PRDM9 forms a trimer by interactions within the zinc finger array

Life Sci Alliance. 2019 Jul 15;2(4):e201800291. doi: 10.26508/lsa.201800291. Print 2019 Aug.


PRDM9 is a trans-acting factor directing meiotic recombination to specific DNA-binding sites by its zinc finger (ZnF) array. It was suggested that PRDM9 is a multimer; however, we do not know the stoichiometry or the components inducing PRDM9 multimerization. In this work, we used in vitro binding studies and characterized with electrophoretic mobility shift assays, mass spectrometry, and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy the stoichiometry of the PRDM9 multimer of two different murine PRDM9 alleles carrying different tags and domains produced with different expression systems. Based on the migration distance of the PRDM9-DNA complex, we show that PRDM9 forms a trimer. Moreover, this stoichiometry is adapted already by the free, soluble protein with little exchange between protein monomers. The variable ZnF array of PRDM9 is sufficient for multimerization, and at least five ZnFs form already a functional trimer. Finally, we also show that only one ZnF array within the PRDM9 oligomer binds to the DNA, whereas the remaining two ZnF arrays likely maintain the trimer by ZnF-ZnF interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / chemistry*
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Homologous Recombination
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Meiosis
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Solubility
  • Zinc Fingers


  • DNA
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • prdm9 protein, mouse