36 Scopus citations


Single-stranded (ss)DNA binding (SSB) proteins bind with high affinity to ssDNA generated during DNA replication, recombination, and repair; however, these SSBs must eventually be displaced from or reorganized along the ssDNA. One potential mechanism for reorganization is for an ssDNA translocase (ATP-dependent motor) to push the SSB along ssDNA. Here we use single molecule total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to detect such pushing events. When Cy5-labeled Escherichia coli (Ec) SSB is bound to surface-immobilized 3′-Cy3-labeled ssDNA, a fluctuating FRET signal is observed, consistent with random diffusion of SSB along the ssDNA. Addition of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Pif1, a 5′ to 3′ ssDNA translocase, results in the appearance of isolated, irregularly spaced saw-tooth FRET spikes only in the presence of ATP. These FRET spikes result from translocase-induced directional (5′ to 3′) pushing of the SSB toward the 3′ ssDNA end, followed by displacement of the SSB from the DNA end. Similar ATP-dependent pushing events, but in the opposite (3′ to 5′) direction, are observed with EcRep and EcUvrD (both 3′ to 5′ ssDNA translocases). Simulations indicate that these events reflect active pushing by the translocase. The ability of translocases to chemo-mechanically push heterologous SSB proteins along ssDNA provides a potential mechanism for reorganization and clearance of tightly bound SSBs from ssDNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6194-6199
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 31 2016


  • DNA motors
  • Dynamics
  • SF1 translocases
  • SSB proteins


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