Water molecules in DNA recognition I: Hydration lifetimes of trp operator DNA in solution measured by NMR spectroscopy

Maria Sunnerhagen, Vladimir P. Denisov, Kandadai Venu, Alexandre M.J.J. Bonvin, Jannette Carey, Bertil Halle, Gottfried Otting

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45 Scopus citations


The present NMR study investigates the residence times of the hydration water molecules associated with uncomplexed trp operator DNA in solution by measuring intermolecular nuclear Overhauser effects (NOE) between water and DNA protons, and the nuclear magnetic relaxation dispersion (NMRD) of the water 2H and 17O resonances. Both methods indicate that the hydration water molecules exchange with bulk water on the sub-nanosecond time scale at 4°C. No evidence was obtained for water molecules bound with longer residence times. In particular, the water molecules at the sites of interfacial hydration in the trp repressor/operator complex do not seem kinetically stabilized in the uncomplexed DNA. Analysis of the crystal structures of two different trp repressor/operator complexes shows very similar structural environments for the water molecules mediating specific contacts between the protein and the DNA, whereas much larger variations are observed for the location of corresponding water molecules detected in the crystal structure of an uncomplexed trp operator DNA duplex. Therefore, it appears unlikely that the hydration characteristics of the uncomplexed DNA target would be a major determinant of trp repressor/operator recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-858
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Structural Biology


  • DNA hydration
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • Protein/DNA recognition
  • trp operator


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