Differential DNA-Binding Specificity of the Engrailed Homeodomain: The Role of Residue 50

Sarah E. Ades, Robert T. Sauer

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To assess the importance of residue 50 in determining the binding specificity of the homeodomain from the engrailed transcription factor of Drosophila, the DNA-binding properties of isolated homeodomains containing glutamine (wild type), alanine, and lysine at this position have been studied. In binding site selection experiments using the wild-type engrailed homeodomain, TAATTA was identified as a high-affinity, consensus binding site. When the glutamine at position 50 was replaced by a lysine (QK50), the binding site preference changed to TAATCC. The half-life and affinity of the complex between the QK50 protein and a DNA site containing TAATCC were increased significantly compared to the half-life and affinity of the complex between the wild-type protein and a TAATTA site. This suggests that Lys50 forms a more favorable interaction with the TAATCC DNA than Gln50 does with the TAATTA site. In fact, the wild-type Gln50 side chain (which forms a hydrophobic interaction with the last A:T base pair of the TAATTA site in the cocrystal structure [Kissinger, C. R., Liu, B., Martin-Blanco, E., Kornberg, T. B., & Pabo, C. O. (1990) Cell 63, 579–590]) appears to play only a small role in determining binding affinity and specificity for the TAATTA site, as the QA50 mutant has only a 2-fold reduced affinity for the TAATTA site and discriminates between the TAATTA and TAATCC sites as well as the wild-type protein. As a result, determinants in addition to Gln50 must be involved in establishing the differential binding specificity of the engrailed homeodomain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9187-9194
Number of pages8
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 1 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry


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