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The Saccharomyces cerevisiae high-mobility group protein HMO1 is composed of two DNA-binding domains termed box A and box B, of which only box B is predicted to adopt a HMG fold, and a lysine-rich C-terminal extension. To assess the interaction between individual domains and their contribution to DNA binding, several HMO1 variants were analyzed. Using circular dichroism spectroscopy, thermal stability was measured. While the melting temperatures of HMO1-boxA and HMO1-boxB are 57.2 and 47.2 °C, respectively, HMO1-boxBC, containing box B and the entire C-terminal tail, melts at 46.1 °C, suggesting little interaction between box B and the tail. In contrast, full-length HMO1 exhibits a single melting transition at 47.9 °C, indicating that interaction between box A and either box B or the tail destabilizes this domain. As HMO1-boxAB, lacking only the lysine-rich C-terminal segment, exhibits two melting transitions at 46.0 and 63.3 °C, we conclude that the destabilization of the box A domain seen in full-length HMO1 is due primarily to its interaction with the lysine-rich tail. Determination of DNA substrate specificity using electrophoretic mobility shift assays shows unexpectedly that the lysine-rich tail does not increase DNA binding affinity but instead is required for DNA bending by full-length HMO1; HMO1-boxBC, lacking the box A domain, also fails to bend DNA. In contrast, both HMO1 and HMO1-boxAB, but not the individual HMG domains, exhibit preferred binding to constrained DNA minicircles. Taken together, our data suggest that interactions between box A and the C-terminal tail induce a conformation that is required for DNA bending. © 2006 American Chemical Society.

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