DNA binding compatibility of the streptococcus pneumoniae SsbA and SsbB proteins

Brenda Salerno, Geetha Anne, Floyd R. Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Streptococcus pneumoniae has two paralogous, homotetrameric, single-stranded DNA binding (SSB) proteins, designated SsbA and SsbB. Previous studies demonstrated that SsbA and SsbB have different solution-dependent binding mode preferences with variable DNA binding capacities. The impact of these different binding properties on the assembly of multiple SsbAs and SsbBs onto single-stranded DNA was investigated. Methodology/Principal Findings: The complexes that were formed by the SsbA and SsbB proteins on dT n oligomers of defined lengths were examined by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Complexes containing either two SsbAs or two SsbBs, or mixed complexes containing one SsbA and one SsbB, could be formed readily, provided the dT n oligomer was long enough to satisfy the full binding mode capacities of each of the bound proteins under the particular solution conditions. Complexes containing two SsbAs or two SsbBs could also be formed on shorter dT n oligomers via a "shared-strand binding" mechanism in which one or both proteins were bound using only a portion of their potential binding capacity. Mixed complexes were not formed on these shorter oligomers, however, indicating that SsbA and SsbB were incompatible for shared-strand binding. Additional experiments suggested that this shared-strand binding incompatibility may be due in part to differences in the structure of a loop region on the outer surface of the subunits of the SsbA and SsbB proteins. Conclusion/Significance: These results indicate that the SsbA and SsbB proteins may co-assemble on longer DNA segments where independent binding is possible, but not on shorter DNA segments where coordinated interactions between adjacent SSBs are required. The apparent compatibility requirement for shared-strand binding could conceivably serve as a self-recognition mechanism that regulates the manner in which SsbA and SsbB interact in S. pneumoniae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere24305
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 13 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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