The DNA sequence specificity of HMG boxes lies in the minor wing of the structure

C. M. Read, P. D. Cary, N. S. Preston, M. Lnenicek-Allen, C. Crane-Robinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To establish the basis of sequence-specific DNA recognition by HMG boxes we separately transferred the minor and major wings from the sequence-specific HMG box of TCF1α into their equivalent position in the non-sequence-specific box 2 of HMG1. Thus chimera THT1 contains the minor wing (of 11 N-terminal and 25 C-terminal residues) from the HMG box of TCF1α and the major wing (the 45 residue central section) from HMG1 box 2, whilst the situation is reversed in chimera HTH1. The structural integrity of the two chimeric proteins was established by CD, NMR and their binding to four-way junction DNA. Gel retardation and circular permutation assays showed that only chimera THT1, containing the TCF1α minor wing, formed a sequence-specific complex and bent the DNA. The bend angle was estimated to be 59° for chimera THT1 and 52° for the HMG box of TCF1α. Our results, in combination with mutagenesis and other data, suggests a model for the DNA binding of HMG boxes in which the N-terminal residues and part of helix 1 contact the minor groove on the outside of a bent DNA duplex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5639-5646
Number of pages8
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1994


  • DNA binding
  • Four-way junction
  • HMG box
  • SRY
  • TCF1α


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