Cooperative and noncooperative binding of protein ligands to nucleic acid lattices: Experimental approaches to the determination of thermodynamic parameters

Stephen C. Kowalczykowski, Leland S. Paul, Nils Lonberg, John W. Newport, James A. McSwiggen, Peter H. Von Hippel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many biologically important proteins bind nonspecifically, and often cooperatively, to single-or double-stranded nucleic acid lattices in discharging their physiological functions. This binding can generally be described in thermodynamic terms by three parameters: n, the binding site size; K, the intrinsic binding constant; ω, the binding cooperativity parameter. The experimental determination of these parameters often appears to be straightforward but can be fraught with conceptual and methodological difficulties that may not be readily apparent. In this paper we describe and analyze a number of approaches that can be used to measure these protein-nucleic acid interaction parameters and illustrate these methods with experiments on the binding of T4-coded gene 32 (single-stranded DNA binding) protein to various nucleic acid lattices. We consider the following procedures: (i) the titration of a fixed amount of lattice (nucleic acid) with added ligand (protein); (ii) the titration of a fixed amount of ligand with added lattice; (iii) the determination of ligand binding affinities at very low levels of lattice saturation; (iv) the analysis of ligand cluster size distribution on the lattice; (v) the analysis of ligand binding to lattices of finite length. The applicability and limitations of each approach are considered and discussed, and potential pitfalls are explicitly pointed out.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1226-1240
Number of pages15
JournalBiochemistry
Volume25
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry

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