The T4 phage UvsW protein contains both DNA unwinding and strand annealing activities

Scott W. Nelson, Stephen J. Benkovic

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27 Scopus citations


UvsW protein belongs to the SF2 helicase family and is one of three helicases found in T4 phage. UvsW governs the transition from origin-dependent to origin-independent replication through the dissociation of R-loops located at the T4 origins of replication. Additionally, in vivo evidence indicates that UvsW plays a role in recombination-dependent replication and/or DNA repair. Here, the biochemical properties of UvsW helicase are described. UvsW is a 3′ to 5′ helicase that unwinds a wide variety of substrates, including those resembling stalled replication forks and recombination intermediates. UvsW also contains a potent single-strand DNA annealing activity that is enhanced by ATP hydrolysis but does not require it. The annealing activity is inhibited by the non-hydrolysable ATP analog (adenosine 5′-O-(thiotriphosphate)), T4 single-stranded DNA-binding protein (gp32), or a small 8.8-kDa polypeptide (UvsW.1). Fluorescence resonance energy transfer experiments indicate that UvsW and UvsW.1 form a complex, suggesting that the UvsW helicase may exist as a heterodimer in vivo. Fusion of UvsW and UvsW.1 results in a 68-kDa protein having nearly identical properties as the UvsW-UvsW.1 complex, indicating that the binding locus of UvsW.1 is close to the C terminus of UvsW. The biochemical properties of UvsW are similar to the RecQ protein family and suggest that the annealing activity of these helicases may also be modulated by protein-protein interactions. The dual activities of UvsW are well suited for the DNA repair pathways described for leading strand lesion bypass and synthesis-dependent strand annealing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-416
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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