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Nucleic acids research

FRET studies of a landscape of Lac repressor-mediated DNA loops.


PMID 22307389

Abstract

DNA looping mediated by the Lac repressor is an archetypal test case for modeling protein and DNA flexibility. Understanding looping is fundamental to quantitative descriptions of gene expression. Systematic analysis of LacI•DNA looping was carried out using a landscape of DNA constructs with lac operators bracketing an A-tract bend, produced by varying helical phasings between operators and the bend. Fluorophores positioned on either side of both operators allowed direct Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) detection of parallel (P1) and antiparallel (A1, A2) DNA looping topologies anchored by V-shaped LacI. Combining fluorophore position variant landscapes allows calculation of the P1, A1 and A2 populations from FRET efficiencies and also reveals extended low-FRET loops proposed to form via LacI opening. The addition of isopropyl-β-D-thio-galactoside (IPTG) destabilizes but does not eliminate the loops, and IPTG does not redistribute loops among high-FRET topologies. In some cases, subsequent addition of excess LacI does not reduce FRET further, suggesting that IPTG stabilizes extended or other low-FRET loops. The data align well with rod mechanics models for the energetics of DNA looping topologies. At the peaks of the predicted energy landscape for V-shaped loops, the proposed extended loops are more stable and are observed instead, showing that future models must consider protein flexibility.