiz-LombardĂ­a M, AymamĂ­ J, Coll M, Ho PS
J Mol Biol. 2002 320 (5): 1037-51

PMID: 12126623 · PMCID: PMC4537162 · DOI:10.1016/s0022-2836(02)00540-5

Holliday junctions are four-stranded DNA complexes that are formed during recombination and related DNA repair events. Much work has focused on the overall structure and properties of four-way junctions in solution, but we are just now beginning to understand these complexes at the atomic level. The crystal structures of two all-DNA Holliday junctions have been determined recently from the sequences d(CCGGGACCGG) and d(CCGGTACCGG). A detailed comparison of the two structures helps to distinguish distortions of the DNA conformation that are inherent to the cross-overs of the junctions in this crystal system from those that are consequences of the mismatched dG.dA base-pair in the d(CCGGGACCGG) structure. This analysis shows that the junction itself perturbs the sequence-dependent conformational features of the B-DNA duplexes and the associated patterns of hydration in the major and minor grooves only minimally. This supports the idea that a DNA four-way junction can be assembled at relatively low energetic cost. Both structures show a concerted rotation of the adjacent duplex arms relative to B-DNA, and this is discussed in terms of the conserved interactions between the duplexes at the junctions and further down the helical arms. The interactions distant from the strand cross-overs of the junction appear to be significant in defining its macroscopic properties, including the angle relating the stacked duplexes across the junction.

MeSH Terms (9)

Base Pair Mismatch Computer Simulation Crystallography, X-Ray Deoxyribonucleotides DNA Models, Molecular Nucleic Acid Conformation Oligodeoxyribonucleotides Solvents

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