Scanning confocal fluorescence microscopy for single molecule analysis of nucleotide excision repair complexes

Nucleic Acids Res. 2002 Nov 1;30(21):4720-7. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkf599.


We used scanning confocal fluorescence microscopy to observe and analyze individual DNA- protein complexes formed between human nucleotide excision repair (NER) proteins and model DNA substrates. For this purpose human XPA protein was fused to EGFP, purified and shown to be functional. Binding of EGFP-labeled XPA protein to a Cy3.5-labeled DNA substrate, in the presence and absence of RPA, was assessed quantitatively by simultaneous excitation and emission detection of both fluorophores. Co-localization of Cy3.5 and EGFP signals within one diffraction limited spot indicated complexes of XPA with DNA. Measurements were performed on samples in a 1% agarose matrix in conditions that are compatible with protein activity and where reactions can be studied under equilibrium conditions. In these samples DNA alone was freely diffusing and protein-bound DNA was immobile, whereby they could be discriminated resulting in quantitative data on DNA binding. On the single molecule level approximately 10% of XPA co-localized with DNA; this increased to 32% in the presence of RPA. These results, especially the enhanced binding of XPA in the presence of RPA, are similar to those obtained in bulk experiments, validating the utility of scanning confocal fluorescence microscopy for investigating functional interactions at the single molecule level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / analysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / isolation & purification
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Diffusion
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Proteins / analysis
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Protein Binding
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / analysis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Xeroderma Pigmentosum Group A Protein


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • XPA protein, human
  • Xeroderma Pigmentosum Group A Protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • DNA