GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Approval Date

September 2002

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Polymers; DNA-Binding Proteins; Recombination, Genetic; Academic Dissertations


The regulation of protein function through oligomerization is a common theme in biological systems. In this work, I have focused on the effects of the oligomeric states of the human Rad52 protein on activities related to DNA binding. HsRad52, a member of the RAD52 epistasis group, is thought to play an important and as yet undefined role in homologous recombination. HsRad52 preferentially binds to ssDNA over dsDNA and stimulates HsRad51-mediated strand exchange (Benson et al., 1998). In either the presence or absence of DNA, HsRad52 has been observed to form both 10 nm ring-like structures as well as higher order oligomers consisting of multiple 10 nm rings (Van Dyck et al., 1998; Van Dyck et al., 1999). Earlier protein-protein interaction studies mapped the domain responsible for HsRad52 self-association in the N-terminus (residues 85-159) (Shen et al., 1996). Data presented here identifies a novel self-association domain in the C-terminus of HsRad52 that is responsible for the formation of higher order oligomers.

VanDyck et al. observed DNA ending binding complexes consisting of multiple rings (Van Dyck et al., 1999). They proposed that these higher order oligomers may be functionally relevant. In this work, we demonstrate that DNA binding depends on neither ring shaped oligomers nor higher order oligomers but that activities of HsRad52 that require simultaneous interaction with more than one DNA molecule depend on the formation of higher order oligomers consisting of multiple HsRad52 rings.

Early studies of HsRad52 proposed that the DNA binding domain resides in the highly conserved N-terminus of the protein (Park et al., 1996). A series of studies using truncation mutants of HsRad52 have provided evidence that supports this hypothesis. For example, we demonstrated that a truncation mutant containing only the first 85 residues of the protein is still able to bind DNA (Lloyd, submitted 2002). In this study, we demonstrate that aromatic (Y65, F79 and Y81) and hydrophobic (L43, I52 and I66) residues within the N-terminus contribute to DNA binding by either directly contacting the DNA or by stabilizing the structure of the protein.

In summary, through the work presented in this dissertation, we have determined that the formation of 10 nm rings is mediated by a self-association domain in the N-terminus and that the formation of higher order oligomers consisting of multiple HsRad52 rings is mediated by an additional self-association domain in the C-terminus. We have correlated the oligomeric properties of HsRad52 with its biochemical functions related to DNA binding. Additionally, we have demonstrated that aromatic and hydrophobic residues contribute to DNA binding. Further studies will differentiate between the contribution of these residues to the DNA binding by stabilizing the overall structure of the protein versus making specific DNA contacts. Additional studies will also address how the oligomeric state of HsRad52 contributes to its role in HsRad51-mediated strand exchange.


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