Repetitive use of a phosphate-binding module in DNA polymerase β, Oct-1 POU domain and phage repressors

K. Yura, M. Shionyu, K. Kawatani, M. Go*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Motifs for sequence specific-protein-DNA interactions, such as helix-turn-helix, zinc finger and leucine zipper, are now better understood as a result of extensive studies of three-dimensional (3D) structures of transcription factors. On the other hand, little attention has been paid to motifs for sequence nonspecific binding, namely DNA-phosphate binding. To address the question whether different transcription factors and DNA manipulation enzymes, that is enzymes that work on DNA, share a similar mode of phosphate binding, we surveyed interactions between DNA and protein module, a structural unit of a globular protein. We analyzed the modular organization of DNA polymerase β and found that residues making contact with DNA phosphates were localized to five modules. Structural comparison of these phosphate-binding modules against others in transcription factors and DNA manipulation enzymes revealed that DNA polymerase β, the Oct-1 POU domain, 434 Cro and the Arc repressor have a phosphate-binding module with 3D structures similar to one another. This newly detected module, the phosphate-binding helix-turn-helix (pbHTH) module, named for its function and 3D structure, interacts with DNA by (i) making hydrogen bonds between a DNA phosphodiester oxygen and an amino hydrogen of the main chain located at the N-terminus of a C-terminal α-helix, and (ii) making electrostatic interactions between DNA phosphates and side chains of lysine or arginine. Finding structurally and functionally similar phosphate-binding units in different transcription factors and DNA manipulation enzymes suggests that shuffling of modules is not limited to the DNA base-recognition motif. Phosphate-binding modules are apparently also shuffled in DNA-binding proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-486
Number of pages15
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Apr 26
Externally publishedYes


  • 434 Cro
  • Arc repressor
  • DNA polymerase β
  • DNA-protein hydrogen bond
  • HTH module
  • Module shuffling
  • Oct-1 POU domain
  • Sodium ion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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