The cost of DNA bending

P. Privalov, A. Dragan, Colyn Crane-Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experimental data on protein-DNA interactions highlight a surprising peculiarity of protein binding to the minor groove: in contrast to major groove binding, which proceeds with heat release and does not induce substantial deformation of DNA, minor groove binding takes place at AT-rich sites, proceeds with heat absorption and results in significant DNA bending. By forming a highly ordered and dense spine in the minor groove of AT-rich DNA, water plays an essential role in defining the energetic signature of protein–minor groove binding. Removal of this water requires minimal work and results in significant loss of rigidity in the DNA, which can then easily acquire the conformation imposed by the bound protein. Therefore the introduction of substantial bends into the DNA is not energetically expensive. DNA
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-470
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Biochemical Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


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