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Open Access Open Badges Research article

DNA deformability changes of single base pair mutants within CDE binding sites in S. Cerevisiae centromere DNA correlate with measured chromosomal loss rates and CDE binding site symmetries

Brad Hennemuth and Kenneth A Marx*

Author Affiliations

Center for Intelligent Biomaterials, Department of Chemistry, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854, USA

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BMC Molecular Biology 2006, 7:12  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-7-12

Published: 16 March 2006



The centromeres in yeast (S. cerevisiae) are organized by short DNA sequences (125 bp) on each chromosome consisting of 2 conserved elements: CDEI and CDEIII spaced by a CDEII region. CDEI and CDEIII are critical sequence specific protein binding sites necessary for correct centromere formation and following assembly with proteins, are positioned near each other on a specialized nucleosome. Hegemann et al. BioEssays 1993, 15: 451–460 reported single base DNA mutants within the critical CDEI and CDEIII binding sites on the centromere of chromosome 6 and quantitated centromere loss of function, which they measured as loss rates for the different chromosome 6 mutants during cell division. Olson et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1998, 95: 11163–11168 reported the use of protein-DNA crystallography data to produce a DNA dinucleotide protein deformability energetic scale (PD-scale) that describes local DNA deformability by sequence specific binding proteins. We have used the PD-scale to investigate the DNA sequence dependence of the yeast chromosome 6 mutants' loss rate data. Each single base mutant changes 2 PD-scale values at that changed base position relative to the wild type. In this study, we have utilized these mutants to demonstrate a correlation between the change in DNA deformability of the CDEI and CDEIII core sites and the overall experimentally measured chromosome loss rates of the chromosome 6 mutants.


In the CDE I and CDEIII core binding regions an increase in the magnitude of change in deformability of chromosome 6 single base mutants with respect to the wild type correlates to an increase in the measured chromosome loss rate. These correlations were found to be significant relative to 105 Monte Carlo randomizations of the dinucleotide PD-scale applied to the same calculation. A net loss of deformability also tends to increase the loss rate. Binding site position specific, 4 data-point correlations were also created using the wild type sequence and the 3 associated alternate base mutants at each binding site position. These position specific slope magnitudes, or sensitivities, correlated with and reflected the underlying position symmetry of the DNA binding sequences.


These results suggest the utility of correlating quantitative aspects of sequence specific protein-DNA complex single base mutants with changes in the easily calculated PD-deformability scale of the individual DNA sequence mutants. Using this PD approach, it may be possible in the future to understand the magnitude of biological or energetic functional effects of specific DNA sequence mutants within DNA-protein complexes in terms of their effect on DNA deformability.