Single-molecule characterization of target search dynamics of DNA-binding proteins in DNA-condensed droplets

Target search models of DNA-binding proteins in cells typically consider search mechanisms that include 3D diffusion and 1D sliding, which can be characterized by single-molecule tracking on DNA. However, the finding of liquid droplets of DNA and nuclear components in cells cast doubt on extrapolation from the behavior in ideal non-condensed DNA conditions to those in cells. In this study, we investigate the target search behavior of DNA-binding proteins in reconstituted DNA-condensed droplets using single-molecule fluorescence microscopy. To mimic nuclear condensates, we reconstituted DNA-condensed droplets using dextran and PEG polymers. In the DNA-condensed droplets, we measured the translational movement of four DNA-binding proteins (p53, Nhp6A, Fis and Cas9) and p53 mutants possessing different structures, sizes, and oligomeric states. Our results demonstrate the presence of fast and slow mobility modes in DNA-condensed droplets for the four DNA-binding proteins. The slow mobility mode capability is correlated strongly to the molecular size and the number of DNA-binding domains on DNA-binding proteins, but only moderately to the affinity to single DNA segments in non-condensed conditions. The slow mobility mode in DNA-condensed droplets is interpreted as a multivalent interaction mode of the DNA-binding protein to multiple DNA segments.

Authors: Kamagata K, Kusano R, Kanbayashi S, Banerjee T, Takahashi H

Journal: Nucleic Acids Research. 2023;51(13):91-100.