Physical basis of a protein-DNA recognition code

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 1997 Feb;7(1):117-25. doi: 10.1016/s0959-440x(97)80015-2.


Can a stereochemical recognition code explain sequence-specific protein-nucleic acid interactions? Whereas a code that is generally applicable to DNA-binding proteins of all known structural families is unattainable, the indications are that a code can describe at least some of the interactions of classical zinc fingers with DNA. The crystal structures of related zinc finger-DNA complexes reveal a remarkable mode of interaction that sets the framework for this code, and recent biochemical studies have elucidated the intermolecular contacts (contingent on this framework) that result in specificity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Zinc Fingers


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • DNA