The nucleoid-associated protein HU is involved in numerous DNA transactions and thus is essential in DNA maintenance and bacterial survival. The high affinity of HU for SSBs (single-strand breaks) has suggested its involvement in DNA protection, repair and recombination. SSB-containing DNA are major intermediates transiently generated by bifunctional DNA N-glycosylases that initiate the BER (base excision repair) pathway. Enzyme kinetics and DNA-binding experiments demonstrate that HU enhances the 8-oxoguanine-DNA glycosylase activity of Fpg (formamidopyrimidine-DNA glycosylase) by facilitating the release of the enzyme from its final DNA product (one nucleoside gap). We propose that the displacement of Fpg from its end-DNA product by HU is an active mechanism in which HU recognizes the product when it is still bound by Fpg. Through DNA binding, the two proteins interplay to form a transient ternary complex Fpg/DNA/HU which results in the release of Fpg and the molecular entrapment of SSBs by HU. These results support the involvement of HU in BER in vivo.
© 2015 Authors; published by Portland Press Limited.