Recognition of 5'-YpG-3' sequences by coupled stacking/hydrogen bonding interactions with amino acid residues

J Mol Biol. 2004 Jan 9;335(2):399-408. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2003.10.071.


The combined biochemical and structural study of hundreds of protein-DNA complexes has indicated that sequence-specific interactions are mediated by two mechanisms termed direct and indirect readout. Direct readout involves direct interactions between the protein and base-specific atoms exposed in the major and minor grooves of DNA. For indirect readout, the protein recognizes DNA by sensing conformational variations in the structure dependent on nucleotide sequence, typically through interactions with the phosphodiester backbone. Based on our recent structure of Ndt80 bound to DNA in conjunction with a search of the existing PDB database, we propose a new method of sequence-specific recognition that utilizes both direct and indirect readout. In this mode, a single amino acid side-chain recognizes two consecutive base-pairs. The 3'-base is recognized by canonical direct readout, while the 5'-base is recognized through a variation of indirect readout, whereby the conformational flexibility of the particular dinucleotide step, namely a 5'-pyrimidine-purine-3' step, facilitates its recognition by the amino acid via cation-pi interactions. In most cases, this mode of DNA recognition helps explain the sequence specificity of the protein for its target DNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arginine / chemistry*
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Base Pairing
  • DNA, Fungal / chemistry*
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA, Fungal / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Meiosis
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Purines / chemistry
  • Pyrimidines / chemistry
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / chemistry*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • NDT80 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Purines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Arginine