Nature communications

Direct observation of TALE protein dynamics reveals a two-state search mechanism.

PMID 26027871


Transcription activator-like effector (TALE) proteins are a class of programmable DNA-binding proteins for which the fundamental mechanisms governing the search process are not fully understood. Here we use single-molecule techniques to directly observe TALE search dynamics along DNA templates. We find that TALE proteins are capable of rapid diffusion along DNA using a combination of sliding and hopping behaviour, which suggests that the TALE search process is governed in part by facilitated diffusion. We also observe that TALE proteins exhibit two distinct modes of action during the search process-a search state and a recognition state-facilitated by different subdomains in monomeric TALE proteins. Using TALE truncation mutants, we further demonstrate that the N-terminal region of TALEs is required for the initial non-specific binding and subsequent rapid search along DNA, whereas the central repeat domain is required for transitioning into the site-specific recognition state.