|A molecular model for RecA-promoted strand exchange via parallel triple-stranded helices
|Year of Publication
|Bertucat G, Lavery R, Prévost C
A number of studies have concluded that strand exchange between a RecA-complexed DNA single strand and a homologous DNA duplex occurs via a single-strand invasion of the minor groove of the duplex. Using molecular modeling, we have previously demonstrated the possibility of forming a parallel triple helix in which the single strand interacts with the intact duplex in the minor groove, via novel base interactions (Bertucat et al., J. Biomol. Struct. Dynam. 16:535-546). This triplex is stabilized by the stretching and unwinding imposed by RecA. In the present study, we show that the bases within this triplex are appropriately placed to undergo strand exchange. Strand exchange is found to be exothermic and to result in a triple helix in which the new single strand occupies the major groove. This structure, which can be equated to so-called R-form DNA, can be further stabilized by compression and rewinding. We are consequently able to propose a detailed, atomic-scale model of RecA-promoted strand exchange. This model, which is supported by a variety of experimental data, suggests that the role of RecA is principally to prepare the single strand for its future interactions, to guide a minor groove attack on duplex DNA, and to stabilize the resulting, stretched triplex, which intrinsically favors strand exchange. We also discuss how this mechanism can incorporate homologous recognition.