Metal binding at the Deinococcus radiodurans Dps-1 N-terminal metal site controls dodecameric assembly and DNA binding

Khoa Huynh Nguyen, Louisiana State University
Anne Grove, Louisiana State University


The prokaryotic DNA protection during starvation (Dps) proteins typically protect macromolecules against damaging agents via physical association with DNA and by oxidizing and sequestering iron. However, Deinococcus radiodurans Dps-1, which binds DNA with high affinity, fails to protect DNA against hydroxyl radicals due to iron leakage from the core, raising the question of how •OH-mediated damage to Dps-1-bound DNA is avoided. As shown here, Mn(II) inhibits ferroxidase activity, suggesting that ferroxidation may be prevented in vivo as D. radiodurans accumulates a high ratio of Mn:Fe. Dps-1 has an N-terminal extension with a unique metal-binding site, an extension that has been proposed to be important for DNA binding and dodecameric assembly. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays show that Mn(II) restores DNA binding to bipyridyl-treated Dps-1, whereas Fe(II) fails to do so in the presence of H 2O 2, thus preventing DNA binding under conditions of ongoing ferroxidase activity. We also show that disruption of the N-terminal metal site leads to a significant reduction in DNA binding and to compromised oligomeric assembly, with the mutant protein assembling into a hexamer in the presence of divalent metal. We propose that securing the N-terminal loop by metal binding is required to initiate dodecameric assembly by contacting the neighboring dimer and that the absence of such optimal contacts results in formation of a hexameric assembly intermediate in which three dimers associate about one of the 3-fold axes. Once dodecameric Dps-1 is assembled, metal binding no longer affects oligomeric state; instead, differential metal binding controls DNA interaction under conditions of oxidative stress. © 2012 American Chemical Society.