The GCN4 basic region leucine zipper binds DNA as a dimer of uninterrupted α Helices: Crystal structure of the protein-DNA complex

Thomas E. Ellenberger, Christopher J. Brandl, Kevin Struhl, Stephen C. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

767 Scopus citations

Abstract

The yeast transcriptional activator GCN4 is 1 of over 30 identified eukaryotic proteins containing the basic region leucine zipper (bZIP) DNA-binding motif. We have determined the crystal structure of the GCN4 bZIP element complexed with DNA at 2.9 Å resolution. The bZIP dimer is a pair of continuous α helices that form a parallel coiled coil over their carboxy-terminal 30 residues and gradually diverge toward their amino termini to pass through the major groove of the DNA-binding site. The coiled-coil dimerization interface is oriented almost perpendicular to the DNA axis, giving the complex the appearance of the letter T. There are no kinks or sharp bends in either bZIP monomer. Numerous contacts to DNA bases and phosphate oxygens are made by basic region residues that are conserved in the bZIP protein family. The details of the bZIP dimer interaction with DNA can explain recognition of the AP-1 site by the GCN4 protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1223-1237
Number of pages15
JournalCell
Volume71
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 24 1992

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