Uracil DNA glycosylase uses DNA hopping and short-range sliding to trap extrahelical uracils

Rishi H. Porecha, James T. Stivers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


The astonishingly efficient location and excision of damaged DNA bases by DNA repair glycosylases is an especially intriguing problem in biology. One example is the enzyme uracil DNA glycosylase (UNG), which captures and excises rare extrahelical uracil bases that have emerged from the DNA base stack by spontaneous base pair breathing motions. Here, we explore the efficiency and mechanism by which UNG executes intramolecular transfer and excision of two uracil sites embedded on the same or opposite DNA strands at increasing site spacings. The efficiency of intramolecular site transfer decreased from 41 to 0% as the base pair spacing between uracil sites on the same DNA strand increased from 20 to 800 bp. The mechanism of transfer is dominated by DNA hopping between landing sites of ≈10 bp size, over which rapid 1D scanning likely occurs. Consistent with DNA hopping, site transfer at 20- and 56-bp spacings was unaffected by whether the uracils were placed on the same or opposite strands. Thus, UNG uses hopping and 3D diffusion through bulk solution as the principal pathways for efficient patrolling of long genomic DNA sequences for damage. Short-range sliding over the range of a helical turn allows for redundant inspection of very local DNA sequences and trapping of spontaneously emerging extrahelical uracils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10791-10796
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 5 2008


  • Facilitated diffusion
  • Search mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Uracil DNA glycosylase uses DNA hopping and short-range sliding to trap extrahelical uracils'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this