Nucleic acids research

Active destabilization of base pairs by a DNA glycosylase wedge initiates damage recognition.

PMID 25520195


Formamidopyrimidine-DNA glycosylase (Fpg) excises 8-oxoguanine (oxoG) from DNA but ignores normal guanine. We combined molecular dynamics simulation and stopped-flow kinetics with fluorescence detection to track the events in the recognition of oxoG by Fpg and its mutants with a key phenylalanine residue, which intercalates next to the damaged base, changed to either alanine (F110A) or fluorescent reporter tryptophan (F110W). Guanine was sampled by Fpg, as evident from the F110W stopped-flow traces, but less extensively than oxoG. The wedgeless F110A enzyme could bend DNA but failed to proceed further in oxoG recognition. Modeling of the base eversion with energy decomposition suggested that the wedge destabilizes the intrahelical base primarily through buckling both surrounding base pairs. Replacement of oxoG with abasic (AP) site rescued the activity, and calculations suggested that wedge insertion is not required for AP site destabilization and eversion. Our results suggest that Fpg, and possibly other DNA glycosylases, convert part of the binding energy into active destabilization of their substrates, using the energy differences between normal and damaged bases for fast substrate discrimination.