SUMO-1 possesses DNA binding activity

BMC Res Notes. 2010 May 26;3(1):146. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-3-146.


Background: Conjugation of small ubiquitin-related modifiers (SUMOs) is a frequent post-translational modification of proteins. SUMOs can also temporally associate with protein-targets via SUMO binding motifs (SBMs). Protein sumoylation has been identified as an important regulatory mechanism especially in the regulation of transcription and the maintenance of genome stability. The precise molecular mechanisms by which SUMO conjugation and association act are, however, not understood.

Findings: Using NMR spectroscopy and protein-DNA cross-linking experiments, we demonstrate here that SUMO-1 can specifically interact with dsDNA in a sequence-independent fashion. We also show that SUMO-1 binding to DNA can compete with other protein-DNA interactions at the example of the regulatory domain of Thymine-DNA Glycosylase and, based on these competition studies, estimate the DNA binding constant of SUMO1 in the range 1 mM.

Conclusion: This finding provides an important insight into how SUMO-1 might exert its activity. SUMO-1 might play a general role in destabilizing DNA bound protein complexes thereby operating in a bottle-opener way of fashion, explaining its pivotal role in regulating the activity of many central transcription and DNA repair complexes.