Author(s): Hu J, Ma A, Dinner AR
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Abstract O(6)-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase (AGT) repairs damage to the human genome by flipping guanine and thymine bases into its active site for irreversible transfer of alkyl lesions to Cys-145, but how the protein identifies its targets has remained unknown. Understanding molecular recognition in this system, which can serve as a paradigm for the many nucleotide-flipping proteins that regulate genes and repair DNA in all kingdoms of life, is particularly important given that inhibitors are in clinical trials as anticancer therapeutics. Computational approaches introduced recently for harvesting and statistically characterizing trajectories of molecularly rare events now enable us to elucidate a pathway for nucleotide flipping by AGT and the forces that promote it. In contrast to previously proposed flipping mechanisms, we observe a two-step process that promotes a kinetic, rather than a thermodynamic, gate-keeping strategy for lesion discrimination. Connection is made to recent single-molecule studies of DNA-repair proteins sliding on DNA to understand how they sense subtle chemical differences between bases efficiently.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Thermodynamics & Catalysis