Direct Visualization of a DNA Glycosylase Searching for Damage

Document Type



Biology (HMC), Chemistry (HMC)

Publication Date



DNA glycosylases preserve the integrity of genetic information by recognizing damaged bases in the genome and catalyzing their excision. It is unknown how DNA glycosylases locate covalently modified bases hidden in the DNA helix amongst vast numbers of normal bases. Here we employ atomic-force microscopy (AFM) with carbon nanotube probes to image search intermediates of human 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase (hOGG1) scanning DNA. We show that hOGG1 interrogates DNA at undamaged sites by inducing drastic kinks. The sharp DNA bending angle of these non-lesion-specific search intermediates closely matches that observed in the specific complex of 8-oxoguanine-containing DNA bound to hOGG1. These findings indicate that hOGG1 actively distorts DNA while searching for damaged bases.

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© 2002 Cell Press. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.