Publication Details

Yardimci, H., Wang, X., Loveland, A. B., Tappin, I., Rudner, D. Z., Hurwitz, J., van Oijen, A. M. & Walter, J. C. (2012). Bypass of a protein barrier by a replicative DNA helicase. Nature, 492 (7428), 205-209.


Replicative DNA helicases generally unwind DNA as a single hexamer that encircles and translocates along one strand of the duplex while excluding the complementary strand (known as steric exclusion). By contrast, large T antigen, the replicative DNA helicase of the simian virus 40 (SV40), is reported to function as a pair of stacked hexamers that pumps double-stranded DNA through its central channel while laterally extruding single-stranded DNA. Here we use single-molecule and ensemble assays to show that large T antigen assembled on the SV40 origin unwinds DNA efficiently as a single hexamer that translocates on single-stranded DNA in the 3′-to-5′ direction. Unexpectedly, large T antigen unwinds DNA past a DNA-protein crosslink on the translocation strand, suggesting that the large T antigen ring can open to bypass bulky adducts. Together, our data underscore the profound conservation among replicative helicase mechanisms, and reveal a new level of plasticity in the interactions of replicative helicases with DNA damage.



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