MutL traps MutS at a DNA mismatch.
DNA mismatch repair (MMR) identifies and corrects errors made during replication. In all organisms except those expressing MutH, interactions between a DNA mismatch, MutS, MutL, and the replication processivity factor (β-clamp or PCNA) activate the latent MutL endonuclease to nick the error-containing daughter strand. This nick provides an entry point for downstream repair proteins. Despite the well-established significance of strand-specific nicking in MMR, the mechanism(s) by which MutS and MutL assemble on mismatch DNA to allow the subsequent activation of MutL's endonuclease activity by β-clamp/PCNA remains elusive. In both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, MutS homologs undergo conformational changes to a mobile clamp state that can move away from the mismatch. However, the function of this MutS mobile clamp is unknown. Furthermore, whether the interaction with MutL leads to a mobile MutS-MutL complex or a mismatch-localized complex is hotly debated. We used single molecule FRET to determine that Thermus aquaticus MutL traps MutS at a DNA mismatch after recognition but before its conversion to a sliding clamp. Rather than a clamp, a conformationally dynamic protein assembly typically containing more MutL than MutS is formed at the mismatch. This complex provides a local marker where interaction with β-clamp/PCNA could distinguish parent/daughter strand identity. Our finding that MutL fundamentally changes MutS actions following mismatch detection reframes current thinking on MMR signaling processes critical for genomic stability.
Qiu, R; Sakato, M; Sacho, EJ; Wilkins, H; Zhang, X; Modrich, P; Hingorani, MM; Erie, DA; Weninger, KR
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