The Escherichia coli MutL protein regulates the activity of several enzymes, including MutS, MutH, and UvrD, during methyl-directed mismatch repair of DNA. We have investigated the self-association properties of MutL and its binding to DNA using analytical sedimentation velocity and equilibrium. Self-association of MutL is quite sensitive to solution conditions. At 25 °C in Tris at pH 8.3, MutL assembles into a heterogeneous mixture of large multimers. In the presence of potassium phosphate at pH 7.4, MutL forms primarily stable dimers, with the higher-order assembly states suppressed. The weight-average sedimentation coefficient of the MutL dimer in this buffer ( ̅s(20,w)) is equal to 5.20 ± 0.08 S, suggesting a highly asymmetric dimer (f/f(o) = 1.58 ± 0.02). Upon binding the nonhydrolyzable ATP analogue, AMPPNP/Mg(2+), the MutL dimer becomes more compact ( ̅s(20,w) = 5.71 ± 0.08 S; f/f(o) = 1.45 ± 0.02), probably reflecting reorganization of the N-terminal ATPase domains. A MutL dimer binds to an 18 bp duplex with a 3'-(dT(20)) single-stranded flanking region, with apparent affinity in the micromolar range. AMPPNP binding to MutL increases its affinity for DNA by a factor of ∼10. These results indicate that the presence of phosphate minimizes further MutL oligomerization beyond a dimer and that differences in solution conditions likely explain apparent discrepancies in previous studies of MutL assembly.
© 2011 American Chemical Society