Single-stranded DNA-binding proteins (SSBs) are ubiquitous oligomeric proteins that bind with very high affinity to single-stranded DNA and have a variety of essential roles in DNA metabolism. Nanoelectrospray ionization mass spectrometry (nanoESI-MS) was used to monitor subunit exchange in full-length and truncated forms of the homotetrameric SSB from Escherichia coli. Subunit exchange in the native protein was found to occur slowly over a period of hours, but was significantly more rapid in a truncated variant of SSB from which the eight C-terminal residues were deleted. This effect is proposed to result from C-terminus mediated stabilization of the SSB tetramer, in which the C-termini interact with the DNA-binding cores of adjacent subunits. NanoESI-MS was also used to examine DNA binding to the SSB tetramer. Binding of single-stranded oligonucleotides [one molecule of (dT)70, one molecule of (dT)35, or two molecules of (dT)35] was found to prevent SSB subunit exchange. Transfer of SSB tetramers between discrete oligonucleotides was also observed and is consistent with predictions from solution-phase studies, suggesting that SSB-DNA complexes can be reliably analyzed by ESI mass spectrometry.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/nick_dixon/86/