The specificity of the secondary DNA binding site of RecA protein defines its role in DNA strand exchange

Alexander V. Mazin, Stephen C. Kowalczykowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The Reca protein-Single-Stranded DNA (ssdna) filament can binda second DNA molecule.Binding of ssDNA to this secondary site shows specificity in that polypyrimidinic DNA binds to the RecA protein-SsDNA filament with higher affinity than polypurinic sequences.The affinity of ssDNA which is identical in sequence to that bound in the primary site is not always greater than that of nonhomologous DNA. Moreover this specificity of DNA binding does not depend on the sequence of the DNA bound to the RecA protein primary site.We conclude that the specificity reflects an intrinsic property of the secondary site of RecA protein rather than an interaction between DNA molecules within nucleoprotein filament-i.e., self-Recognition.The secondary DNA binding site displays a higher affinity for ssDNA than for double-Stranded DNA the binding of ssDNA to the secondary site strongly inhibits DNA strand exchange.We suggest that the secondary binding site has a dual role in DNA strand exchange.During the homology search it binds double-Stranded DNA weakly upon finding local homology this site binds with higher affinity the ssDNA strand that is displaced during DNA strand exchange.These characteristics facilitate homologous pairing promote stabilization of the newly formed heteroduplex DNA contribute to the directionality of DNA strand exchange.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10673-10678
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA-protein interactions
  • genetic recombination
  • homologous pairing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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