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DNA-Mediated Charge Transport Signaling Within the Cell


Grodick, Michael Andrew (2016) DNA-Mediated Charge Transport Signaling Within the Cell. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9F769GX.


DNA possesses the curious ability to conduct charge longitudinally through the π-stacked base pairs that reside within the interior of the double helix. The rate of charge transport (CT) through DNA has a shallow distance dependence. DNA CT can occur over at least 34 nm, a very long molecular distance. Lastly, DNA CT is exquisitely sensitive to disruptions, such as DNA damage, that affect the dynamics of base-pair stacking. Many DNA repair and DNA-processing enzymes are being found to contain 4Fe-4S clusters. These co-factors have been found in glycosylases, helicases, helicase-nucleases, and even enzymes such as DNA polymerase, RNA polymerase, and primase across the phylogeny. The role of these clusters in these enzymes has remained elusive. Generally, iron-sulfur clusters serve redox roles in nature since, formally, the cluster can exist in multiple oxidation states that can be accessed within a biological context. Taken together, these facts were used as a foundation for the hypothesis that DNA-binding proteins with 4Fe-4S clusters utilize DNA-mediated CT as a means to signal one another to scan the genome as a first step in locating the subtle damage that occurs within a sea of undamaged bases within cells.

Herein we describe a role for 4Fe-4S clusters in DNA-mediated charge transport signaling among EndoIII, MutY, and DinG, which are from distinct repair pathways in E. coli. The DinG helicase is an ATP-dependent helicase that contains a 4Fe-4S cluster. To study the DNA-bound redox properties of DinG, DNA-modified electrochemistry was used to show that the 4Fe-4S cluster of DNA-bound DinG is redox-active at cellular potentials, and shares the 80 mV vs. NHE redox potential of EndoIII and MutY. ATP hydrolysis by DinG increases the DNA-mediated redox signal observed electrochemically, likely reflecting better coupling of the 4Fe-4S cluster to DNA while DinG unwinds DNA, which could have interesting biological implications. Atomic force microscopy experiments demonstrate that DinG and EndoIII cooperate at long range using DNA charge transport to redistribute to regions of DNA damage. Genetics experiments, moreover, reveal that this DNA-mediated signaling among proteins also occurs within the cell and, remarkably, is required for cellular viability under conditions of stress. Knocking out DinG in CC104 cells leads to a decrease in MutY activity that is rescued by EndoIII D138A, but not EndoIII Y82A. DinG, thus, appears to help MutY find its substrate using DNA-mediated CT, but do MutY or EndoIII aid DinG in a similar way? The InvA strain of bacteria was used to observe DinG activity, since DinG activity is required within InvA to maintain normal growth. Silencing the gene encoding EndoIII in InvA results in a significant growth defect that is rescued by the overexpression of RNAseH, a protein that dismantles the substrate of DinG, R-loops. This establishes signaling between DinG and EndoIII. Furthermore, rescue of this growth defect by the expression of EndoIII D138A, the catalytically inactive but CT-proficient mutant of EndoIII, is also observed, but expression of EndoIII Y82A, which is CT-deficient but enzymatically active, does not rescue growth. These results provide strong evidence that DinG and EndoIII utilize DNA-mediated signaling to process DNA damage. This work thus expands the scope of DNA-mediated signaling within the cell, as it indicates that DNA-mediated signaling facilitates the activities of DNA repair enzymes across the genome, even for proteins from distinct repair pathways.

In separate work presented here, it is shown that the UvrC protein from E. coli contains a hitherto undiscovered 4Fe-4S cluster. A broad shoulder at 410 nm, characteristic of 4Fe-4S clusters, is observed in the UV-visible absorbance spectrum of UvrC. Electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy of UvrC incubated with sodium dithionite, reveals a spectrum with the signature features of a reduced, [4Fe-4S]+1, cluster. DNA-modified electrodes were used to show that UvrC has the same DNA-bound redox potential, of ~80 mV vs. NHE, as EndoIII, DinG, and MutY. Again, this means that these proteins are capable of performing inter-protein electron transfer reactions. Does UvrC use DNA-mediated signaling to facilitate the repair of its substrates?

UvrC is part of the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway in E. coli and is the protein within the pathway that performs the chemistry required to repair bulky DNA lesions, such as cyclopyrimidine dimers, that form as a product of UV irradiation. We tested if UvrC utilizes DNA-mediated signaling to facilitate the efficient repair of UV-induced DNA damage products by helping UvrC locate DNA damage. The UV sensitivity of E. coli cells lacking DinG, a putative signaling partner of UvrC, was examined. Knocking out DinG in E. coli leads to a sensitivity of the cells to UV irradiation. A 5-10 fold reduction in the amount of cells that survive after irradiation with 90 J/m2 of UV light is observed. This is consistent with the hypothesis that UvrC and DinG are signaling partners, but is this signaling due to DNA-mediated CT? Complementing the knockout cells with EndoIII D138A, which can also serve as a DNA CT signaling partner, rescues cells lacking DinG from UV irradiation, while complementing the cells with EndoIII Y82A shows no rescue of viability. These results indicate that there is cross-talk between the NER pathway and DinG via DNA-mediated signaling. Perhaps more importantly, this work also establishes that DinG, EndoIII, MutY, and UvrC comprise a signaling network that seems to be unified by the ability of these proteins to perform long range DNA-mediated CT signaling via their 4Fe-4S clusters.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:DinG; DNA-mediated charge transport; iron-sulfur cluster; UvrC; DNA repair
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Barton, Jacqueline K.
Thesis Committee:
  • Gray, Harry B. (chair)
  • Rees, Douglas C.
  • Newman, Dianne K.
  • Barton, Jacqueline K.
Defense Date:1 July 2015
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:07192015-214603085
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Chapter 1 adapted for Chapter 2 adapted for Appendix 1
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9063
Deposited By: Michael Grodick
Deposited On:20 Jul 2015 23:18
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:14

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