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Inchworm stepping of Myc-Max heterodimer protein diffusion along DNA

Liqiang Dai, Sciprofile linkJin Yu
Abstract: Oncogenic protein Myc serves as a transcription factor to control cell metabolisms. Myc dimerizes via leucine zipper with its associated partner protein Max to form a heterodimer structure, which then binds target DNA sequences to regulate gene transcription. The regulation depends on Myc-Max binding to DNA and searching for target sequences via diffusional motions along DNA. Here, we conduct structure-based molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to investigate the diffusion dynamics of the Myc-Max heterodimer along DNA. We found that the heterodimer protein slides on the DNA in a rotation-uncoupled manner in coarse-grained simulations, as its two helical DNA binding basic regions (BRs) alternate between open and closed conformations via inchworm stepping motions. In such motions, the two BRs of the heterodimer step across the DNA strand one by one, with step sizes reaching about half of a DNA helical pitch length. Atomic MD simulations of the Myc-Max heterodimer in complex with DNA have also been conducted. Hydrogen bond interactions are revealed between the two BRs and two complementary DNA strands, respectively. In the non-specific DNA binding, the BR from Myc shows an onset of stepping on one association DNA strand and starts detaching from the other strand. Overall, our simulation studies suggest that the inchworm stepping motions of the Myc-Max heterodimer can be achieved during the protein diffusion along DNA.
Keywords: transcription factor / molecular dynamics / Facilitated diffusion / Coarse-grained Simulation / Myc-Max heterodimer

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