How do proteins locate specific targets in DNA?

Chem Phys Lett. 2013 May 10:570:10.1016/j.cplett.2013.03.035. doi: 10.1016/j.cplett.2013.03.035.


Many aspects of biology depend on the ability of DNA-binding proteins to locate specific binding sites within the genome. Interest in this target search problem has been reinvigorated through the recent development of microscopy-based technologies capable of tracking individual proteins in real-time as they search for binding sites. In this review we discuss how two different proteins, lac repressor and RNA polymerase, have solved the target search problem through seemingly different mechanisms, with an emphasis on how recent in vitro single-molecule studies have influenced our understanding of these reactions.