Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Franklin, Sonya J


In our efforts to engineer a DNA binding and cleaving protein with greater sequence discrimination, we have designed dimeric proteins derived from engrailed homeodomain and calmodulin. Previous research by our group has shown that a hydrolytically active lanthanide binding site can be incorporated into a DNA binding motif. To understand protein-DNA interaction and improve the sequence selectivity of the chimeric complex, two lanthanide-binding homodimers were designed and expressed.

One of the dimers, F2, is coupled together by a flexible polypeptide linker and the other, R7C, is a disulfide cross-linked cysteine mutant at the N-terminus. Studies of fluorescence of tryptophan residues document that the overall affinity for lanthanide and calcium is similar to traditional EF-hand peptides (1-10 μM). Metal titrations monitored by circular dichroism (CD) revealed that the secondary structures of the dimers contained a lower degree of -helicity than the designed monomeric protein due to additional modifications, but because of their flexibility and their two active-site domain, hydrolytic activity was several folds faster than our previously designed proteins and peptides. Unlike earlier reports on our chimeras, F2 also demonstrated the capability to hydrolyze DNA in the presence of some biological relevant metal ions suggesting different cleavage mechanisms were carried out. Extensive DNA sequencing studies on cleavage patterns with oligonucleotide duplexes confirmed the unique sequence selectivity and kinetic properties of F2. Two engrailed homeodomain target sites, TAATTA, were favored for hydrolytic activity corresponding to one domain acting as a DNA anchor on the first target site while the other was an "opportunist" at recognizing the second site. Nonetheless, the hydrolytic behavior at the phosphodiester bond on a specific dsDNA sequence is in good agreement with the behavior of restriction endonucleases. Unlike restriction enzymes, metallated F2 has not only demonstrated the ability to cleave DNA plasmid, but it also excises the entire nucleotide on a selected sequence. This homodimer is the first example of an active and selective hydrolytic artificial nuclease based on the modular turn substitution design approach that can be a potential template for genomic modification.


Chimera, HTH, EF-hand, metalloprotein, dimer, DNA selectivity


xxi, 168 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 161-168).


Copyright 2007 Siu Wah Wong-Deyrup

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