DNA structure directs positioning of the mitochondrial genome packaging protein Abf2p

TitleDNA structure directs positioning of the mitochondrial genome packaging protein Abf2p
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsChakraborty, Arka, Lyonnais Sébastien, Battistini Federica, Hospital Adam, Medici Giorgio, Prohens Rafel, Orozco Modesto, Vilardell Josep, and Solà Maria
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Date Published11/2016

The mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) is assembled into nucleo-protein structures termed nucleoids and maintained differently compared to nuclear DNA, the involved molecular basis remaining poorly understood. In yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), mtDNA is a ∼80 kbp linear molecule and Abf2p, a double HMG-box protein, packages and maintains it. The protein binds DNA in a non-sequence-specific manner, but displays a distinct ‘phased-binding’ at specific DNA sequences containing poly-adenine tracts (A-tracts). We present here two crystal structures of Abf2p in complex with mtDNA-derived fragments bearing A-tracts. Each HMG-box of Abf2p induces a 90° bend in the contacted DNA, causing an overall U-turn. Together with previous data, this suggests that U-turn formation is the universal mechanism underlying mtDNA compaction induced by HMG-box proteins. Combining this structural information with mutational, biophysical and computational analyses, we reveal a unique DNA binding mechanism for Abf2p where a characteristic N-terminal flag and helix are crucial for mtDNA maintenance. Additionally, we provide the molecular basis for A-tract mediated exclusion of Abf2p binding. Due to high prevalence of A-tracts in yeast mtDNA, this has critical relevance for nucleoid architecture. Therefore, an unprecedented A-tract mediated protein positioning mechanism regulates DNA packaging proteins in the mitochondria, and in combination with DNA-bending and U-turn formation, governs mtDNA compaction.

Short TitleNucleic Acids Research