Physical organization of DNA by multiple non-specific DNA-binding modes of integration host factor (IHF)
Date of Issue2012
School of Biological Sciences
The integration host factor (IHF) is an abundant nucleoid-associated protein and an essential co-factor for phage λ site-specific recombination and gene regulation in E. coli. Introduction of a sharp DNA kink at specific cognate sites is critical for these functions. Interestingly, the intracellular concentration of IHF is much higher than the concentration needed for site-specific interactions, suggesting that non-specific binding of IHF to DNA plays a role in the physical organization of bacterial chromatin. However, it is unclear how non-specific DNA association contributes to DNA organization. By using a combination of single DNA manipulation and atomic force microscopy imaging methods, we show here that distinct modes of non-specific DNA binding of IHF result in complex global DNA conformations. Changes in KCl and IHF concentrations, as well as tension applied to DNA, dramatically influence the degree of DNA-bending. In addition, IHF can crosslink DNA into a highly compact DNA meshwork that is observed in the presence of magnesium at low concentration of monovalent ions and high IHF-DNA stoichiometries. Our findings provide important insights into how IHF contributes to bacterial chromatin organization, gene regulation, and biofilm formation.
© 2012 The Authors.