Escherichia coli MutY is an adenine and weak guanine DNA glycosylase involved in reducing the mutagenic effects of 7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine (GO). MutY contains three structural domains: an iron-sulfur module, a six-helix barrel module with the helix-hairpin-helix motif, and a C-terminal domain. Here, we demonstrate that the mutant MutY(Δ26-134), which lacks the six-helix barrel domain, cannot complement the mutator phenotype of a mutY mutant in vivo. However, the mutant can still bind DNA and has weak catalytic activity at high enzyme concentrations. The mutant is a dimer in solution and assembled into two and multiple (up to five) complexes with 20- and 44-bp DNA fragments, respectively, in a concentration-dependent manner. Higher order complexes with DNA substrates containing A/GO mismatches were formed at lower protein concentrations than with the A/G mismatch and homoduplex DNA. Measurement of equilibrium binding using fluorescence anisotropy showed that the mutant protein retains some specificity for A/GO-containing DNA substrates and that the binding event is highly cooperative. This is consistent with the MutY structure determined, which indicates that GO specificity is contributed by both the six-helix barrel and C-terminal domains. The nonspecific binding of MutY(Δ26-134) to DNA suggests a model in which the specific binding of mismatched DNA by MutY involves sequential interactions, in which one MutY molecule scans the DNA and enhances binding of another MutY molecule to the A/GO mismatch.
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